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Louis and Elsie Freund


Harry Louis Freund was born September 16, 1905 in Clinton, Missouri. After attending the University of Missouri at Columbia (1923-1925) and Washington University in Saint Louis (1925-1929), Mr. Freund received the E.H. Wuerpel Travel Scholarship in 1929  for one year of foreign travel and study. He choose to go to Paris and study at the Colarossi Academy and Le Grande Chaumiere. Upon returning the U.S., Mr. Freund began winning commissions from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to paint murals in such places as Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri. In 1938, he was hired as an artist-in-residence at Hendrix College in Conway, AR. He remained in that position until 1941, then served as head of the art department from 1941-1946.

Around this time in Mr. Freund’s life, he met jewelry artist Elsie Mari Bates. Mrs. Freund was born on January 12, 1912 near the town of Mincey, Missouri. She received her early education in a one-room schoolhouse. Later, her family moved to Branson, Missouri where she graduated high school in 1929. The next year, she taught in a similar one-room schoolhouse where she received enough money to attend the Kansas City Art Institute for one year. Afterwards, she returned to Branson and opened a gift shop where she sold plaster models of fish and jewelry made from walnut shells.

After they were married in 1939, the Freunds spent summers in Eureka Springs, Arkansas where they established the Summer Art School of the Ozarks. The school ran from 1940-1951. In 1943, Louis was drafted into the Army during World War II. He served as a conscientious objector and painted murals for the War Department. He was discharged in 1945. In 1949, the Freunds moved to DeLand, Florida where Louis taught at Stetson University until his retirement in 1967.

In 1953, Mrs. Freund was accepted into the National Watercolor Society.  She developed a unique tie-dye technique for watercolor. Mrs. Freund continued her arts education by taking a ceramics class at the Wichita Art Association in Kansas. This is where she developed her process for making jewelry. In 1957, she established her jewelry business when America House, a New York City craft outlet, added her creations to their catalogue. She continued the line until 1964. Her paintings are gaining recognition, but she is best known for her modern jewelry creations using a combination of clay, glass and silver.

After Mr. Freund retired in 1967, the couple split their time between Little Rock and Eureka Springs, Arkansans. They established the Eureka Springs Art Gallery that year and became pioneers for the city’s artistic endeavors.  Mr. Freund died December 22, 1999 and Mrs. Freund passed away on June 14, 2001. Before their deaths, the couple established the Freund Trust which helped to distribute their art to churches and public facilities in Arkansas, Florida and Missouri.