Visit sculptor LaQuincey Reed during his residency at Skirvin Hotel OKC
By Chadd Scott
LaQuincey Reed with his sculptures | Photo by Ragan Butler
Sculptor LaQuincey Reed gives art lovers a pair of treats this fall. One, the rare opportunity to see an artist at work in his studio. Two, a chance at getting in on the ground floor with an artist bound for greatness, to one day brag about “discovering” Reed on the upswing.
Since February, Reed (b. 1983) has set up shop inside the Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City as part of its annual artist-in-residency program, moving his sculpting studio to the street level of the historic property. Passersby peer into his working space full of models and molds and armatures, catching a glimpse of him working and chatting up Reed about his career.
A career that continues ascending.
Reed had a pair of life-sized figures enter the collection at the Oklahoma state capitol building for prominent public display this summer. The residency, along with election into the National Sculpture Society last year, has introduced him to thousands of new admirers.
His contemporary Black cowboy figures are a welcome breath of fresh air to the Western art genre. There’s nothing else even remotely like them in the field. They synchronize with efforts being made to more fully and accurately portray the influence of Black people on the American West.
Any contemporary artist will tell you, however, the work is only part of the equation for building a successful career. After the work comes the marketing.
“Getting out there and talking to people is probably right up there as a second thing that you need to do,” Reed said. “People will like your work (but) they'll love your work once they get to know you. That helps push them over the edge to being collectors or even thinking about purchasing the work because once they hear the story, what you're doing, getting to know you – you gotta’ get out of your shell and meet people.”
Reed admits that isn’t easy. The Skirvin residency has been a crash course on honing his elevator pitch.
LaQuincey Reed artist studio at the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City | Photo by Ragan Butler
“It's made me a better public speaker,” Reed said. “I'm not great at it, I got better being a teacher, but trying to condense and talk about what I do to somebody who's only got five minutes to spare… (I’ve learned to) condense what I'm talking about into something that's digestible.”
Reed has become so adept at communicating about artwork, he launched a series on his YouTube channel interviewing the previous Skirvin artists in residency. He’s hosted sculpture and moldmaking workshops. Oklahoma City’s mayor stopped by to check in. All of which has introduced him to more people, increased his professional network and pushed his career forward.
Most people never have the chance of visiting an artist’s studio. That’s a shame. It’s exciting to find yourself amongst the books and tools and sketches and artworks at every stage of the creative process to understand how the finished product comes together. To see art making, not just art work. To ask questions.
Insights into the artist are acquired that never could be through only seeing finished pieces in a gallery or museum.
Reed’s residency is public. Visitors are welcome. Don’t hesitate in making the most of the chance.
“There's only been a couple of times where I've been right in the middle of something I couldn't stop, but other than that, I'm more than willing to stop what I'm doing and visit with people,” he said. “Sometimes (hotel guests) just want to stare at me, we make eye contact and then they look and act like they weren't looking at me and walk off.”
LaQuincey Reed| Photo by Ragan Butler