July 19, 2013 § 1 Comment
When I was a small boy, I showed my father what appeared to be a page of scribbled lines that in no way would lead him to think I might someday make my living as an artist. He asked me what this masterpiece depicted, and I replied that it was ‘interference on t.v.
Around the same time, I complained to my parents “The television lied, they said the next program would be in living color, and it wasn’t.” I really believed their promise would somehow rectify the limitations of our black and white television. TV wouldn’t lie to me! These two anecdotes are not just evidence that I was raised on tv like a good American, but they foreshadow the work I do today, making social commentary that takes a critical view of the cultural interference spewing from our tv screens.
I went on to attend Pratt Institute, where I met Francis Leahy, currently the director of A.J.Dillon Gallery and a close friend ever since. After college, I worked in the bullpen of an advertising art studio. Like bootcamp for an aspiring illustrator, the insane deadlines, and workload helped prepare me for life as a professional image maker. In these artistic trenches, I met Douglas Miller and Dan Zollinger. We planned our escape and eventually created our own advertising art studio, Redline Illustrations. We operated for ten years, providing storyboards for dozens of Fortune 500 companies. We were a success, but I always felt my deeper artistic desires were being sacrificed for financial gain. I worked nights creating a portfolio of personal work that expressed and channeled my passions and politics. My work was accepted into the American Illustration Annual competition, and it was not long before Rolling Stone, The New Yorker and Time magazine were calling. Not to make it all sound glamorous. ‘Supermarket Digest’ was also calling, and in many ways, editorial illustration was a lot more like advertising illustration than I had hoped it would be.
At this time, I started creating personal work that was part of the nacent, low-brow, pop-surrealist movement growing out the Lower East Side in NYC. My work was shown in several group shows with some important pop artists including Ron English and Kaws. Solo exhibitions at Trifecta Gallery in Las Vegas followed. My art is an attempt to distill, decipher and challenge the images and messages we are bombarded with in relentless salvos of cultural pollution emanating from our tv’s and computer screens using the iconography of our corporate culture and hopefully a bit of humor to make my social commentary. Numerous alternative news venues have given me a platform to share my responses to the government and corporate talking points that pose as news. The Trends Journal publishes a weekly political cartoon series aptly titled “The Weekly Freda”, The French magazine ‘Liberation’ asked me to contribute my political art on a monthly basis, and Infowars, Washington’s Blog, Activist Post, The Big Picture and others post my work. Cindy Sheehan has promoted my anti-war art, and is interviewing me on an upcoming episode of her radio show about my drone painting campaign where I intervene on Thomas Kinkade prints to raise awareness about the cost of the drone wars. Personal highlights of my career include being asked to judge The Society of Illustrators annual competition, and teaching a five day workshop with Victor Stabin, and one of my artistic heroes, Marhsall Arisman. I have also given guest lectures at SVA and Pratt, and have been part of the Graduate Mentorship program at The School of Visual Art. I am honored that my work has been included in The Society of Illustrators, Communcation Arts, and American Illustration competitions. I am thrilled to be showing my work at the A.J. Dillon Gallery. I’m sure mine is only the first of what will be a long list of compelling exhibitions.
I currently live in a 19th century convent with my lovely wife, Amber, amazing son Antonio and the ghosts of several nuns.
Erika Pope said of my work in a 2009 review “Freda’s use of text and imagery combine to turn the obvious on it’s head and, in so doing, force the truly interesting issues to the forefront” I hope you agree.
See my latest exhibition “Order Out of Chaos” at A.J. Dillon Gallery in Atlantic Highlands, NJ
Opening reception: July 20th 7:oopm
July 20, 2012 § 1 Comment
I thought I’d use the opportunity to comment on issues that are beyond the stuff of children’s nightmares. The nightmares that keep me up at night are squarely based in current reality. The mass shooting that occurred last night is just one manifestation of a profoundly sick society.
Our children play first person shooter games from an early age based on technology originally designed by the military to de-sensitize soldiers to killing people. Most people have a natural aversion to slaughter, so hundreds of hours at the trigger shooting simulated human targets helps make murder a fun and mundane activity.
Our leaders get together every “Terror Tuesday”and pick a ‘baseball card’ from their kill list to be the lucky recipient of a Hellfire Missile launched from a Predator Drone. The names are picked by the same intelligence agencies who told us WMD’s in Iraq were a “Slam Dunk”. The targets are, of course. denied any charges, trial or defense. Why deal with all that pesky jurisprudence when you can proceed directly to execution? The fact that these executions are illegal and that the people carrying out the orders could be prosecuted for murder doesn’t seem to present a problem to our fearless leaders who are guided by only the highest ‘humanitarian’ ideals. If a couple of dozen children or people simply attending a wedding happen to get blown up in the process, well that’s just ‘collateral damage’
Should we really be shocked when one of the kids trained to kill on hyper-violent computer games, bombarded by a blood-drenched culture posing as ‘entertainment’ and taught that a foreign policy based on war crimes is ‘humanitarian’ commits acts of obscene violence?
February 2, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This painting was originally titled “No-Bull Peace Prize” It was published in the Trends Research Journal, and has been posted on anti-war blogs and alternative media news sites including Activist Post.
It was selected to be part of both the Society of Illustrators and Communication Arts annual illustration competitions.
January 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Martin Luther King’s Ghandi inspired ideas of non-violent resistance to tyranny, war and oppression are a constant source of inspiration to me.
It’s incredible for me to think that around the time I was born, the chances of a black man being elected president were zero.
We obviously have come a long way in our attitudes towards race and equality, but have a long way to go before we approach Dr. King’s dreams of peace and personal liberty for all.
He said “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on their military than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Last year we spent more money on our military budget than China, Russia and the next 12 nations Combined. We are currently waging war, either overtly or covertly, in 8 countries.
January 5, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I spent a lot of time creating artwork for alternative media news websites and blogs last year, and am looking forward to continuing the labor of love as we enter the year of the dragon. I was largely content to keep quiet and let my art speak to the issues by accompanying the words of others. I think it’s a good idea to let real writers speak truth to power, but I may contribute to the discussion from time to time. I will post some of my favorites from 2011 here. Like Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
This image was made using acrylic paint and colored pencil on a vintage blackboard. It appeared on Barry Ritholz’ blog The Big Picture and Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. It was also chosen to be part of the Society of Illustrators Annual Editorial Competition.
November 1, 2010 § 1 Comment
“Everybody Knows the fight was fixed, the poor stay poor the rich get rich” goes a line in a Leonard Cohen song.
I’m just an artist trying to make sense of the world, using my art as a vehicle to channel the passion I feel about the injustice I see everywhere.
I have been accused of creating art that is somehow Un-American. That assessment is not accurate and completely misses the point of my work. I feel privileged to have been born in this country and I cherish the notion of personal freedom that America was founded on. I am pointing a finger at those who enact policies that destroy our freedoms and start wars that needlessly kill Americans and innocents abroad. Their agenda does not represent my idea of what this country stands for. Our ‘officials’ are not America, We are.
Shepard Fairey, the brilliant artist who created the iconic ‘Hope’ image has recently expressed his disappointment with BHO. It seems to me that his image was like a glass of champagne on a first date. It’s filled with the dreamy sense of possibility and promise that someone you don’t really know yet can offer. I want my work to go down like a hot cup of black coffee the morning after. Something like “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. A graphic depiction of the sins our ‘fearless leaders’ have committed in our name.
Every unjust war we start puts a black mark on our collective soul. The lies that brought us into the Vietnam conflict made us cynical. The lies that brought us into Iraq have destroyed trust in Government for many of us. Frank Rich points out that instead of bringing American ideas of freedom to Iraq, this war is bringing the political chaos of Iraq to America.I think on some level, Everybody Knows that we have lost our way, and America’s future is bleak unless we reverse the damage that has been done to us by the interests that promote and finance the war machine.
Despite promises to the contrary, The Bush Doctrine of endless, preemptive war continues to be the cornerstone of our foreign policy, and The Patriot Act remains intact as a testament to tyranny. What will the next war bring?
October 28, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I was recently interviewed by Art Threat, a site and magazine devoted to politics and art.
It was a phone interview written verbatim, so please excuse any grammatical or other mistakes.