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Things You Can Touch
Duane Reed Gallery
4729 McPherson Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63108
After years working as a ballroom dance instructor, Duane Reed put away his dancing shoes and focused on a different kind of creative outlet. Having taken time away from the art world he fell in love with as a student, Reed “could think of nothing except working with fine art.” In 1994 he opened the Duane Reed Gallery and since then has been presenting “objects that have craft roots,” such as Margaret Keelan's Journey and Bonnie Seeman's Untitled Gravy Boat and Tray, along with paintings, drawings and photography. He never looked back.
What inspired you to open an art gallery?
I was fortunate to have gone to William Jewell College just outside of Kansas City. The school's fine arts program rivals that of many larger universities. For a Midwestern boy from a small town, that was eye-opening. I was determined to work for a gallery and learn the business, which I did. In 1994 I was able to open my own gallery in St. Louis. It was located on the upper two floors of an old apartment building. Amazingly, we were able to mount some incredible shows, including exhibitions of the works of Dale Chihuly, Albert Paley, Wendell Castle and William Morris. I still can’t believe I did it.
Your gallery has a special focus on fiber, glass and ceramics. What first attracted you to these mediums?
I am absolutely taken by them. I see a magic in these mediums that comes out of the gentle touch of the hand or even out of what seems to be a technical impossibility. How can some-one not be attracted to these things? I have gravitated in a nearly obsessive way toward things you can touch. Perhaps it’s the child in me.
Congratulations on celebrating your 15th anniversary. How do you think the art world has changed in the past decade and a half?
Fifteen years ago, you could never have convinced me that someone might make an art purchase over the Internet simply by viewing an image. I resisted in the beginning, only to later become dependent on the “computer technicians” that seem to overpopulate our high schools today. Technology has been knocking on the door, forcing us to adjust to it. I suppose that it makes artwork more accessible to a wider public, though I can’t help thinking it takes away some of the magic of the experience. To do business in these times, it’s important that we somehow address the power of this means of communication but also create a personal experience.
You’ve recently moved to the Central West End neighborhood. How is that going?
The gallery started in the West End and now it’s back home. The area is teeming with wonderful restaurants, shops, galleries and magnificent historical homes. We are now located in a much larger space with very high ceilings, concrete floors and the capacity to show large-scale paintings and sculpture. It opens us to new ideas and energy. St. Louis seems excited, our artists are excited and we are thrilled.