Welcome to Friends of Wes Freed!
Our mission is to memorialize the art and music of Wes Freed through the creation of a Wes Freed Scholarship Fund at VCUarts: Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond, VA.
Rolling Stone called his artwork ‘surreal southern-gothic’ in reference to his many album covers for The Drive-By Truckers. His mix of markers, watercolor, and acrylic paint was used to adorn seven album covers for the Truckers including 2004’s The Dirty South (which reportedly was his favorite).
Matt Wake wrote in Alabama Life & Culture that the visual and recording artist pairing was right up there with Hipgnosis and Pink Floyd. His work inhabits its own universe full of rolling hills, moonlit nights, and creatures of the night including one-eyed owls, possums, skeletons, and the occasional witchy seductress. Wes claimed his work musically and artistically all came from the same place. “It’s nostalgia for a place and time that never really was.”
Wes Freed was born in Crimora, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley, just north of Waynesboro. In 1983, he attended Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond where he graduated in 1987. Wes was a local musician and singer with a long history of Richmond bands including Dirt Ball, The Shiners, Mudd Helmut, and Mutant Drones with his latest band being The Mag Bats. He remained in Richmond for the rest of his life.
His relationship with the Truckers wouldn’t begin until 1997 after they met in Atlanta Ga. at The Starr Community Bar where both Wes’s band Dirt Ball and the Drive-By Truckers were playing. He and his then-wife Jyl had started the Capital City Barn Dance as a way to showcase their band and network among others in the burgeoning Alt-Country scene. The Truckers were invited to Richmond to play and stay with the Freeds where a deep friendship and artistic relationship was born. Patterson Hood called his work both “cinematic and dreamlike” and the perfect match for what they were creating sonically.
Wes Freed also acted, appearing in Jim Stramel’s The Thrillbillys (2001), Degenerates Ink! (2010), Reviled: Episode 2 (2016), and a running series of comedic commercials for a local Richmond junkyard named Chesterfield Auto Parts where he played ‘Chester’.
Wes Freed died of complications of colorectal cancer on September 4, 2022, with his longtime partner Jackie Folkes by his side. He was 58. A repository of his work was made into a book in 2019 titled The Art of Wes Freed: Paintings, Posters, Pin-ups, and Possums.
Friday, March 01
Art Hive Opening Reception
Wes' art is being showcased at Art Hive, in Staunton, through the month of March, with a “First Friday” Opening Reception, on March 1st, from 5-7 PM. This is an amazing opportunity to experience Wes’ art against the backdrop of the Shenandoah Valley- his birthplace, and a source of endless inspiration. We'll also have some merch available at this event! Check out the Facebook event page here.
Saturday, April 27
Wes Freed Day
We'll be holding our second event to benefit the Wes Freed Memorial Scholarship Fund at The Canal Club in Richmond!
Stay tuned and watch this space.
Your donation helps us reach our goal of full endowment!
Yes! I would love to support a scholarship in Wes Freed's memory at VCUarts for rural students who dare to study the arts!
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