It was King Library manager William Beaudot's visionary interest in 1973 that begat the Freewheelers, a neighborhood arts organization that represented about 30 artists of all ages and mediums---photographers, painters, silver workers, textile artists, and sculptors. Most of the group showed their work at King Library, amateurs rubbing shoulders with professionals. Initially debating the issue of color, the consortium decided to invite any artist who had roots in the community. The Freewheelers didn't have an office; all of the group's business and display scheduling was conducted through Beaudot---which included numerous one-person shows and an annual summer art fair at King Library.
Shows were often critiqued by Milwaukee Journal art critic James Auer, and the Freewheelers included two nationally-recognized artists: Frankie Cole, a photographer, and John W. Clark, a painter who garnered wide acclaim.
Mrs. Venora McKinney (Beaudot's successor at King and MPL's Deputy City Librarian in the 1990's) is pictured second from the left in the front row of this 1980 Freewheeler photo. Do you recognize any of the artists in the photo? Are you in contact with any of the Freewheelers? If you are, we'd love to hear from you!
Both photos are property of the Milwaukee Public Library.