Frank Ettenberg makes something that is nonsensical, make sense. What at first appears a random collection of brush strokes - when one stays with the image for a moment longer, a psychological architecture emerges within a beautiful language of color and form that assertively comes up against itself. A balance is created in bold gestures that, seemingly without references, reveals an emotion irrespective of nature, but compels the inner nature of painter and viewer, alike.
Of Ettenberg, photographer and essayist Rolf Koppel writes, " [Ettenberg's] webs of swipes and strokes, practiced through countless exercises and disciplines, often aggregate in symphonic complexity. He gives us swirls of characters vying for supremacy; their attempt to continually eliminate what came before..." (Catalog, Frank Ettenberg 1996-1997, Rolf Koppel)
Koppel recalls William de Kooning and Max Beckmann in Ettenberg's work noting, "the piling up of forms builds into a crescendo of density....and yet we never sense pastiche or even quotations because through his years-long practice with calligraphic painting, Ettenberg learned the pleasure and wit of making the mixing as important as the ingredients". (Catalog, Frank Ettenberg 1996-1997, Rolf Koppel)
In 2003 Stuart Ashman, Executive Director of the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, curated, "Abstract Art", a Fresco Fine Art Publications, edited by Artists Profiles, with foreward by Robert Ewing and artists essays by Suzanne Deats. In "Abstract Art" Deats explores a celebrated range of New Mexico abstract artists (at the time); Eugene Newmann, Robert Kelly, Larry Bell, Helmut Löhr, and Frank Ettenberg among thirty others.
"The art of Frank Ettenberg", wrote Deats, "begins with dissonance and ends with asymmetrical harmony. He calls it 'unobserved painted images neither preconceived nor copied from nature.' [Ettenberg] is not afraid to get in there and mix it up with a thorny issue, then bring it to a point of clarity. He takes the high road, always. Facile solutions are not a part of his visual vocabulary".
Frank Ettenberg posseses a deep knowledge of art history and is well aware of his place in it. With it he works in innate and preternatural intuition in abstract expressionism. He moves with courageous conviction rarely, if ever, in doubt about the process or his conceptions.