A lifelong love of the Missouri landscape
Named for the straight shot a bullet would travel from front door to back door without hitting any walls, shotgun houses are prominent in New Orleans and in many historic black neighborhoods. Turn-of-the-20th-century contractor Luther McQuitty built the house we moved
and Smith portrayed, where it sat for years on the corner of Garth and Worley streets.
A featured artist at Central Methodist University's Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art
, Byron Smith is perhaps best known for his colorful yet stark landscapes, which he paints in both watercolor and oil. He studied art at Mizzou and shares studio space at Orr Street Studios with Frank Stack
, a nationally-known artist and one of Smith's former professors. A 2009 Missourian profile
explored Smith at work, reflecting on the Columbia where he was born and raised. "It's a grand old place to be, but it has changed," he said. “I still like the way it looks, but it doesn’t have the inhabitants from the neighborhood — the little old ladies that used to come out and talk to you. They’re not there anymore.”
Smith's favorite subjects are the landscapes of the Missouri River Valley and interesting features of river towns such as Rocheport and McBaine. He also does nudes, portraits, and prints.
"I paint in the landscape, not in the studio; from life, not from photographs," Smith says in a statement about his art
. "My pallet is vividly covered with yellow ocher and umber, to cadmium red, to the blues -- prussian, ultramarine, cobalt. My subject is the subtle beauty of the Missouri hills, the magnificence of the Missouri rivers, the richness of Missouri pastures and fields."
Smith co-owned the Mythmaker Art Gallery in Columbia for five years and has seen his work exhibited all around the midwest.
Historical societies have a fondness for his depictions of Missouri in repose, showing his works at the Missouri State Historical Society; the University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archeology; and the Walter-Boone Historical Society Museum.
"The Missouri River Valley, with its vistas of towns and farms, forests and streams, is my endless and ever-changing subject," Smith explains. "The Missouri landscape became dear to my heart through my years of growing up enjoying family farms and neighborhoods. I had the pleasure as a youth of exploring the woods of Hinkson and Flatbranch creeks, as well as the rolling farmland of Dear Park and Englewood."
Smith's work will be featured on our home page this month.
[Click Shotgun House picture for larger version].
-- Mike Martin for the Columbia Heart Beat