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John Frame's Three Fragments of a Lost Tale is unlike anything else 

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  • John Frame

Some people don't like ambitious, expansive, hard-to-classify art... exhibitions? Bodies of work? Projects? Hell, even artist John Frame is hard-pressed to pick a term to describe what The Tale of the Crippled Boy actually is, in those terms.

This is what he knows for sure: In 2005, after a five-year creative block, he'd accepted his successful two-decade visual art career was dead. But one night, he was jerked out of a dream into a hypnopompic state, "more or less conscious but riveted in the dream world."

"During that period, this world completely unfolded for me. It had characters. It had architecture unlike anything I'd ever seen," he says. The world he saw lived, breathed and, crucially, moved. "I just watched it, carefully, and tried to remember as much of it as I could."

Over the following day, he churned out not meager notes but 75 pages of sketches, storylines and characters. And, mixed with other projects, Frame's been working to bring that dream to reality ever since.

He's been a visual artist since 1980, shifting out of a literature and contemporary theater focus at the age of 30 to visual art, earning an MFA in visual arts from Claremont Graduate University. He'd built his reputation as a static sculptor, but The Tale of the Crippled Boy has required him to metamorphose into a stop-motion animator, a photographer, a filmmaker, a composer and everything else required to bring what he saw to life.

Starting on June 2, the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College will host a portion of Part 1: Three Fragments of a Lost Tale, an exhibition that includes the 12-minute film of the same name as well as photos and sculptures. It's only a part of The Tale of the Crippled Boy — there's more in the works, and though Part 1 is a complete piece of art, he says it'll likely be incorporated into a larger, feature-length work.

If this seems confusing, it's because it is — though he encourages those interested to experience this exhibition without overthinking what's happening.

"I think if you're in the presence of this body of work, you'll feel a coherent sense of narrative."

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