Frank and Lisa, his wife and business partner, are well-known among students and faculty in arts and humanities for unselfishly sharing their time and support. A 1987 alumnus, Frank recently took on an expanded role on behalf of the university. “I accepted an invitation to join The Ohio State University Foundation Board because I hope to give a voice to arts and cultural studies. I want students to continue to benefit from opportunities like those I experienced.”
One particular opportunity profoundly influenced the direction of his career. An English major, he chose to take an elective class in folklore. The final assignment included writing a research paper about a specific culture. Frank chose to study the cultural background of his native Cleveland neighborhood. The resulting ethnographic exploration traced Eastern European traditions reflected in the food, music, art, customs and religious practices of his childhood friends and neighbors. It illustrated how contemporary culture, when combined with the heritage of multiple ethnicities, blurs some distinctions and preserves others. Like assembling a quilt, pieces of the past join those of the present to reveal a new pattern.
While conducting his research, Frank discovered specific phenomena that were at risk of being lost – unpublished recordings by artists who were part of seminal movements in rock n’ roll in the late 1960s and 1970s. At that time, Cleveland was frequently the first stop on the musical tours of national and international artists, and served as an incubator of emerging trends in the genre.
Frank maintained his interest in preserving these “lost” recordings through law school, gaining skills he would later use to negotiate licensing and publishing contracts. Downplaying this part of his job, he prefers to focus on the artists.
“The work isn’t limited to music. The process of uncovering and publishing recordings often involves reuniting musicians who may have performed together decades ago, but have lost touch. Their stories are as important as their art, says Frank – his point reinforced by the frequency with which the musicians and performances promoted by Smog Veil are featured in major publications and films. People care about the artists.”
It also explains why he and Lisa prefer to be quiet about the generous contributions they’ve made to the university over the years. “We want the students to be the ‘stars.’ The attention shouldn’t be focused on us, but on the projects and what they offer to students and faculty – as well as the ongoing growth of arts and humanities at Ohio State.”
Frank’s professional and philanthropic philosophies merge when he emphasizes the subjectivity of art. “Students may read the same books and plays that I did and their understanding will be different, but just as fascinating to them. It is important to society that our understanding of art is continually evolving. Art isn’t a fixed thing. It is constantly changing, and Lisa and I want to share that with students.”