|Rockport Contributors' Show|
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Sunday, March 16, 2014
I chose Fran Dalton as my subject for the NBPT Portrait Show because she was a central figure in the local arts community (photographer) for many years who went through a very public sex change in her 50s, Fran Dalton lived in Newburyport most of her life and died at the age of 81. She deserves to be included in any event that endeavors to showcase community members who make up the fabric of Newburyport.
Newburyport takes much pride in the colorful people who have lived here and shaped its personality. Fran Dalton is among them, a friend to many, and a charitable person who helped the homeless. He lived on a boat at Charley Powers' boatyard and he and Connie Van Swearingen ( Van Ess) were immersed in Newburyport's thriving counterculture in the 70s, which celebrated individualism, diversity and even eccentricity
Dalton's life changed when Connie, his companion of many years, died at age 55. The changes in Frank's appearance noted by his friends culminated in his very public decision to change his gender and name — from Frank to Fran — in the 1980s. It was a decision that garnered much attention at the time.
She spent most of her life as Frank Dalton, a tall, lean man with craggy features, a deep voice and long salt-and-pepper hair pulled back in a ponytail. The entire town accepted her for the woman she was.
Her story has been aptly told through a retrospective exhibit at the local Library.
Submitted March 5, 2014