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 Dyer Myron Reynolds  (1930 - 1980)

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Lived/Active: Rhode Island/California      Known for: Painting, photography, model building

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Dyer Myron Reynolds
An example of work by Dyer Myron Reynolds
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
This following biography was researched, compiled, and written by Geoffrey K. Fleming, Director, Southold Historical Society, Southold, NY.

DYER MYRON REYNOLDS (September 16, 1930 – October 22, 1980)

Painter, photographer, and model builder.  Born in Rhode Island, the son of Geraldine (b. 1911) and Dyer Reynolds Sr. (b. 1906).  His father worked as a cleaner.  As a young boy, Reynolds and his family resided at 176 Hazel Street in Lincoln, Providence County, Rhode Island.

From an early age, Reynolds felt the need to help his parents who were never wealthy, but due to severe asthma, he could not do very much.  Having an artistic bent and being highly interested in the circus, he began modeling different circus animals in miniature out of clay, and then finishing them with paint.  He also recreated circus wagons, cages, and vehicles in miniature, advertising in circus related publications at the age of eighteen that he modeled “all types of circus wagons and animals for fans” and “If you know of some fan who would like a wagon in real scale or a clown about four inches tall, please refer them to me.”  His works became even better known when they were noted for their quality and detail in the magazine Popular Mechanics.  Around this time Dyer also began collecting circus memorabilia, which would become a life-long passion.

As he got older, Reynolds began traveling in the northeast part of the country visiting as many different varieties of circus as possible.  The publication Hobby-Bandwagon –The Circusiana Monthly noted that during the summer of 1949, Reynolds “caught the RB&BB circus for three days at Providence, R. I. and enjoyed a meal in the Hotel Ringling and visited with many of the "top" performers. Dyer also caught RB&BB at Springfield and Boston, Mass., Biller Bros, and Hunt Bros.”  At the time, Reynolds was residing at 197 East Avenue, Pawtucket, Rhode Island.  

He finally achieved his dream job of working in a circus by 1951, when he was working in the “Light  Department” of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus combined show.  That year he began advertising “exclusive” circus photographs for sale that he had taken at the “RB&BB quarters” which were available in both color and black & white.  He continued to take photographs that documented circus life during the period, and which are today treasured by many circus collectors and enthusiasts.  He also collected 16mm films that documented performances and sound recordings that documented original circus musical scores.  Eventually, Reynolds joined the “Circus Model Builders” association, where he helped other builders with his original research into the details of the various wagons, carts, railroad cars, etc., used by the circuses during the mid-twentieth century.

Reynolds channeled his experiences from his circus days not only into his models but also into original paintings he created, both in watercolor and oil, which depicted clowns, views of the big top, and typical circus grounds, while always focusing on capturing a real sense of circus life.  Many of these were recreated from memory, as he noted on the backs of some of his paintings.  Within the circus community he became known by the nickname “Ichabod,” though it is unclear why.

By 1980, Reynolds was living in Los Angeles, California where he was suffering from ill health.  He noted in The Circus Report that April that he would soon have to “hang it all up.”   In August he announced that he had been donating his large circus collection to Memphis State University, where he expected it to be exhibited shortly.  

Dyer Myron Reynolds died in California, on Wednesday, the 22nd of October 1980 at the age of fifty.  The Circus Report noted that “…he was an avid collector and artist throughout his life.”  In 1982 Memphis State University published a book on his important collection of circus memorabilia.

His works are held in the collection of the following public collections/institutions:  Dyer Reynolds Circus Collection, Memphis State University, Memphis, Tennessee; John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida; Richard and Albert Conover Collection, Circus Historical Society, Inc..  His works also reside in private collections throughout the United States.

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