Illustrating Peace

Illustrating Peace

Frank Swift’s Planet Gazimbo In Galaxy Zamz’

By Jud Yalkut

'The Planet Gazimbo in Galaxy Zamz' By Frank Swift.

The Planet Gazimbo in Galaxy Zamz is an earth-like planet with water, mountains, plants, animals, fruit and flowers, peopled by Garbles, Gazoopers, Gams and the egoistic ruling Gumblies. The delightful illustrated story of this planet reveals how it escaped from the brink of war and “found peace after experiencing all the doubts and fears like those we have been struggling with on Earth.”

Also published as a book, the original illustrated panels of the complete story by Dayton native Frank Swift are on view in an exhibition through Thursday, September 9 at the Missing Peace Art Space. Written and drawn in a post-Dr. Seuss fashion, Swift dedicates this story “to everyone big and small, young, and old, all colors, shapes and sizes in our beautiful, colorful, human family living on this magnificent planet home called Earth.”

Swift, the youngest of six children, was influenced early on by one of his sisters who was an artist and another who was a nun who had written seven books. This great family life was fertile ground for young Frank to start writing and illustrating his stories. Swift studied at the University of Dayton and spent quite a bit of time with the Air Force, but felt his continuing education in various fields were the most productive for him. “I was very interested in how our minds work and achieving peace of mind,” he remembers, “which led to getting certified in transactional analysis, hypno-therapy and neuro linguistic programming.” Swift continues to focus primarily on the positive, creative power enabled by personal peace of mind, and in 1970 was co-founder, with his wife Fran, of the first holistic health education group in Ohio.

Asked by people how his stories come about, Swift answers: “I have been a peace advocate ever since I was a kid. I remember when I served at mass and asked my buddy‘ Gosh, Tom, they used to have this little prayer ‘Save the world, Save Russia’ and why they didn’t have it anymore’, and him saying ‘Russia’s our enemy now.’ And I thought maybe we ought to pray for them even more instead of stopping, and maybe that was my starting point of working for peace.”

This has magnified into Swift being a guest speaker at various events from the Dayton Inventor’s Club on Creativity to the Sisters of Notre Dame meeting on the Bishop’s encyclical on “Peace and Justice.” With his writings including lyrics and music for songs on related themes, he assists with education programs for children at schools and the Dayton International Peace Museum. His “cartoon” characters are a unique way of interacting with children and getting them in touch with their inner peace.

“I’ve always written and painted,” he says, “and as a 12-year-old I painted show cards for the local drycleaner…for a while I got jobs painting signs and did some
murals including the silhouette of the Wright Brothers plane at the bottom of the swimming pool out at the airport.” His favorite medium to work in is acrylics, but for his books panels he has chosen the med-ium of gouache which permits gradations from transparency to a tempera-like consistency, in the bright colors he loves to use.

Swift has written and illustrated another book in process called The Unrealy Feelies with cartoon characters he created which illustrate feelings that are disabling or negative, “which keep us from doing what we want to do and being what we want to be.” These characters include Reggie Resentment, Priscilla Prejudice, Wally Worry and Andy Anger. A board game evolved from this bunch of characters and places like Jealousy Jungle and Vengeful Village, and the central goal of Peaceful Place that is surrounded by places like Wonder Whiz, Blissful Beach and Fruitful Farms. “The object of the game is not to compete with other players,” Swift states, “but to compete with your negative feelings, get rid of them, so that everybody eventually gets into Peaceful Place.”

Several prototypes of the book, game and board were previewed by a couple of high school teachers who were extremely happy with the reaction by the students. One of them told Swift “learning can be fun and more highly effective when it is fun instead of being a drag.”

The Planet Gazimbo in Galaxy Zamz is
officially published next month in a hardback edition at $15.95 retail, with a discount schedule for large quantities. Global Family, a large worldwide non-profit organization, has offered to promote the book on their Web site as well. More information on Planet Gazimbo can be found on Swift’s publishing Web site: www.PeacePowerPress.net. There is also a CD reading by Swift available. Meanwhile, fun and meaningful adventures on the planet can be seen and experienced by visiting the Missing Peace Art Space
by September 9.

The Missing Peace Art Space, a member of the International Network of Museums for Peace, is located at 234 S. Dutoit Street, Dayton. For more information and hours, call (937) 241-4353, send an e-mail to info@missingpeace.org or visit online at www.MissingPeaceArt.org

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Reach DCP visual arts critic Jud Yalkut at contactus@daytoncitypaper.com


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