Shawnee Mission Faces: Brad Friedman, Emerging Artist and Hollywood sightseer

As an Emerging Artist at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, Brad Friedman is expressing his creativity through the arts. But he does much more than create artwork. He spends lots of time with friends across his many social circles: Bowling at AMF College Lanes, acting, or volunteering with Meals on Wheels. He also enjoys listening to music — especially oldies from Elvis Presley, The Carpenters, Frank Sinatra and Ethel Merman — and watching TV, especially game shows like “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune.” One of his favorite movies is Superman (the one starring Christopher Reeve). And he also enjoys traveling, sightseeing and taking pictures. Originally from New Jersey, he now lives in Leawood with his sister, Lori Friedman. The two recently returned from a trip to Hollywood with Lori’s boyfriend, Rick Lumpkin. The trip was an inspiration for one of his artworks, which is on display on the walls of the center’s art room. Emerging Artists is a program of Johnson County Developmental Supports.

This was my 56th birthday wish. I went with Lori and Rick. It was warm, sunshine weather. That’s the Hollywood sign right on the mountain. I memorized it. I sure have a photographic memory.

I also went to see the Hollywood Bowl. I was thinking about classical music, like the old masters: Strauss, Ravel, Schubert, Rossini, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Chopin. Parts of those songs, I’ve requested and put on my iPod.

I also went to see Pat Sajak and Vanna White on “Wheel of Fortune” live in person. Then I went to see the Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theatre. I went to see the Warner Brothers Studios, and I stood to the right of the statues of Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny.

Next day, it’s off to the Paramount Studios. I saw when Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz starred in “I Love Lucy” but sold Desilu Productions to Paramount, a Gulf+Western company. It’s also famous for “Star Trek,” “Mission Impossible,” movies like “White Christmas,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease.”

Well, Hollywood sure made me feel like I am really a celebrity. As I have made up my own artwork, it made me feel like I am a star.

As a matter of fact, I was only 2 years old when I taught myself how to paint and draw. I used to draw pictures from television, but I don’t do that anymore — it’s opposed by my private art lessons teacher, who meant me to make professional, nicer artwork.

That’s why I am creating trees, animals, birds, fishes, mountains, landscapes, flowers, vases and, sometimes, faces made the hard way, especially women. It’s hard to get the right proportion (when drawing faces).

I make mostly oil paintings. I use dirty old clothes and gloves to keep my hands clean. This piece, by the way, is paint markers. Dries faster, not too slow, not too fast. When you use acrylic paint or paint markers, it dries faster than oil paintings.

After you do your own life story, you may share with others, but don’t spend too much quality time talking about your own life story. Give your friends a chance to share their story. And don’t do TV. Just make up your own creativity.