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Richard Smith’s Artwork – Do Not Miss This Show!

September 21, 2015

I’ve enjoyed seeing people looking at Richard Smith’s artwork hanging on the library gallery walls. (As in: we don’t have a gallery, but we have gallery walls.) They tend to stand for a while in front of a piece, intent, sometimes much closer than even our narrow confines require.

The work rewards the time and the close inspection. Richard Smith has been taking photographs for many years, and this show is a good sample of the many things he does with his photographs.

There are a couple of photographs, straight up. He explains in a brief intro his terminology. “A photograph is generally not manipulated and is printed on an ink jet printer.”

“A photo compilation builds with images from diverse places and times, often interrogating an idea or feeling. A photo assimilation builds with images from the same area to create and “assimilate” my sense of that place.”

Thus, people stand and peruse the works. The images are evocative without being sentimental. The photo assimilation titled “Kafka’s Alley, Prague” is a good example of a complex piece evoking a mixture of feelings from a visit to Prague.

It’s a portrait of entire city but in one “snapshot.” There’s the famous clock, a crow echoing a man walking, a child, architectural elements and textures and patinas all reconstructed into an alley, of which there are many in Prague.

But you can also stand and examine carefully the untouched photograph “Shanghai Overpass,” shot on a bus from the airport, a first glimpse of the city. It, too, is full of engaging details. You might want to bring a magnifying glass when you visit the show.

Then there’s “Sand Dunes: looking west and waiting,” a photo assimilation that many people have peered at. It’s really a delight as a landscape and an abstract painting, both. It’s not so editorial, if you will, inviting inspection of its content. It’s about shape, color, and space.

Whereas “Triptych: the state of religion in the 10^th century” is more explicitly about its content. It even has an accompanying text. But it’s also not merely ideas, being an image with shape and color.

Then, I might put “Meditating on the seasons” in between them, if I were actually categorizing them. Which I’m not. They are all rewarding works.

There’s a stretch of mixed media pieces along the outer wall that I like a lot. As terminology, mixed media is self-explanatory, but only in a general way. Richard’s includes photos, acrylic, wax, pen & ink, watercolor, metals, and “whatever.”

“Autumn and Eve” is a mixed media work based on the experience of Gray’s Creek up Marshall Pass, followed by “Autumn, elemental avalanche” and “Morning breathing drying grass.” I really like these.

But then there’s the delight of a sudden change: the photo assimilation “New York Loft.” It made me smile to jump to this from the autumn pieces. And I like Richard’s “Angel of Shavano,” too. Heck, I like them all.

The other photograph in the show is “Garden at Versailles,” a beautiful and fascinating image. Richard was there in the middle of winter, and they had the garden to themselves. Worth freezing for.

Then back to a compilation, “A Dragon Comes,” which is a larger image completing quite a range of work.

One can snap a thousand pictures and pick out a few good ones as one approach to photography. And then there’s Richard’s, which is reflective, meditative, narrative, and meticulous. Do not miss this show.

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