All posts by Faridi McFree

Faridi McFree was born Frieda Asmar on March 8, 1936 in Hillside, New Jersey. She married Michael Hanft in 1961 and the two purchased a home in Bearsville, New York, a rural suburb of Woodstock. The couple maintained an apartment in Brooklyn while both working for the William Morris Agency in NYC. According to her ex-husband, the Hanfts were friends with members of The Band and Bob Dylan. As a hobby in the 1960s, Faridi worked as an interior designer, and even refurbished old barns - including one owned by Levon Helm, which later became known as the Midnight Ramble. In 1970, the Hanfts moved to Santa Monica, California. Michael began work for Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas while Faridi was swept up by the blossoming New Age and Transcendental movements. At the time, their next-door neighbor was Jonathan Taplin, the former road manager for The Band. He would later produce the film, The Last Waltz. In 1975, Faridi attended Taplin's wedding, as did Bob Dylan. It was around this time Faridi began working for the Dylans. Among her duties, perhaps a self-appointed duty, was teaching art to the Dylan children. In 1977, after Bob Dylan divorced his wife, Sara, and Faridi and Michael separated, Faridi moved in with Bob on his farm in Minnesota. The love affair ended a year later. Faridi spent the next few years in California, promoting her *Healing Art" while working for Herman Rush, CEO of Columbia Pictures Television. Faridi next moved to New York City where she worked for Deloitte, Haskins & Sells at One World Trade Center. In 1982, Doubleday published her book, "Celebrate You," featuring Faridi’s artwork, affirmations and healing techniques. In 1983, Faridi became an Interfaith Minister. She worked with the underprivileged, the terminally ill, and children from broken homes. In 1987, William Morrow published her book, "Peace on Earth Begins With You." After a short illness, Faridi McFree passed away on August 25, 2009. *In his 2001 book, Down the Highway: The Life and Times of Bob Dylan, author Howard Sounes writes: “Faridi had invented a concept called Healing Art.”

Framed Art by Faridi

FramedArt2   FramedArt3   FramedArt14

Three watercolors by Faridi McFree.  For Faridi,  paint and mat color were equally important in the presentation of her Healing Art.  She was a strong believer that color affected mood.  The text added to nearly all of her artwork was meant to be repeated as a mantra,  not only while viewing the art,  but many times throughout the day.  The final figure is most likely Bob Dylan,  who was often painted wearing a flat-brimmed feathered hat.  Here he is portrayed without the hat.

Eastern Airlines


One of Faridi’s first jobs was as a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines. At the table, from the camera’s point of view, a statue of the Greek goddess, Hebe, appears directly behind Faridi.  In the large b&w group photo, see if you can find her.  Hint: She loved being the center of attention.

Celebrate You! (part 1)

celebrate you TV A   celebrate you TV B   celebrate you TV C

Soon after signing the 1981 contract with Doubleday to publish her book, Celebrate You!, Faridi created this imaginative television proposal.  Faridi’s first experience working with children and introducing them to what she termed “Healing Art” began with the children of Bob and Sara Dylan.  Years later, Faridi would work extensively with children from broken homes, creating art with them in much the same way as she imagined the process would work in this proposal.  In the McFree collection are hundreds of paintings by children, some of which were enhanced by Faridi with ink pen.  (See: Art With Children.)

Celebrate You! (part 2)

celebrate you TV letter   celebrate you TV letter 2

Sadly, Faridi’s TV show never came to pass.  It would be one of many disappointments in her life, yet she always tried to maintain a positive attitude.  Her inability to break through in the world of television is perhaps best summarized by this quote from Winston Churchill: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”  Faridi wrote several proposals for TV, none of which were ever produced.