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Fields: Gary Ernest Smith


The Phippen Museum is pleased to present Gary Ernest Smith's Fields exhibit, August 24 through October 27, 2002. The Fields exhibit features nine monumental 6 ft. x 8 ft. paintings celebrating the earth, portraying agricultural fields in the four seasons of the growth and harvest cycle. The Fields series evolved from Smith's passion for the land, the wide-open spaces of the West, and as an attempt to answer the question, "How are our cities and states managing urban sprawl?"

Gary Ernest Smith, who has been described as one of the greatest landscape painters in the nation, grew up on a working ranch in eastern Oregon, and has lived with his wife and children in a rural community near Highland in Utah's Wasatch Mountains since 1978. In the mid-1990s, as the sprawl of development began to reach into his neighborhood, and overtake the fields and farms of a once thriving agricultural area, Smith's artistic themes tuned to the vanishing landscape. (left: Gary Ernest Smith, Baled, 72 x 96 inches)

As he watched field after field disappear, Smith felt the obligation to paint these enormous landscapes for posterity. The result: a museum exhibit of monumental paintings of fields in various seasons, some untilled, others in different stages of growth.

"My father told me once when I was young that an artist could draw anything without looking at it. This comment sharpened my eye for drawing. Long hours on horseback and on tractors in extreme weather conditions taught me perseverance, responsibility, and respect for accomplishment. These are the foundations for my art." said Smith, in Holding Ground, the Art of Gary Ernest Smith, by Donald J. Hagerty.

"We are proud to bring an exhibit of the caliber of the Fields exhibit to the community," said Deborah Reeder, Director of the Phippen Museum. "Gary Ernest Smith's art is especially relevant at this time in Arizona, as the once wide-open landscape, the ranching and farming lifestyle is vanishing as more and more people discover the rural charm of our area and the developers of the new West accommodate with ever encroaching development."

"We invite you to meet the artist Gary Ernest Smith, at a reception, Friday, August 23, from 5:00-7:00 pm, and to enjoy one of the many benefits of becoming a member of The Phippen Museum." said Reeder.

Gary Ernest Smith's Fields exhibit has been shown in Western and Midwestern museums, including The Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, IN, since 1999. After leaving the Phippen Museum, the exhibit will travel to the Evansville Museum of Art in Indiana.

"Gary Ernest Smith will present a workshop to Middle-School-aged children, kicking off Seeds of the Earth, a series of educational workshops with an ecology theme " said Helen Bonner, Phippen Museum Education Director. "Seeds of the Earth will involve artists and educators from the community, and will lead the students to explore our changing relationship to the land, through painting, sculpture, printmaking and other media with an ecology theme running throughout. This is the first, in what we hope will be many collaborations with area artists. Please call if you have an artistic middle-schooler interested in participating in this workshop, which begins on Saturday, August 24th.

The Gary Ernest Smith Fields exhibit and the Seeds of the Earth educational workshop have been made possible by generous donations from The Dise Trust/Betty Moore Foundation, Musgrove, Drutz and Kack, PC, with additional support from Bashas' Charitable Foundation.

The book, Holding Ground, the Art of Gary Ernest Smith, by Donald J. Hagerty, and the 40-page full color Fields exhibit catalogue are available for purchase at the Phippen Museum Gift Shop.

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