Moving from his East Terrace storefront in 1957 to Rundle Street and now Vardon Ave, Frank Vaiana’s barbershop is an institution in itself. It is this deeply ingrained sense of community he continues to create that sparked not only a locally-led street art portrait of Frank as a part of the 2016 Adelaide Fringe, but as of last night, what many refer to as ‘the laneway between Mothervine and Chocolat’ has officially been named Frank’s Lane.
The thing with surprise parties is, there’s always a hitch.
Apparently (unbeknownst to even his own wife), Frank the Barber finishes early on Mondays.
Meanwhile, a crowd were lying in anticipation for Frank’s arrival. Thanks to the skilful tactics and quick thinking of organisers, the face of Adelaide’s longest serving store operator was lit up with shock as friends, family and store owners paid homage to the East End personality known across the City of Adelaide as Frank the Barber.
Among witnesses to the unveiling of Frank’s Lane was the Lord Mayor Martin Haese, Adelaide Fringe Director Heather Croall, artist Nick Phillips and representatives from the Maras group. According to Heather, ‘the love for Frank the barber is so widespread in this city’, that when the idea of a mural was presented to Frank, ‘all the customers (in his barbershop) were cheering and clapping, they thought it was a wonderful idea.’
And a wonderful idea it was, honouring a man so deeply cherished whilst bringing light and laughter to a hidden laneway in the city’s east.
There was one exception though…‘the only thing Frank said when I asked him if we could do a portrait of him was ‘Okay. As long as you don’t give me pink lipstick.’’
Rising from the grassroots of the East End, the idea of Frank’s portrait came from local business owners and traders, the very spirit of the space. In particular, Restaurant Orana and Mothervine supported the installation of this artistic venture officially unveiled last night. With champagne, wine and beer supplied by East End Cellars and nibbles from the nearby Eros Café and Orana/Blackwood restaurants, Frank’s Lane truly received a fitting welcome.
As the Lord Mayor Martin Haese stood beneath a curtain of soft lights entwined with hanging vines, he seemed to put into words what many were thinking. ‘I think there’s one thing really special that sets the East End apart and it’s that very deep and strong sense of community and again, that comes back to people, people just like Frank.’
Frank often hears the question: ‘When are you going to retire?’ And his answer? Not for another 25 years.
See more photos from the event below snapped by Dan Evans.