Many Richmonders fondly remember Wes Freed, a local musician and painter widely known for his gothic album artwork and colorful posters for the Athens, Georgia rock band, Drive-By Truckers. Freed died from cancer on Sept. 4, 2022.
A little over a year later, a group calling itself the Friends of Wes Freed is starting a grassroots effort to endow a memorial scholarship in his name at Virginia Commonwealth University, his alma mater. You can visit their website here.
The Wes Freed Memorial Scholarship Fund at VCUarts would “honor the memory of Freed and the indelible mark he left on the Richmond community,” a press release today announced. The group has set up a website with a link to pledge support and volunteer opportunities. There will also be a display set up with pledge cards at Plan9 Records in Carytown.
The press release notes that the fund “depends on the generosity of individuals, organizations, and in particular, those who knew and loved Wes. Named endowments last in perpetuity and are created with a minimum commitment of $50,000 … We encourage contributions of any size, as every donation brings us closer to our goal. Special Art and Music fundraising events are to be announced soon.”
Freed was from an extremely small town, Crimora, with only a couple thousand people in the Shenandoah Valley, and moved to Richmond to attend VCU in 1983. Style Weekly covered him several times over the years. Most recently, after running into him at a Carytown grocery store in the early days of the pandemic, Style Editor Brent Baldwin interviewed Freed in 2020 about his days as an art student at VCU and playing in legendary local rock bands such as Dirtball and Mudd Helmet. When asked how Richmond should redefine itself in the future, Freed said: “I don’t think it’s a bad idea to focus on the incredibly dynamic art and music scene we’ve got. Craft brews are great if you like that kind of stuff; I’m not a connoisseur myself. But if you want to throw money at something, support the arts, clubs and bars – so many people here make their living there.”
After Freed died, Style ran a moving tribute to him from his former bandmate, Greg Weatherford, that you can read here.