Joseph Reed is a self taught artist who began painting in the
mid '60s to decorate the bathroom in a house loaned to him and
Kit. His first works were paintings of herbs, flowers and insects,
executed in casein paint and Japanese ink on rice paper.
Taken by the fact that in photos and paintings of historical
events people in crowds looked rather like insects, he began a series
of ant paintings
in the late '60s, around the time he devised
as a way to make large paintings by putting together
several small ones. By this time he was working in acrylics on
Masonite. Later he moved on to acrylic on gesso on aluminum panels, but in his long career, he has experimented
with several media including gold leaf, etching, lithography and even painting exquisite insect miniatures on
ivory scavenged from antique shops.
At a show in the Portal Gallery in London, his paintings began moving
into the homes of the great and the near great, from the Duke
of Bedford and science fiction novelist Brian W. Aldiss to actor Robin Williams and Jonathan
Routh, the author of The Good Loo Guide. See Private Collections
He followed the ant series with a series of infestations -- historic
figures coated in insects, which his London gallery deemed
"too creepy to show." This was, however, Reed's entree into portraits
of various kinds. A painting of Custer
sitting on Mrs. Whistler's
lap led to a series of both famous figures in settings as
wildly varied as Niagara Falls (Custer) and the old Pennsylvania
Station (Mrs. Whistler).
By this time he was showing at galleries in New York, Washington, D.C.
and New Delhi, India. (See exhibitions).
Custer paintings gave way to memory paintings of his native
St. Petersburg, FL. followed by a series of Florida houses,
both shown at the Addison/Ripley Gallery in Washington, D.C., where
his most recent series, First Ladies! In Space! and Chief
Executives Under Water also opened.
At the same time, Reed's alphabets, some sold from shows and
others painted on commission, have grown in number. There are more
than 150 of them in private collections and public institutions all
over the United States.
An artist who refuses to be categorized, Reed has also designed
and executed medals that
include two likenesses of the late Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D-N.Y.), one of
which hangs inside the main entrance of the Moynihan Courthouse, Center Street,
Reed's career goes well beyond the paintings. He is a
recognized teacher and scholar who
has published several books and is a professor of English
and American Studies at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.
In academic gown, 1988