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Army veteran’s painting displayed at State Fair

Lorne and Therese Fread pose in front of Lorne’s painting with their five children at the State Fair. (Submitted photo)

When Lorne Fread of Hastings started painting a new piece of art less than a year ago, he was using it as an outlet to help him deal with retiring from the army and becoming a civilian.

“It started out therapeutic and after it was done ... I thought, I’ll give it a shot, put it in the fair,” Fread said.

He entered his painting entitled “Mourning” into the Fine Arts competition and it was chosen to be exhibited in the Fine Arts Center at the Minnesota State Fair this year. Of the 2,370 total works of art submitted, only 319 were exhibited at the fair.

Fread said the inspiration for his work of art came from music. After retiring from the army, “I was getting all blue,” he said, so he listened to a lot of blues musicians. Three of those were Gertrude Morgan, who played the tambourine, Sonny Boy Williamson, who played the harmonica, and Mississippi John Hurt, who played the guitar.

Fread’s painting was made with acrylic paint, sheet music and matches. He painted portraits of the three musicians he was listening to over the top of the sheet music.

Fread was in the army for about 18 years, but he retired after being diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear. Symptoms include ringing in the ear, vertigo, dizzy spells and sometimes Fread said his memory gets jumbled or he starts slurring words.

However, Fread said art helps him forget about everything else and he disappears in his work.

“I can tune out the rest of the world doing it, when I really get in the zone of painting or drawing or anything like that I’ll lose track of time in a good way I think,” Fread said.

Fread’s wife, Therese, agrees that art is very therapeutic for him. Therese is from Louisiana and has seen how much Lorne loves their trips down there, so she wasn’t surprised that his painting was inspired by the blues musicians.

“Music is very inspiring to him, at least from my point of view,” she said. “He loves music at least as much as he loves art.”

Lorne, Therese and their five children went to the State Fair this year to view Lorne’s painting displayed in the Fine Arts Center. Therese said the family was very proud of his work and were very excited to see it hanging up on display.

Now Lorne is planning to enter the competition again next year, and he said he hopes to do a little better. The first year he entered, he made it to the second round of judging, but wasn’t displayed at the fair. He said he hadn’t put much thought into that one — he drew the picture two days before entering it. This year, he made it a step further by having his work displayed at the fair, so he hopes to make it a step further in 2017.

“This time, I tried a little harder, spent some time, focused on it,” he said, “so maybe next year, I’ll place.”

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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