At the end of last week I was in Taos, New Mexico—home of the Doel Reed Center for the Visual Arts—for an art history conference. And although I had attended the conference several times before, I’d never visited the Doel Reed Center, which is actually located a few miles south of Taos in a small town called Talpa.
The Doel Reed Center for the Arts is located on the estate of Martha Reed, Doel’s daughter. Martha lived with her father on the estate until he passed away in 1985; she continued to live there for the rest of her life.
The decision to leave the Reed property—which retained Doel’s printmaking studio as he left it, as well as several other buildings—to OSU was the beginning of a project that already includes artists in residence and summer courses for students and community members.
There are several existing connections between the DRCA and the OSU Museum of Art. For example, over the course of the DRCA’s existence, several donors have given works by Reed to the project. Those works are part of the Doel Reed Center for the Arts Collection, but are housed, catalogued, researched, and made available to students by the OSUMA. Like many of our partnerships, it is a symbiotic relationship that benefits both parties: we get to include DRCA Collection works in the programming we create for the university, and they are guaranteed safe and appropriate care for the works in the collection.
Martha Reed passed away in 2010, and the property came into OSU’s possession. Many plans that had been on hold during Martha’s lifetime sprung into action: major renovations were necessary on some of the buildings; the substantial art collection had to be assessed; and decisions had to be made about how best to use Reed’s studio.
The property is charming: smaller than it looks in many of the publicity photographs, it was immediately deeply appealing to me as a destination for scholarly exchange and exploration.
My visit with Ed Walkiewicz, director of the DRCA, was driven by more than curiosity. The DRCA’s on-site art collection has been moved into storage during the renovations, and there are questions about what will happen to it next. Martha Reed, a well-known fashion designer, left a major collection of her designs in addition to the paintings, prints and drawings left by her father. The available options in Taos are not ideal for long-term storage of the entire collection, so I was there to see how the OSUMA could help out.
And then there’s the studio. Last spring, Art Department faculty members Chris Ramsay (then department head) and Mark Sisson (professor of printmaking) visited the property and determined that Reed’s studio could house a working printmaking studio in addition to preserving the historic studio. This plan has obvious appeal to printmakers—but it is also a fascinating opportunity for students interested in museums, historic properties, and living history to participate in the design and interpretation of the space.
We didn’t decide anything on the spot—I was too busy being charmed by the intimacy and potential of the property to delve into details of policy!—but I am looking forward more than ever to a fruitful and mutually rewarding relationship between the Doel Reed Center and the OSU Museum of Art.