In Search of the Artist Named Friedman – Revisited

FerryBuilding

Who was this artist named FREIDMAN? For years I have been in search of the answer. Have I finally solved the mystery!

FriedmanSigned  CoitTower

Detailed views of Friedman painting. San Francisco skyline, pre Transamerica Building. Coit Tower and the Ferry Building  are recognizable landmarks.

Years ago, on a now defunct blog, I posted about an artist named FRIEDMAN. I was searching for more information about the artist who painted a painting that now hangs in our dining room. For years it hung in my Grandparents home. Grandpa said he bought it at a gallery in San Francisco back in the 60’s. It’s not a small painting, it is a 20” x 60” landscape of the San Francisco skyline.
MyFriedmanPainting

I set out to try to find who the artist was. The painting is signed FREIDMAN. But who was this mystery artist. I found some similar art for sale online. First, I found a painting at a gallery in in San Diego. No clues to help me find answers. Actually, their info added to my confusion. They said:

Freidman_Painting

Signed by the artist “Friedman”, this is a classic example of vintage School of Paris imagery. This painting was purchased in Paris during the heyday of the School of Paris popularity.

The painting is non-descript, but has all the characteristics of other FREIDMAN painting that are usually of San Francisco. I found another painting on flickr.

FreidmanAsSeenOnFlickr

Comment on flickr gave some insight about the painter. A person named Victoria said:

My painting by Friedman was purchased between 1963-68. It is a French Street scene. At the time I lived south of San Francisco in Millbrae. I think that “starving artist” is an apt description of the artist as I remember him telling me that was exactly what he was and asked if he could spread his paintings out on my front lawn for myself to see along with any of my neighbors that might be interested in purchasing one. I still have my painting.

I was contacted by another FRIEDMAN owner, Mike, who had a painting very similar to mine. He added to the “starving artist” story. He told me that his parents purchased it from an artist who was going door to door, working out of his car. His Mother liked the painting, but wished it had a more orange hue. The artist went to his car and added the desired color. The painting was sold, and part of his family for years. Below is Mikes painting and mine:

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Aside from the paintings, there are many small sketches/prints of San Francisco. They are very prolific on ebay. As part of my research I could not resist purchasing a few prints. Most appear to be signed and numbered – FREIDMAN “1/64”.

FriedmanPrint

Some sellers think these are individually signed and numbered in series. A closer look, under magnification, the signature looks like it has halftone print dots. That means these are prints. It is easy to mistake these as original art, especially when some have been hand painted over the print.

HalftoneSignature

Notice the dots in the Signature. Definitive proof that these are printed copies, not individually signed etchings.

I theorized that the artist sold these print on the street as souvenirs. He was very entrepreneurial. And very much part of the scene that was San Francisco leading up to the Summer of Love.

So, do I really know anything more definitive about the artist named FREIDMAN. Not really. I can only assume this was an aspiring street artist in San Francisco, trying to make a buck.

I didn’t know if I would ever be closer to knowing who the artist was. He may forever known only as FREIDMAN.

One day I came across information about an artist named PARTEE. It seems that PARTEE was from New York and was born, John Irwin Freidman in 1934. PARTEE passed away in 2008, he had been living near San Francisco in Sonoma County. Looking at his work I could not say I had found my man. There were etchings of San Francisco, but nothing that had the same style. Nevertheless, PARTEE was an interesting character. I would eventually revisit the possibilities of a connection.

Seems that PARTEE had an association with the infamous Charles Manson in San Francisco during the Summer of Love. Several of his drawing from that era even include images of Manson. All makes for interesting backstory, but it didn’t connect any dots.

I was reviewing some of the San Francisco prints I had purchased. There was one that had been sent to me by mistake by the ebay seller. It was a typical FREIDMAN, but it wasn’t of San Francisco. The print was of the 1964 New York Worlds Fair. Signed FREIDMAN 64.

Friedman1964WorldsFair

ForINGA

I had never really noticed, it also said “for Inga”. Could this be the clue I needed. John Irwin Freidman aka PARTEE was from New York. This was not enough to make the connection. Who was Inga? Well, on a blog devoted to researching the Tate-LaBianca Homicide there is a page about John Irwin Fredman. On that page it mentions:

He (Freidman) married in the early 1960’s to a lady by the name of Inga, had 3 children with her but she was killed in a traffic accident in San Francisco in the mid 60’s. Soon after, he met and married a lady named Holly. It was about this time that he changed his name to “Partee”.

Wow, is this the evidence I was looking for? Pretty sure this is the artist named FREIDMAN I have been looking for.

18 Comments
  1. I knew him and his second wife holly who was the sister of my roommate, his first wife and children were killed in a car accident in a VW bug.

    He was a fascinating person, he was written up the the SF Chronicle in early sixties by the famous local columnist Herb Caen, but just so you know he sold his paintings by size, which determined the price. He went door to door in the Hillsborough area. I stretched canvas for him and went to a few shows. He became frustrated with only doing SF scenes in 67 and wanted to do more, I unfortunately had to leave the area, as I was drafted and got a free vacation in Vietnam.

    I have also been searching for him.

    Ted

  2. I also have a large painting of the Golden Gate Bridge by Friedman. It came from my grandparents when they passed. All I know is that they bought it on the streets of San Fransico a long time ago from a man selling out of the trunk of his car. I’d love more info if you have it!

  3. I’m still unclear on who the exact artist of my painting is. I have researched both Arnold and Irwin Friedman with no real definitive findings. I lean towards Irwin because most of the art I was able to see online by him resembles the one I have. I did see mostly drawings or etchings. My sister actually has two smaller drawings by Friedman that match Irwin Friedman’s style. Both of those she got from my grandparents as well. I was only able to find one by Arnold that looked like mine but all of his others look nothing like it. This leads me to believe that the one I saw was mistaken for Arnold Friedman by the seller…
    As soon as I can figure out how to post a photo of my painting I will!

    Thanks

  4. I think I ruled out Arnold years ago because I couldn’t place him in SF. I have collected a few of the small Friedman prints. The one I have of NY has a little different signature but it has 64 and the “For Ingrid”. Ingrid was Irwin’s first wife. Everything seems to point to Irwin. Thank You for sharing the picture of your painting.

  5. Hello all! Came across this thread while researching my own Friedman. I also inherited mine from my mother who got it from Grandma, who lived in Hillsborough. My Grandmother, Edith Karski, was an amateur (sort of) artist. I know she had at least one showing in the S.F. area around that time. The reason why the backstory I have given is that on looking at the back of my Friedman, I found a studio name. My thinking is my G-ma might have been associated with this studio along with Friedman. The name of the place is Burlingame Art Gallery 1805-B El Camino Real Burlingame Ca. Where this story becomes less helpful is when I researched further that address is now a hair salon. Further looking on Google did not find the name at another site. So, there is another crumb of information that will, I hope, join with someone else’s crumbs on this quest for Friedman.

  6. Maybe this information can help you. Partee lived with us in 1980 for 3 months in Maastricht, Netherlands (we had a art gallery). Here he made 2 drawings from Liege, Belgium. Then he left for Paris. He was born in New York City in 1934. His early interest in drawing and painting congealed into full-time professional artistry in 1958. He studied at the Art Students League and Art Institute of San Francisco with Reginald Marsh, Walter Johnson, and Gordon Cook.

    Partee is the Partee of Partee and Pals, a San Francisco-based company (Partee and Pals Post office Box 43, Villa Grande Ca 95486) specialising in limited edition etchings. He also fosters the talents of fellow artists- the “pals”of Partee and Pals.

    Partee was the father of six children, ranging in age from four to twenty. Among the select connoisseurs of his art are Herb Caen, Van Heflin, Lloyd Bridges, Joan Hitchcock, the late Mario Lanza, and Patrick and Virginia Geery. His work was also included in the preeminent collection of Standard Oil of Indiana.

    He wrote on his certificate of Authenticity (1980)
    Artist: Partee
    Title:
    Paper:
    Printer:M. Friedman
    Date:
    Authorised Signature: Windy Alson

    Windy was his wife on that time. She was a artist as well, her work was more nature.

    For more information and Picture from Partee contact me.

    Annie

    annietepas@gmail.com

  7. I knew Irwin Friedman very well in the early sixties. I worked for him at the Delis Gallery at 226 Powell St., San Francisco. I framed for him and hand colored San Francisco prints. Later on,
    I painted backgrounds for some of his paintings. He taught me to draw and paint in his style and I eventually left his employ and struck out on my own. The death of Inga devastated him and he was never the same after. I lost track of him for many years, but then found that he was living in Sebastapool under the name Partee. He was a fine artist and a very complicated man. His proper name was Irwin Johnny Friedman, his friends called him John.

    Michael

  8. Question: I was left three sketchings by an artist named Partee. doing some research on him. How do I determine their value? I am not particularly fond of them. Like one of the commenters above, I found out this artist went into the office bldgs. here in the SF Financial District and sold them.

  9. The artist is John Irwin Friedman aka “Partee”
    I have a few small postcard size etchings of the russian river, one of the underside of the Monte Rio Bridge, and a cartoonlike version of the town of Monte Rio.
    I also have a large signed print of “Animalistic Voyuerism”, which is my favorite “Partee”. It’s # 17/50 and a close friend of my family has 16/50.
    I’ve searched online for a longtime to see another copy, and would be pleased to see another one that still exists.

  10. Partee Irwin Friedman died in 2008 at the age of 74. I am the proud owner of one of his oil painting of the Golden Gate Bridge/Sausalito and also own two beautiful etchings. I met him several time in the late 60s when he went to corporate office to sell his art. I am Danish and he told me that his first wife was Danish. I have two photos of him in case anyone is interested in seeing what he looked like. He was a really “neat” guy
    Birgit

  11. I have had a small picture of San Francisco in my kitchen for years, I can’t even remember where I got it. But it is signed Freidman 1 of 64. I stumbled on this blog and thought I have a picture like that. Thank you for posting this blog.

  12. I have a painting that was my dads. It looks like a general pic of S.F. but after lookong at the picture with a friend it has a ton of hidden messages. Mansons pic all over it, black panther symbol, it also says to Manson good luck at parole board, fuck Sharon Tate, it is unbelievable. I suggest anybody with a Friedman drawing step a ways back from the drawing and look at it and you will see the story of Charles Manson.

  13. Sorry I didn’t respond sooner. Thank you for sharing your memories. The pictures of the artist would be nice to see. I’m sure my painting was purchased like you mentioned. My Grandfather worked in the city. I’m DBM (Dane By Marriage). I have a sister in-law named Birgit.

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