Kenneth M. Freeman, American
When Kenneth Miles Freeman was a mere six-year-old growing up in Chicago, his mother had already recognized his enthusiasm for and talent in art. One Saturday she took her wide eyed boy to the Art Institute of Chicago. Shortly thereafter he began art lessons. When he was eight he told his mother, "clear out the living room so I can have my studio." Ken commandeered the TV table for his palette and continues to use this same palette today. He announced that he would someday be a famous artist and that he would apprentice with Haddon Sundblom.
Each year Stanford University granted one full scholarship to the art school of choice for the winner in each of five regions nationally. Kenneth M. Freeman won every year among students from 10 states and chose to study at the American Academy of Art under the tutelage of Bill Mosby while in high school. He studied privately with Joseph DeSalvi and ultimately apprenticed with Haddon Sundblom. He graduated art college just one year after completing high school, then launched a 20-year successful career as an illustrator.
While an illustrator, Freeman's interest in portraits and subjects of the West intensified. John Singer Sargent has always been his idol as a portrait artist, and Ken has maintained a portrait style in all his art forms including oil, bronze, and most recently in etched glass. His models are unanimously impressed by his ability to capture on canvas that essence of humanity. Freeman won first prize for a portrait of his daughter at the Illinois State Fair.
Other accolades include winning the Salmagundi Show in New York City, the Union League Club of Chicago, being chosen five times as artist for the Parada del Sol Rodeo in Scottsdale, Arizona and having a painting selected for the 1988 Prescott Centennial Rodeo. That painting was used as the inside cover of Arizona Highways.
He was also famous for painting original art for the Hashknife pony express ride three years running from which posters have been made and sold in the post offices. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona chose two of these posters for display in the Library of Congress and to be included in the Legacy Project.
Southwest Art has also written feature articles about him and displayed many of his rodeo and native American pieces which are well recognized and respected. Freeman earned the honor of creating the art for the 50th anniversary of the Orange Blossom Festival Rodeo in Davey, Florida. Ken's painting entitled "Heluva Good Morning" won Pick of the Show in "The Cowboy" at San Diego Museum of Fine Art.
He was known affectionately as "Rembrandt of the Rodeo" by members of the press. Television and radio frequently interviewed Freeman and showed his colorful and masterful works to the public.
First Lady Barbara Bush was sufficiently impressed with K.M. Freeman's southwestern art, that she invited him to show at the Smithsonian Institutes in conjunction with the planned Native American Museum extravaganza.
In addition to creating book covers for Louis L'Amour and other Western authors, Freeman produced original art for Hamilton Collectibles, a ten plate series called "Proud Indian Families" His notable clients for portraits include the late President Herbert Hoover, elder Okland of the Mormon Church and founder of Okland Corporation, the New Mexican ranching Bogle family, professional accordionist Sherwin Wasserman, country western recording artist Ray Herndon, Senator Lister Hill, the Chicago restaurateur Mr. Biocetti, Chairman of the Duro Corporation, very many famous actors, and for ten years The American Medical Association annually commissioned Freeman as their official portrait artist.
Kenneth M. Freeman was featured in a one man show in Milan, Italy in 2007 complete with a catalogue of his work. He did several custom portraits for the Festival of the West including John Wayne, John Smith, Robert Fuller & Waylon Jennings.
Thankful for his success, he proudly donated to charities, particularly those that benefit abused women and the elderly in hospice care. Freeman enjoyed creating art every day of his life. He spoke of his mother's encouragement reverently, and as a man, he was a delight to know!