Walt Arnold Reed
July 25, 1917 - March 18, 2015
Walt Arnold Reed, husband to Mary Inez Reed, passed away on March 18, 2015, at the age of 97. He was at home in Westport, Connecticut.
Walt is remembered primarily as a champion of the art of illustration and his various activities — illustrator, author, lecturer, editor, historian, archivist, and art dealer — were all engaged with the promotion of illustration art as a valid field of art history and a viable branch of the art market. Walt founded the specialized art gallery Illustration House, in Westport, in 1973. He moved it to South Norwalk in 1979, and New York City in 1987.
Walt was born in Big Spring, Texas, in July 1917, to Edith and Fay Reed, and was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He went to New York to study art, first at Pratt Institute and then at the New York Phoenix School of Design. He married Mary Garavagno in 1948. A lifelong pacifist, Walt was a Conscientious Objector during World War II, and worked at an agricultural station in North Dakota, and a mental hospital in West Virginia for his government service. After the war, Walt worked for CARE, doing relief work in various European countries, then moved to Westport Connecticut to join the community of illustrators in 1952. In Westport, Walt did freelance illustration, worked for Famous Artists Schools, and North Light Publishers, before opening his gallery. He was active in the Westport-Weston Arts Council, and the Westport Historical Society. Walt was also on the Sanford Low Committee at the New Britain Museum of American Art, and on the Museum Committee at the Society of Illustrators in New York.
Walt Reed is the author of several books on the history of illustration, including three editions of The Illustrator in America (1966, 1984, 2001), Harold Von Schmidt Draws and Paints the Old West (Northland Press, 1972), The Magic Pen of Joseph Clement Coll (Donald M. Grant, 1978), John Clymer; An Artist’s Rendezvous with the Frontier West (Northland, 1976), and Harvey Dunn; Illustrator and Painter of the Pioneer West (Flesk Publishing, 2008).
Walt is survived by his wife, Mary, 93, and his three children: Stina Reed, of Newtown, Connecticut; Geoffrey Reed, of Bridgeport; and Roger Reed of Westport. He also is survived by four grandsons: Tucker Reed, Benjamin Reed, Nicholas Reed, and Maxwell Reed.
A Memorial Service will be held on April 20 at the Society of Illustrators, 128 East 63rd Street, New York City.
Donations in Walt’s name may be made to: The Westport Historical Society, Westport; The Society of Illustrators in New York; or the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.