Louisville resident Julius Friedman is hard to pin down. As a graphic designer, photographer, artist, book designer and furniture designer, the man and his work both defy easy description.
Friedman’s book “Images & Ideas” features many of his works – including his iconic Louisville Ballet poster depicting the image of a pink pointe shoe poised atop an egg. Other images range from black-and-white photos of lacy, intertwined tree branches to surreal, otherworldly photos of water, ripples and reflections. “Rockopolis” – quirky rock stacks and arches that the artist and a friend, Dan Gimbel, created on Friedman’s Oldham County farm – are also featured.
Much of the book is dedicated to Friedman’s posters, for which he is renowned. In addition to the ballet poster, “Toe on Egg,” other instantly recognizable images are “Fresh Paint,” which shows rows of stark white eggs behind a row of red, yellow and blue yolks, and, in a poster for The Louisville Orchestra, the image of a french horn filled with scoops of ice cream. Glass artist Dale Chihuly’s ruffled, ghostly white vessels photographed against a black background are featured in another poster, while a rainbow of color is revealed in a poster showing glass artist Stephen Powell’s work.
Friedman’s book represents extensive work he has done over the years for arts organizations and nonprofits. “I was lucky enough to build a national and international reputation for work I did essentially for free,” he says. The artist has designed posters advocating peace for a special exhibition presented to the Japanese government on the 40th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, as well as posters to further the understanding and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Friedman recently designed “A Landscape and Its Legacy: The Parklands of Floyds Fork,” the story of Louisville’s largest parks project. The book, edited by Dianne Aprile, is published by 21st Century Parks and distributed by Butler Books. “I have such respect for Dianne,” says Friedman. “I really enjoyed working with her.”
Friedman seems to especially enjoy collaborating with fellow artists. While attending rehearsals of The Louisville Ballet, he was captivated by the skill and grace of dancer Erica De La O. He asked if he could photograph her, and the result of their year-and-a-half-long collaboration is an ethereal series of images charged with energy. When a group of musicians approached him about doing a poster for a concert, the result was “Tin Can Buddha: Eighty-Eight Shades of Blue,” featuring a grand piano set ablaze.
Friedman was born and raised in Louisville, and studied graphic design at the University of Louisville. He is a recipient of the Kentucky Governor’s Award in the Arts, and his works are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; the National Museum of Poster Art in Warsaw, Poland; the Dansk Plakamuseum in Aarhous, Denmark; the Brown-Forman Corporation; and the Marriott Hotel Corporation.
Friedman lives in the Highlands with his wife, abstract painter Cheryl Chapman. Friedman owns Images/Chapman-Friedman Gallery at Sixth and Main streets.
“Images & Ideas,” published by Butler Books, received a gold medal for excellence in the national fine arts category of the Independent Publisher Book Awards. The book also features essays by Jean Bevier, Cheryl Chapman, Gail R. Gilbert and Leslie Friesen. “I didn’t want a story about me,” says Friedman. “I wanted the images I created to be the book.”
“Images & Ideas” and “A Landscape and Its Legacy: The Parklands of Floyds Fork” are available at local book retailers, and online at www.ButlerBooks.com.