Red Deer College film instructor Larry Reese is truly a man of many talents.
He teaches motion picture arts, and produces and directs film projects on his own as well. He is an acclaimed painter, an accomplished director of both stage and screen.
He has appeared in several TV and movie productions as a gifted actor. And he’s an engaging, professionally-trained musician.
And over the coming months, folks will have several chances to enjoy Reese’s exceptional work on all the aforementioned fronts, starting with a new exhibit showing at City Centre Stage. Many new paintings are set up in the facility’s new gallery, and reflect Reese’s unique and compelling approach to the visual arts in a contemporary and comfortable setting.
“I love colour – that’s one thing with me, I’m not a very ‘subtle’ guy,” he explains with a laugh as he looks around at his paintings on display. “And with my work, there’s hopefully a sense of humour – in a lot of it.”
Indeed, his versatility shines through at every turn, from a bright and superb family portrait to the softer and muted sensibilities of Eternal Winter.
“To me, these works are a reflection of how I see Central Alberta.”
The exhibit will be on display until early November.
Meanwhile, Reese is also gearing up to showcase his musical side with Red Deer College’s upcoming production of Alice Through the Looking Glass, set to run Nov. 21-30. The classic tale will feature music written by Reese.
He actually penned a score for a production of Alice Through the Looking Glass in the early 1970s, and RDC’s production has brought those initial compositions to life once again. “It was when I was in my early 20s and I was in the University of Alberta music department. I was interested in all things theatre as well,” he explains.
Reese wrote music for a production of Alice Through the Looking Glass which was being staged at the time. “We did a professional production of it in Edmonton.” Other productions were to follow in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa.
Skip ahead 40 years. “It had a life, it’s had wings, and then it was set aside,” he says of his composition. That is until RDC’s Jeff Page, who is directing next month’s production, approached Reese about his music.
“I dug around in my basement, and luckily, in the box there it was – the original score.” Reese hadn’t heard the tunes for so long, he felt a bit of trepidation about it but a collaboration with musician Morgan McKee richly brought the set of songs to life once again.
“It was like opening up a time capsule,” he explains of hearing the revitalized renditions of his melodies. “It was absolutely wonderful.
“And as it stands now, there are six songs, a number of dances, music for the scene changes and background music as well. It was quite an elaborate score.”
Also, Reese is appearing in a TV mini-series called Klondike, which is set to air next year. “I don’t have a major part, but the part I have is a lot of fun.”
Reese filmed his part last spring on a set near Bragg Creek. “When I saw it, I thought wait a minute – I know this set. That’s because I had a recurring role on Lonesome Dove many years ago. That’s where they shot it. It’s amazing how adaptable that set is.
“What I love about it is that I’m not a professional actor, I’m a professional teacher – and this gives me an opportunity to practice my craft and make sure that I’m practicing what I’m preaching. It also helps me to make sure that what I’m teaching is current because things are changing in this industry, in the way things are done.
“How things are shot is changing, and one of our mandates at the College is to be contemporary and ‘on the edge’. It’s a great way to help me stay relevant. And then when I’m talking to my students, it’s relevant to them now.
“Students want to know what’s happening provincially, nationally, internationally. It all impacts on their ability to become competitive in this global entertainment market.”
For Reese, having several means of artistic expression in his life brings a sense of renewal. It’s anything but draining.
“They feed each other. The music feeds art choices. I bring my film students into this gallery because we talk about frame composition for film – and compositional elements are very similar.” Inspiration for one genre infuses a new creativity to be expressed in another way – and so on. This past summer, Reese and his wife, fellow RDC instructor Tanya Ryga, went to England and New York City and explored how creativity unfolds in other places.
It’s always an enriching, invigorating process, he explains. It’s also a way of planting seed’s in one’s subconscious that can blossom into newfound creativity at a later date. “You can’t call up your subconscious at will,” he adds of the mysteries of creative expression. “But you can plant seeds.”