On his town’s high street, Walter operated a small shop offering various goods and services: small hand-colored photocopied drawings, custom signs, children’s educational toys, and a series of hand-painted wooden placards bearing the red letter ‘L’ that drivers with learning permits could hang inside their vehicles. Those he sold for around $3 a piece. Meanwhile, countless tiny oil paintings were added to the archives, awaiting that future show at some impossible location, like a high-security military site (another of Walter’s dreams).
“Frank was an intellectual, a philosopher, a lecturer, a painter, a poet, an artist who had a vision,” says his second cousin, Vaughn Walter, who spent a great deal of time with the artist between the ages of three and 11. “As a child, he’d sit us down under a fruit tree, and while he’s typing on one subject matter, he’s lecturing us on other matters. He was a very multi-functional gentleman,” Walter says.
It’s impossible to ignore the undercurrent of eccentricity running through Walter’s biography, but that story is mere window dressing for a body of work that is thrillingly realized. The artist wended his way through various styles and concerns over the decades, and examples of all of them are present in “The Last Universal Man.”