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.”

1979 TV Proposal: Day in the Life

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Faridi imagined many works for television.  This proposal was written around the time she worked for Herman Rush, CEO of Columbia Pictures Television.  Though her idea was never brought to life, over thirty years later a somewhat similar, though less wildly imagined, TV show was created by Morgan Spurlock for HULU.  The title of that show:  A Day in the Life.

Pablo Picasso

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“Once art is properly understood, we should be able to paint a picture to cure a headache.” -Pablo Picasso

Faridi took this quote quite literally and used it often in her writing. She firmly believed in the healing power of her art. Faridi’s images, many created by channeling energies from people both alive and dead, are framed with specific color combinations. For her, color was as important an element as the image and affirmation. In Faridi’s art you see a woman attempting to cure the mind, body and spirit simply by painting a picture.

Francoise Gilot

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In 1990, Faridi spoke with Francoise Gilot and recorded the experience in a journal.  For nearly ten years, Gilot had been the lover and muse of Pablo Picasso.  Perhaps Faridi felt a kinship, as she would be linked to Dylan for the rest of her life, though to a lesser extent than Gilot to Picasso. On a subsequent page, Faridi seems to have had a dispute with Gilot over whether or not Picasso was a believer in metaphysics.

Stoned art


Faridi added polished stones to each of these five pieces; the first of which is a portrait of Bob Dylan. This piece measures 40″ x 22″ and the individual cards are mounted at various distances from the blue background.

Adding written text to nearly all of her work perhaps puts Faridi squarely in the Outsider Art category. While living in Santa Monica in the early 1970s, Faridi was at the forefront of the blossoming New Age movement. It was there she began developing her “Healing Art” philosophy.

Notebook doodles

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An early sketchbook from 1974 contains over fifty images drawn with colored pencils.  Several reference Bob Dylan.  In the 1960s, Faridi lived in Bearsville – a little over one mile from Dylan’s home in Byrdcliffe.  Both are small suburbs of Woodstock, New York.