Flora Blanc Reeder

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Flora Blanc Reeder

Flora Blanc Reeder (American, 1916-1995)

Flora Blanc Reeder was an American painter who was a member of the Fort Worth Circle, a group of artists in Fort Worth, Texas, active in the 1940s and 1950s. 

The daughter of Edward Blanc and Martha Elliot King, Flora Blanc was born in New York in 1916. She received her formal art training at New York's Art Students' League as well as the elite Brearley School, and in France, where she met Edward Dickson Reeder, a young artist from Fort Worth. The two went on to pursue their talents in New York and Paris, and studied under Stanley William Hayter. 

Blanc and Reeder married in New York in December 1937, and in 1940 the couple moved to Fort Worth, where Blanc painted and conducted acting classes for the Our Lady of Victory College. Blanc and Dickson performed with the Little Theater and forged close friendships with other local artists, eventually leading to the formation of the Fort Worth Circle, who would congregate at the Reeders' home on a regular basis to discuss their practices and engage in exchanges. 

In the spring of 1945, Blanc enrolled in a TCU course that explored multi-disciplinary in the arts, taught by Lorraine Sherley. For the course's final assignment, Blanc produced the play Aucassin and Nicolette, with a cast of twenty children from the neighborhood. Dickson designed the sets, the artist Bror Utter designed the lighting, and Brooks Morris, Jr., conducted the score. 

This production led for the opening of the Reeder-Irwin School in August 1945, with a student body of thirty-five kids and Ike Horowitz serving as first board chairman. Zane Irwin taught dance and other instructors, including Blanc, taught drama, painting, and music. 

Tuition was levied through instruction/enrolment trades. The school changed its name to the Reeder Children's School of Theater and Design in 1948, and adopted a curriculum that was similar to New York's King-Coit School which Blanc attended in her youth. 

The Reeder school closed in 1958, after staging an additional thirteen plays, in order to provide the artist couple more time to focus on their respective practices.

In May of 1970, Dickson passed away after struggling with a respiratory illness for almost a year. For years, the couple had traveled the world and lived their bohemian dreams as artists. Flora vowed to keep Dickson’s legacy alive and continued to work as an artist and performer. 

In 1973, Flora spent some time in Taos, New Mexico with her friend and former Reeder School assistant director, Sanny “Sue” McCleery. She spent most of the 1970s traveling between Taos and Fort Worth.  

In 1982, Flora enlisted the help of her nephew Jeff Reeder, and reopened The Reeder School. Flora modeled her new school under her original setup, and her nephew was instrumental in eh general operation of the school. As an ode to her late husband, the new plays featured Dickson’s designs and costumes from their earlier productions. From 1982 to 1986, the Reeder School revival allowed a new generation of children to experience theater with their productions and exhibitions. Flora maintained creative control throughout the entire span of the school’s revival and monitored every aspect of its productions. 

In 1988, Flora partnered with TCU’s Department of Art and Art History to celebrate Dickson’s artwork, leading to “Dickson Reeder: A Retrospective Exhibition at TCU” which generated a great deal of publicity. In 1988, Fort Worth mayor, Bob Bolen proclaimed February 11, 1988 as “Dickson and Flora Blanc Reeder Appreciation Day” and acknowledged the Reeder’s artistic contributions to the local community.  Blanc died in 1995 in Fort Worth. Her brother was artist Peter Blanc.

Career Highlights

B: New York, City. D: Fort Worth. 

Painter, printmaker, teacher. Fort Worth. 

Studied: Art Students League of New York; William von Schlegel; Yasuo Kuniyoshi; Fernand Leger; Stanley William Hayter in Paris; George Rouault; George Grosz; Grosz-Stern School, New York; Leon Kroll.

Member: Texas Artists Group; Fort Worth Art Association; The Eight.

Selected Exhibitions

1941, The Second Texas-Oklahoma General Exhibition, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, TX; The Museum of Fine Arts of Houston, TX; The Witte Memorial Museum, San Antonio, TX; Philbrook Art Museum, Tulsa, OK

~Accident on the Beach

1941, The 3rd Texas General, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, TX; The Museum of Fine Arts of Houston, TX; The Witte Memorial Museum, San Antonio, TX

~The Uninteresting Letter

1941, Fort Worth Local Artists Exhibition, Fort Worth, TX

1943, Fort Worth Local Artists Exhibition, Fort Worth, TX

1944, Fort Worth Local Artists Exhibition, Fort Worth, TX

~Lady With the Diabolicale, Innocent Birds, Portrait-Bill Bomar

1944, Six Texas Painters, Weythe Gallery, New York, NY

~ Featuring works by Bill Bomar, Veronica Helfensteller, Dickson Reeder, Flora Blanc Reeder, and Bror Utter 

1944, The 6th Texas General Exhibition, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, TX; The Museum of Fine Arts of Houston, TX; The Witte Memorial Museum, San Antonio, TX

~The Listeners

1945, Fort Worth Local Artists Exhibition, Fort Worth, TX

~Bucolic Frivolities (honorable mention)

1945, Fort Worth Public Library Print Exhibition, Fort Worth, TX

~Wings of Icarus, Dancers, Snakes, Crustacean Eulogy, The Persistency of Sound, The Dreamers

1945, Texas Artists Group

~Citadel of Learning, Composition

1945, The Fifth Annual Texas Print Exhibition, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, TX

~Crustacean Eulogy (engraving and soft ground)

1945-46, The 7th Texas General Exhibition, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, TX; The Museum of Fine Arts of Houston, TX; The Witte Memorial Museum, San Antonio, TX; University of Texas, Austin, TX 

~Portrait-Bill Bomar

1946, The Eight, Scott Hall, Dallas, TX

~Wings of Icarus (print)

1947, Fort Worth Local Artists Exhibition, Fort Worth, TX

1948, Fort Worth Local Artists Exhibition, Fort Worth, TX

1948, Texas General/Texas Painting and Sculpture Exhibition, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, TX; The Museum of Fine Arts of Houston, TX; The Witte Memorial Museum, San Antonio, TX

~Undersea, Owl (etchings)

1949, Fort Worth Collects, Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, Dallas, TX

            ~Musicians, c. 1948

1986, Beyond Regionalism: The Fort Worth School, 1945-1955, The Old Jail Art Center, Albany, TX

1992, Prints of the Fort Worth Circle: 1940-1960, Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas, Austin, TX

2019, Voices Linger: Women Artists in Texas, Foltz Fine Art, Houston, TX 

2020, Up Close and Personal: Portraits from the Reaves Collection of Texas Art, The Grace Museum, Abilene, TX

Selected Permanent Collections 

  • Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, TX
  • Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX
  • Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX
  • Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX
  • National Art Gallery, Washington, D.C.
  • The Old Jail Art Center, Albany, TX
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