• Lynda Reed’s Picture Alaska and Homer Art & Frame Company –
By Christina Whiting
As a child, Lynda Reed enjoyed coloring and drawing, but didn’t study art in school.
“Back then, it was expected that when girls graduated, they would get married and work as teachers, nurses or secretaries,” she explained. “I was lousy at biology, so I studied shorthand and typing.”
Reed grew up in Dallas, Texas, the daughter of parents who she describes as, “entrepreneurs with artistic endeavors.” Her father was an independent stonemason, and her mother was a licensed florist who judged garden shows and later opened an antique shop.
After high school, Reed married, worked as a secretary and had her son Barry. Later, as a single working mom in California, she pursued her art, taking classes at the local college.
When she moved back to Dallas, she worked as a legal secretary, drew, painted and took art classes at night. She advertised her portraiture work and was commissioned to paint an oil portrait of two of the founding partners of the law firm where she worked.
In 1985, she traveled to Alaska to visit her son Barry Haynes who was stationed at Elmendorf in Anchorage. She returned to Alaska two years later and traveled around the state for six weeks.
“I put 6,000 miles on a used car I bought in Anchorage,” she said. “Many of those miles were trips I took to Homer.”
Reed was inspired to move to Alaska after reading Beryl Markham’s book, “West with the Night.”
“In her book, Beryl wrote something like ‘every tomorrow should not be like every yesterday. You shouldn’t live your life worrying about ‘what if’,” Reed said. “I had been thinking about moving to Seattle, but then decided that if I was going to go north, why not go very north. I loved Homer when I visited it, so it was a pretty easy decision to move here.”
Reed moved to Homer in 1989, and planned to open her own business — as her parents had done.
She decided to use her artistic skills in photo restoration, supplementing that income by selling vintage Alaska photographs, as well as her own art. Reed also worked at local pubs, often sketching the patrons. It was while working at one of these pubs that she met her future husband, Howard Reed, a helicopter pilot.
In 1990, Lynda and Howard opened the original Picture Alaska Art Gallery on Ocean Drive. They offered photo restoration, framing services and sold vintage Alaska photographs. After six months, they moved the business to Pioneer Avenue.
“Howard thought one of us needed to get a ‘real’ job, so he went to work for Maritime Helicopters,” Reed explained. “He still works there today.”
In 1993, the couple relocated the business to the Lakeside Mall where they stayed until 1996. Then, they purchased the old Homer Thompson junk store on Pioneer Avenue.
“We bought the building, started renovating and have been renovating ever since,” Lynda said.
In 1997, Picture Alaska Art Gallery reopened in their present location on Pioneer Avenue, with Alaska art, Native art, jewelry, gifts, framing and art supplies. Reed retired her photo restoration business to concentrate on the gallery.
In 1998, she took a watercolor class with Paula Dickey and, through this friendship, was introduced to other local artists, many of whom later exhibited in her gallery.
When customers commented on the lack of places to buy more fashionable clothing in Homer, Reed converted the apartment above the gallery into a clothing store. In 1998, The Upstairs Boutique opened.
“I’d never done retail and hadn’t intended to,” she said. “But people were asking for clothes, so I thought I’d make a go of it. My goal was to carry everything from underwear to shoes to accessories.”
In 2010, Reed leased the old Homer Independent Hardware space and after six months of renovations, moved her art supplies and framing business to the expanded space at her new Homer Art & Frame Company.
Remembering how much she enjoyed her own art classes, Reed also created an art classroom space in her new building. Homer’s Life Drawing group and the Kachemak Bay Watercolor Society currently use the space.
“I believe that imagination and creativity need to be nurtured,” she said. “I want to offer a variety of art classes and am looking for qualified teachers.”
Managing the businesses has been a full time labor of love for Reed. It’s also left her little time for her own art and, as such, both businesses are for sale.
“I love Homer’s art community and all the creativity that exists here,” she said. “Art is my comfort zone and my social outlet and I want to create more time in my life for my own creativity.”
Reed is a member of the Kachemak Bay Watercolor Society, attends the weekly Life Drawing classes and participates in group art shows. In addition to her art, she spends time with Howard, and her son and his family who moved to Homer to be closer to her.
Reed hopes that her businesses inspire creativity and imagination in all who walk through the doors. With dreams of studying art locally and abroad, she’s eager to embrace the life of a full-time artist for herself.
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