Reynolda Profile: Che Machado, Preparator

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Reynolda Profile: Che Machado, Preparator

By Trish Oxford, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications | @TrishatReynolda

A man of few words but intense skill, Reynolda House’s preparator Che Machado is one of the Museum’s best kept secrets. A preparator, also known as an art handler, prepares, installs, and handles museum exhibits and works of art.

Machado is responsible for the exceptional installations of Reynolda’s exhibits that make excellence look effortless. He is also the talent behind the Reynolda’s #museumdanceoff entry and the physical creator of #reynoldabuffalo. These contributions earned him the Golden Macaw Award in 2014, an internal award recognizing exemplary work in the Museum’s Digital Wing. He is currently finishing the much anticipated exhibition, The Artist's Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887-1920, which opens October 3.

Che Machado was born in Englewood, CA and grew up in the South Bay with his two brothers playing lots of sports like basketball. Like most museum “preps,” Machado’s career path into museums is better described as a series of fortunate events.

In his twenties, Machado spent twelve years working for art-handling company, where his work ranged from acquiring movie studio props (he fondly remembers going to Sam Winston’s house to pick up eleven terminators) to handling the work of private collections of wealthy, Los Angeles residents.

He credits his willingness to learn “how to build things” during his years at the art-handling company that landed his next gig at The J. Paul Getty Museum (The Getty), where he worked his way up to a Senior Preparator on the museum’s internationally renowned fabrication team. He recalled, “it would take us two to six weeks to build a crate for a piece.”

In 2008, he left The Getty to join Reynolda House Museum of American Art and to live in a place more conducive to raise a family. During his tenure at Reynolda, Che has contributed to the evolution of the Museum’s exhibition design that creates original installations for each exhibition. Here’s an example. He lives in Winston-Salem with his wife, Kristen and children, Piper and Beck, and their two goldfish, “Goldie” and “Hot Salad.”

Earlier this month I spent a wonderful afternoon with Che and asked him a few questions.

What is your favorite work of art in the Museum’s collection?

Nam June Paik’s Leonardo Da Vinci  in the basement. I like Paik’s attitude toward television like [they control us.] He turned [that idea on itself] to manipulate [television] to serve us.

What is your favorite part of the historic house?

The bar. I’ve always liked the Art Deco look, one of my favorites. [With] that room they nailed it.

Witness Che Machado in his favorite room, the Art Deco bar,  when he starred in Reynolda’s 2014 #MuseumDanceOff video.

Have you attended a program at the Museum outside of your work duties? If so, what was it?

I went to an architecture lecture. I forget [the speaker’s] name. It was really good. I had just moved to North Carolina. It was a small panel about how he was trying to make more of a walking community. It was a great theory. [The speaker] bought all these foreclosure in Florida and built this walking community.

Che attended “The Face of Our City: Architectural Characteristics, Unique Assets, and Conscientious Development” featuring architect, theorist, and urban preservationist, Michael E. Arth, who founded New Pedestrianism.

The lecture was part of  the series presented in the fall of 2008 called “Seeing our City: Defining the Art of Place” in conjunction with the Museum’s temporary exhibition Seeing the City: Sloan’s New York. These lectures served as a springboard to discuss the state of Winston-Salem as it seeks to define itself for the future.

What historical perspective, story, or person of Reynolda most interests you?

Mary Reynolds Babcock because [all the other relatives were] done with this house and she had a vision.


Learn more about Mary’s vision for Reynolda on CurateReynolda’s blog.

Catch up on all Reynolda Profiles here!


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