It’s the kind of memory from someone born to be an artist.
Diane Reeves was 9. Her dad took her into town to shop at the “big art supply store.” She can still visualize the aisles of craft supplies and colors. She remembers carefully picking out a tin of watercolor pencils.
“It was a big deal,” she says. “It’s such a special moment in my life.”
It was such a big deal that Reeves still has those pencils, or what remains of them after years of use.
But that’s not the moment Reeves decided to become an artist. That would take about three decades.
In high school, she didn’t take art classes because she thought those were for the kids who “were really good at art.” She took one drawing class in college and loved it. But she changed her major and studied computers. When she had kids, she started teaching them about art. There were years of wanting to paint and stopping herself by asking, “What would I paint?”
“Deep down, there was fear,” Reeves said. “I put (art) aside and I don’t really know why.”
Finally, that changed. It started after Reeves and her family moved to Colorado Springs from St. Louis in 2014.
Reeves went to the Denver Art Museum to see the “Women of Abstract Expressionism” exhibit. She was so moved by it that she took a class inspired by the exhibit at Colorado College’s Bemis School of Art.
And she started painting.
As she asked herself what to paint, Reeves started exploring her new city and finding houses and restaurants and office buildings that stuck out to her. And she painted how she saw them.
That’s led to her first art show, which opens Friday at The Machine Shop. Called “Inside a Hidden City: Abstract Reflections on a City in Self-Discovery,” the show is an “exploration of this place’s efforts of discovery.”
“Each piece is my reaction to places around the city,” she said. “I want to share that our surroundings can have an incredible impact on us and can surprise us.”
Partly, the show celebrates how Colorado Springs is finding its identity, Reeves says. It also celebrates her story of finally pursuing art.
“It’s also a way of celebrating me feeling more at home here,” she said. “There’s a hidden city within myself. This shows peels back the curtain of Colorado Springs and my own hidden city.”
As the show’s online description says, “These abstract reflections on our evolution are each an interaction with a meaningful location in Colorado Springs, offering an invitation inside a hidden city: the hidden city of the artist’s interiority and the hidden city of Colorado Springs, to share its promise and contribute something to its becoming.”
For each piece, Reeves had a specific location around Colorado Springs in mind. But she’s keeping those locations a secret so that people can make their own guesses during the show. And it’s not about having the right answers, something Reeves has learned as she’s pushed herself to paint without knowing the final picture.
“I see it as an invitation to be open and vulnerable,” she said. “To feel out loud and to dream.”