The Escondido History Center will award eight outstanding seniors from a high school in Escondido an honorarium in the name of one of the eight Escondido Legends.
Through the generosity of Jack Raymond, the Escondido Legends Committee has honored six 2020 Forever Legends and two 2020 Founding Legends for these awards.
The needs of outstanding high school students, with the current scheduling during this pandemic, has created a challenge. The Escondido Legends Committee is exploring ways to inform high school seniors of the awards program to ensure that future recipients and the Escondido Legends are properly honored.
Internationally renowned and multi-talented artist, Robert Lee Freeman, shared his exceptional skills and compassion to benefit all of us and is a 2020 Escondido Forever Legend.
Freeman was born on the Rincon Indian Reservation in 1939, and except for a short stay in the Bay Area, he lived in the Escondido area. He attended Central School and Escondido High School. He loved sports and played football. When he was 18, he enlisted in the Army and served for three years, the last year at the DMZ in South Korea.
After his honorable discharge from the Army, he held many jobs to support himself, but always loved sketching and creating sculptures. With his natural, self-taught ability, Freeman established a following for his drawings, oils. acrylics and wood carvings. In 1967 he decided to become a full-time artist. His murals, sculptures, etchings, designs and exhibits are legendary.
His murals may be viewed at Saint Bartholomew’s Catholic Church on the Rincon Reservation, Harrah’s Casino, California State Museum in Lake Perris, and the Los Angeles Library in San Gabriel. His sculptures include “Tukwut,” a life size bronze sculpture of a mountain lion at the entrance to California State University San Marcos, “The Journey” in Santa Fe Springs, California, and “Coronne” in San Juan Capistrano, honoring Native American women.
Freeman also had exhibits of his art at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park, Riverside County Art Museum, and the University of Vermillion. His works traveled throughout the United States for four decades, and to Yokohama, Japan, and Germany. He created art for Governor Jerry Brown and Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles.
As an author, Freeman wrote and illustrated booklets including “War Hoops,” “Jazz,” “For Indians Only” and “Rubber Arrows.” He also provided illustrations in Welda Johnson’s, “Brothers of the Earth” (available in the gift shop of the Santa Fe Train Depot in Grape Day Park.)
Freeman’s compassion led him to donate both his art and time to the Salvation Army, the Boys Club, Native American Women’s Club, Heart Fund, Kidney Foundation and many others. He and Edwina, his wife, traveled for many years to a village 15 miles South of Tijuana to improve the living conditions of the impoverished citizens in that area. Education was also a calling. At Palomar College, he taught in the Art Department and Native American Studies for 16 years. He was also the Artist in Residence at the University of San Diego in 2003.
Because of his natural gifts in multiple forms of artistic expression and his compassion for others, Robert Freeman is a 2020 Escondido Forever Legend.