Monday, June 25, 2012

A Look at Sculptor David Smith

We are into the last week of June and that means that this week will be Budding Artists last children's art workshop at the London Farmer's Market. We love our space and hope to return in the fall. If you haven't had a chance to attend previous art workshops, this weekend is a must! Workshops are held Saturdays at 10:30am and 1pm, running 90 minutes of fun and creativity. Children learn about the featured artist, discover a little art history, and get the chance to create some take-home artwork in the style of said artist. The kids always leave happy and you parents get a break for 90 minutes to do whatever you need or want to do! Register today! And as far as next year goes, you will certainly be the first to hear about what we have planned for the 2012/2013 Budding Artists schedule!

September might seem like an awfully long wait to keep your kids interested in art though. If you are worried about how to keep your children entertained this summer, note that Budding Artists will be hosting two week-long summer art camps this year. Back by popular demand, Maria Calleja and Nancy Clarke will be inspiring your children to reach to the stars with their artistic endeavours. Barb McGill will also be joining the Budding Artists team to add a little musical inspiration to the weeks. The summer camps run the weeks of July 23-27 and August 27-31, 2012, between the hours 9am-4pm. This year the camps will be held at the Wesley Knox Church at 91 Askin St., so contact Budding Artists today to secure your child's spot.

Ah, but we haven't mentioned who our featured master artist will be for this weekend's Children's Art Workshop yet! I will keep you in the dark no longer. This week, sculptor David Smith will grace your children with his influence, as they discover his many metal works. A man of little formal training, he still managed to climb his way to the top of the art world and is now considered one the most important sculptors of his generation. And it all began on March 9th, 1906 in Decatur, Indiana.

Reclining Figure - 1933
Smith entered the world with nothing earth-shattering to inspire his artistic creativity. His mother was a teacher and his father managed a telephone company, while on the side fashioned himself an amateur inventor. He moved with his family to Ohio in 1921, where he graduated from high school. He attended Ohio University in 1924-25, but dropped out of the University of Notre Dame the following year after only two weeks, due to the lack of any art classes. He spent the summer working at the Studebaker automobile factory, getting exposed to the materials that he would ultimately come to use most during his later artistic career. That career got its foothold when he moved to New York in 1926.

Head - 1938
Where art had always held an interest for Smith, it wasn't until he settled into life in New York that he was able to fully explore this medium. He became a member of the Art Students League of New York, where he met his soon to be wife Dorothy Dehner. He studied painting and drawing from artists John Sloan and Jan Matulka. It was through these painters that he was introduced to the artwork of Julio González, Willem de Kooning, Mondrian, Kandinsky and most notably, Picasso. While he never received any formalized education in sculpting, Smith absorbed all that he was taught and took the leap to realize that the only difference between sculpture and painting was the third dimension. It was this leap that he now took, when he began to forge sculptures out of metal and other found materials.

Hudson River Landscape - 1951
In 1929, Smith and his wife bought a run-down farm in Bolton Landing. A small art community there had enchanted them and by 1932, Smith had bought a forge and anvil for the studio at their summer home. Around the same time, he began renting out a space in a Brooklyn welding shop (Terminal Iron Works), where he began creating relief plaques and increasingly abstract sculptures. In 1938, he was honoured with his first one-man show of his drawings and sculptures at Marian Willard's East River Gallery. By 1940, he had tired of the New York art scene, so permanently relocated to Bolton Landing and renamed his studio after the welding shop he had left behind. Ironically, it was at this time that his artwork began to receive more notice, as he had a travelling exhibit featured by the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The outbreak of World War II found him neglecting his new found art though, as he took a job welding at the American Locomotive Company.

Cubi XVIII, Cubi XVII, Cubi XIX - 1963-64
With the war over, Smith had an outpouring of creativity. He took the skills he had learned welding, and devoted himself full-time to his art. His stint at teaching with the Sarah Lawrence College gained him the further respect he desired. That was followed by the Guggenheim awarding him two Fellowships, which meant that he could financially continue to focus whole-heartedly on his artwork.

During the '50s, with his increased recognition and financial means, his artwork began to grow in scale. He experimented with new drawing techniques and began to construct numbered series that continued til the end of his life. Sadly, his was a life cut short, as he died in a car accident in 1965. Over his 59 years though, he managed to create a new style of art through his metal- work that took Cubism and Surrealism to a new height. Never before had any American artists created work like his, but that legacy did not die with him (Artist Anthony Caro was directly influenced by Smith's work). In fact, exhibitions of his work are still on display around the world. And of course Budding Artists will be resurrecting him this weekend as well at our last children's art workshop of this session. Please join us!

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