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Rik Freeman Wins Fourth Annual East of the River Distinguished Artist Award

Rik Freeman, Samba na Praia, from the series, BAHIA!, 2013

(Washington, DC) ARCH Development Corporation (ARCH) and the Gautier Family are pleased to announce Rik Freeman as the winner of the fourth annual East of the River Distinguished Artist Award (EotRDAA). ARCH will host an awards ceremony on July 18 at Honfleur Gallery to formally present Freeman with his $5,000 prize. The following individuals made up this year’s panel: Sharon Gautier (art collector and family representative), Noah Getz (saxophonist and Musician-in-Residence, American University), George Koch (artist; President and CEO, Center for the Creative Economy; Founder, Artomatic), Luis Peralta Del Valle (artist; 2013 EotRDAA recipient), and Adele Robey (actor; Founder and CEO, Anacostia Playhouse).

Freeman is a narrative painter concerned with Afro-Diasporic culture and tradition. Active, rhythmic figures mark his distinctive visual language, and his compositions are informed by both the dynamics of close-knit communities and larger socio-political contexts. Born in Athens, Georgia, Freeman credits his exposure to local storytelling traditions as a major influence to his style and subject matter. Freeman first made his mark in DC in 1989, with mural commissions from DC Artworks for pieces on East of the River buildings such as the Douglass Community Center and the DC Center for Therapeutic Recreation. With their subject matter taking cues from local community histories and cultures, these works continued his interest in reflecting the immediate world around him as he established in Georgia.
Since 2003, Freeman has worked out of a studio in Ward 7’s Deanwood neighborhood. There he has undertaken two notable bodies of work, The Chittlin Circuit Review series and the BAHIA! series. The Chittlin Circuit Review is a series of 30 large-scale oil paintings that trace the origins and evolution of Blues music.
BAHIA! chronicles the experience and culture of the Afro-Brazilian people of the State of Bahia in Brazil. The series grew out of a residency he completed there in 2011, and is about halfway done with 10 completed canvasses. Simultaneous to his studio practice, Freeman has continued to paint murals around DC; most recently, he completed a mural entitled Honor Yourselves at H.D. Woodson Senior High School.
Freeman is the recipient of numerous fellowships and is included in F. Lennox Campello’s 2011 book 100 Artists of Washington. In 2003, he completed a permanent mural entitled Shaw Rhythms within the convention center after selection by the Washington Convention Center Authority.
The EotRDAA honors one EotR artist with the $5,000 award each year. The award is open to all artists in all disciplines who currently live in neighborhoods East of the Anacostia River. The award is designed to celebrate the achievements and contributions of East of the River artists who have enriched the arts in Washington, DC. This award epitomizes the goals of ARCH and the Gautier Family to create a home for the creative economy, artists, arts, and cultural organizations to fulfill its mission of revitalization and sustainable economic development in Historic Anacostia. Previous winners include Jonathan French (2014), Luis Peralta Del Valle (2013), and BK ADAMS • I AM ART (2012).