<font color="#808080">REECE, Maynard</font>

More Maynard Reece:    Books    Federal Duck Stamp Print 

1920 - 2020)

Arnolds Park, Iowa, birthplace of Maynard Reece, is in the famous lake district in the northwest part of the state, near Lake Okoboji and Spirit Lake, scene of the historic Spirit Lake massacre described by Kantor. It was great country for a boy who had an abiding interest in wildlife and he took full advantage of it by bunting, fishing, and just watching birds and animals at every opportunity.

He was born in 1920 and has two brothers and a sister. He began drawing at an early age and won his first award in 1932 when he was 12 years old. It was First Prize at the Iowa State Fair, and his entry was pencil drawings of wildlife.

After finishing school he was employed as an artist at Meredith Publishing Company for two years, and then began work at the Iowa Museum in Des Moines, where he was staff artist and Assistant Museum Director. Much of his work was done in the field, collecting specimens and data for the various state publications on wildlife.

During World War II he took a leave of absence from the Museum to join the Army Signal Corps. He was stationed in California, and worked as an artist in Training Aids, doing paintings and artwork of and for the Signal Corps. Later he transferred to a photographic outfit and was sent to Europe with it. He returned to the Museum in 1946.

It was during this period after the war that he illustrated the books Waterfowl in Iowa, by Jack and Mary Musgrove, published by the Iowa Conservation Commission, and Iowa Fish and Fishing, by Speaker and Harlan. His winning the duck stamp contest with the design of Buffleheads Aloft brought him national recognition - not the first he had received, but adding to a reputation that was growing at a remarkably rapid rate for a man of his age in the art field.

In 1951 Mr. Reece resigned from the Museum after ten interrupted years and began full time free lancing, staying exclusively in the wildlife field. He has been a full-time free lance ever since.

It is not hard to find examples of Mr. Reece's work. It has appeared in many national magazines such as Life, Sports Illustrated, The Saturday Evening Post, Sports Afield, Outdoor Life, Better Homes and Gardens, and Successful Farming.

Newspapers, including the Des Moines Sunday Register and the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, have used his artwork; as have several calendar companies: Osborne-Kemper-Thomas, Inc., the Thomas D. Murphy Company, the U. 0. Colson Company, and Shaw-Barton, Inc. He has done greeting cards for Hallmark and paintings for many national manufacturers of sporting goods. Other paintings have been shown in leading museums and galleries both in this country and in Canada.

To the general public, he is probably best known and most admired for the many paintings he has done for the National Wildlife Federation, an organization whose stamps and other products are widely distributed to nature lovers everywhere.

Mr. Reece's fish paintings have won awards twice in the New York Art Directors Club Exhibitions. The first occasion was in the 35th Annual National Exhibition for his freshwater fish series for Life magazine; the second was in the 41st Annual Exhibition for his brown trout which had appeared in The Saturday Evening Post.

In 1968 Mr. Reece became a member artist of the Grand Central Galleries of New York City, where his work may be seen and purchased. His recent paintings, (nearly all in oil, but with an occasional watercolor), have been mainly of waterfowl and upland game birds.

One of Mr. Reece's more recent projects has been a book entitled Fish and Fishing, written and illustrated by him, and published by Better Homes and Gardens. He traveled over 50,000 miles through the United States and Canada to collect fish and material for it.

His family accompanied him on many of the journeys he made while he was working on it, and all four of them felt that they deserved a vacation after completion of such a long and arduous undertaking. They took their holiday - they went fishing.

Mr. Reece is a member of the board of the Outdoor Writers Association, Izaak Walton League of America, National Audubon Society, American Ornithologists Union, National Wildlife Federation, and many other conservation organizations.

Mr. Reece has broken his own outstanding record in the annals of the duck stamp competition by winning the contest a fifth time. This is an extraordinary achievement; and the public, whether or not it knows of all his other work, stands in awe. With the respect, comes curiosity as to what makes this unusual man tick.

There is little in a straight biography to give us a clue. We know that he is the son of a Quaker minister, and are not surprised that he leads a calm life, filled with hard work and quiet pleasures. We know that he has, in common with almost all wildlife artists, a background of country living which gives him his special feeling for wildlife.

This rapport with nature is a delicate web of impressions and philosophy which needs constant renewal. In a city, it weakens; yet an artist must also be a businessman, and there is a family to consider. One can't be a Thoreau these days. Mr. Reece has neatly resolved the dilemma by dividing their life in two: the summers are spent on 31 wooded acres beside a small lake in northern Minnesota, and the winters in a beautiful home in Des Moines. At various times of year there are longer trips; but in general, home is the Midwest which is, in Mr. Reece's words, never very far from anywhere.

One reaches the Minnesota cabin by negotiating 61/2 miles of country road, one of those described in official terms as "gravel." We suspect that this is the kind of backwoods track that is distinguishable in certain seasons from the brooks only by the fact that the roads have no fish in them. This is where Mr. Reece studies, sketches, gathers material, and enjoys a life of simplicity.

His studies over the years have included biology, botany, taxidermy, anatomy of wildlife and related natural sciences. His reputation for accuracy is assured, even among sportsmen who are an intensely observant breed themselves.

The home in Des Moines, though "city," is on a lot large enough to accommodate a number of trees, squirrels, and birds around the house. The studio is on the north side, with 250 square feet of window; the living quarters are on the second level with t balcony overlooking the studio. There is one wall two stories high, covered with fabric and hung with Maynard Reece paintings. Many of these have been published with only publication rights being sold, and the actual painting remaining in the family gallery.

Having long since realized his early ambition to become a successful artist, Mr. Reece has a new goal. Now turning down far more assignments than he accepts, he is seeking to attain a still higher quality in his work. His aim is to improve it constantly, with the hope of making a lasting contribution to art and to society. Given his ability, capacity for work, and perfectionism, this is not an impossible mission.

Russell Fink Gallery P. O. Box 250 Lorton, VA 22199
Voice: 703-550-9699 Fax: 703-339-6150