A writer most of his life, VC Smith did not begin to paint or sculpt until he was in his 70’s.
Smith’s sculpture is a constant quest for the abstraction of raw energy, where bold color is magnified by the negative space that surrounds and pervades it, where line fills the purposes of both enclosing a finite shape and opening a dialog, and where meaning is an exalted sexual yearning with a humorous nod. A self-taught artist, Smith plays with shapes so they appear to bounce between pure abstraction and figurative expressions of movement reduced to dynamic clarifications. These cut-out forms may first appear like simplifications, but that would not be an accurate interpretation.
Smith has come to his current sculptural expression through an intellectual, as well as visceral journey. An important experience impressed the young Smith, when he was invited to meet the legendary Albert Einstein as one of a small group of children. The physicist cared deeply about the young – to help shape their minds – to reason. Then came Hiroshima. He remembers wondering if such incredible energy could be released by changing the form of an atom, could the same result be gotten by changing anything else? Could humans muster that sort of power through creative endeavors?
It is no wonder that Smith found inspiration for his writing, and later, for his art, in the works of Jazz musicians he greatly admired, such as Dizzy, Bird and Monk; in writers like Becket, Pinter, Ionesco and Genet; and in the abstract expressionists painters de Kooning, Pollock, Motherwell and Rothko. They were exploding reality, and Smith responded deeply to the raw emotion of bold abstract shapes and color, the power of large swaths of black, the profound concept of abstraction.
VC Smith’s sculptures, whether free-standing, or wall-hung, are life-affirming without sentimentality. They energize their surrounding with warm humor, while the carefully selected colors complement the bold shapes and make themselves at home in most contemporary environments.
Children at play fascinate me. Their sense of exploration and adventure. The impact moments of discovery have on them. How that might influence the choice of the life they choose to pursue. I think back on myself and wonder what was it that made me choose the path I did -- to become an artist -- a storyteller -- at first with words -- then with paint -- and now expressive shapes and forms in metal.
My first memory comes from the sometimes playful, sometimes frightening shadow-images my father used to create with his hands on my bedroom wall. Tales of little heroes and heroines venturing into the far-off unknown to find great treasures -- fight dragons and witches -- or right some heinous wrong. What joy they brought him -- the strange shapes -- how quickly they changed from prince to forest to dragon. But -- far more than just the joy they brought him was the powerful effect they had on me because it was those dramas played out on my bedroom wall that first switched on the light of my imagination -- setting me forever onto the path of creation. They taught me that light, shadow and movement can create meaning. Meaning can create conflict and conflict creates emotion and emotion is the essence of drama. If I can work on -- create a story -- an emotion -- with an image -- I not only can brighten the life of a beholder but get to spend precious moments with a father long since vanished.
Perhaps it’s for those reasons I never tire of creating –- of burrowing deep into my imagination -- of finding -– visualizing -- forming those images that make me feel forever young.
2013 “The Big Show”, Geronimo Valley Art Center, Geronimo Valley, CA
2009 “Hidden In Plain View”, solo exhibition, Geronimo Valley Art Center, Geronimo Valley, CA
2008 “Emerging New Artists”, Marin Civic Center, Marin County, CA
2008 “The Big Show”, Geronimo Valley Art Center, Geronimo Valley, CA
2006-7 Marin Arts Council, Marin County, CA
First Place, TV Commercial, Venice Film Festival 1962
First Place, Campaign, Art Directors Conference 1963
First Place, Campaign, National Sales Promotion Association,1963
Runner-Up, Campaign, The Big One Show, NY 1964
1957 Columbia University, New York
1961 Professional Study in Acting, Directing, Playwriting with world-renown theater professionals including: Harold Clurman, Robert Lewis, Stella Adler, Dale Wasserman