Samuel Frid, My Bitter Mentor Smiled AgainSunday, January 15, 2012
|Samuel Frid, 1935 - 2010|
In 1992 I met and unlikely combination of a man. His name was Samuel Frid. He had made a fortune in steel, he was Mexican, he was a redhead and he was Jewish. That may not suggest to anyone that this was an unlikely combination except that I must add that he had that quirk of a disease that pushes mostly men to open a restaurant, publish a magazine or start and art gallery. All three of these enterprises, with few exceptions lead to disappointment and a probable bankruptcy.
It was at Frid’s first location of his Threshold Gallery that I had my first real gallery show. I shared it with two other photographers. My part of the show was called Homebodies and it featured delightfully beautiful women wearing nothing while posing by their TVs, fireplaces, in the kitchen and playing the piano. I remember that since my nudes had the faces of my sjubjects several comments in the guest books were some form of, “Thank you for showing their faces.” At the time in Vancouver there was feminist movement going around that considered nude photographs of women a vicious act of objectification.
Frid contacted me to have in his new gallery on 6th almost Granville (now a place where you can buy expensive barbecues) and suggested something more personal. It was a show, a good show but only in the last few days have I come to realize that it was the best show I ever had. I am cooking an idea in my head for a new version of it but of that I will reveal in a subsequent blog.
Increasingly Frid, who lived in a palatial house in West Vancouver became bitter. He sold little. I am sure, though that many of the Rufino Tamayos which are part of the Audain Collection in display at the VAG right now came from Frid.
I lost contact with him a few years ago and recently while searching for his whereabouts I found that he died in 2010, here in the city that he disliked. His obituary reveals that the former steel magnate became an artist and judging by the photo here I can only guess that he finally found peace in a place with no ochres, browns, oranges but full of cold blues, grays and greens.
For most of the time that we were friends, Frid urged me to leave my magazine photography business and to return to Mexico. He said I had a special talent for the kind of picture you see here. I took it sometime in 1962 in Coyoacán, Mexico in what seems a very long time as it indeed is. This photo and a few others won me an accolade (the only one I was ever to receive from anybody for my work) by Rufino Tamayo who was a judge at a group show at a University of the Americas (in Mexico City) in 1963.
It would seem that both Tamayo and Frid knew something about me that I never suspected I ever had. As I took pictures of undraped women and famous writers or actors, Frid could not hide his disdain for what I did and we bitterly parted ways. I just wonder, every once in a while, what would have happened if I had followed his advice?