- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2007

Osuna Art’s “Paul Reed: The Sixties” features works by Mr. Reed, now 88 and the Washington Color School’s only surviving artist here locally. His paintings, praised and exhibited in the 1960s, don’t deserve the neglect of recent years.

The show was the first to open in “ColorField Remix,” a citywide arts collaboration of museums, galleries and art institutions celebrating Washington’s Color Field and Washington Color School art movements of the 1950s and 1960s. Mr. Reed — like the school’s major figures, such as Howard Mehring, Gene Davis, Kenneth Noland, Thomas Downing, Morris Louis and others — concentrated on geometric shapes and vibrant colors, the skeleton of art’s formal elements.

Gallery director Ramon Osuna brilliantly traces Mr. Reed’s 1960s evolution on the long wall that visitors first see, with paintings ranging from the artist’s “Field” series at left to that of the “Discs.”

Mr. Osuna follows up with mounting the hard-edge geometric color abstractions in the outer gallery.

He shows what the artist can do with color vibrations in an untitled work from 1962, a longish painting of yellow-and-white jigsaw shapes merging into biomorphic forms of green, blue and orange.

“I was working on the interaction of color here,” Mr. Reed says. “The energy of the color of the shape — here, yellow — vibrates against the other colors. I may have been influenced by Miro then.”

Mr. Osuna says it was the first painting where Mr. Reed uses unprimed cotton duck canvas as a major compositional element. With the shimmering, stained yellows-on-canvas, he made it one of his best.

The artist further enlarges biomorphic-amoebic shapes in the next painting, “#2” (1963), a jittery syncopation of orange-and-blue jigsaw shapes around a canvas circle. Here, Mr. Reed concentrates on what shaped forms, with a circle, can do.

The artist moves shapes even more in “#19” (1962) with deep blue forms — perhaps bodies of water — grabbing spreading green forms below that could be algae. Mr. Reed places a tiny pink amoeba at center to, as he says, “liven the work up.”

He dramatically extends his “Field” paintings in the next work, “No. 24A” (1964), with bluish amoebas sporting greenish “eyes” surrounded by red and yellow half triangles.

“No. 24C” (1964) becomes even more sophisticated. Mr. Reed surrounds “C” with blue and orange half triangles. A green swirling center on lavender ground dominates the painting’s ground.

The mood radically shifts in the outer gallery with large paintings Mr. Reed calls “geometric abstractions.” In “Barcelona” (1968), the artist deliberately juxtaposes clashing hues such as pink-lavenders with oranges, pink-lavenders with reds, and blues — also with pinks — in rectangular and squarish shapes.

“Emerging” (1967) is a shaped trapezoid of contrasting diagonal bars of green, pink and purple, slashed with a wider horizontal white band.

It’s the show’s most challenging work, somber and hard-edged.

Mr. Osuna triumphantly concludes the exhibit with “Blue Plume” (1963), one of the artist’s most beautiful paintings.

Mr. Reed divides the canvas into four squares of red, green, blue and pink grounds merging into a circle. He further divides the squares in half, bisecting them with orange-and-blue amoebic shapes.

His expert contrasting of cool blue-greens with hot pink-reds, and planar squares and triangles, surrounding a pink-red center circle, show him as one of the top masters of the Washington Color School — as do the other works, as well.

WHAT: “Paul Reed: The Sixties”

WHERE: Osuna Art, Artery Plaza Lobby, 7200 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda

WHEN: Noon through 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, through May 6

TICKETS: Free

PHONE: 301/654-4500

ONLINE: www.Osunaart.com

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