Barbara grew up in Amesbury (Massachusetts) and made a reputation as a teen as a portrait artist who’d studied in New York at the Art Students League with Dmitri Romanovsky (Russian/American, 1887-1971) and in Rockport/Gloucester studying landscape painting with Emile Albert Gruppé (1896-1978). She also attended the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida in its earliest years.
She married Stuart Frazier from the neighboring town of West Newbury, and after Stuart spent World War Two as a part of the American contingent to the Ultra Project, the team that that cracked the German codes in Bletchley, England, they settled in Townsend, Massachusetts, near Fort Devens (Ayer, MA) where he taught cryptology and code-breaking as a civilian.
Barbara served as a town librarian for some years, single-handedly changing the library over to the Dewey Decimal system, and moved to 30 Pleasant Street on Nantucket a handful of years after Stuart’s death in 1966.
Her son Douglas was the AAN president for one year from 1976-1977.
Her son Robert was the AAN president for five years from 1999-2004.
On Nantucket she turned to a second career in art, painting landscapes in acrylic that spanned two decades, much of that under the tutelage of Philip Burnham Hicken from his studio on Pine Street. She was a member of the Artists Association of Nantucket from 1970 to 1988, including five solo exhibitions at the AAN’s The Little Gallery, the last in 1987.
From the I&M, 8/13/87. on her last solo show:
Since her last gallery exhibition on island in 1979, visionary landscapes have become the trademark of Nantucket artist Barbara Frazier. Now the Little Gallery on Lower Main Street, Straight Wharf, will host an important exhibition of her recent acrylic paintings in tandem with Canadian painter Brock Davis.
This Artists’ Association exhibition runs from August 14 to August 20, with a festive public opening the evening of August 14, beginning at 6 p.m.
Barbara, now 73, began painting in the late 1920’s.
“In the early years I did oil portraits from my studio in Amesbury, after studying portraiture from Dmitri Romanovsky,” she said.
When she moved to Nantucket in the early 1970’s she began a second career in acrylics with a palette knife.
“The knife gives me a textural freedom that I can’t get with a brush. I can work ‘a la prima.’ Thus I paint with an economy of strokes.”
Most of her canvases focus on the island landscape.
She also works with a rich palette.
“I tend to repeat the blends of reds and greens on the moors. And I love purple in my shadows. It can carry a pain ting that rendered in warm colors. Color means a great deal to me. You’d say that I’m semiimpressionistic.” Frazier nurtured an artist family. Her daughter Judy does Scrimshaw in her shop on East Chestnut Street, and her son Robert’s fourth poetry book is out in island bookstores. “I raised my family to be creative.” When you visit her exhibit you’ll see that nurturing in her fine portaits of the Nantucket landscape.