Friday, September 23, 2022

Continuum: The Art of Faiya Fredman at La Jolla Athenaeum

By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt.   Photos by Maurice Hewitt.


Graffiti Goddess #1, Faiya’s last artwork, welcomes visitors into Continuum. She created this lenticular piece digitally in 2020; it was produced this year to be in the show.

Faiya Fredman (1925-2020) was an endlessly creative artist. She started painting at age four, at an easel her father made for her, and went on to study Visual Arts at UCLA, experiment with mixed media, large-scale steel sculptures and lenticular printing, and see her work shown locally and around the world.

Life Drawing #4, from the 1960s.

Travels through ancient sites in Greece and Turkey with her husband—Milton “Micky” Fredman, who was the first chairman of San Diego’s Commission for Arts & Culture—inspired her to create a series of sculpted goddesses. After his death, she began making botanical prints—bits of leaves, twigs, and flowers she arranged on a flatbed scanner in her home studio. A number of these showed decomposing flora, on their way out.

Pompeii, a mixed media piece.

“I want people to look at life as a process we all go through,” she said, when I interviewed her at her La Jolla home in 2015. “The buds symbolize birth, then there’s the flowering and the withering. I’m showing that the withering can be just as beautiful as the buds.”

Tidal Fragments #2. Mixed media, photo, sand, and acrylic. While living in Del Mar, Faiya would lay canvas out on the beach and let the tide wash over it.

In 2018, in time for her 93rd birthday, she had a 70-piece “Steel Goddess” exhibition at the Oceanside Museum of Art. The title referred not only to the figures she had been creating for years—some of them nine feet tall—but also to the artist herself, whose bold adventures in art-making kept her at the top of her game all her life.

Lenticular Goddess.

Right up to the end, she was making art, and the current exhibit at the Athenaeum is a mixture of old works and new ones, from the 1960s to 2020, many of them on view for the first time.

Steel Goddesses.

“We called the show Continuum because that’s exactly what it is—a continuum,” said her granddaughter Sara Stewart, the exhibit’s main organizer, who manages the extensive collection of works owned by the Fredman Family Foundation.

Sara Stewart posing with Elcom. She has no idea what the title means,
but it’s her favorite piece.

“While going through my grandmother's writings over the years, I found that she often used that word,” Sara said. “And I really wanted to continue her legacy. I was always excited to be around her when she was working; she was always exploring something new. And putting this show together has been great for my grief process; it makes me feel close to her. The opening September 9th was packed with her admirers, and my whole family came in from out of town.” 

The opening was a day after what would have been Faiya’s 97th birthday—"a perfect way to celebrate her,” as Sara said.

Artist Book. Faiya's tribute to her parents.

When you come to see Continuum, be sure to interact with the lenticular prints, which seem to change as you move slowly by them. And don’t miss the smaller works on view in the Reading Room, along with attractive jewelry and other Faiya-inspired items that are for sale.

Sara Stewart in the Reading Room, with accessories.

“My grandmother loved having her art made into accessories, so I designed some for her,” said Sara, who was wearing a necklace of steel goddess symbols when she gave us a tour of the show.

She and her co-curators, the mother-and-daughter artist/design team Allwyn O’Mara and Carmel O’Mara Horwitz, also created an appropriately large-scale book titled simply Faiya Fredman, which is on sale here as well. Along with beautiful photos of artworks and the artist at work, they have included some of her writings and an introductory essay by art critic Robert Pincus. Allwyn worked closely with Faiya for over 25 years, Carmel joined in along the way, and together with Sara, they have produced a loving tribute to an artist who clearly deserves it.

If you want to take home souvenirs of the exhibit, you have lots of choices. And if you want to learn more about Faiya and her art, come to the Artist PanelDiscussion October 22, 6-8 p.m.

Book Cover

Continuum Addendum: Don’t leave the Athenaeum without stopping by the Rotunda Gallery to see the Derek Boshier exhibit. You’ll be glad you did.


In the Rotunda: Derek Boshier’s Occupations

Derek Boshier: The Auto Dealer.

Derek BoshierFashion Model.

Continuum:The Art of Faiya Fredman 
Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, through November 5
108 Wall St., La Jolla
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday: 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Free admission. / (858) 454-5872

Faiya FredmanGraffiti Goddesses #2 and #3.

Lonnie Burstein Hewitt is an award-winning author/lyricist/playwright who has been writing about arts and lifestyles in San Diego County for over a dozen years. You can reach her at 

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