Beverly Reynolds (1946–2014)
The arts thrive in communities because they have indefatigable and visionary champions. Beverly Reynolds, whom we were fortunate to count as a friend, was one—an extraordinary advocate who has helped Richmond become a center for contemporary art.
As the founder-director of the Reynolds Gallery, Reynolds began her Richmond career in 1977 by showing work in her home not long after she had moved with her family from New York, where she had worked for art dealer Jeanne Frank. Blackbird artists who were represented by Reynolds include Richard Carlyon, Gerald Donato, David Freed, and Sally Bowring. She also showed work by such artists as Jasper Johns and Sally Mann.
She was unstinting in the effort to create the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, which will open in 2016. The first floor gallery has been named in her honor. She also helped to establish the Pollak Society, named for the founder of the VCU School of the Arts.
Born in Wilmington, Delaware, to Canadian-born parents, Reynolds was reared in Chicago and Washington. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Tennessee and studied art history at Richmond Professional Institute, now VCU.
She served on the boards of the Arts Council of Richmond, the VCU Friends of the Anderson Gallery, and the Richmond Children’s Museum. In 2007, the YWCA honored her with an Outstanding Woman Award. She was named a National Philanthropy Volunteer of the Year in 2012.
In Style Weekly, artist Heide Trepanier noted that
Bev Reynolds was a force of nature. She was my hero. She was such an important part of the arts in this city, I am not quite sure we will ever recover from this loss. She believed in me when no one else did, and she protected me. She shielded me from the [stuff] that artists do not want to deal with, the business of art. She let me be crazy, irrational and selfish. Yet she welcomed me with open arms into her home for parties and brought me meals when I was going through tough times. Everyone admired Bev for her beauty and respected her as a businesswoman, but few people were able to really know her generosity and her spirit. I was lucky enough to have her as a friend and I cannot say how lost I am right now.