Erin Kinhart and Rihoko Ueno
Scope and Contents
The papers of landscape painter and educator Reuben Tam measure 9.2 linear feet and date from 1931 to 2006. The papers document his career as a painter in New York, Maine, and Hawaii through biographical material; correspondence with family, friends, art organizations, schools, and galleries; diaries, poetry, and other writings; exhibition catalogs, news clippings, other printed material; photographs; artwork, including seventeen sketchbooks; and eight scrapbooks. There is a 1.1 linear foot unprocessed addition to the collection donated in 2020 that includes 34 sketchbooks, circa 1940-1974, by Tam from his time in New York, Hawaii, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Alaska and Canada.
Biographical material includes school documents, records of his tenure as an instructor at the Brooklyn Museum of Art School, artwork consignment and sales records, and slides and accompanying audio cassette recording of the "Reuben Tam Show" about his work as an artist on Monhegan Island, Maine.
Correspondence is with family, fellow artists, including William Kienbusch and Hyde Solomon, as well as art organizations, schools, and museums, such as Brooklyn Museum of Art School, Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Maine Coast Artists group, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Also found is correspondence with the three galleries which represented his work: Downtown Gallery, Alan Gallery, and Coe Kerr Gallery.
The collection includes five bound diaries as well as diary entries written by Reuben Tam on loose sheets of paper, primarily documenting the 1940s. Other writings include drafts of poetry, one notebook, miscellaneous notes, and essays by others.
Printed material consists of school publications, exhibition catalogs and announcements for solo and group shows, brochures, flyers, magazines, bulletins, and news clippings. Eight scrapbooks found in this collection also include newspaper clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, as well as event invitations, membership cards, and letters, documenting 40 years of Reuben Tam's career.
Photographs are of Reuben Tam, Tam with friends and family, and artwork. One photograph album contains photographs from Tam's visits to Maine from 1946 to 1948, and includes photographs of fellow artists Hyde Solomon, Carl Nesjar, Dorothy Andrews, and William Kienbusch. Artwork in the collection includes prints, drawings, and watercolors as well as seventeen large sketchbooks documenting the coastal landscape of Monhegan Island, Maine.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Scrapbooks were lent for microfilming in 1970 by Reuben Tam and were subsequently donated in 2009 along with additional papers by Geraldine King Tam, Reuben Tam's widow. 34 additional sketchbooks were donated in 2020 by the Geraldine King Tam Trust, via Cindy King, trustee and niece of Geraldine King Tam.
Reuben Tam papers, 1958-1966, are also located at Syracuse University.
The processing and digitization of the Reuben Tam papers received Federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.
The collection was processed and described in a finding aid by Erin Kinhart in 2011. The collection was fully processed and prepared for digitization by Rihoko Ueno in 2017. The digitization of the Reuben Tam papers received Federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.