Sherri Reeve: An Artist in the Making
Born in 1963 in California, Sherri Reeve moved to Oahu when she was just six. Stories of her childhood in Hawaii show glimpses of the leading watercolor artist she would soon become. Very early on, the lush colors of the islands had a profound influence on this artist in the making. When given the opportunity to decorate her room, her colors of choice were shades of teal, hot pink, persimmons, and yellow, colors that so often prevail in her artwork to this day.
As a young girl, Reeve could rarely be found without drawing instruments in hand. In fact, drawing has been her passion ever since she was first able to hold a tube of lipstick. Her mother knew she had an artist on her hands the day that a new couch arrived to their home. After finding lipstick in her mom’s purse, young Reeve decided the couch could use a touch of color and the rest is history!
Reeve’s story is one that can serve as an inspiration to any young artist. One of the many things that make her artwork so unique is that she is primarily self-taught. Her innate skill woven together with fortuitous early job choices laid the framework for her to become the successful artist and business owner she is today. After high school, she worked as a display coordinator for a prominent department store chain. This positioned her to learn graphic and interior design on the job while taking informal studio classes at the Honolulu Academy. In 1985, Reeve moved to Boston where she began her career as a graphic artist. During this time, her ads were published in variety of periodicals including the New York Times, Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune.
Homesick for Hawaii, Reeve knew she needed to find a way to return to the islands. Presenting her work at the New York Art Expo in 1988 provided her with the exposure she needed to attract national publishers like Pier One, The Nature Company and Portal Publishing. It wasn’t long after that her products were distributed across the country, eventually reaching her home state of Hawaii. By the time she relocated to Maui in 1989, her products were already in over 2000 stores statewide.
Reeve’s career came full circle when the very retail store she worked at in the early '80s began distributing her products. This success also facilitated her transition into the gallery scene on Maui. The birth of her daughter Hailey in 1990, the highlight of Reeve's life, also marked the birth of her artwork on Front Street in Lahaina in Sunset Gallery (1990 to 1993) and Dolphin Galleries (1993-1997).
Only one piece was missing for Reeve; she longed for more personal interaction with her customers and more personal involvement in retail. In 1997, a store location in the quiet town of Makawao magically presented itself. With the popularity that her large body of work was gaining through national distribution, Reeve, with the support of her sister, Lori, and mother, Clara, decided it was time to embark on opening her own store. Nearly two decades later, this has proven to be a wise decision; having her own gallery has enabled Reeve to produce artwork along with creative products that are not only affordable, but also unique and limited.
Reeve’s work can be found in a myriad of private art collections around the world. She continues to live and work in Makawao and her thriving shop retains her family’s special touch. Makana Hodges, her manager and niece, has worked with the gallery for over ten years. Reeve’s daughter Hailey, a recent Humboldt University graduate, is now back on Maui working with her as well.
Reeve can frequently be found in her store doing what she refers to as “playing:”
"After all these years, it is still fun for me,” she reflects. “I love having the flexibility of working from my home studio and also spending time in my gallery meeting people and developing ideas for new products. The internet has been such an amazing tool for us. Having just one store has enabled me to maintain a more personable touch with my customers. Those customers who aren’t able to make it here to Maui can always get information about my latest watercolors and products by joining our mailing list and also visiting our website (www.sreeve.com).”