Sooner of later we will get back to examining the work of other outsider artists. However, Mr. Freeman is the reason for this blog so let’s show the pieces he had on offer this past Friday.
Hi, this is James. Sorry to be gone so long. I had to move away from Downtown Orlando to care for my aging parents. My father died this March and my mother passed away a week ago today. I have moved back Downtown and I reconnected with Mr. Freeman. Here is a photo I took of him last night.
I found some pictures of his work that customers of his have posted to Instagram under the hashtag #herbertfreeman. Here are four of them.
Takashi Shuji (b.1974) lives with his family and supports himself working as a sewing machine operator. He also creates art which is featured in museum and private collections around the world. Shuji, who has Down’s Syndrome draws still lives of ordinary objects and also animals from illustration books.
He uses an additive/subtractive technique in which he studies his subject intently and lays down large areas of pastel on cardboard or paper and then erases and adds to the drawing until he is satisfied with the results.
Ten days ago I received an email from Jonathan C. Wright describing an encounter with Herbert Freeman. The picture above was attached to the email.
I wrote back and asked for permission to quote from his missive. Mr. Wright gave that permission and now I present it to you:
- While his 9am breath smelled of intoxication, poverty, and a sense of despondency, his work showed otherwise. Heading to Starbucks this morning/afternoon, Diana and I were, therefore, inclined to buy a piece of his art that the artist called both his favorite and most treasured piece on hand – “the Teacher.”
- The piece, Freeman said, signifies how children are “the teacher,” as darkly silhouetted images of children surrounded the Christ-like head image. I was struck by the sincerity of the gentleman, Herbert Freeman. To have met him seemed an honor-albeit at the time, a guarded honor, I sadly admit.
- Indeed, there is no greater honor than to see a man in his glory and to recognize that we are all the same. And that in each and every one of us, there is that something, that some stint of brilliance, by which one should admire. And by which, one may be taught.
Thank you Jonathan, and I hope you enjoy your new purchase. It is gorgeous!
For the second part of our presentation we again feature work from an artist in the Slotin Folk Art Auction November 2010 catalog (PDF link in the post below). That artist is Max Fleshman and even less information is available about him than Troy Gaylon Phillips. His art will have to speak for itself. With an eye for perspective, Mr. Fleshman has decoupaged girly magazine photos onto large prints of forested landscape paintings and sometimes actual paintings. The results are quite engaging and humorous.
All I know about Troy Gaylon Phillips is what was printed in two lines in the November 2010 Slotin Folk Art Auction Catalog (pdf document).
“Troy Gaylon Phillips 1943-1995, Memphis, TN. All of these works were discovered after Phillips’ death, discarded on the sidewalk outside his home.”
I have looked in vain for more information or a photo of Mr. Phillips. I hope there were a lot more of these paintings in that trash pile and they were all saved from the dump. I want to see more of these crazy ass pictures!
Lindsey Wenzell purchased this piece while visiting downtown a couple of nights ago. Besides buying a great picture she reports that she was stopped and asked by three different people if the piece was by Herbert Freeman.
Today I discovered this article in the Orlando Sentinel from 2003 about Aggie Jones.
Aggie Jones was born a slave in Tatnall County, Ga. and moved with her owners to the Lake City (then known as Alligator) area in Florida. After emancipation she moved to Lake City and worked as a domestic. Eventually she was able to purchase some land on Lake Desoto where she grew flowers and vegetables.
She later created a garden with white sand pathways and fantastic arches, trellises, and border ways created out of bones that were wired together. Her garden became a popular destination for visitors. The Bone Yard flourished as one of Florida’s earliest attractions from 1900 to Aggie’s death in 1918.
When searching for images for this post I found this quilt constructed by Teddy Pruett inspired by the postcard above.
Maisy May Marrs is an Orlando artist who recently sold some of her work at the City Arts Factory downtown. She reports that after she left the gallery she ran into Herbert Freeman and admired the piece above. Mr. Freeman had promised it to a woman named Evon, but he said she was very drunk and he did not believe she was coming back to collect it. Maisy offered to buy the piece with proceeds she had just earned from selling her own work. Mr. Freeman agreed and crossed out the dedication to Evon he had written on the back and wrote in her name. He also wrote in the word Project so she could find this blog.
As far as I know Mr. Freeman has only seen this blog once when I showed it to him about a year ago. He was only vaguely aware of it before then. He was very pleased.
A few months back I discovered Donald Blank’s 1994 short documentary of Thai Varick (1941-2001). Varick was a incredibly talented sculptor who used wire as his medium. I have searched the web for months trying to find photographs of his work but these pictures are all that I can find.