The Wichita Art Museum’s newest exhibition, Sun Patterns—Dark Canyon: The Paintings and Aquatints of Doel Reed, explores the art and career of the 20th-century American printmaker and painter Doel Reed (1894-1985). Best known today as a Southwestern artist and “master of the aquatint,” Reed was an exceptional artist with an important connection to Wichita. While based in Stillwater, Oklahoma, from 1924 to 1959, he was friends with Wichita artists and a member of the Wichita-based Prairie Print Makers.
This Prairie Print Maker’s retrospective—revealing the whole sweep of the artist’s career, from early impressionist scenes to dramatic New Mexico vistas—opens Saturday, November 20, 2021, in the Paul Ross and Scott and Carol Ritchie galleries. The work will be on view through February 13, 2022.
In the 1930s, Reed became a master printmaker, lecturing widely on the aquatint technique. Like many other Depression-era artists, he embraced Regionalism, which favored rural and Midwestern subjects. By the end of the 1940s, Reed enjoyed a national reputation and had developed his signature style, a conservative modernism characterized by geometric abstraction, dramatic use of lights and darks, and a focus on emotional impact. Reed began summering in the Taos artists’ colony starting in the mid-1940s and permanently moved to New Mexico in 1959. The mountainous topography, geology, and history of New Mexico were an endless source of inspiration to Reed.
“I still remember my initial encounter with Reed’s studio—it was a little dusty but nonetheless nearly untouched, with papers and Reed’s eyeglasses still laid out on his desk, as if the artist would soon return. As I learned more about Doel Reed and his contributions to American art, it became clear that he was overdue for new scholarship and an exhibition,” says Dr. Rebecca Brienen, guest curator for the exhibition and professor of art history at OSU.
Sun Patterns—Dark Canyon brings attention to this significant but understudied artist and demonstrates how Reed was both influenced by and contributed to national and international artistic trends over his long and prolific career. Included in the exhibition are more than sixty works of art by Doel Reed and his contemporaries plus personal items, such as the artist’s diary from World War l and examples of his aquatint plates.
Funding for this exhibition is provided by Kent and Jeanette Young, the Doel Reed Center, Neal and Lora Buck, and the Vaughn Vennerberg II Endowed Chair Fund in Art. The accompanying catalogue is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Family Foundation.
The Wichita presentation is supported by the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum and the City of Wichita. 2021 exhibitions and public programs are generously supported by the Downing Foundation.
Dr. Tera Hedrick, WAM curator, is available for media interviews. Call Teresa Veazey, public relations manager, at 316-268-4985 or email email@example.com. COVID-19 protocols remain in place at the museum, including recommending face masks for all visitors, including those who have been vaccinated for the virus, and maintaining social distance between visitors who are not from the same household.