About Greg Freedman

About me

Hi, I am Joseph Gregory Freedman and I was born in Los Angeles in 1945. I pretty much split my childhood between sailing in Southern California and skiing in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area of northern Nevada.  I studied architecture at Cal Poly and  moved to Vancouver in 1967. 

While waiting for an interview with an architecture firm there, I amused myself by watching a tugboat dock a deep sea ship in the harbour below and said to myself, “That looks like a lot more fun than drafting buildings all day long,” Immediately after the interview I went down to that tugboat just as the deckhand was quitting and got his job.

About the same time, I met the painter, Leszek  Forcek, who taught me colour theory. I bought some materials, borrowed a corner of Lez’s studio space and began painting.  Lez was always generous with suggestions and, within a few weeks, he introduced my work to Vancouver’s Gallerie Allen where they began exhibiting my stuff. As Leszek had insisted, mastering colour was all I really needed to learn, everything else was just practice.  Every canvas another experiment.  For me, it really was that simple.

I continued working on the tugs (another thing Leszek told me was, “Painting is a very unreliable way to earn a living so never quit your day job”) and eventually became captain. In 1978, I switched to the Vancouver Harbour Ferry Service (SeaBus) where I staid until 2002 when I was finally able to quit my day job and pursue a full-time career as an artist.

My paintings have been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout North America and have won numerous awards including, most recently, the 2019 Peoples Choice Award at the Annual Marine Art Exhibition at the Coos Art Museum in Oregon. I have also been honoured by membership in the Oil Painters of America (OPA), the International Society of Acrylic Painters (ISAP), the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society (NOAPS), the International Society of Maritime Painters (ISMP), the American Society of Marine Artists (ASMA), and the Pacific Rim Institute of Marine Artists (PRIMA)



Toronto Globe and Mail:

October 27, 2009: JG Freedman’s had his first one-man exhibit at Vancouver’s Gallerie Allen in 1972 and it sold out. But for the following 31 years, art was something he did in his spare time. By the time of his second one-man show, in 2002, he had been a ship’s captain for 23 years.

Freedman’s second one-man exhibit was celebrated nationally and received enthusiastic reviews from CBC’s The Arts Report and and a three page feature in NUVO magazine. Famed former Vancouver Sun columnist Denny Boyd described him as “the West Coast’s answer to (Canada’s foremost magic realist painter) Alex Colville.”

In his artist’s statement, Mr. Freedman says, “Like music and poetry, painting has the advantage of being able to refer directly to the senses, bypassing the intellect… If you are amused or saddened, delighted or disgusted, confused or reassured, then I have done my job. That is the moment I paint for: the moment when the image you see in a painting of mine evokes something in you – and we connect, we communicate. That is the magic of art.”

Many of Mr. Freedman’s paintings have found their way to buyers throughout North America. His latest work, some of which celebrates British Columbia’s beautiful coastline, can be viewed online at jgfreedman.com.

29, Oct. 2015:

After moving to Vancouver from Los Angeles in 1970 to avoid Vietnam, Joseph Gregory Freedman found work on B.C.’s tugboats. Inspired by the spectacular nature of the Pacific coast, he also began to paint. While he had his first one-man show in 1972, his art would be a great love but a secondary pursuit for the next 31 years.

At the age of 51, after retiring from Vancouver’s SeaBus as a distinguished captain, painting became his second, full-time career. The realization of a life’s dream, it was still a challenging decision. “We had a beautiful heritage home in North Vancouver,” he says, “and we were house-proud. Retiring early meant giving that up, but Marilyn (my wife) said, ‘(F***orget) the house – paint.’ So I did.” 

His second one-man show, in 2002, was celebrated nationally, receiving accolades from CBC’s The Arts Report and a feature article in NUVO magazine; his paintings since have found their way to buyers throughout North America. The Globe and Mail

The Georgia Straight

Humour lurks beneath the darker themes of Freedman’s fascinating canvases.


The Arts Report:

. . . Really accessible work . . .  the kind of art you feel relaxed with.

Susan Westmorland, CBC Radio 1


Vancouver Sun:

The West Coast’s answer to [Canada’s foremost magic realist painter] Alex Colville.

 columnist, Denny Boyd

 Freedman doesn’t follow fashion, he doesn’t copy anybody.  That’s very special in Canadian art today.

Canadian artist and educator, Gordon Smith 


 Thank you for your interest and if you would like information about any of my paintings or a complete list of exhibitions, awards and reviews, please hit the “Contact Artist” button on this website. 

The Paintings of JG Freedman

“Everything you can imagine is real”

 Pablo Picasso