Martha Reed

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Martha Reed, Southwest fashion designer who is credited with popularizing Navajo broomstick skirts paired with traditional velvet or cotton blouses, died at her home in Talpa, New Mexico, on Tuesday, December 28, 2010. A Taos area resident for 57 years, she died at the age of 88. She was the daughter of internationally known artist Doel Reed and Jane Reed, a talented artist in her own right. Martha was born April 23, 1922 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved with her parents in 1924 to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where she attended school. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) in 1944. She moved to Taos in 1953 after holding several jobs in Oklahoma and Texas. From the very beginning, she had a talent for fashion and design. She channeled that talent into a business that brought customers from all over the United States. For more than 38 years, she owned and operated the renowned "Martha of Taos" Shop, located next door to the historic Taos Inn. Her specialties were Navajo style clothing, including hand-pleated, calico, broomstick skirts and velvet blouses, adorned with sterling silver and turquoise butterfly buttons, hand sewn by local native seamstresses. Martha's distinctive clothing designs earned her many honors and she lectured widely on her work. She was proud to note that two of her famous skirts were worn to functions at the White House. She was also an accomplished artist and friends recall that she loved to entertain, hosting what she referred to as "soirees with hooch." After her father and mother's deaths, Martha elected to bequeath her property, consisting of two adobe homes and her father's art studio, to Oklahoma State University for use as a teaching facility. The result of her gift was the founding of the "Doel Reed Center for the Arts" as a tribute to her father who established OSU's Art Department in the mid-1920's. A memorial service for Martha will be held in conjunction with the opening of a Doel Reed exhibition at the Taos Art Museum, March 12, 2011, at 2:00 p.m. A special section of the exhibition will highlight Martha's life. Memorial gifts may be made to the Doel Reed Center for the Arts, OSU Foundation, P.O. Box 1749, Stillwater, OK 74076-1749. Online gifts may be made by logging on to OSUgiving.com

Published in The Oklahoman on Jan. 6, 2011
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