The Freedom Place Collection
January 16 - March 15, 2009

Opening Reception
Jan 16, 5-7 p.m.

Jan. 16, 4-5 p.m.
A Conversation with the Collectors - Stuart Bloch and Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch - and artist Robert Freeman.

The Exhibition
The Freedom Place Collection consists of 52 works by five contemporary African American fine artists, Romare Bearden, Benny Andrews, Alma Woodsey Thomas, Richard Yarde and Robert Freeman. 

Benny Andrews, "Mother"

Robert Freeman

Richard Yarde, "Front 2, Back 2"

They have been collected over the past 30 years by Stuart Marshall Bloch, who is fond of saying: “Nobody can say about art that it’s the right piece or the wrong piece – it’s just what you like…  All I did was say ‘yes.’ For him art is not a commodity, rather something you love to be around.

This is a carefully nuanced collection, each work playing off another and adding up to a sophisticated assemblage of contemporary fine art that represents a first rate contribution to American art today.

That all five artists are African American is significant both because there are uniquely Black characteristics in the works and because of the overall power of these works as they are collectively presented. 

The subjects, mediums and messages differ widely – from abstract to figurative, rural to urban, incorporating color theory, collage, lithographs, oils and watercolors.  Many diverse elements are presented, from country figures to city scenes, from geometric designs to magical landscapes, with intense, brooding characters, jazz musicians, and elegant party-goers – there is something for everyone. 

Good design, and a dramatic use of color and line command our attention.

Artist Bios
The prominent artists whose work is represented in The Freedom Place Collection are separated artistically by the individuality of their creativity and process, yet linked by the African-American experience and heritage, a powerful wellspring of inspiration that has uniquely nurtured and enriched their art.

Benny Andrews, born in rural Georgia during the Depression (1930), tells stories about people, places and things in a style ranging from caricature to fully realized paintings.  His work is exhibited and collected by major museums here and abroad. 

Romare Bearden (1912-1988), one of America’s pre-eminent artists, was a draftsman, painter, water-colorist and, most notably, a collagist.  Born in North Carolina, and raised in Pittsburgh and New York’s Harlem, Bearden worked in various styles, including cartoon and drawing, social genre, modernism, abstract expressionism and photo-collage.  The Freedom Collection includes some of Bearden’s most innovative and expressionistic works.  Created between 1970 and 1985, they embody the characteristic subjects and motifs that occupied his imagination over a 40-year period. The recipient of many honors, Bearden received the National Medal of Arts in 1987.  His works are in distinguished public and private collections throughout the United States.

Robert Freeman (b.1939) is much admired for his figurative work depicting well-heeled African-Americans at sophisticated gatherings, and his restful landscapes.  The Boston-based artist has exhibited extensively and is widely collected in the Northeast. 

Alma Thomas (1891-1978) had her first one-woman show at age 68, and went on to have retrospectives at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Museum of American Art and the Whitney Museum, where she was the first African-American woman to have a solo exhibition. Raised in Columbus, Georgia, she moved to Washington DC at a young age, where she lived for 71 years.  She is best-known for her large, mosaic-like canvases, filled with dense, irregular patterns and bright colors.

Richard Yarde’s (b.1939) brilliant watercolors range from evocative to lyrical portrait studies and complex, figurative compositions.  Boston-bred, his works reflect city and African-American city dwellers, as well as famous black personalities.  His paintings are in many prestigious institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Art Gallery Hours

1-4 p.m., Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
1-7 p.m., Thursdays


Anne B. Zill, Director
Art Gallery
University of New England
Westbrook College Campus
716 Stevens Ave.
Portland, ME 04103

(207) 221-4499