Dated as far back as the 14th century, the saying “Jack of All Trades” was used to describe a person highly skilled in multiple areas. The word Jack was used to describe “the person” much like we may use John. In our very own neck of the woods, in Oakland Park, we have our very own Jack of All Trades: Frank Polanco.
Frank is a successful photographer, artist, magazine founder and producer, wardrobe stylist, fashionista, and probably most important of all, philanthropist, especially in animal rescue.
Frank has been involved in the art world more so now in Fort Lauderdale in his participation in working with a friend of his in a Gallery called House of Art where he was Gallery Manager and Curator. Unfortunately, the gallery closed after one year, but Frank continued to be a part of that community. Frank started to develop the Art 13 Movement, a project on its own where Frank has curated art shows in that community.
Frank’s “Flora and Fauna” picture collection was submitted as entry for Oakland Park’s Utility Box Wrap Program. Originally, the intention for taking these pictures was for submission to Artists’ Call. Artists submit their work and then the City of Oakland park had the due process of selecting the artist to be featured. Eventually, the artists selected, now become Ambassadors of Oakland Park through public art. Frank’s work was indeed selected, and you can see utility boxes wrapped in his colorful photography around Oakland Park.
With beautiful prints left over from the series of photographs that Frank took, he wished to host an art exhibit. Frank partnered with a friend, Gabriela, and her husband, Luis. Gabriela and Luis have a jewelry store, Bachi Jewels, in South Beach, Miami. The jewelry store is multi-level and has the perfect space for a gallery. The three friends partnered and hosted an event and art exhibit, calling it “Feathers: Every Bird is Born to their Own Song”.
Frank also partnered with a designer, Irene Marie, a fashion guru with a modeling agency of the same name. The Artist made bags out of synthetic feathers which were quite beautiful. Frank and Irene Marie combined their talents to showcase in their exhibit. That venue was also put in place to help fund and benefit a near and dear organization to Frank’s heart, Save a Sato.
A “sato” is a Puerto Rican slang term for stray dog. Frank is a member, board member and a volunteer of Save a Sato. Through his efforts with his “Feathers” exhibit, Frank was able to collect bags of dog and cat food that was donated to him here.
Save a Sato is an animal shelter in Puerto Rico, Frank’s country of origin, so the organization is very important to him. Frank treats Save a Sato as a full-time job. He helps coordinate rescues, adoptions, and is currently working on organizing transport of animals to other shelters in West Palm Beach. “My house turned into a pet store as people sent or dropped off food and other necessities”, says Frank. At one point, he had 5,000 pounds of pet food for Hurricane Maria relief efforts! Thanks in part with connections to airlines that he had worked for, he was able to send all the food for free to Puerto Rico.
This Puerto Rican native explored his options in life as many of us do. At the age of 17, Frank moved to New York where he attended college and studied photography. It was one of his passions among many other art forms, and it is the root of his passion for photography today.
Interested in the aviation, Frank became a Flight Attendant through opportunities that came through a friend. He was able to travel the world through these means. He worked with the airline for 10 years and eventually settled in Miami. Through the airlines, he was mostly based in Miami and he lived in Miami Beach before it was what it is today. Most of his family still lives up in New York.
As if Frank doesn’t already do enough, his heart extends further with yet another organization that he has called “South Florida Lending Hands”. Lending Hands has four aspects to contribute to the community: The Arts, animal welfare, community outreach, and disaster relief. For the aftermath of hurricane Dorian, South Florida Lending Hands partnered with Bullies and Beyond (another dog rescue organization) to help rebuild Abaco Shelter in the Bahamas.
Channel 7 News covered this story and Frank felt very committed to helping during this hard and trying time. The Abaco Shelter had to be rebuilt and put back on its feet. Through Frank’s dedication and efforts, he was able to secure the funds, with help by a man who had been posting his own efforts. He needed cat and dog food. Frank was determined to bring him what he needed but discovered that this gentleman has his own fundraiser as well. Teaming up, they were able to come through with a custom built an enclosed trailer for spay and neuter for the Abaco Shelter.
On December 3rd of 2019, the trailer was shipped to the Abaco Shelter in the Bahamas where it has been used for spaying and neuter for the animals ever since. South Florida Lending Hands is locally operated, but the organization also adopted a street in the Twin Lakes community. Four times a year, South Florida Lending Hands cleans up that street.
Another of Frank’s creations is NETPA, a label that Frank created – a fusion of art and fashion. Through NETPA, Frank has been able to transform his art into wearable art which includes leggings, T-Shirt, facial masks, pictures, blankets, pillow, and home goods. The name, NETPA, is a Bulgarian translation for Petra, which is his Grandmothers name. Frank says, “NETPA is my art translated into wearable art”.
Frank is also the proud founder and owner of his very own virtual magazine, BELLE VM. His photography captures the beauty of the fashion world and allows his talents to speak for themselves in his photographs.
And despite his busy schedule Frank also finds the time to write for LivingInOaklandPark.com.
Smiling, Frank says, “I am so busy, I don’t have time to breathe!”. Frank’s main focus right now is to continue to work on his project “The Billboard”, which is a project that he hopes will come to fruition. It’s a work of art that will involve the participation of established and emerging artists. He hopes to organize and be able to display the exhibit publicly in a place where social distancing can be observed. The goal is to make it be out in the open. Frank is working tirelessly to make this a reality.
Frank’s “Feathers” collection is currently displayed in City Hall in Fort Lauderdale. Frank had put in his name to be selected as Artist of the Month, and in August 2019, they let Frank know that he would have his spot to shine in August 2020. Frank had to wait a year before his spot was given to him, and of course, in the middle of a pandemic, no less!
Seeing his beautiful prints on display was not going to happen as he hoped. However, about 3 weeks ago, Frank got the call that his exhibit was finally going to be up! You can see his “Feathers” collection too, as his work is on display until November 16th.
Frank has put his heart into his work both in the worlds of Art and in saving the animals. You can see this love by visiting his websites or Instagram account for Art 13. Don’t forget to be on the lookout for the Utility Boxes wrapped in Frank’s photography! They certainly add to our beautiful Oakland Park!
To learn more about Frank and his efforts in both the art world and in the community, please visit his websites:
Anamaria Moreno is an Elementary school teacher. Born in Costa Rica, but mostly raised in Venezuela, Ms. Moreno came to South Florida in 1996 where she has resided ever since. She graduated from Lynn University, with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She has taught in the classroom for 18 years, most recently teaching the first grade for the past seven years. Before becoming a teacher, Ms. Moreno was involved in volunteer work with the Child Life Specialists Department at Miami Children’s Hospital. She also served as member of the Board of Directors for “A Caring Pregnancy Center” in Miami. Most recently, Ms. Moreno has taught at an elementary school in Oakland Park. Ms. Moreno also teaches ESOL to Adults in Night School. When Ms. Moreno is not in the classroom, she enjoys baking custom specialty cakes, face painting, and enjoys creating Arts and Crafts.