# Arts in Milwaukee – Tom Smith – art
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Arts in Milwaukee

A Public Service Of Milwaukee Artist Resource Network

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  • “Menomonie Spring”Menomonie Spring

    Painted for a competition in Menomonie, WI in 2018.

  • “Veggies”Veggies

    Painted during the 2017 Plymouth Plein Air Competition.

  • “Cedar Creek”Cedar Creek

    Painted during the 2019 Cedarburg Plein Air Competition.

  • “Virginia Sky”Virginia Sky

    A moody day in the Shenandoah Mountains.

  • “Behind Fiddleheads”Behind Fiddleheads

    Painted during the 2019 Cedarburg Plein Air Competition.

  • “Port Washington Nocturne”Port Washington Nocturne

    This painting received the 2nd Place Award in the 2017 Cedarburg Plein Air Competition.

Tom Smith

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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

I have always had an innate sorrow. Never a feeling that I belonged among others, never could connect with people-not even my family. One of my favorite quotes is by writer James Agee. It comes from his "Knoxville: Summer of 1915". The words are meant to be a young boy’s. They could be words from my childhood.
“…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.”
I have always felt that sorrow-but why? Late in life I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and then Asperger’s Syndrome. This explained to me my lifelong feeling of isolation! After a severe breakdown and the loss of my career, I began to paint. I was drawn to the landscape. Mainly I think, as a means to escape my “sorrow of being on this earth” by creating a space in which I could be myself, alone. I now am primarily a plein air painter. Painting the landscape outside, “on this earth” focuses me and gets me away from the environment of my home, which has seen much of my struggle and sorrow. I enjoy travelling by myself and getting lost in the world I am creating.
Further, I want to show that people with mental disabilities can find a way out of their darkness by using the creative arts as therapy, and that for me personally, it has saved my life. Being an artist has helped me explore my emotions, develop self-awareness, and cope with my stress. My diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome explained to me my lifelong social awkwardness and low self-esteem and making art and participating in many artist’s groups has almost made me a new person! I hope to be a good example and an inspiration!