Fred W. Reich (1894-1977)
Frederick William Reich (pronounced “Rich”) was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, son of Henry Reich and Lula Flocker. The Reich family home in Tryon was deep in the woods off Erskine Road. Henry is remembered as being of German heritage, for he had a strong accent, and was considered a rather scary figure by little boys. In the annals of the Lanier Club, Mrs. Reich was a member as early as 1905, and she is recorded as being a speaker on the athenaeum program of November 17, 1910.
Fred painted seriously as a teenager, and by the time he reached maturity was identified as An Artist by his young peers in Tryon. He did not dress as other youths did. A Converse College girl he dated in 1916 described his apparel in her diary as that of “a typical foreign artist, something like an Italian musician.” When they were together, they might go somewhere out of doors, and Fred would sketch. He wore, when painting, clothing all of white canvas duck. He was notably deep in temperament and dreaded monotony.
There was never any doubt that Reich would pursue art beyond Tryon. In 1917 he enrolled in the Cincinnati Art Academy. Will Henry Stevens (1881-1949), an artist who had studied at that institution, spent the 1916 winter in Tryon. Eleanor Vance, an artist who took a great interest in young people, had also studied at that academy. She moved to Tryon in 1915. Hence the young man with talent was able to obtain good advice from experienced artists. During the anti-German hysteria of the First World War he no doubt found the environment of Cincinnati welcoming, for of the major American art centers it was the most Germanic in influence and heritage. Reich remained in the city and made his career in commercial art.
Circa 1922 he married Jean Heyl (1895-1992), daughter of Philip Heyl and Helen S. Brown. Her father was a wholesale lumber dealer in Columbus, Ohio. Jean attended Cincinnati Art Academy and taught at the city’s art museum from 1949 to1957. She first exhibited at the Syracuse Museum in 1939, and thereafter in a number of shows around the nation. Mrs. Reich was an accomplished sculptor in the ceramic medium and she is best remembered for her clay figures, often arranged in whimsical groups.
The couple came back to North Carolina on a regular basis, sometimes for extended stays. For more than three decades they were links between Tryon and the significant art community of Cincinnati. In 1958 Fred and Jean Reich moved to Tryon and built their new house and studio adjacent to Henry Reich’s. They participated in the activities of the Tryon Fine Arts Center, and besides their involvement in fine art they were Masters at Bridge.
Mike McCue. Tyron Artists 1892-1942
Submitted by Foothills Fine Art with the permission of the author.