John Freyer is an educator at VCU as well as an artist and an author. He has mobilized projects such as Free Ice Water, Free Hot Coffee, and Free Hot Supper in an effort to enrich social ties in the community. These art works art not traditional paintings in museums, but rather they are concept based and extend into the real world.
His Free Hot Coffee project began within an addiction support group called Rams for Recovery. In an effort to give back to the group which supported and encouraged him on his journey, he provided coffee for one of the meetings. His contribution gradually expanded and became more popular and now he has a bike with coffee stand attached allowing him to branch out into the city. He rides around the community, connecting with individuals and reducing the stigma around addressing addiction. I think this is a great idea, and I think especially in the winter, he could consider providing free hot chocolate or tea too if they wanted to further expand the operation.
I was also interested in the Free Ice Water project. This initiative involved sitting down with someone you may not know and having a conversation with them as you drank your glass of water. While this would definitely be out of my comfort zone, it would be a good exercise in connecting with new people and focusing on listening in the moment.
Unfortunately, I could not actually attend this lecture so I did not receive any free coffee or water, but I was still able to learn a lot by watching the lecture on video, and who knows, maybe I’ll see him somewhere on the streets of Richmond!
Sources to Explore
The official Fifty-Fifty website, which it the overarching organization that links all of Freyer's projects: http://fiftyfifty.country/
Freyer brought his Free Hot Coffee overseas, and you can learn more about his trip to London with this link: https://www.richmond.com/entertainment/art/richmond-artist-brings-his-free-hot-coffee-bike-to-london/article_585947ea-6931-5445-96dc-a068805d8979.html
Try-Me is the location of private art collection which was previously a factory for Try-Me Soda. It contains a wide range of art by numerous artists from the unknown Philadelphia Wireman, to the well known Kehinde Wiley. I appreciated being invited to this gallery with its extensive collection of art pieces. When I walked in, the first piece I noticed was Plasma Stone II by Mariko Mori. It was an arrangement of two giant, acrylic coated forms. The way the piece morphed as I walked around it and how light was refracted through the piece was captivating. The purpose of this piece was to attempt to capture the essence of the universe and while that is no small task, Mariko Mori executed a commendable interpretation of this concept. I was also interested to learn about the process of the piece’s installation. The amount of machinery and people it took to move the extremely heavy work of art showed just how logistically difficult it is to run a gallery.
In addition to Mori’s piece, I was also interested in Monument to Fashion Evan Gruzis. This sculpture explores the shallow vanity prevalent in today’s society by depicting a mannequin with glasses nonchalantly reclining. His work is subtly mocking and ironic to the fashion world which I find intriguing. Also, part of the reason I was interested in this piece was due to the fact that I could draw parallels with my sculpture. While the message is different, we both employ the use of simplified and generally unadorned figures.
Overall this trip was a great experience and I also enjoyed exploring on their website to see works that were not displayed. I hope I get the opportunity to return!
Sources to Explore
Mariko Mori's Website (which has more really interesting large scale pieces):
Evan Gruzis' Website: http://www.evangruzis.com/
I am a Maggie Walker art student in Richmond, Virginia. This blog section is a little window into my art process, research, and experiences. You can follow along with my journey as you scroll.