All truly great artists have one thing in common: they do the kind of art that they do, not because of some outside force, but because their inner creative spark sends them in that direction, period.
Reginald Simms is that kind of artist.
As a young child, Reggie was fascinated by the covers of National Geographic Magazine. (“I couldn’t get a library card but sometimes they’d ask me to help mend the bindings in old books and magazines,” said Reggie.) And so, today (naturally) he is a man on a mission to paint a set of 12 huge oils depicting in minute detail his favorite covers from the magazine. One of the most iconic magazine covers ever … turned into a breathtaking piece of art.
Reggie was born in Round Hill and raised in Purcellville. His grandmother and grandfather worked on Purcell’s Farm and Orchard, from which the town takes its name.
His life reads like a local history book. He attended the historic Carver Elementary School – now the Carver Community Center – and also attended the historic Douglas High School in Leesburg.
As Reggie tells it, “I was always drawing.” After high school he attended the National Art School in DC. He says that at the time he “was a little too into baseball,” and so his next stop was the service as he entered the Air Force at the age of 21. He was stationed in Korea, but after the service he headed to New York “to become a big-time artist.”
In the New York area Reggie worked for a local food chain while taking classes at Newark Fine Industrial Arts, eventually working for a series of graphic design and silkscreen companies.
Drawn back to the area, Reggie worked in the graphics department at the Washington Metro and eventually built he and his wife, Marion, a home in Purcellville.
Walk into Reggie’s expansive finished basement, which functions as his studio, and you understand, once again, that this is an artist that simply does what he likes to do.
“I do oils and watercolors,” said Reggie. “I do sculpture, restore old things like toys, documents and photos, antiques.” He also has a deep love for history – including local black history. In the corner of his studio is a large poster board with the names and photos of African American veterans from the area. ?He plans to contribute the collection to a local restoration project known as the Grace Multicultural Center.
Yes, this is an artist who simply does what he likes to do.