Arvie Smith (born 1938) is a nationally recognized African American painter based in my hometown of Portland, Oregon.
There is a nice little bio of him here on the Hallie Ford Museum website, where he is having an exhibition from January 22- March 26th, 2022.
Smith's work is so, so, so many things.
The figures in his paintings shift from being vivid individuals, to embodying biting racist tropes, and back again. He celebrates Black culture and tradition, and in the same image crams racist symbols from the larger, white dominated culture. These images live side by side in the same painting, which is what I imagine it may be like for African Americans every day, all day long.
Seeing these paintings on your tiny phone or desk top will in no way indicate what it is like to see them in person. They fairly leap off the wall at you, and they seem to pulse with color and light.
His website is here:www.arviesmith.com
She glances out the back window at a waiting yellow taxi. Who is it that pursues her and why?
This is a piece that went through many changes. Originally I had multiple people in the street scene as if there where a bunch of people milling around. But as things developed I could see the figures were just a distraction from the real drama. I even considered taking out the figure near the door and just leaving the car- I still don’t know if I made the right choice. Don’t be surprised if you see another version of this one. (I often feel compelled to do certain images again and again.)
This one was just really fun. I loved working with the street light creating a cone of a lighter color. The back window of her vehicle creates a frame within a frame, and the dark color flows into her silhouetted profile and the buildings on the street. I tried to make a contrast with the bright yellow, the cool watercolor blues, and the flat dark brown/black.
Keep your eye open for a woodcut version of this piece!
Here are the hotsheets with the sordid details, the true confessions, and the inside info on my artistic process. Learn how it all happens right here!
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