Arthur “Art” Smith – Jewelry Designer

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(l to r) 1. Model wearing “Modern Cuff” Bracelet, ca. 1948; 2. Art Smith in his studio; 3. Cluster Knuckles Ring, ca. 1968. Brooklyn Museum; 4. “Lava” Bracelet, ca. 1946. Brooklyn Museum; 5. Patina necklace; 6. Art Smith photographed by Arthur Mones, 1979.

I recently had the pleasure of seeing “From the Village to Vogue: The Modernist Jewelry of Art Smith” at the Dallas Museum of Art. I was simply floored by Smith’s work and his story. Arthur “Art” Smith was a Jamaican-born, NYC raised jewelry designer who became a leader of the modernist design jewelry movement. In the mid 1940s, Smith opened Art Smith Studios in NYC’s Greenwich Village. It wasn’t long before Smith began selling his work in craft stores, boutiques, and major department stores (think Bloomingdale’s) throughout the US. By the early 1950’s, his work was featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and The New Yorker.

Smith’s designs incorporated surrealism, biomorphism, and African motifs. His jewelry ranged from small, simple pieces to larger works that would wrap around the body. I adore how he used lines, texture, and even color to create intricate movement along the human, specifically female, form. If I had to described his jewelry in one word, it would be {organic}. Check out more of Smith’s gorgeous designs at http://artsmithjewelry.com/.

Chester Higgins Jr. – Photographer

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(l to r) 1. Door of No Return, Senegal, 1972; 2. Moslem Woman, New York City, 1990; 3. Amiri Baraka & Maya Angelou Dance; 4. Senegal, 1975; 5. Candomble Priestess, Brazil

Anyone who knows me knows I adore books, especially books about art. Last year, Half Price Books held a wonderful warehouse clearance where I picked up a real gem. It was a book called, Feeling The Spirit: Searching the World for the People of Africa, by Chester Higgins Jr. Imagine my giddiness when I went home and realized this book contained page after page of exquisite photography.

Higgins’ work is a gorgeous oxymoron in that it possesses coolness and warmth. Each image exudes a peace that not only attest to the beauty of the subject but also to the magic of the artist. He is easily one of my all time favorite photographers, right up there with Roy DeCarava. For over 38 years, Higgins captured the beauty, love, and spiritual essence of the African Diaspora for The New York Times. Earlier this month, he announced his retirement from the paper, leaving behind hundreds of photos and an invaluable legacy.

For more information about the man and his art, check out his website, http://www.chesterhiggins.com/.

Welcome!

pics + brushes is a look into the creative genius {dopeness} of black artists. Though this blog will mainly highlight traditional visual media (painting, sculpture, photography), other mediums will be explored as well, such as adornment, architecture, design, and new media.

Though our people were spread far and wide, art is our connection to each other and the world-at-large. {Cipher}

I will do my very best to give credit where credit is due for all work featured on this blog. My goal is to support the work of black artists. If you see an unattributed piece, please feel free to notify me of the artist via email at picsandbrushes@gmail.com.

Welcome to pics + brushes!
{Peace}