Saturday, May 31, 2014

Elonzo "Smitty" Smith

Here's the Found Artists exhibit panel text that was developed for Elonzo "Smitty" Smith, along with a photograph taken by Sally Willowbee.

Decorated Fence

William Smith a.k.a. “Smitty” was born in rural South Carolina but came to Shiloh as a teenager, a member of the migrant farmworker labor stream, cutting asparagus on local farms.  Eventually settling in Bridgeton, Smitty found work driving a truck for a medical supply company, staying with that job until he retired.  Sitting in the shop of a local welder, Smitty was captivated by the welding process, and by the possibility of making artful things out of mundane objects.  Never content to live within established frameworks, Smitty began exploring the hospital dumps along his route, salvaging discarded materials, converting some into art, some into practical objects which could be sold out of his yard to passersby, to supplement his income.  He never took up welding, but with an imagination activated by early exposure to National Geographic magazine, Smitty developed a passion for art and art making, which dovetailed with an abiding need to be different.  Always the outsider, ever the dreamer and schemer, and gifted with a ripping sense of style, Smitty is the classic artistic persona.  Entrepreneurial and artistic impulses live side by side in him, sometimes coalescing into opposing forces, as when a neighbor complains about the “junk” in Smitty’s yard; sometimes generating mild discomfort at home with his decorative reconfiguring of the family property.               

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