A Finding Aid to the Don Reitz Papers, circa 1935-2015, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.reitdon
Creators:
Reitz, Don, 1929-2014
Dates:
circa 1935-2015
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
11.6 Linear Feet
11.2 Gigabytes
Repository:
The papers of artist and educator Don Reitz measure 11.6 linear feet and date from circa 1935 to 2015. The collection documents Reitz's work as a professional artist and educator through biographical material, correspondence; writings, interviews and lectures; documentation on workshops and performances; studio records; gallery and exhibition files; printed material, photographic material, and artwork.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of artist and educator Don Reitz measure 11.6 linear feet and date from circa 1935 to 2015. The collection documents Reitz's work as a professional artist and educator through biographical material, correspondence; writings, interviews and lectures; documentation on workshops and performances; studio records; gallery and exhibition files; printed material, photographic material, and artwork.
Correspondence reflects relationships with professional organizations, museums and galleries, friends and family, as well as letters of recommendation from his years as an instructor. Notable correspondence is with fellow artists Rudy Autio and Yukio Yamamoto. Writings include essays and artist statements written by Reitz, as well as articles and essays written about Reitz by others. Lectures and interviews are featured in written form, as well as audio and video, including some digital video recordings. Reitz's notes include sound recordings captured in his car.
Workshop and performance files contain recordings, planning materials, contracts, and other documentation on instructional events led by Reitz. Studio records include technical files on kiln operation, supplies, project plans, and equipment.
Also found are detailed records of gallery and museum exhibitions, as well as commissions including public works and murals, in addition to various studio artwork inventories. Photographic material documents Reitz's participation in workshops and other presentations, and includes photographs of artwork, the Reitz Farm in Wisconsin, the Reitz Ranch in Arizona, as well as his early family life and military career. Photograph formats include snapshots, slides and digital images. Also included are various sketches by the artist as well as some by his niece Sara.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 9 series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1935-2014 (0.9 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1951-2014 (1.6 linear feet; Boxes 1-3)
  • Series 3: Writings and Lectures, circa 1970-2012 (2.0 linear feet; Boxes 3-5, 2.85 gigabytes; ER01-ER03)
  • Series 4: Workshops and Performances, circa 1972-2008 (0.7 linear feet; Box 5-6, 8.21 gigabytes; ER04-ER05)
  • Series 5: Studio Records, circa 1965-2010 (0.3 linear feet; Box 6)
  • Series 6: Galleries and Exhibitions, circa 1966-2014 (1.5 linear feet; Boxes 6-7, 0.065 gigabytes; ER06)
  • Series 7: Printed Material, circa 1950-2014 (1.3 linear feet; Boxes 8-9, 12)
  • Series 8: Photographic Material, circa 1940-2015 (2.8 linear feet; Boxes 9-13, 0.065 gigabytes; ER07)
  • Series 9: Artwork, circa 1980-2012 (0.5 linear feet; Boxes 11, 12)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Don Reitz (1929-2014) was a ceramic artist in Clarkdale, Arizona.
Reitz was born in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, and was raised in Belvidere New Jersey, before serving for four years in the U.S. Navy as a diver. After years working as a butcher and a house painter, Reitz attended Kutztown State Teachers College, where he studied Abstract Expressionism and discovered ceramics in his last year of study. Reitz quickly developed a passion for ceramics, built a kiln in his back yard, and enrolled in graduate school at Alfred University's New York State College of Ceramics. From 1962 to 1988 Reitz led the ceramics department at University of Wisconsin at Madison, while he raised his two children Brent and Donna on a nearby farm, where he also kept livestock and experimented in ceramic firing techniques.
Don Reitz is known for bringing the salt-firing ceramics technique to the United States, in which colorful metallic surfaces are applied to ceramics by throwing salt in the kiln, as opposed to applying paint-like slips on the clay before firing. Reitz is also widely recognized for expanding the traditional medium of ceramics to incorporate abstract and nonfunctional forms like his contemporaries Peter Voulkos and Rudy Autio, as well as incorporating elements of performance art into his demonstrations and workshops. In 1982 Reitz suffered injuries from a serious automobile accident and required years of rehabilitation. During this time Reitz's niece, Sara, was undergoing treatment for cancer. The two were instrumental in each other's recovery and elements of Sara's drawings for Don were incorporated into his work, imbuing a graphic sensibility and a bold use of color, while his ability to physically manipulate clay was impaired.
In 1988 Reitz moved to a ranch in Clarksdale, Arizona, where he continued to work after his retirement from teaching, building kilns of various types including wood-fire and Anagama kilns, traveling to conduct workshops, and accepting commissions for large-scale commissions and public works. While in Arizona, Reitz developed a strong friendship with Japanese ceramicist Yukio Yamamoto, who had been teaching in Flagstaff, Arizona. Throughout his career Reitz received numerous accolades including being named Trustee Emeritus of the American Craft Council, and making the Ceramic Monthly Reader's Poll as One of Twelve Greatest Living Ceramic Artists Worldwide in 1988 and 2001. Reitz's works are featured in numerous private and museum collections including the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the High Museum of Art. Don Reitz passed in 2014 after suffering from a series of heart attacks and related surgeries.
Biographical / Historical
Don Reitz (1929-2014) was a ceramic artist in Clarkdale, Arizona. Reitz was born in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, and was raised in Belvidere New Jersey, before serving for four years in the U.S. Navy as a diver. After years working as a butcher and a house painter, Reitz attended Kutztown State Teachers College, where he studied Abstract Expressionism and discovered ceramics in his last year of study. Reitz quickly developed a passion for ceramics, built a kiln in his back yard, and enrolled in graduate school at Alfred University's New York State College of Ceramics. From 1962 to 1988 Reitz led the ceramics department at University of Wisconsin at Madison, while he raised his two children Brent and Donna on a nearby farm, where he also kept livestock and experimented in ceramic firing techniques. Don Reitz is known for bringing the salt-firing ceramics technique to the United States, in which colorful metallic surfaces are applied to ceramics by throwing salt in the kiln, as opposed to applying paint-like slips on the clay before firing. Reitz is also widely recognized for expanding the traditional medium of ceramics to incorporate abstract and nonfunctional forms like his contemporaries Peter Voulkos and Rudy Autio, as well as incorporating elements of performance art into his demonstrations and workshops. In 1982 Reitz suffered injuries from a serious automobile accident and required years of rehabilitation. During this time Reitz's niece, Sara, was undergoing treatment for cancer. The two were instrumental in each other's recovery and elements of Sara's drawings for Don were incorporated into his work, imbuing a graphic sensibility and a bold use of color, while his ability to physically manipulate clay was impaired. In 1988 Reitz moved to a ranch in Clarksdale, Arizona, where he continued to work after his retirement from teaching, building kilns of various types including wood-fire and Anagama kilns, traveling to conduct workshops, and accepting commissions for large-scale commissions and public works. While in Arizona, Reitz developed a strong friendship with Japanese ceramicist Yukio Yamamoto, who had been teaching in Flagstaff, Arizona. Throughout his career Reitz received numerous accolades including being named Trustee Emeritus of the American Craft Council, and making the Ceramic Monthly Reader's Poll as One of Twelve Greatest Living Ceramic Artists Worldwide in 1988 and 2001. Reitz's works are featured in numerous private and museum collections including the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the High Museum of Art. Don Reitz passed in 2014 after suffering from a series of heart attacks and related surgeries.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Ryan Evans in 2018.
Author
Ryan Evans
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated in 2017 by Brent Reitz, Don Reitz's son.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Don Reitz papers, circa 1935-2015. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information. Use of archival audiovisual recordings and born-digital records with no duplicate copy requires advance notice.
Conditions Governing Use
The Don Reitz papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Related Materials
Also found at the Archives of American art is an oral history interview with Don Reitz, 2006 June 6-7, conducted by Mija Riedel.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Ceramicists--Arizona Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ceramics -- Equipment and supplies Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Educators--Arizona Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculptors--Arizona Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketches Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Video recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Autio, Rudy, 1926-2007 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Yamamoto, Yukio Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/