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Mitsuno Reedy’s Dances with Brushes show runs through June 30.

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Mitsuno Reedy’s portraiture is incredible, and her drive to push herself to grow as an artist is almost as impressive as her list of commissions. Even so, it’s a profession she initially avoided.

“A traumatic experience in my early childhood caused me to determine to stay away from doing art,” she said. “I wanted to be a teacher, like my warm, compassionate and fun female teacher in the sixth grade in Osaka, Japan.”

Luckily, she changed her mind. Reedy attended the University of Oklahoma in the 1960s, began creating portraits in the early 1970s and took up permanent residence in Norman in 1979.

She recently returned home from Philadelphia, where she completed an intense four-year program of study with renowned painter Nelson Shanks. Shanks’ work includes brilliant, recognizable portraiture of luminaries like Princess Diana, Pope John Paul II and Mstislav Rostropovich.

“I wanted to go to Philadelphia and study with Nelson Shanks because when I saw his works at the OU Museum of Art in 2006, his paintings were nothing like I had ever seen. It was exquisitely realistic but also very colorful,” Reedy said. “I had always considered myself to be a colorist in pastel, but not in oil so much, so I felt I found a teacher. He passed away two months after I received my diploma last summer, and I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to study his method and philosophy and watch him paint in his Andalusia studio.”

Reedy said she doesn’t find painting any specific facial feature or body part especially difficult.

“Every part is equally challenging in order to bring harmony to the whole,” she said. “In other words, it is the relationship of every line, every plane to the whole that is the biggest challenge, not so much in terms of each facial features.”

Reedy’s previous studies have taken her into the studios of notable pastel artists Daniel E. Greene and Albert Handell and oil painters David A. Leffel and John Howard Sanden. Reedy is a Pastel Society of America member, a distinction she earned in 1978. In 2001, she became an associate member of the Pastel Society of Japan.

“Baby Steps” by Mitsuno Reedy | Photo provided
  • “Baby Steps” by Mitsuno Reedy | Photo provided

The Depot

Nancy McClellan, former director of Norman’s Firehouse Art Center, is a founding member and former director of The Depot, which has been a bastion of fine arts in Norman since 2003.

It’s billed as Norman’s performing arts studio, but it also hosts six visual arts exhibitions each year and is still a train depot. It also produces two concert series — Summer Breeze and Winter Wind — annually, along with jazz and spoken word events.

McClellan has been involved since its earliest days.

Today, McClellan describes herself as “just a volunteer,” which is no small title, especially in the nonprofit arts world. She serves on the gallery committee and is always looking for ways to get arts into the community and the community into arts.

“We meet about once a year and map out the upcoming exhibits and events with the artists,” McClellan said.

Reedy’s Dances with Brushes show runs through June 30, and although the opening reception was in May, a second reception is June 10.

An artist talk and demonstration is 2 p.m. June 5, and Painting the Portrait workshops are 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. June 8 and 9. The exhibit itself consists of about 30 pieces and is on display 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday and during Norman’s 2nd Friday Art Walks.

“Space will be limited for the workshop, so early registration is a good idea,” McClellan said.

Workshop registration is $200 for both days. 

“[It’s] open to all artistic levels, from beginning to advanced, and any medium, although Mitsuno will work in oils,” McClennan added.

Norman’s Brad Price displays works in July and August at The Depot, followed by watercolor artist Cletus Smith in September and October. Small works by various artists close out the venue’s season in November and December.

Print headline: Traveling portraiture, Artist Mitsuno Reedy’s works are on display through June 30 at The Depot in Norman.

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