After leaving the Haggerty Museum of Art, Nicole Reid managed Milwaukee’s Tory Folliard Gallery for ten years. She met her husband there and moved to Racine in 2007. Today she enjoys spreading her love of arts and crafts to seniors living in memory care. A passionate supporter of arts and cultural organizations, Reid discusses her art collection and how it came about.
The living room corner above the Reid’s TV. Photo courtesy of Nicole Reid. All rights reserved.
Having worked in the arts for many years, first at the Haggerty Museum of Art, then at the Tory Folliard Gallery, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have formed friendships with many great artists who have graciously gifted me artworks to help make my collection somewhat significant. However, I won’t discuss these works in favor of focusing on the works that I have purchased throughout the last 20 years. I never set out to own an art collection. I’ve always just bought what I liked. I can categorize my collection in three segments—works on paper, lowbrow, and bunnies.
Laurie Hogin studies in pen and ink. Photo courtesy of Nicole Reid. All rights reserved.
The majority of my collection consists of works on paper—for the practical reason that they tend to be less costly than a canvas, but also because I have an affinity for prints and drawings. There are many artists whose paintings I cannot afford but whose small sketches and studies I can afford. Such works include fantastic pen and ink studies by Laurie Hogin and a small pencil sketch by Elizabeth Shreve—two fabulous women whose paintings are beyond my means.
Says Reid of this favorite, “Imagine this paper cutout by Charles Munch in red and yellow!”
Photo courtesy of Nicole Reid. All rights reserved.
Another favorite painter of mine is Charles Munch. While he is known as a colorist, I own one of his early black and white paper-cutouts. It features a family dancing in the woods with the animals. He used the paper cutouts to create smaller, two-color reproductions. The print he made from my cutout was done in red and yellow, a combination that causes me to gag a bit. I much prefer my black and white original. Other notable mentions are a beautiful John Colt watercolor and a Michael Noland gouache of a dilapidated car, poetically titled, The American Dream Re-visited.
I am especially drawn to drawings and block prints. I like the simplicity of black and white, ink on paper. For instance, I love the woodcuts of Robert Von Neumann that show burley fishermen hoisting nets and battling the elements. One of my favorite paintings at the MAM is Robert Motherwell’s painting of Two Figures with Stripe. The elegance that can be evoked through a single black brushstroke amazes me. I never succeeded in art because I never knew when to stop. A pastel drawing in my hands quickly becomes an overworked blur.
Mark Ottens ink drawing is only 3-inches wide. Photo courtesy of Nicole Reid. All rights reserved.
Minimalism was never my style, but I am attracted to it in small doses. For instance, another favorite in my collection is a mezzotint by friend and former coworker, Paula Schulze, called The Orb. It is truly just that—a perfect circle, no more than two inches in diameter, with a thin ring around it. I was completely attracted to its simplicity. I recently purchased a Mark Ottens ink drawing, only three inches square, that exemplifies his manic and measured geometric tendencies. I also have a small pencil drawing by Scott Espeseth featuring a mysteriously smoking bucket. I love his realistic renderings because they come paired with a peculiar perspective.
Drawing by an unknown artist of Dogwood at Rabbit Bay. Photo courtesy of Nicole Reid. All rights reserved.
My most recent purchase was from an antique shop in Michigan. It is another deceptively simple black and white drawing by an unknown artist. I would have purchased it regardless of its title, but Dogwood at Rabbit Bay helped seal the deal because I have a great affinity for the long-eared creatures. More about that to come. My monochromatic artworks are hung salon style in combination with some very colorful works. Friends often say our house is like a museum because nearly every nook and cranny is filled with art and other collectibles. I think it is less ‘art museum’ and more ‘House on the Rock.’
Panels from a Heimo Wallner mural. Photo courtesy of Nicole Reid. All rights reserved.
One of my very favorite works in my collection, which was one my first major purchases, is a watercolor painting by Fred Stonehouse. It is a self-portrait on vintage floral wallpaper with an assortment of human organs floating about and the word ‘fuck’ streaming from his mouth like a red ribbon. In addition to its fine execution, I was drawn to its self-deprecating humor. I guess I have a skewed sense of humor at times. This is how my lowbrow collection formed. Along these lines is a collection of three drawings by Austrian artist, Heimo Wallner, that feature the antics of his signature naked aliens. One of them has a gun-shaped penis, another is slaying a deer and another hunting a man with deer antlers. I bought these many years ago because I thought they were funny. Now I find it funny that I found them to be so funny!
Also in my lowbrow collection is a painting on canvas of a disgruntled gutter punk by Chris Miller and two rather unappealing female portraits painted by Judith Ann Moriarty from her Clampett Series, subtitled Real Women Pack Heat. Another work that embodies my off-kilter sense of humor is a gun-shaped pillow. These works are on display in a spare bedroom alongside a gold and black spray painted stencil piece by New York muralist, Logan Hicks. With the exception of the Stonehouse, I purchased these works from Milwaukee’s Lucky Star and Hotcakes Galleries back in the day.
The mantel featuring Jeremy Wolf's hare mask. Photo courtesy of Nicole Reid. All rights reserved.
Nicole's bunny wall of drawings, etchings and other reproductions. Photo courtesy of Nicole Reid. All rights reserved.
As I mentioned before, I have a growing collection of rabbit tchotchkes and rabbit-themed artworks. Our mantel is a rabbit shrine with the centerpiece being a large papier-mâché hare mask by sculptor, Jeremy Wolf. It is mounted on the wall like a trophy head. Below it are various rabbit figurines like an antique stuffed Steiff toy, a beeswax bunny candle, a cookie jar and a piece of driftwood remarkably resembling the animal. Next to the mantel is my wall of 2D bunnies, hung salon style, including a pencil drawing and a few etchings by various local artists, a ceramic tile, an old English tapestry reproduction, and perhaps the most famous hare in art history—a reproduction of the famous Durer print.
Nicole's Easter cabinet is filled with bunnies. Photo courtesy of Nicole Reid. All rights reserved.
On and endnote, one of the very first encounters I had with my now husband, metal sculptor, Bill Reid, also involved a rabbit. He was delivering new works to Tory’s gallery and brought in a monstrous sculpture featuring a life-sized man, laying on his back, being mauled by a giant, saber-toothed rabbit. My first thought upon seeing this abomination was, “What sick mind would come up with that?” Turns out we share the same sense of humor. The Rabbit Eating Astronaut holds a place of honor in our living room. While my bunnies are at times in friendly competition for display space with Bill’s sculptures, we’ve been able to maintain a happy balance for 13 years now.
The kitchen wall features several drawings, including one Nicole's brother did when he was a boy.
Photo courtesy of Nicole Reid. All rights reserved
~Nicole Reid, December 2020