By Kelly Skeen
As you enter into the Brad Smith Gallery on Upper Canyon Road, colorful canvases with tangible texture draw you into a space imbued with Santa Fe style. Traditional vigas line the ceiling, paintings are hung on adobe walls, and the façade of the gallery pops with colorful accents echoing the energy of the paintings inside. Local artist Brad Smith has owned the gallery for 11 years; he moved from Texas in 2000 and has been working as a full-time painter ever since.
Smith’s genre is undoubtedly influenced by the southwest. His powerful portraits of Native Americans adorned in traditional dress evoke the vibrancy of Indian culture and the spiritual nature of his subjects. The series is inspired by the work of Malcolm Furlow, Earl Biss, Fritz Scholder and other artists whose contemporary take on native art captivated Smith when he moved to New Mexico.
“I was very aware of what they were doing and was being influenced by it just from living here in Santa Fe,” says Smith of the above-mentioned artists. “That’s really where these portraits come from. It’s just taken me this long to process the information and incorporate it into my work.” Elevated by electrifying color and thick layers, Smith’s paintings are also influenced by the primal nature of the Fauvist movement, particularly Henri Matisse’s vivid early 1900 portraiture. This aesthetic spreads beyond Smith’s native imagery as his body of work ranges from majestic aspen landscapes to graceful female portraits. Whether he’s painting a vase of radiant flowers, an abstract pattern or entrancing female nude, Smith remains true to his strong palette and impressionist brushwork that continues to evoke joy and passion from his ever-growing field of collectors.
BRAD SMITH GALLERY | 812 Canyon Road | 505.983.1133 | BradSmithGallery.com