By Charity Maness
HOT SPRINGS – When Hot Springs resident and artist Franz Brown passed away in October 2019, he not only left many broken hearts, he left an art legacy that lives on today.
Brown, immortalized in paintings by Tom Browning as Santa Claus, embraced not only the look but the heart of Santa Claus.
“I loved him,” said Rita Fraune, Friends of the Library board member, “he was such a nice man.”
His well-known, giving character has now led way to a fund raiser by the Hot Springs Friends of the Library as Brown left his entire collection of artwork to the Friends of the Library in hopes of raising funds to help support the library programs and community outreach.
While many of the portraits have found homes, there are many, many more paintings for sale including landscapes and self-portraits of Brown as Santa Claus.
“We have priced the paintings to sell,” explained Fraune, “they start at $50.00 and go to $300.00 depending on the painting.”
With the help of fellow board members Mary Laycock and Barb Miller, the Friends of the Library will be hosting an exhibit of Brown’s work at the Hot Springs library Sept. 10, from 2-7 pm and Saturday, Sept. 11, from 10 am – 4 pm.
“All paintings on display will be available for purchase,” said Fraune, “all proceeds will go to the Hot Springs Friends of the Library to help support library programs and to create a Hot Springs High School art scholarship.”
Volunteers will be on-hand to answer questions and talk with people about Brown and his art. Flyers with a short biography of Brown will also be available.
“Brown knew so many people in this town,” said Fraune, “he would spend time walking around town talking with people, and lots of time chatting with people in the library.”
This exhibit is an opportunity to own a piece of the local artist’s legacy.
Some of Brown’s paintings are on display and for sale at Fall River Fibers, 631 N. River Street, Hot Springs, until Sept. 9, at which time they will be collected for the exhibit to be held at the Hot Springs Library Sept. 10 and 11.