In the Studio #51

A couple days ago I had a conversation with a fellow Banana-Factororian, Deb Slahta about listening where I confided that I don’t always hear whats told to me for sometime, maybe even years later. Its a terrible trait, that leads me to making some avoidable mistakes, but fortunately I do eventually pay attention to what I’m told.  The conversation made me think about these works I’ve felt compelled to make over the last few weeks and how they were linked to a conversation I had a couple years back.

Back in 2016 a visiting artist I met at the Vermont Studio Center, Miguel Luciano, mentioned that the paper dolls I make and then incorporate into my larger paintings were more interesting than the paintings themselves and that perhaps they were the art I should be focused on. At the time I found the advice a bit jarring and harsh but I dutifully wrote it down in my sketchbook for later use. While I’m not yet ready to make that leap of making my paper dolls the “art” and am not entirely convinced that these dolls are all that compelling I do like them and so I decided to do a brief series of works based on these collage dolls that I create from time to time. Perhaps the dolls will emerge from this series of works as stand alone pieces after I look at them for a while.

Anyway, while I was making these latest works I found myself actually more interested in the little torn pieces of paper and tape that envelope and surround the collaged dolls than creating the dolls themselves. These torn paper and tape-storms became little compositional challenges for me over the course of the series. I actually think tape work  might be where an aspect of my work is going in the future. I find torn tape fascinating and fun to play with. Here’s my paper doll series “Baby Love”, named after the Supreme’s song – which once you see the first work will make sense to you .



Anthony Smith Jr, Baby Love No 1, 9 x 11 inches, mixed media, 2019Anthony Smith Jr, Baby Love No 2, 9 x 11 inches, mixed media, 2019Anthony Smith Jr, Baby Love No 3, 9 x 11 inches, mixed media, 2019Anthony Smith Jr, Baby Love No 4, 9 x 11 inches, mixed media, 2019Anthony Smith Jr, Baby Love No 5, 9 x 11 inches, mixed media, 2019

Whenever its time to have dinner at my place and I have a few guests at the table I tend to reach for my phone and play something relaxing, dinner music my ex Tim calls it. Invariably its something jazzy as that genera seems to calm everyone down enough to eat, though it also seems to put them to sleep too. I have a playlist set which is my go-to for this relaxing reset and as it is near that time of the day at the time of me writing this blog post I thought I’d leave you with two of my favorites from that list. Here’s John Coltrane’s “Naima” and Bradford Marsalis’s Swingin’ At The Haven”.



I’m still mulling on the idea of Black abstraction. I’ve had an interesting conversation on the subject with a colleague recently at a reception. A connected thought I had lately also is why more people don’t know about the rich history of black abstract artists, and tangentially how black artists and arts professionals behave, treat each other, mentor each other and preserve and nourish their communities. I’ll eventually have to just buckle down and put my thoughts down but for now I’ll just say that as I grow older I’m continually surprised at how little I know about my own culture and history within the genera of art I profess to be dedicated to. Its so exciting to begin to learn more.

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