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Studio Life: Ken Freed’s Recent Gift Honors Professor Emeritus Curtis Rhodes

March 1 – May 2, 2021

Albertine Monroe-Brown Gallery


In 1976, while Kalamazoo-based artist Ken Freed was in graduate school at Western Michigan University, he received a Ford Foundation Grant to create a suite of ten intaglio prints. Mentored by Professor Curtis Rhodes, who founded the print collection within the University Art Collection, Freed took as his muse the subject of the artist’s studio. Aided, as Freed recalls, by “the kindness of so many artist who took pity of a twenty-some year-old student from Michigan,” Freed visited the studios of Lowell Nesbitt, Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, Philip Pearlstein, Louise Nevelson, Richard J. Haas, William S. Haney, Stephen Woodburn, Hiroshi Murata, and Robert Indiana. Completely devoid of figures, the resulting prints provide an intimate view into the very private spaces that gave way to works of great public interest and historical significance.

About the artist
Kenneth Freed was born in Dayton, Ohio and moved to Battle Creek, Michigan at the age of 14. He started painting at 15 and was the youngest artist to have a one-person exhibition at the Battle Creek Art Center. He attended Davidson College and received a B.A. as one of the first art majors in the history of the school. During graduate school, Freed earned purchase awards in several national painting, print, and drawing exhibitions as well as grants. He received a MA from SUNY Oswego and a MFA from Western Michigan University. Freed has exhibited in many parts of the country and has won over thirty purchase and cash awards in competitions.

Mr. Freed has been a full-time painter for more than 30 years and has taught for nearly three decades at the Kirk Newman School at the Kalamazoo Institute of Art to full capacity classes each session. His many private and public portrait commissions include the Irving Gilmore Commission for the Gilmore Theatre Complex for Western Michigan University and a recently completed an 8' x 20' mural on panel for Community Inclusive Recreation, Battle Creek, MI. His work may be found in many public collections including museums, college and corporate collections and was exhibited between 2001- 2004 at the Navy Pier International Exhibition in Chicago. His work is representational with an emphasis on the observation of abstract properties of form and color within the naturalistic orientation. Much of Mr. Freed’s recent work focuses on portraiture, figure paintings, and self-portraiture. New work includes egg tempera, casein/oil emulsion as well as oil paintings.

Frostic School of Art Students and Friends of the Richmond Center Members Preview and Opening Reception TBA MyWMU.com/FriendsofRCVA