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Bill Freeman

Freeman Collection

Bill Freeman and some of his amazing art collectionPhotos by Oli Robbins

The art and artifacts of Bill Freeman
A collection only an artist could assemble

—Oli Robbins

Surveying the countless fossils, pots, jewelry, and figurines in Bill Freeman’s collection is like traveling the world in a matter of hours. One can venture from Peru to India to Africa to Ancient Greece without ever leaving Placitas. Freeman, an artist, restorer and collector, has rooms in his home that rival certain displays in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His collection is so vast and varied, it leaves the viewer at a loss for words. There is no one region of the world or one genre of art that seems to dominate the collection, which includes seventy-million-year-old fossils, sixteenth-century conquistador armor, Peruvian jewelry, ancient Puebloan pots and much, much more.

It’s not simply the breadth of Freeman’s collection that is remarkable and awe-inspiring, it’s also Freeman’s capacity to play a multitude of roles—he’s an artist and a collector, a student and a teacher, a cowboy and a fine art restorer. Whether by his own admission or not, Freeman has been a gifted artist for most of his life. While he didn’t begin to devote his life to art until the late 1960s, he was exposed to art at an early age. After Bill’s artist-father passed away when he was a young boy, his mother moved the family to El Paso, where she set up a studio alongside Freeman’s grandfather’s dental office. Freeman’s mother began to teach art in her studio, and it wasn’t long until one of her students implored her to “get that boy and teach him something about painting pictures.” But before she had a chance to share her extensive knowledge about art (gleaned from attending Georgetown, where she studied art, philosophy, and theology), Freeman taught himself: “My mom had to go out of town for business and left me in the studio by myself. I set up a still life and painted it while she was gone. The next morning in the studio, my mother and her husband saw the painting and said they could see the talent.” Freeman was about eighteen when he completed that seminal still life, and soon after, he was exhibiting his paintings at a hunting shop in El Paso.

Years later, after working as a wrangler in Wyoming, Arizona, California, and New Mexico, Freeman decided it was time to switch gears and leave the ranch for the studio. Freeman recalls, “The game department had me in the field all the time and I thought, this has got to stop sometime or another.” He began painting fervently, finishing two to three landscapes each day. It didn’t take long for him to amass a large portfolio of work, which was soon after on display at a top gallery in Arizona. Says Freeman, “I began to make a little money painting pictures. That opened up the door to what it was like to make a living as an artist. I felt I was lucky that I could do what I wanted, anytime I wanted, the way I wanted to do it.”

Freeman’s interest in collecting came a bit later when, in 1968, he saw a sixteenth-century Rio Grande Glaze Ware Pot at a friend’s house and felt compelled to copy it. This Glaze Ware Pot, from the Puebloan peoples of New Mexico, ended up having a profound effect on Freeman’s future as an artist and collector. He found that, using Styrofoam as a base and painting with acrylic (he now uses oil paint), he could replicate the pot, keeping “everything just like it is.” Freeman’s enthusiasm for replicating pots led to a keen interest in obtaining them, and his collection began.

Freeman is not only interested in the aesthetics of the objects he collects, but also their cultural background. Says Freeman, “If I buy some of these artifacts, I question the person who is selling them and get all the information I can.” If the seller doesn’t know much about the original function of the piece, Freeman will turn to other wells of knowledge. “I’ve had to learn everything from people I met, or from books, and pick up all the information I can get from different sources.” He’s happy to share with his visitors the anthropological histories of his items, and does so with a bit of humor. Describing the purpose of a monumental, towering carved figure from Oceania, Freeman explains, “That’s Fred. Fred comes from New Guinea. They set up a building and put the young men and young women in the building. They’re supposed to stay there for about a month until they can find a mate. Anyway, they can team up, and Fred sits outside the door and keeps evil spirits from trespassing and going into that building where those young people are.” Freeman laughs, then says, “Don’t you think that’s a good idea?” I agreed that it was.

It’s hard to select a favorite item in Freeman’s collection, but Freeman himself has one: a pot from Red Mesa, near Chaco Canyon. He says that the pot accurately represents the kind of art that was being done in that area and loves the “very primitive” design on it.

Even a specialist would be hard-pressed to distinguish Freeman’s replicas from the originals. His gift at copying artifacts is impressive, as is his ability to work in virtually any media. He is not only an expert replicator of pots, but also ancient sculptures, ceremonial musical instruments, ships—almost anything one could find in a “non-Western” or ancient section of a museum or art history textbook.

The nature of the relationship between Freeman and the art and artifacts in his collection is unique; he not only admires and acquires art, he creates it. Art appreciation and art making are too often separate endeavors. But the collection of Freeman includes the most interesting kind of art—that which results from the mind of a man who is both artist and scholar.


A call for artists—formation of a new co-op gallery

Rio Rancho organizer, Chuck Lathrop, is calling for fine artists and craftspeople in New Mexico who working on paper or with paper to join together to form a new and unique co-op gallery specializing in original paper works. All media will be welcomed, but uniqueness is of special interest. Artists and craftspeople who are interested in coming together in this new endeavor may contact Chuck at studio2951@q.com or by phone at 505-891-8146 or 781-789-8167 to arrange a formation meeting.


c. Joe Cabaza

The Wall of Morning Light, Yosemite Natonal Park, CA, by Joe Cabaza

c. Marie Maher

In The Beginning, by Marie Maher

c. Tom Baker

photograph, by Tom Baker

Perspectives—then and now

—The Perspectives Group

“Perspectives—Then and Now” embraces excellence, originality, and innovation in all photo-based art. The founding members are David Cramer (in memoriam), Fernando Delgado, Joan Fenicle, and Barry McCormick. This exhibition is an opportunity for people to see new work from the founding members and introduce you to the works of our new members—Tom Baker, Joe Cabaza, and Marie Maher.

David Cramer (davidcramer.com) was an award-winning nature and scenic photographer, with an emphasis on the landscapes and wildlife of the Southwest United States. We lost David too soon in 2010, but his legacy continues.

Fernando Delgado (fernandodelgadophotography.com) came to New Mexico via Cuba and has had a successful 25-year career as a creative director for the advertising industry in New York. He attended The Cooper Union School of Art and Parsons School of Design in New York where he studied with Louise Nevelson, Milton Glaser, Henry Wolf, and Herb Lubalin.

Joan Fenicle (backroadsnm.com) came to New Mexico by way of the Colorado Rockies. She has interpreted the scenery and culture of the southwest in paintings and photographs for years.

Barry McCormick (mccormick.photography.com) was a commercial photographer for more than thirty years in the New York metro area, specializing in large format food-and-product illustration. Since moving to New Mexico ten years ago, he has concentrated on fine art figurative work in his Placitas studio.

Tom Baker’s (placitasartists.com/ t_baker) main interest is black-and-white landscape, often working on a large scale. He has made the transition from large format film cameras to digital, doing all his own work from the camera to the processing of the images to the printing and framing.

Joe Cabaza (ourspiritheart.com) is a large format photographer, specializing in black-and-white photography. His landscapes and still life work are in the tradition of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Joe processes and scans all his own negatives and prints the final work on an Epson wide-format printer dedicated to black-and-white printing only with QadtoneRIP Software.

Marie Maher (pacitasartists.com/ m_maher) has been interested in art since she was a child, but worked outside of the art world until a couple of years ago when she became very involved in photography again. Since then, she has taken classes, joined a local photography club, entered photo contests, and become active in the Placitas arts community through the studio tour. She especially likes to shoot in abandoned places; these subjects can evoke the mystical or dark emotions associated with places long forgotten.

The exhibition will be held from January 3 through February 2, 2012, at the Placitas Community Library, 453 Highway 265 in Placitas. A reception for the members will be held on January 13 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Library hours are Tuesday, 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. This is a free event and open to the public. For information, call 505-867-3355 or visit the library web site at www.placitaslibrary.com.


c. Harriette Tsosie

Prelude to the I-Ching, encaustic on panel, by Harriette Tsosie

c. Evey Jones

The Heart of the House is Gone-1, silk with monotype, by Evey Jones

Diptych: An Exhibition in Two Parts—Part One: “Encaustic and Silk”

—Harriette Tsosie

Placitas and Albuquerque artists Evey Jones and Harriette Tsosie explore the media of encaustic (pigmented wax) and silk in two exhibitions slated for the Harwood Art Center January and February 2012.

The first exhibition, Encaustic and Silk, opens Friday, January 6, with a reception from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Jones’ work features ink on silk and focuses on themes of change and loss, inspired by the recent death of her mother. The work imitates a larger exhibition scheduled at the art center for April 2013.

Tsosie’s work is encaustic on panel. The pieces are predominantly mandalas, which represent wholeness, and some are based on the I-Ching, an ancient Chinese book of divination. Central themes of the I Ching are the balance of opposites and the inevitability of change. “I’m interested in the role of chance in our lives,” says Tsosie.

The first exhibition continues through January 26th.

The second exhibition, “Paper and Wax,” opens Friday, February 3rd with a reception from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. In this half of the diptych, the artists continue exploring the versatility of their media with a new group of paintings.

The Harwood Art Center is the community outreach program of Escuela del Sol, an independent, non-profit Montessori school founded in 1968. It is located at 1114 Seventh Street, Albuquerque, NM 87102-2051. Gallery hours are: Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Willy Sucre and Friends play string quartets

—Shirley Ericson, Placitas Artist Series

On January 22, at 3:00 p.m., at the Placitas Presbyterian Church, the Placitas Artists Series will present the fifth concert of its Silver Anniversary Season. Willy Sucre & Friends—Krzysztof Zimowski and Julanie Collier Lee (violins); Joan Zucker (cello); and Willy Sucre (viola)—will be playing String Quartets. The program should include John Bullock’s Silver Anniversary Overture or Pomp and Circumstances Beyond My Control; Mikhail Glinka’s String Quartet in F; and Ludvig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 6 Op. 18.

For a more complete description of the concert and the musicians, please refer to www.PlacitasArtistsSeries.org /januaryc.html. The concert is generously sponsored by Aileen Garriott and Tom Quirk.

Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the concert, or may be purchased in advance at The Merc Grocery Store in Homestead Village Shopping Center in Placitas; Ah!Capelli Salon & Color Studio in Enchanted Hills Plaza, Rio Rancho; or on-line at www.PlacitasArtistsSeries.org. Prices are $20 in advance. At the door, prices are General Admission: $20 and Students: $15.


PAS hosts artists’ reception

—Shirley Ericson, Placitas Artist Series

On January 22 at 2:00 p.m, The Placitas Artists Series, in celebration of its Silver Anniversary will present the art of Sonya Coppo, Patricia Gould, Sarah Hartshorne, and Dana Patterson Roth with a reception at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242.). The works will be on display from December 31 to January 28.

Sonya Coppo is a versatile artist who has created many types of art since childhood. After graduating from Michigan State University, while raising a family, she owned an interior design business in Wisconsin. In addition to her design practice, she designed furniture, painted murals, canvas floor cloths, and table runners for her clients. After selling her business and moving to New Mexico in 2005, she began using canvas to paint interpretations of the Plains Indian Parfleche Envelope as wall hangings as well as handbags in addition to her other canvas art. She designs and paints with acrylics and inks on heavy weight canvas reflecting the colors, culture and spirit of the Southwest. Her work can be seen in Santa Fe in Handwoven Originals, or in Albuquerque at San Pasquals and Vintage Cowgirl in Old Town, or at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa.

Patricia Gould’s art quilts and wearable art creations have won both national and international awards and are in private collections worldwide. She exhibited her art quilts at the 2009 Florence Biennale. In addition to winning a Niche Award in 2008, Patricia was chosen as an Artist-in-Residence for a month in Hungary in 2005 and “Artist of the Month” in March, 2003 by The Artist’s Magazine. Her quilt “Christo’s Umbrellas, October 1991” was installed in the U.S. Embassy in Estonia from 2002 to 2004. Since 2007, the State of New Mexico has purchased eight of Patricia’s artworks as part of the Art in Public Places Program.

Sarah Hartshorne came to painting after pursuing four earlier careers. She began her adult life as a classical cellist, playing in symphony orchestras, and chamber music groups as well as teaching in North, South, and Central America. She then developed an early-learning Spanish program and taught young children through schools and daycare centers as well as privately. Later she built a service business, which she owned and operated for almost nine years. During that time, Sarah returned to school and earned a Masters Degree in counseling. She worked in mental health, in a great variety of settings for twelve years before turning to painting. Her many awards include the 2009 Merchant Award, Encantada 2009, and RGAA Annual Juried Show, Albuquerque.

Dana Patterson Roth has spent a life of adventure in New Mexico, where she has raised children, ridden horses, raced sailboats, hiked, camped, and helped her husband build their own home. She has studied photography and painting at UNM, as well as other venues. She has been a photographer for over thirty years, initially specializing in black and white portraiture and event photography, but in recent years she has focused solely on fine art photography.

For more information, visit www.PlacitasArtistsSeries.org/january.html.

 
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