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Arts in Milwaukee

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  • “Glories”Glories

    Plein Air piece in Cedarburg Wisconsin

Tom Smith

  • Art
I am an Art Professional

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artist bio

Tom Smith began to paint in 2012 when he stopped teaching 1st Grade. He is now a member of the League of Milwaukee Artists, the Wauwatosa Artists Workshop, the Wisconsin Plein Air Painters, Fine Art Montage, and Rogues Gallery-both cooperative artists groups. Through these groups he has exhibited at many venues, some of which have been The Grafton Arts Mill, Saint John’s Cathedral, the Anderson Art Gallery, and Gallery M at the Intercontinental Hotel among many others.
In the summer of 2016 he began painting “en plein air”, participating in many competitions, most recently winning Second Place in the 2017 Cedarburg Plein Air Competition and Honorable Mention in the Plymouth competition.
Originally from Toledo Ohio, Tom Smith has lived in the Milwaukee area since 1981. He went on to earn a Master of Music Degree at UWM, and became a professional cellist. He has played in the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra and been Principal Cellist of the Festival City Symphony since 1985.

artist statement

In my childhood, there were dreams. I would paint. I would make beauty. Always present though: a shadow. Even my name was hateful to me.
Then, childhood passed. There would be no beauty. There would be other things, though. Wonderful things: love, children, a career. Yet hiding, in that shadow would be the art, the beauty.
There was a crash. I was unmoving. I was lost in the darkness. Until slowly, emergent, it came finally: the art.
You see, I have suffered from severe anxiety and depression for much of my adult life. The shadow: blocking out the beauty. Then the finding: Asperger’s. Mild but present-and the knowing brought light.
It was after I was unable to continue my career that I began to paint. Therapy, one could say. I say: a renewal of my childhood dreams. And so I began to know that I love standing on the Earth and knowing that I am a part of its wonder. Yet I also know that time is fleeting.
One of my favorite quotes is by writer James Agee: “…and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth, lying on quilts, on the grass, in a summer evening, among the sounds of the night.”
Life was for a time, for me, full of sorrow. A sorrow I wanted to end. Painting brought me out of this darkness. When I was in the hospital, the one book I brought along was about oil painting. So when I came home, I began to paint.
I hadn't painted much since I was a young, but now I began to see it as a way to a new life. I wanted to be an artist, and so I painted.
I found other artists, I joined art groups. I painted.
Being a painter has brought me into the light in so many ways. Sometimes being in it can be hard for me. I still struggle, I don’t know how or what to say. But painting has saved my life. I can look and say: here, that’s me. My name is Tom Smith, and I am an artist.