Frank V. Boyer, Doctor of Arts

Dr. Frank V. Boyer of Stone Ridge, New York, an educator, poet, art critic, curator, and scholar, died on June 1, 2023.  He died suddenly of natural causes after having had some recent health issues.  

Frank Van Skiver Boyer was born near Carthage, Illinois, March 13, 1949, into a family of professors.  He grew up in that small town milieu until 1964 when the Boyers moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Frank attended Bradford High School, after which he moved on to the University of Wisconsin.  In 1977 Frank moved to New York City and became an active part of the Lower East Side performance art scene, with a one-year residency at Tompkins Square Library, working on group and solo shows.  He also worked as a teaching artist during the 1980s and early ‘90s, co-leading with choreographer Charles Dennis performance and video workshops at the Boys’ Club of NYC that resulted in “Rock the House,” a performance by Lower East Side minority teenagers, presented at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.  During this time he also taught workshops for the elderly and mentally ill through Hospital Audiences, Inc.  

He found time to travel, having picked apples in France as a college student and later traveling to China to see the Great Wall and the terracotta army.  In New York Frank married Joan Marie Koztowski and they had one son, Brendan Boyer, who now lives in California.  The young family left New York City for the Hudson Valley in the early 1990s.  Frank’s wife predeceased him in 1995, and Frank devoted himself whole-heartedly to raising Brendan.  

From the mid-1980s, Frank had pursued graduate studies at NYU, completing an M.A. in Humanities and, in 2000, a Doctor of Arts and Art Theory degree.  He taught for many years at SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Ulster.  He also taught English at several maximum security prisons, whose student-inmates he invariably spoke of with understanding and respect.  His devotion to his students, charged with his knowledge of literature and art, his love of ideas, and his quirky humor created a memorable classroom experience for thousands of students over the years.  

Recently Frank had been devoting much energy into curating art shows, one in California, another at SUNY-New Paltz, of the paintings of his longtime friend, the Polish-born artist Jan Sawka.  Since Jan Sawka’s death a few years ago, Frank has continued working on curatorial projects with Jan’s daughter and wife (both Hanna Sawka), as well as starting books on the artist’s work with them.  He was looking forward to concentrating on those projects after his retirement, which took place only a few days before his death. 

Frank was a lover of people and art.  He loved reading and writing poetry.  He loved the poetry groups with which he was involved in the area, and appreciated others’ poetry, and the poets themselves, enthusiastically.  He loved to cross country ski and to rollerblade with friends.  Spiritual if instinctively heterodox, he loved hiking the woodsy roads where he lived.  Recently back problems had slowed him down and he’d undergone a serious operation in December, from which he was slowly recovering, looking forward to renewing his active life.  He was also planning on listening to all of Proust on tape–again–in the near future.  

With Frank more often than not any mundane errand might be lit by a spark of genuine human contact and laughter with strangers.  He brought energy, enthusiasm, and ideas into every room he entered.  He will be missed by many of his friends in the area and scattered across the country.  He will also be missed by his family, who loved him deeply.  Frank is survived by his son, Brendan, his sister, Judy (Charles) Ashley of Kenosha, Wisconsin, his brother, Charles (Anna) Boyer of Wellesley, Massachusetts, his nieces, Katie Ashley and Holly (Brett) Cothern, great-nephew Alex Cothern, and family friend Shelley Wyant, of Kingston, New York. 

There will be a private interment next to his wife Joan in Fair View Cemetery, Stone Ridge.  Plans will soon be announced for two memorial services, one this summer for local friends, and a second in September for academic friends and colleagues.

Join the family! Grab a free month of HV1 from the folks who have brought you substantive local news since 1972. We made it 50 years thanks to support from readers like you. Help us keep real journalism alive.
- Geddy Sveikauskas, Publisher

Related Posts

Next Post


6:46 am6:48 pm EDT
Feels like: 52°F
Wind: 11mph N
Humidity: 97%
Pressure: 30.12"Hg
UV index: 1


Independent. Local. Substantive. Subscribe now.