After teaching at Arizona State College, Barney Reid moved to San Diego in 1949 to become a graphic designer. A founding member of San Diego’s Allied Craftsmen, Reid was a talented artisan and prolific in many media including metal, clay, wood, and marble, as well as oil painting and furniture design. It is his work in enamel and jewelry, however, for which he is best known. A selection was featured in several shows at New York City’s Museum of Contemporary Crafts, including Enamels in 1959. The traveling exhibition showcased Reid’s exuberant five-foot mobile of metal rods and enameled copper elements, similar to the present example.
In addition to serving as president of the Allied Craftsmen and the San Diego Art Guild, Reid was also employed as a graphic designer by the U.S. Navy at Point Loma’s Naval Electronics Lab (NEL). NEL attracted many of the best local artists of the 1950s and 1960s, including Harry Bertoia with whom Reid shared a studio. It is therefore not surprising that some historians say Reid’s use of light-gauge brass rods in three-dimensional composition, constructivist mobiles and bursting dandelion forms is reminiscent of Harry Bertoia’s work.
Reid’s works from the late ‘40s through the ‘60s are quite scarce. By the mid-1970s until his death he worked almost exclusively in intaglio printmaking.