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Photographer honored for work, commitment to RAAC

A memorial gallery of Mark Freier’s favorite nature photography was on display at the Rosemount Steeple Center art gallery. Rosemount Area Arts Council recently honored his time and work with a reception in gratitude for his commitment and volunteer work. Kara Hildreth / Contributor

ROSEMOUNT — Photographer Mark Freier connected with people through photography and his magnetic personality.

"No matter whether it was a concert or art display, the ArtBlast or Christmas at the Steeple Center, Mark would show up and take pictures, and he had this photographer's eye and always found beauty and goodness in everything he saw," said Jeanne Schwartz, chair of Rosemount Area Arts Council. "We miss him so much and not just for the photography he did, but also but we also miss him as a friend."

Freier, of Apple Valley, died of a heart attack at the age of 68 on Dec. 3, 2018.

Known as the official photographer of RAAC events, he also served as a member on the RAAC council for years. All of his photography work was a donation in kind. In years past, he took photos of arts events in Burnsville.

Last week RAAC hosted a memorial reception to honor his work and life during the 2019 summer ArtBlast.

Freier retired six years ago from working in IT and computers for the state.

Mark Freier

"He really loved the teaching aspect because he was such a people person," his wife, Brenda said.

Married for 42 years, Brenda said her husband was always kindhearted and filled with joyfulness and good humor.

"He found a lot of joy in photography and he taught classes at the Independent District 196 in community education for many years in a night class called "Joy of Photography," she said. "I always thought we would have more time and we would have more trips, adventures and stories."

Freier was happy when he was capturing moments with his camera with family, on trips or in nature.

A couple years ago, Freier showcased photography on the walls of the Steeple Center arts gallery. He wrote in an artist's statement: "I enjoy taking all kinds of images but especially enjoy capturing my surroundings. I get inspiration from seeing how the light falls on subjects and how nature interacts and the emotion that comes from photographing people."

Brenda said her husband was touched with the good crazy humor and joy for life comparing his humor to a Groucho Marx perspective on the world.

Freier taught at the annual spring break photography seminar for photographers and was a member of the Minnesota Valley Photography Club for years and served on the Twin Cities Camera Council.

"Things were always better with Mark and everybody said that," Brenda said. "One time I heard a biography about Teddy Roosevelt on public television and one family member said the most memorable thing about his was how much fun he was to be with and that is how it was with Mark."

The winner of the Mark Freier Memorial People's Choice Award during the ArtBlast celebration was given to Rosemount resident, Joan Reed for her photo called "American Pride."

The photograph shows a winter scene and a bald eagle standing on a tree limb. Upon receiving the award, Reed shared she had taken camera classes from Freier. Her eagle photo was taken during a class field trip to Minnesota Zoo and she said it stands as an enduring symbol of freedom and the American spirit.

Today Freier's personal influences and life works in nature photography serve as comfort for Brenda.