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Artists' Studio Visits at Biddington's Art Gallery

Cross-Media Artist

Joseph Reeder ceramic sculpture
CREATIVE PROCESS visits the Chicago studio of painter & ceramics sculptor Joseph Reeder.

Editors Note: We are sorry to report that Joseph Reeder died in May 2004.

This interview was conducted in winter 1999-2000. Creative Process visitors may find this piece more philosophical than many of our studio visits. We thought it a most appropriate article for the end of one millennium andthe beginning of another. Joseph Reeder articulates what we have learned from dozens of studio visits: The intense communication of viewing work quietly & privately--this "abundant experience"--is what propels artists onward and impels the rest of us to look at art.

Joseph Reeder: For the past two years, I have questioned image-making within the current culture--a culture that prizes facsimiles over substance and worships money and fame over aesthetic and spiritual worth. It seemed like a lot of the work being shown was focused on thin ideas, mass media pyrotechnics and ironic twists. I turned to other arts to find deeper meaning in my own pursuits.

Joseph Reeder small drawing

Joseph Reeder: I looked particularly at jazz. Jazz is a thriving art form. Jazz feeds off of tradition--not discarding the past to live in the present. Jazz has clarity and demands excellence of its composers and players. Jazz musicians constantly set new goals and achieve them. Jazz is about improvisation in the moment and scaling new configurations to reach evolving interpretations. Jazz is about NOW--not the past; the NOW of each performance anticipates a tomorrow. Jazz musicians do not shy away from excellence; they embrace it. Irony--the Rosetta Stone of post-modern thought--holds little interest for them.

Joseph Reeder drawing Brandenburg Variation #11

Joseph Reeder small drawing

Joseph Reeder: So, in jazz I found artists abstracting experience and finding complex meanings in everyday musical structures. Like jazz musicians, I take ideas and improvise. The unexpected always gives the most creative satisfaction.

Joseph Reeder drawing Brandenburg Variation #6

Joseph Reeder small drawing

Joseph Reeder: For me a period of ethical doubt has ended. By looking elsewhere, I realized that the making of good art has not really changed and all I have to do is stay the course. I simply want to make visual images that challenge me and that demand aesthetic integrity.

Joseph Reeder drawing Brandenburg Variation #9

Joseph Reeder: The things that are important to me run like deep emotional veins within the paperworks over the past ten years...a thread weaves itself through and connects all the work.

Joseph Reeder shaped drawing wing Joseph Reeder: Landscape is a strong, ever-present influence in my work. Having lived most of my life in the southwest and western Canada, I have fallen in love with Chicago. The new, shaped drawings may be a response to the varied architecture and sheer beauty of the city.

Joseph Reeder shaped drawing Wing (left)

Joseph Reeder shaped drawing Pirouette Joseph Reeder: The materials for these shaped pieces are inks, watercolor, woodstain, acrylic and oil on French paper.

Joseph Reeder shaped drawing Pirouette (right)

Reeder mixed media drawingJoseph Reeder: I am very interested in the gesture of naturally reoccurring things: the pattern left after a wind-driven snow intersects a road or field, the flash of reef fish against coral or the intricate movements of humans.

Joseph Reeder shaped drawing "Arc White"

Joseph Reeder large painting

Joseph Reeder: I enjoy the geologic inference in a piece such as "Kauai Serpent" and the ambiguity that is achieved in non-traditional placement of the landscape.

Joseph Reeder drawing Kauai Serpent (right) 86" X 42"

Joseph Reeder: I have done several drawings of night scenes-- works of art with landscape set at night, a time that requires close observation to glean details, a time when dark defines a soft richness not found in full sun. In darkness, emotion takes less time to express a sense of expansiveness. I have been told not to paint 'dark' because dark spaces spell loneliness for many people. But Rembrandt holds the modern eye as surely as Monet; I choose to honor both.

Joseph Reeder: I like to flow among media--particularly drawing, painting and ceramic sculpture.

Joseph Reeder ceramic sculpture

Joseph Reeder ceramic sculpture Little Crusty

Joseph Reeder: The way I do ceramic is labor intensive, but I love the fact that I can do low fire and get the same effects I do in drawing and painting. I have no problem switching between drawings/paperworks, paintings and ceramic sculpture. My dream studio would be very large with areas for each medium, and I would flow between them seamlessly.

Joseph Reeder: I have always loved the work of Anthony Caro. He adapts to materials as they come to him--bronze, clay, wood, steel, terracotta, found objects--the list goes on and on.

Joseph Reeder painting

Joseph Reeder: I, too, like the dance of materials--substances as a kind of perceptual flesh balancing meanings. I dislike the word "craft" as a definition of visual skill. What matters is knowing enough about a medium so one can transcend it. For me, Art is found at the intersection where facility merges with concept--a place where nature constantly renews itself.

Joseph Reeder painting "Pasha"

Joseph Reeder

Joseph Reeder: Visual art by its nature is experientially slow. It takes time and most often it's not about "getting it" but about an abundant experience.

Joseph Reeder with shaped drawing "Tango"

View Joseph Reeder's works for sale in BIDDINGTON'S CONTEMPORARY ART GALLERY
Price Range: $800-$10,000

Joseph Reeder ceramic sculpture

Joseph Reeder ceramic sculpture Blue Plate

Joseph Reeder is represented in public collections including:

Canada Council Art Bank
Alberta Art Foundation
Alberta Culture
Banff Center
University of New Mexico
University of Oklahoma
University of Lethbridge
Shell Oil Canada, Ltd.
Red Deer College
Edmonton Art Gallery
Northern Arizona Museum of Art
Museum Stuki--Lodz, Poland
Glenbow Museum--Calgary
Air Canada
Nova Corporation

Joseph Reeder recent exhibition and publications history:
(abbreviated list)

1999 H20--Oslo, Norway
1998 Chicago Art Open
1996-98 Around the Coyote--Chicago
1995 Pilsen Arts--Chicago
1994 "Hot Clay from Cold Climates", The Commonwealth Games--Victoria, BC
1993 "Clay North: Ten Artists from the Canadian Prairies", Northern Arizona Museum of Art--Flagstaff
1992 "The CD Show", The Collective Gallery--Edinburgh,Scotland
1991 "Joseph Reeder", Galleri AULA, Poznan Academy of Art, Poznan, Poland
1991 "Ceramics: The Cutting Edge--Five Person Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramics from Norway, Canada and the United States", Manulife Place--Edmonton
1991 "Marks of Distinction", Alberta Arts Foundation--Edmonton
1990 "Clay Connections", Hopkins Gallery--Ohio State University


CREATIVE PROCESS at Biddington's is designed as a forum for watching art in the making. Usually, this process happens in the privacy of the artist's studio. At BIDDINGTON'S--Contemporary Art Gallery & upmarket, online art & antiques auctions--we find it interesting to witness the steps leading to the end product and to hear the artists speak about their work in the relaxed surroundings of their own studios.

Email Biddington's with your comments.

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