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 Edward Arnold Reep  (1918 - 2013)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: Modernist still life, genre, townscape painting

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Edward Arnold Reep
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Edward Arnold Reep (1918-2013)

Obituary.  Bakersfield Californian, March 3, 2013

Edward Reep was born May 10, 1918 in Brooklyn, New York to Joseph and Elsie Reep, immigrants from Odessa, Russia and Lithuania.  His first adventure was getting lost on the Brooklyn Bridge in his baby buggy, to the great distress of his mother, during the excitement of the World War I armistice. 

In his early years the family moved to Huntington Park, California where Buster, as he came to be known, grew up.  He always knew he wanted to be an artist.  Growing up during the Great Depression was difficult, however, and Ed worked at any job he could get to help pitch in with the family.  He played basketball at Huntington Park High School and his team lost only two games in three years, winning the Los Angeles city-wide championship consecutively.  Despite his size he excelled as a guard, saying, "I was hell-bent to win.  By the time I finished school, my nose was broken five times." 

Ed went to college at Art Center School of Design, taking the streetcar to and from school, often carrying large, heavy stones used in making lithographs, sleeping on benches, doing whatever it took to work, earn money, and get his education.  He often said he loved to work and woke up each morning bursting with enthusiasm for whatever the day would bring.  When World War II began, Ed enlisted in the Army.  He came to be stationed at Ford Ord in Monterey where he met Karen Patricia Stevens at a USO dance.  From that moment on, he knew he had met the love of his life and they were married nearly 70 years until he lost her nearly two years ago.  Ed went to OCS, was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant, certified by the Higgins Eureka Motor Boat Operators School of New Orleans, and taught navigation on Lake Pontchartrain.  The Higgins school closed, he was sent back to Fort Ord to ship out to Alaska when providentially an order arrived out of the blue naming him an Official War Artist Correspondent and Official War Photographer.  He was the officer in charge of official war artists in the Mediterranean theater.  Ed fought in the battles and campaigns of Rome, Arno, Naples, Foggia, North Apennines and the Po Valley, and produced a body of work that resides in the Pentagon and the Army Art Archives.  He received the Bronze Star Medal for Bravery and the European African Middle Eastern Theater Service Medal with four bronze battle stars. He concluded his military career with the rank of captain and supervised the design and publication of the Official Fifth Army History.

After the war, Ed returned to civilian life and like so many of his generation, never spoke of the war, but went on to raise a family and become a working member of society.  He chose the path of an artist, his true destiny, and was supported in this difficult choice one hundred percent by his wife.  He received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Painting to record his impressions of war during the first year of his return.  He taught at the prestigious Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, taught night classes in his home studio, built his family home himself, and never stopped working.  He could build anything and fix anything except motors.

He worked for Goldwyn-Mayer Film Studios, 20th Century Fox, Selznick International Films and others, designed swimming pools for celebrities, and did many watercolors and covers for the Ford Times Magazine and other publications.  He was the official courtroom artist for the infamous Confidential trial in Los Angeles.  In 1956 LIFE Magazine sent him around the world to record his impressions of international airports in watercolor for their special June 18, 1956 Air Age Issue.  In the early 1970s the Army temporarily commissioned him a Brigadier General and sent him to Berlin to document the 10th anniversary of the Berlin Wall.

Ed has been cited in publications too numerous to mention and authored two books, The Content of Watercolor and A Combat Artist in World War II.  He is featured in the PBS documentary They Drew Fire, produced by Brian Lanker, and in the book of the same name. His paintings have been exhibited in shows too numerous to recount and by invitation to three Whitney annuals, the National Academy of Design, the Corcoran Biennial, National Gallery of Art, Los Angeles County Museum and others.  His paintings reside in the permanent collections of major museums, universities, corporations, and private collectors all over the country including the Smithsonian.  He has lectured widely and juried innumerable shows, received numerous honors from the National and American Watercolor Societies and served as president of the National Watercolor Society.

Edward Reep the war hero, artist, teacher and painter was an impressive human being.  But he was also our dad, an imperfect man who came home from the terrible conflict of WWII determined to meld the creative spirit of an artist with the traditional role of the family man - breadwinner, husband and father.  To us, that made him even more impressive.  No one tried harder, worked harder, gave more with more heart, loved more, or felt more deeply.  He didn't always do it right, but he did it.  He orchestrated his life more perfectly than he realized right up until the end, which he met with perfect grace and courage.  We recognize our impossible good fortune to have had our father for so long, but we will miss him so much.

He is survived by his children and their spouses.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Brooklyn, NY on May 10, 1918. Reep moved to Huntington Beach in 1921 and grew up in southern California. He studied at the Art Center School in Los Angeles (1936-41) under Barse Miller, and privately with Willard Nash, Emil Bistram, and Stanley Reckless. During WWII he rose to the rank of captain as an artist-correspondent in Africa and Italy; as a result of paintings done during the war, after his discharge he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was an instructor at the Art Center School of Los Angeles (1946-50), Bistram School of Art (1950-51), and Chouinard Art School (1950-70). In 1970 he moved to Greenville, NC to teach at East Carolina University. Reep is the author of A Combat Artist in WWII and The Content of Watercolor. Still painting, he is currently living in Bakersfield, CA. Member: Nat'l WC Society; San Diego Artists Guild. Exh: GGIE, 1939; Calif. WC Society, 1939-56; Carmel AA, 1942 (1st prize); San Diego Museum, 1948, 1950 (1st prizes); LA County Fair, 1948; CGA, 1948; LACMA, 1951, 1952; All-City Annual (LA), 1963 (1st prize). In: NMAA; UCLA; U.S. War Dept; LACMA; Gardena (CA) High School.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Interview with the artist or his/her family; Who's Who in American Art 1953-70.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Brooklyn, New York, he attended the Art Center School in Los Angeles and was a World War II artist in Africa and italy. His work won him a Guggenheim Fellowship. Returning to California, he had a distinguished teaching career including the Art Center School and the Chouinard Art Institute where he chaired the painting department. He was also an illustrator and scenic artist for the film industry. In 1970, he became a professor at East Carolina University, but returned to live in Bakersfield, California. He is known for war surrealism and paintings that make serious comments about society in a playful way.

Biography from
Biography provided courtesy of “California Watercolors 1850-1970” By Gordon T. McClelland and Jay T. Last.

Edward Reep (1918- )...Born: Brooklyn, NY

Studied: Art Center School (Los Angeles)

Member: American Watercolor Society, California Water Color Society.

Edward Reep grew up in Southern California. He became interested in watercolor painting while studying with Stanley Reckless and received further instruction from Barse Miller. During World War 11, he became a combat artist for the United States Army and was sent to Italy. With the war going on all around him, Reep managed to paint depictions of what was happening. These watercolor and gouache works became property of the War Department at the Pentagon. Additional war-time works produced after 1945 are in various museums including the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C.

As a result of his outstanding contributions to war art, Reep was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to help finance his pursuit of art. From 1947 to 1950, he painted, exhibited and taught art at the Art Center School. In the 1950s, he worked with one of his former teachers, Emit Bisttram, at the Bisttram School of Art. He also began a nineteen year job as an art instructor for the Chouinard Art Institute during this era.

Biographical information:

Interview with Ed Reep, 1983.

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