Exhibition explores local Jewish artist’s relationship with aging father

The University City Library art gallery will feature works by St. Louis Artist Frank Enger (above, left),  including this work (right) in ‘Homage to Dad,’ running Sept. 5-29. Photo: Yana Hotter

By Sarah Weinman, Special to the Jewish Light

During the last 10 years of Morris Enger’s life, his son, Frank Enger, depicted him in a series of paintings and pen-and-ink sketches.  An artist and resident of Creve Coeur, Enger, 67, documented this intimate experience to explore his father’s anger at the circumstances of aging as well as the younger Enger’s attempt to help his father give up control over tasks like driving.  “I am thankful I had the opportunity to care for my father,” says Enger.

This series of works is featured in the exhibition “Homage to Dad” at The Gallery of the University City Public Library.


The images in the show reveal slices of life in Enger’s family: Morris remembers his three brothers who died before him; receives a haircut; goes to the doctor; misses his wife who passed; and tries to remember grandchildren and great-grandchildren in pictures.  Frank Enger captures a lot of emotion in just a few strokes.

“Blue is the theme color,” of the show, Enger explains, “It’s a suitable color, and symbolic because much of Dad’s last years were full of blue.”

Enger always liked to sketch and draw.  In elementary school classes he had two notebooks: one for what he was supposed to work on and one for drawing.  He sculpted cars in high school shop for a contest at General Motors.

His relationship with his father during the last years was a decisive experience for him as a son and an artist.  Another very important experience was the birth of his daughter.  Enger’s trips out west to big sky country affected him very much, as did visits to new places such as Maui, Cape Cod, and the Grand Canyon.  “Every day we get is special,” he says.

In addition to this exhibition, Enger’s interest extends to landscapes, skyscapes, cityscapes, abstracts, and old vehicles in a variety of media.  

Despite the amount and variety of art Enger has created, some projects remain untapped.  “I’d like to paint murals and other large works, and I want to make better and better art, to improve and grow as an artist.”  Enger hopes that some of his pieces can be hung in places where more people would see them and smile.

When asked how being Jewish shapes his work, Enger answers, “It’s who I am.  If I weren’t Jewish, I wouldn’t think about preparing for the New Year or about such basic things as how to put on shoes according to the Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law.”