Maria Frank Abrams, born in 1924 in Debrecen, Hungary, survived the Holocaust and came to the United States in 1948 to attend the School of Art at the University of Washington. After graduation, she received immediate recognition for her work and was invited in 1953 to be associated with the Otto Seligman Gallery, then the preeminent gallery in Seattle representing Northwest artists. Mark Tobey, one of the very early purchasers of the artist’s work, had brought her work to the attention of Mr. Seligman. Mr. Seligman represented the artist until his death in 1966.
During this period, Ms. Abrams received numerous awards and appeared in invitational and juried exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, and the Oakland Municipal Art Museum, among others. She also designed the sets and costumes for the opera, “The Dybbuk”, which had its world premiere in the Seattle Center Playhouse in 1962, and she designed sets for Seattle Opera’s production of “La Traviata” in the Seattle Opera House in 1963. For these she received critical acclaim.
In 1966 Dr. Richard E. Fuller, the director of the Seattle Art Museum, selected her to participate in the Governor’s Invitational Exhibition which was composed of 35 local artists and traveled to Kobe, Japan, and throughout the state of Washington. In 1975 she was again included in the Governor’s Invitational Exhibition.
During the subsequent years, Maria Frank Abrams participated in major shows both invitational and competitive. She exhibited her works in solo exhibitions at Gallery West in Portland, Oregon, at the Canvas Shack in Vancouver, British Columbia, and at the Kirsten Gallery and the University Unitarian Fine Arts Gallery in Seattle. In 1985 a one-person exhibition of the artists’ works was held at the Meany Hall Fine Arts Gallery at the University of Washington. In 1992 a solo retrospective was held in the “Vizualart Galeria” in Budapest, Hungary. One-person exhibits of her works were held in Tacoma, Washington, at the Fine Arts Gallery of Pacific Lutheran University (1996), and in Seattle at the Art Center Gallery of Seattle Pacific University (1996), the Nordic Heritage Museum (2002), the East Shore Gallery (2003) and the Gordon Woodside/John Braseth Gallery (2007). A posthumous exhibition of the artist's works was held in 2015 at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH).
The artist’s paintings are in the permanent collections of the Seattle Art Museum; Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Connecticut; The Arts Complex, Duxbury, Massachusetts; the Art Museum of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem; Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH); Museum of Northwest Art (MoNA), La Conner, Washington; Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington; Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, Washington; Jundt Art Museum at Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas; Museum of History and Industry, Seattle; and several major corporate collections. Public art commissions include a mural in the Mercer Island Library commissioned by the King County Arts Commission; a painting in the Harborview Hospital; and a major work in the King County Courthouse.
"It is the landscape surrounding us that gives me inspiration, visual stimulus; it has been the source of my work. From the changing seasons flow continual variations of color, light and shape. Nature is always perfect; my task is to transform the original inspiration into my vision of nature. A new world independent of anything else must be created in the picture plane."
“Being a painter is living – it is my life.”—Maria Frank Abrams