On July 11th I attended an art show of work by the late Ray Frederick at Marshalltown Community College. I had looked forward to this weekend for a while. At one point I thought it might be possible to take my dad, who was a student and friend of Ray’s. But the show was delayed a few times, first because of the pandemic and then because of the derecho. My hometown has been through a lot in recent years and is still picking up the pieces.
I arrived with about an hour left in the bidding. I felt rushed to survey the work and worried I might second guess my choice. There were a few pieces in a bright geometric and unfamiliar style that caught my eye. They were much different from the work I had seen from him before.
Ray and Annice’s daughter Denise introduced me to several people—some who knew my dad. Among these, I met Chris Chantland a student of Ray’s and a talented artist in his own right. We exchanged memories of visits with Ray and Annice and shared photos of paintings on our phones. I shared a photo of a painting Ray made of my dad.
Even at a young age, my interests were in creative work. I took for granted that I knew working artists, people who made a life by forming their talents. As others my age were choosing more conventional career paths this knowledge helped me brush aside their doubt. What a gift, an experience most don’t have. I think this is what my dad valued most in his relationship with Ray—the courage needed to do the things only he could do.
I won bids on two very different paintings. I was pleased. Later that night I found myself looking through photos of my dad. I came across several with Ray’s artwork in frame. In one he held his guitar, seated in front of one of the paintings I’d purchased that day. What a surprise and a special moment for me.