A Quiet Gathering with Artist Durr Freedley
“Reviving Durr Freedley: Newport’s Forgotten Artist” at the Newport Art Museum
Take a stroll through the sun lit Cushing Gallery of the Newport Art Museum and you are dropping in on a quiet and pleasant gathering of Durr Freedly and company. There are two large rooms in the gallery: the left room with its columns and domed ceiling showcases artist Durr Freedly’s medieval art and architecture interpretations, watercolor sketches, and his early Arts and Crafts pieces. While learned and exact, there is also a youthful expression that says he is clearly enjoying his work.
Exhibited in the right room one can see that Freedley hit his stride when composing his portrait pieces. The paintings are compelling and sensual like a Gaugaun, and modern like a 2-dimensional Brancusi. Getting up close and intently looking at Freedley’s portraits one can see the influence of his background in decorative arts, and familiarity with Renaissance and classical pieces. The figures are traditionally posed and set against a field of richly textured color. Some of the portraits incorporate cuttings of paper and fabric as if pasted into an elegant scrapbook. There is something almost primitive or folk-like in the simplicity of composition but there is nothing flat or cold about his portraits. Indeed, the figures seem to shimmer in their stillness. Floor cases hold Freedley’s personal sketchbooks, handwritten notes, and photographs of his subjects. The contents expand on the intimate nature between artist and model. This is Freedley’s personal conversation – the visitor is politely eavesdropping.
Visit the official website of the Newport Art Museum for museum hours and events. The exhibit runs through January 18, 2016.