WSU's Ulrich Museum to exhibit David Reed's works

3:55:43 PM CDT - Thursday, March 24, 2005

By Shannon Littlejohn

The next celebrated American painter to exhibit at the Ulrich Museum of Art will come to campus with decades of experience and plenty to discuss as his work has evolved over time.

That's what makes the David Reed exhibition especially compelling, said Kevin Mullins, Ulrich exhibition curator: It documents the continuities and changes in Reed's body of work. "Leave Yourself Behind: Paintings and Special Projects 1967-2005" will be shown at the Ulrich through April and May.

"He's what we would call a blue-chip artist," said Mullins. "He's been on the scene with his work for more than 30 years."

Reed, who is often referred to as a grand master of painting, was known as a landscape artist in the '60s and '70s. But his passion for big, bold brushstrokes took him into an abstract world that has made him famous. His paintings are made up of ethereal shapes and colors that are as bold as his brushstrokes.

"The exhibit covers his complete career," said Mullins, "but it's not being approached as a retrospective. It's more a chronology of how his work has started and come full circle back to the landscape."

Beginning with two never-before-exhibited landscape paintings from the 1960s, the Ulrich show traces the development of the painter's distinctive visual language. "Leave Yourself Behind" also includes the artist's most recent video and painting project, conceived especially for the Ulrich Museum. In it, a painting will hang on the wall of a darkened room, with landscape video projected onto the artwork.

"The imagery in the projection is a little different from what he's done before," said Mullins. "He usually uses Southwestern landscapes. This time around, he commissioned a local filmmaker to shoot a Kansas landscape (in the Flint Hills up near Matfield Green). I just think he saw it as an opportunity to do something slightly different."

Reed was the first artist Mullins thought of when Ulrich director David Butler asked him if he'd like to put together a large exhibition for the museum. It's taken about two years to get the busy artist scheduled and all the details in place. Reed, who has a studio and gallery in New York City, also shows in Paris, Austria and Germany, Mullins said.

"He's very well-known and well-liked throughout Europe, as well as in this country," he said.

Mullins said he has known Reed since the mid-'80s. The two met when Mullins was an assistant curator at a university museum in North Carolina that put up an exhibit of Reed's work.

"I was low man on the totem pole so I squired him around," said Mullins. "We had two of his pieces so I was familiar with his work."

The two have maintained contact over the years, Mullins said. For the Ulrich exhibit, Reed has been generous with his time. He'll be in town for about a week, starting Easter Sunday night. He's agreed to participate in the School of Art and Design's annual "crit-o-rama" when he and Mullins are not working on the installation.

"He's very hands on and likes control of everything involved in the work. That's wonderful," said Mullins. "He's been helping with the catalog, which is just beautiful."

The catalog designer, Dominik d'Angelo from WSU's Media Resource Center, picked up the project and really embraced it, Mullins said. D'Angelo has won many awards for her work, most notably for the 2003 "Not So Cute and Cuddly" show of unusual dolls at the Ulrich.

"She was in New York for a conference and went to talk to David Reed," said Mullins. "He's such a nice guy."

Several events are planned around the exhibition, including a talk by the artist himself, an opening reception with the artist, a presentation by Mullins later in April, and a lecture about painting as a relevant discipline by Katie Geha, curator of modern and contemporary art for the Ulrich Museum.

Working to get David Reed on campus with accompanying academic events has obviously been a personal pleasure for Mullins.

"This has been my baby, and there is no other artist that I think more highly of than David," he said. "There's no other painter whose work I admire as much and whose work I enjoy more."

"Leave Yourself Behind: Paintings and Special Projects 1967-2005" will be shown at the Ulrich Museum of Art from Saturday, April 2, through Sunday, June 5. Public presentations include: artist's talk by David Reed, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 31, Rhatigan Student Center ballroom (Ulrich galleries open 5-7 p.m.); opening reception, 5-9 p.m. Friday, April 1, Ulrich Museum; "David Reed: 30 Years of Painting" by exhibitions curator Kevin Mullins, 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21, Ulrich Museum (galleries open 6 p.m.); "Does Painting Matter Anymore?" by curator of modern and contemporary art Katie Geha, 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, Ulrich Museum. For more information, call (316) 978-3664, e-mail ulrich@wichita.edu, or visit www.ulrich.wichita.edu.

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