In addition to being CEO of the Norton Agency, well-known Gainesville native Frank Norton Jr. can lay claim to the role of artist.
In fact, he’s most popular for his drawings of people in chicken suits. And one of those got selected for the Bus Shelter Art Project.
“I was surprised that they picked me and I was very honored,” Norton said.
The Bus Shelter Art Project is the installation of 15 pieces of art on bus shelters in the community, thanks to the city of Gainesville and Vision 2030 of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce with help from the Quinlan Visual Arts Center.
“Art was selected in order to introduce artistic works which build on the Gainesville Connection brand of connecting people to family, friends, recreation, business, government, education, retail, nonprofits and places of importance,” according to a Quinlan news release. “Thematically and visually, works are focused on the connectivity of people to the community.”
Norton explained the selected piece was a part of his “chicken inspirations,” even though he admits he does other things.
“I had done this in different versions,” the 59-year-old Gainesville man said. “And I think I first started these chickens thinking, ‘OK, what would happen if a flock of chickens was hit by a tornado? You’d have them flying all over the place!’”
Norton said he draws his caricatures to make him as well as other people laugh or smile.
“I do it for me for therapy,” he said. “And I give it away to other groups and other people for charity, auctions or for display as a way of sharing what little talent I think I have.”
But Norton said he doesn’t know if he has a lot of talent.
“It’s just little sketches that used to be on the sides of notebook paper that I’ve blown up into bigger pieces,” he said.
The art, however, is “a mind game” and “a relaxation” for the businessman.
“I grew up in the real estate industry, so I am very business-oriented,” Norton said. “But I had always had an interest in art, either collecting it or as a hobby.”
Then his wife encouraged him to start creating his own artwork.
“In the late ’90s in a stressful period of time, my wife handed me a pad of paper and said to start painting or start drawing, just as a little relaxation,” he said.
It worked. And now Norton has some future plans for his art.
“I do have a left brain and a right brain. I have a creative side and I have a business, analytical side,” he said. “I have various pieces that I am working on, and I think my mind is going in lots of different directions. It is a constant mind exercise I use to help calm the crazy day to day work I have.”