Happy Birthday Freda Koblick (1920-2011)
Born in San Francisco on August 20, 1920, Koblick attended City College of San Francisco then studied English and engineering at San Francisco State College. While there she became interested in using the new material of plastic. In 1939, she moved to Los Angeles and enrolled at the Plastics Industries Technical Institute – the only female student at the time. Koblick endured pressure from other male students who didn’t think she was serious in her studies:
“The men thought I was just fooling around. They teased me mercilessly: Once they left what appeared to be a severed finger on the band saw I was about to use.” [see Edward Guthmann, “Plastics — there was a great future in it for one artist who pursued her passion,” SFGate August 5, 2006]
By the early 1940s she returned to San Francisco and worked in a commercial context as a plastics designer and consultant – creating small, functional decorative accessories such as Lucite doorknobs, candlesticks, lamps and trays.
By the early 1940s she returned to San Francisco and worked in a commercial context as a plastics designer and consultant – creating small, functional decorative accessories such as Lucite doorknobs, candlesticks, lamps and trays. Gradually, her work evolved into larger-scaled pieces such as wall sculptures and fountains, and by the 1960s commissions came in from numerous architects. These included cast acrylic doors for the Sheraton Hotel in Dallas, an acrylic relief for the Rohm and Haas Building on Independence Mall in Philadelphia, “Night Sky” for the San Francisco Airport (not damaged in the 1989 earth quake), and a “Triad” a stainless steel and acrylic fountain sculpture for the city of Vallejo in California.
Koblick taught a few months a year at the Royal College of Art in London (1965-67) and California State University at Hayward in 1973. She she was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Sculpture. In 1985, she was one of 19 Californians named as “Living Treasures” by the California Creative Arts League and was included in a show organized by the league for the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.
In the 1980s, when she was pushed out of North Beach because of rising rent, her friend Mariquita West offered to buy a building for Koblick to live and work in. Koblick found a synagogue built in 1908 in the Mission District and converted the 4,300-foot space into a loft with four separate living spaces and a studio below. Her maternal grandfather, Zusya Faverman, was a member of the building committee and her uncles were bar-mitzvahed in the synagogue.
She died on June 18, 2011, the day afterwards her brother, David, succumbed to cancer. He had moved to San Francisco from Europe so the two could be together.