Submitted by the Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters:
Former Festival of Arts artist and board member Robert Freeman, aka Philip, died of natural causes on February 13, 2013. Philip Freeman was born in River Rouge, Michigan, in 1925.
He met his wife to-be Jean Sampson at the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, which was later renamed the Center for Creative Studies. Both studied under famed ceramist John Foster. Philip studied by the courtesy of the GI bill that provided for educational pursuits of veterans. While studying in Detroit, Philip learned an ancient Chinese technique of glazing that produces crystalline formations. He developed crystalline and porcelain glazes, and at that time, he was one of six people in the United States that knew how to create these secret formulas.
Service in the Marines during World War II involved time spent in the Golden State for Philip. He fell in love with the West Coast and vowed that some day he would return to Southern California. In 1952, he moved to Westminster, California and convinced Jean to join him after she graduated from art school. They later married in 1954 and had two children, Lance and Paula. Philip and Jean were both on the Saddleback Community College faculty and together they set up the first educational programs at Leisure World (now Laguna Woods) where Phillip taught classes until he retired at age 65.
They moved to Dana Point in 1957, the same year Philip and Jean were juried into the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts fine art show. For 43 years, Philip showcased his crystalline glazed hand-thrown porcelain vases and pottery, as well as ceramic koi fish, at the Festival of Arts. Each exquisite and one-of-a-kind piece is numbered, signed and registered. Philip, an award-winning artist, was able to hand throw pots made of porcelain with such attention to detail that his art was widely recognized and sought after. His work is in the permanent collections of the Detroit Museum of Art and the Festival of Arts as well as more than 2,000 private and public collections in the United States and abroad. Philip was also an accomplished painter and weaver, as well as a gifted art educator.
Philip was passionate about the Festival of Arts and the artist community. He served on the Festival of Arts board from 1980 to 2000; he held the position of president in 1989, 1996, 1997, and 1998. As a board member, he was an advocate for the artists and promoted positive rapport among the board, artists and staff. He was enthusiastic about art education and supported the Festival’s Scholarship and Junior Art Exhibit programs.
Philip loved his family and was a faithful Catholic man. Philip was married to Jean for almost 52 years, when she passed. He is survived by his two sisters (Joan Grace Greene and Nancy Joyce Durham), son Lance M. Freeman, daughter Paula Fowler, three married grandchildren and five great grandchildren, with two on the way. Philip Freeman will be deeply missed. A private memorial service will be held for Philip at Saint Edward the Confessor Church in Dana Point.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Festival of Arts Scholarship Program and/or The Artist Fund at the Festival of Arts