We had the good fortune of connecting with Vikki Reed and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vikki, why did you pursue a creative career?
Since I was the last of her six children, my mom was able to return to some of her pre-maternal interests, one being painting watercolor. I had a brush in my hand by age 3, not that I was a child prodigy by any stretch of the imagination, just that I was given free access to art supplies of many kinds, and lots of (usually unwarranted) encouragement. The question inevitably comes, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer was always, “I don’t know, I just know I want to be able to paint…and help people.” Quite often, the follow up comment, “well, you know you can’t make money as an artist, you don’t want to be a starving artist, do you?” would sting and confuse me, and I would doubt what was so central to my understanding of myself. Much later, while working my job at the Glendale Surgicenter, I met my “painting dad”, Paul Kuo who made it clear to me that to achieve my goal was possible, but only if I committed to it fully, which led to me quitting my job to paint full time in 1989.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I thought I knew the way when I quit my job and began doing the outdoor shows in 1990. Getting married in 1991 and having my first son in 1992 was a lot, but I thought I could manage. Through the years, I had my worked blown away in a mini haboob (Sun City Grand), burned in a gallery fire in Scottsdale, (1995), and stolen from a hospital where it was hanging on consignment. In 1992 I decided to join the Work of Artists Gallery as I very pregnant and challenged by doing the outdoor shows, and it was a decision that was beneficial for both of us for 23 years, until the lease was not renewed, in 2015. The end of my marriage in 2000 meant that now I was single parenting and the financial fears caused me to stumble a bit. I felt then as now, that making your living as an artist is a little like walking on water…as soon as you say to yourself, “Look! I’m doing it”, you start to falter and sink. The twin paths of creative evolution and emotional healing grew from the loss of the marriage and my interest in learning healing modalities was increasing as I sought my own solutions 2001 brought 9-11 which seemed to discourage spending on art for awhile, and I was searching for a new expression as the muted watercolor desert landscapes I had been doing were no longer satisfying. My palette began to intensify after an artist friend suggested I simply paint squares for awhile, and the vibrant desert botanical pieces emerged. Getting stranded in the desert in 2004 in a strange way resulted in my very reluctant agreement to begin the mandalas series (which I had been resisting, fearing that the radical change in subject would discourage my collectors). I had painted mandalas as a child, before I knew what they were, but my market was the southwest watercolors for which I was becoming known. After the August event (my tow truck driver’s name was Jesus), I returned to the studio and began the mandalas which number more than 50 for the 12 year period, 2004-2016. Each mandala was chronicled in a story and had a very profound effect on my life. During that period my father developed dementia and I was called into service as one of his caregivers and management of his affairs (2010-2014). My art business took a back seat and I was grateful to have had the mandalas as a lifeline to keep the creative flow alive. In 2016 in the midst of painting the “Heart and Soul Mandala”, there were two rather shattering events that caused me such soul questioning, I never completed the piece. Enter Kathy Taylor, Studio 6020, and the delightful medium of acrylic paint. Since 2016, I have had a completely different painting style. I have become certified in two of my favorite energy psychology practices and developed the Paint By Heart workshops to empower others in finding their way home creatively. Briefly, we are creative souls. When we practice creating, we are focused on developing solutions, connecting with the very Source Energy that brought us here and opening to resources beyond our limited perception. Vibration, frequency and energy are far more important than we have been led to, let ourselves believe. Our true “work” here is to creatively find our way home to ourSelves and encourage and empower others to do the same, engendering a world where everyone understands their true power, freedom and responsibilities. There are so many ways to do this. Painting is just one.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This question must be pre-Covid…my favorite places to check out in Phoenix? – TAY Modern (formerly Studio 6020), Storm Wisdom, The Phoenix Zoo, The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, the Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix City Grille for a lemon drop and bacon wrapped shrimp, NYPD Pizza for a Pizza Blanca with spinach, Dreamy Draw for hiking, Orange Theory Fitness in Paradise Valley.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Credit of course goes first to my mom who gave me access to all the paint and paper I could ever want. Painting Dad Paul Kuo is absolutely up next, for coaching me on what was necessary to make art my full time career, and building the faith in me that I could do it. Honestly, next is my “real” dad for providing the safety net of a side job in bookkeeping to provide money during the lean times. Darrell Mankoff kept the abundance flowing for me for 23 years with his gallery Work of Artists. Qi Gong teacher Martha Blane and the Zoom community she created to ride the waves of 2020, and artist/teacher extraordinaire, Kathy Taylor who helped me bridge from the watercolor and mandala work I thought was my life’s purpose, to the mixed media creation I’m playing with now, and the awareness that Paint By Heart must now be developed into online courses so more can benefit by reconnecting with their creative spirit.