A local artist is enjoying a measure of exposure that few have the opportunity to relish.
Larry Reese, an instructor at Red Deer College in the film studies program, is also an extremely gifted and prolific artist. Currently, The Gallery on Main in Lacombe is featuring an exhibit of his works entitled ‘As I See It’ through to March 20th.
Reese lives near Sylvan Lake, in the peaceful and very scenic Half Moon Bay area, and there are plenty of picturesque sites around to capture his imagination.
According to his artist’s statement for the exhibit, Reese explains that he, “Usually paints in a somewhat realistic manner with much influence from my subconscious creative imaginings. Thus my palette and canvas are wide open to many interpretations of colour, line and form.
“I am definitely a ‘heart’ artist and leave the heady stuff for academics. It is an intention of mine to invite the viewer to go inside my paintings and join me in the world ‘as I see it’.”
Reese, as mentioned earlier, is truly a consummate artist. He is musical, he is an actor, a director, a filmmaker and a teacher – just to point out some of the ways he so effectively expresses himself.
Meanwhile, he is thrilled to be able to showcase some of his works at The Gallery on Main. “When I first went there, I was delighted to see a number of artists that I’m familiar with around Central Alberta. So the fact that I was accepted into this group was a big thrill for me, and also that owner Laverne (Jones) offered me a show is an honour.
“It’s a good chance for me to establish more of a reputation as a painter. This is also the first time I’ve had a commercial gallery solo show with oils.”
He’s also recently shown works at Red Deer’s Harris-Warke Gallery, the gallery in the Welikoklad Centre and there are others featured at Redstone restaurant in Red Deer as well.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is that I’ve been included in the Group of Four – we push each other in very positive ways, challenging each other to excel,” he explains of the group which includes local artists Jeri Lynn Ing, Susan Woolgar and Judy Sutter. “That group has opened up a lot of doors for me personally.”
Reese originally hails from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and immigrated to Canada in 1961. Painting proved an early interest, as did music.
According to his RDC biography, he has lived all over the world including stints from Dacca, Bangladesh, to London, England to Guadalajara, Mexico. These experiences, soaking up the richness of various cultures, also seep into his work. Reese’s paintings are consistently bold, intricate and strikingly original interpretations of the world around him.
In 1974, he earned a Bachelor of Music in composition from the University of Alberta and has composed numerous songs, stage musicals and film scores. Television movie credits include Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Oklahoma City – A Survivor’s Story and In Cold Blood. He’s also played recurring roles on several series such as Jake and the Kid, North of 60 and Lonesome Dove.
As an acting teacher he has taught at the University of Alberta, Grant MacEwan College and at RDC for many years where is the head of performance for the Motion Picture Arts Program.
In 2011, Reese and collaborator James Wilson joined forces on a documentary called Mapping Creativity which explored the creative process through interviews with artists including Jazz great PJ Perry, blues impresario and radio host Holger Petersen and film legend Fil Fraser. Shaun Johnston of CBC’s Heartland, local painter David More and Jean Grand-Maitre, the artistic director of Alberta Ballet also shared their insights on the creative process.
In terms of acting, he’s appeared in such acclaimed films as Brokeback Mountain and Unforgiven, both of which were partly filmed in Alberta.
These days, Reese has his eye on retiring from teaching in a few years, so to that end, he’s establishing himself more and more as a painter. But teaching has, in its own way, provided him with a rich education as well.
“That’s the best way to learn – is to teach,” he explained. “I’m a consummate student.”