Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Deceased--Freda Koblick

Freda Koblick
August 20th, 1920 to June 18th, 2011

The Graduate [1967]

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

"Sculptor pioneered work in acrylics"

June 21st, 2011

Los Angeles Times

Freda Koblick, 90, a San Francisco sculptor who was a pioneer in the use of acrylics as an art medium, died Saturday in San Francisco. She had renal failure and diabetes, according to William Rukeyser, a longtime friend.

Koblick was born in San Francisco on Aug. 20, 1920. While studying English and engineering at San Francisco State College in the late 1930s, she became interested in making art from what were then new materials, particularly plastic, which, as she told the San Francisco Chronicle a few years ago, appealed to her "fascination with transparency." In 1939 she moved to Los Angeles, where she enrolled at the Plastics Industries Technical Institute.

In the early 1940s she returned to San Francisco and made a living by producing small decorative accessories, such as Lucite doorknobs, trays, candleholders and lamps. Architects eventually hired her to make larger pieces such as fountains and wall sculptures, but she yearned to make her own artistic statements.

"Plastics -- there was a great future in it for one artist who pursued her passion"


Edward Guthmann

August 5th, 2006


When an artist rounds out a 65-year career, and suffers the physical setbacks that make work difficult, if not impossible, one might expect wistful regret -- a mourning for power depleted, an aching for departed companions.

But Freda Koblick, a San Francisco-born sculptor who turns 86 next month, seems immune to all that. She lost part of one leg last year to diabetic neuropathy, spent seven months in the hospital and uses a wheelchair. She has a detached retina in her left eye and can't operate the labor-intensive machinery that's necessary to create her art: sanders and polishers; a band saw and table saw; a lathe; and an autoclave, a steam-heated, half-ton device that compresses acrylic forms.

"I haven't worked for 2 1/2 years," Koblick says at a dining table in her all-white loft. "But I'm hoping to get back to it. I have a workshop waiting for me downstairs and when I can walk well enough I imagine I could do it -- do some of it."

Physically diminished, yes, but Koblick's brain is still agile. She speaks eloquently about her work and her life, the changes she's seen in San Francisco.

Koblick's home is a 4,300-foot loft in the Mission District, carved from a former synagogue built in 1908. Her maternal grandfather, Zusya Faverman, was a member of the building committee and her uncles were bar-mitzvahed here before she was born.

The ceilings are 20 feet high, the floor planks are honey-colored pine and the pair of arched windows, each topped by a Star of David, brings in showers of southern light. Downstairs, in what used to be the synagogue's social hall, Koblick has a workshop where she builds the elegant, abstract acrylic sculptures that Allan Temko, the late Chronicle critic, praised for their "mythic grandeur" and "lyrical grace."

"Even as a child," she says, "I had a kind of fascination with transparency. The fact that you could see through it and then if light came against it, you couldn't see through it and it broke into color."

She was probably the first artist to work exclusively in acrylic -- Bruce Beasley came later, but he worked in other media as well -- and says that few took her seriously at first. Plastics were disdained as an art medium and considered illegitimate, more appropriate to toilet seats or cooking utensils.

"I've had galleries say, 'It's wonderful. If it wasn't plastic we could show it.' "

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