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.
“A remarkable woman. A true visionary.” -Josephine Bloodgood, Executive Director, Woodstock Artists Association
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 New York City as both worked for the William Morris Agency. As a hobby in the 1960s, Faridi refurbished old barns – including the now famous Midnight Ramble barn belonging to Levon Helm. While living in Bearsville, Faridi was also friends with Paul Butterfield, Libby Titus, members of The Band, Bob Dylan and Albert Grossman. In 1970, the Hanfts moved to Santa Barbara, 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, producer of the film The Last Waltz. He had previously been the road manager for The Band. In 1975, Faridi attended Taplin’s wedding, as did Bob Dylan. Shortly thereafter, Faridi began working for the Dylans as nanny for their children. Among her duties (perhaps self-appointed duty) was teaching art to the Dylan children. In 1977, after Bob Dylan separated from 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 then 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.”