Sculptor creates stop motion film project inspired by dream world

Sets and characters built by hand, music scored and photos taken, six years of work to create 12 minutes of stop motion film, only a third of the intended length. Californian sculptor John Frame introduced his ambitious film project to the Spokane community at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture on Oct. 10.

Frame has been sculpting since 1980. He has exhibited extensively in the U.S., Europe, Japan, China and Taiwan. Though he has been a successful artist for more than 30 years, he is new to the Northwest art scene.

“There’s a lot of artists like me, who have sustained themselves but haven’t reached renown at the national level,” Frame said.

Frame is self-taught, never having taken a sculpting class. Even still, he achieved an M.F.A. from Claremont Graduate University as well as an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Cornish College of the Arts. Despite this success and his busy 20-year art career, in 2000, Frame hit an artistic wall.

“I felt this box closing in on me, as the box closed in tighter I struggled much harder to get out of it, and the more I struggled the tighter the box became,” Frame said.

After five years not producing any work, Frame closed his studio in Los Angeles and moved out of the art world; it was as if his creative spirit had left him. But in 2005, after Frame had given up on art completely, he experienced a breakthrough.

At two in the morning, Frame had a lucid dream experience. In this state, Frame saw a world and characters unlike anything he had ever seen before.

“I could see the dream world, I could see it and I was also conscious of seeing it,” Frame said. “I simply looked at that world and tried to memorize it.”

After writing down stacks of notes including thumbnail sketches and minimal storyboarding of what he dreamt, Frame started work on what he knew would be a stop motion film.

“I knew this five year block was, one, over, and two, this project would carry me the rest of my life,” Frame said.

The project, titled “The Tale of the Crippled Boy,” is run solely by Frame and his son-in-law. It has required them to put in 18 to 24 hour work days and 35 individual characters and 12 minutes of personally scored music have been produced. The fully articulated characters, ranging from three to 32 inches tall, are hand-carved from basswood and crafted with found objects.

After watching the film, freshman Trevor Pereyda said the sculptures surprised him.

“They’re so different, they’re not what I expect. They make me think,” Pereyda said.

Part one of the film,“Three Fragments of a Lost Tale,” is a collection of animated and live vignettes, each one capable of standing on its own as a piece of artwork. It is a non-linear narrative encompassing the themes of  both loss and discovery.

“Three Fragments of a Lost Tale” has been accepted into several film festivals including the Northwest Animation Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival. Yet, whenever Frame shows his “in medias res” film, he said he feels out of place.

“I sense I have a great deal of ground to cover before it will be able to stand on its own in the film world,” Frame said.

Part two of the film project is currently in the studio and will be the next installment of the overarching project, “The Tale of the Crippled Boy.” The project brings together art, music, poetry, and film, embodying the multidimensionality of Frame’s work.

“We have art to talk about things which every other type of language is not adequate,” Frame said.

Luke Eldredge Staff Writer

Contact Luke Eldredge at

Terrain event brings local artists, musicians

Sculptures next to paintings, poetry readings next to short films, photography next to graffiti, all accompanied by the sound of live musical artists. Terrain 5 continued its growing legacy as an art smorgasbord in downtown Spokane on Oct. 5.

Terrain, a one night only annual art show that began in 2008, showcases local artists in an attempt to link them with Spokane’s art establishment, putting industry professionals and upcoming artists in the same room. Since it began, Terrain has introduced more than 120 local artists to more than 14,000 art enthusiasts, according to Terrain’s website.

Terrain works in collaboration with the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, the Pacific Northwest Inlander and the Garland Theater. Terrain 5 was voted the third best art organization by the Inlander.

The event holds a vast variety of multimedia art, each one selected by a jury made up of members of the local art circle, according to Terrain’s website. This year, Terrain boasted 13  musical artists, including the Terrible Buttons, Ocnotes and Velella Velella.

The show incorporated three floors of works, ranging from oil pastels to installation pieces made of old circuit boards and unrecognizable pieces of scrap.

“I thought it was really neat how you could go to both extremes of very different art,” Spokane Community College student Naslund Rush said. “It was interesting how they separated genres by floors and rooms.”

Each floor’s walls were lined with pieces from different artists, each one utilizing very different art techniques. The music of local bands wafted through the rooms and halls of the Music City Building. Brick walls, naked beams and colored lighting accented the artwork. All this came together to produce a setting unique to Terrain, a setting that spoke to the Spokane art scene.

Terrain 5 also included the “Literary Park,” a section of floor covered in real grass and a small stage, with usable swings and a hammock hanging from the rafters. Several local poets, including Whitworth students, shared their work to the crowd of people lounging on the grass and swings.

Whitworth senior August Sheets shared several of his works.

”It was exciting and nerve racking, but it’s a very chill environment,” Sheets said.

The crowd at Terrain 5 is just as colorful and diverse as the artwork, with no admission fee and no semblance of the subdued atmosphere typical of an art show.

“It’s a lot more urban that I was expecting,” art enthusiast and Terrain first timer Chad Shayotovich said. “The art sort of has that antagonized adolescent feel.”

The eclectic pounding of the variety of art could, at times, be overwhelming, but the crowd fed off this energy, creating an atmosphere unlike other art exhibits.

“There is so much good artwork, and with a crowd like this, I hope it keeps on,” Sheets said.

Luke Eldredge Staff Writer

Contact Luke Eldredge at