Frank McKinney and His Sun Drenched Canvas
June 28, 2016

By Denia McCobb

I recently had the great pleasure to meet an extremely successful artist who cannot draw a stick figure, cannot paint, cannot sculpt and has never had his art displayed in a gallery. I’m sitting with Frank Mckinney, a Delray Beach local, in his “office,” which happens to rest comfortably on the branches of a huge, amazing old tree that overlooks a magnificent panoramic view of the ocean. His commute from home to the office is a suspension bridge that connects the two. The most traffic he encounters on his way to work consists of the occasional iguana that may be basking in the sun mid-bridge. But wait, how is this unconventional artist so successful? In his own words, “I create three dimensional works of art, on a sun drenched canvas known as the Atlantic Ocean, which only the wealthiest of people can afford to live in.”

How much money would you pay to step inside of the works of Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dali or Rembrandt? Does 50 million dollars sound like an agreeable figure? Well it does for the clients of this Delray Beach local artist, who started out buying a fifty thousand dollar crack house fixer upper and went on to house Florida’s most affluent clientele with luxury homes most of us can only dream of. However, money was never the true motivator for this dare devil real estate developer, it was more about the validation of finding a buyer who believed his magnum opus was worthy of being purchased. You see Mckinney is not commissioned to build homes to the buyers’ specifications; he doesn’t even build homes based on his own likes or dislikes. He builds these masterpieces with a subliminal sense of what an ultra wealthy person would want. The details are right down to the gold plated toothbrush in the bathroom, luxurious linens on the beds and plush rich towels in the closet.

Photo Courtesy of Frank Mckinney

On the same afternoon as my meeting with Frank, in that very same tree house, I met with a five time bestselling author, a hopeless romantic, a rebel, a tennis instructor, a philanthropist, a dedicated father, a loving husband and an endurance athlete that had successfully finished the Badwater, 135 mile, ultra marathon through Death Valley, several times. I know what you’re thinking, how did all those people fit in that little tree house? Easily, they are all the parts that make up this modern day Renaissance man known as Frank Mckinney. He is not only a multi-facetted business guru, he is an incredibly interesting, relaxed, humble and inspirational man whose bare feet are so firmly grounded in the sand, even with all his success.

Photo Courtesy of Frank Mckinney
Frank McKinney running a marathon

Mckinney not only provides housing to the wealthy but also to the poorest most desolate country in the world. To date, he is responsible for 20 self-sufficient villages in Haiti. Each village consisting of 50 homes, a community center, schools for 400 kids, renewable food sources and clean drinking water. The villages cost in the ball park of $350,000 to build. Through his organization known as the Caring House Project, he raises 90% of the money needed to complete each project and donates the other 10% out of pocket. Quite the accomplishment since it was the other way around when he started with only 10% of the necessary funds coming from donations.

I was so intrigued and comfortable in his presence that I was able to delve into a more compassionate and personal side of this bona de self-starter. He shared the interesting story that led him to his self proclaimed greatest achievement. He was interviewed by a magazine, much like this one. When the publication was distributed he raced out and bought a copy and thumbed through it anxiously to get to the story about him. He noticed on the page opposite of his photograph, was a picture of a homeless man living out of a van. 

Photo Courtesy of Frank Mckinney
Frank McKinney in one of his Haitian villages

Despite his efforts he could not ignore that picture, his eyes kept returning to it time and time again. He wondered how he ended up on the right side of the page and how this other man, made of skin and bones, like him, could have ended up on the wrong side. The thought festered and it was the beginning of his path to his highest spiritual calling. He began volunteering at a soup kitchen known as the Caring Kitchen, every Monday, delivering meals to the homeless. He knew he could help and potentially impact their lives positively - from there the “need” to do more intensified. He says “Jesus’ skin started to grown on me” leading him into his greatest venture yet, the Caring House project. “When you ducktail your professional highest calling with your spiritual highest calling you can skip right over happiness and land on joy.” Interestingly enough, although guilt may have been the catalyst for seeking out charity work, it was charity work that catapulted him into his dedicated relationship with God.

As his charity continues to house and feed thousands of the world’s poor, Frank also nourishes the spirit of those around him. Walking his daughter to school everyday from her first day of kindergarten right on through her last day of middle school became a highlight. He picked up a shell or a stone every day of their commute and has them carefully tucked away for her in a keepsake box still today. He went on to write a book about their 1,650 walks to school, “Dead Fred, Flying Lunch Boxes and the Good Luck Circle” is known as a modern day Wizard of Oz. Neighborhood kids were intrigued by Franks’ magnetic personality and wanted in on the action. On the first Friday of every month others were welcomed to join in on the walks and they rapidly grew to a 200 man march to school. With the high school being so far from home, Frank now drives his daughter every morning, leaving time for them to spend together in the chapel before classes start.

After what seemed like hours hanging out with an old friend just chatting, I asked Frank to close his eyes and just answer off the cuff, the first thing that came to mind when I asked him, what I believe to be some of life’s more difcult questions.

Photo Courtesy of Frank Mckinney
Frank McKinney running a marathon

BFM: What do you want your grandchildren to know about you?

Frank: That granddad never compromised who he was to become what he was."

BFM: What is your greatest lesson thus far? 

Frank: That each one of us has been blessed with the ability to succeed and that these blessings are not meant for our own sole benefit but in order to assist others who will likely not succeed at our level.

BFM: What is your greatest fear?

Frank: That I might step on one of life’s mine fields, a bad decision made could ruin my reputation and my family.” Also, “that I would ever lose touch with the little boy inside of me. As I age, I want to always be able to relate to little kids.

BFM: What does Frank Mckinney have yet to accomplish?

Frank: Well, I don’t believe in bucket lists. Planning more than one year ahead is limiting in my opinion. Even though I hate politics, I would like to become more politically involved in Haiti, perhaps as an ambassador or other elected official and become responsible for more change, BIG change!

As I drove home after our meeting, I found myself smiling, feeling happy.This man really was energetic, positive, enlightened and it was somehow was intoxicating and  contagious. It lead me to research the formula for happiness and it all but had his picture on the description.

I found it interesting, comforting and quite relieving that despite all of Frank Mckinney’s wealth and success, the things that make him a vehicle of happiness and positive energy are actually all FREE!

Housing sustainable design happiness

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About The Author: Jacqueline Romano

Jacqueline Romano is the Creative Director & Editor of Blindfold Magazine. She feels it is her personal vocation to use her creative skills to raise awareness for people and organizations who are making positive change, both globally and locally.

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