Gary Smith was born and raised in a small North Dakota town located about ten miles from the Canadian border. After receiving degrees in public administration and sociology at the University of North Dakota, Smith moved to San Francisco in 1966. He went on to receive a graduate degree in social work from UC Berkeley and gained employment as a child welfare worker with the San Francisco Department of Social Services. Smith left that employment in 1975 to explore his more creative instincts.
Although photography was one of Smith's long time interests, he found himself working with wood which eventually accorded him a degree of recognition and a modicum of financial success. After a twenty five year residency in the community of Muir Beach, California, Smith moved to the town of Crockett where his interest in photography was reborn. In 2004 he obtained a storefront gallery studio space, located at 1314 Pomona Street in Crockett. The name of the gallery is "1314=9". Presently, the gallery is open weekend afternoons and by appointment; tel. 510-787-9876.
The images on this site are extreme close-ups which Smith obtained from the sides of railroad boxcars and from the interior of the now razed Hercules Dynamite Factory. His stated objective in these photographs was to locate compositions of color and form, particularly within areas of rust and deterioration. Some of the railcar images include old lettering and symbols related to past cargo. Both the factory and several of the railcars have been tagger targets and spatters incidental to their work appear in some of the images. The factory also served as a popular venue for paint ball battles. All of the images in the series are illustrative of what Smith sees as "the largely unacknowledged beauty which pervades our everyday existence".
Several of the photos have appeared in regional juried art competitions and have been honored with awards.
The photographs have been printed in three basic size formats in editions ranging from ten to thirty prints. The formats are accommodated by the following sized papers: 81/2" x 11", 11" x17" and 17" x 22". A few of the prints are available in a slightly larger format. Anyone interested in obtaining one of these prints should e-mail regarding availability and pricing.
All photographs are printed with an EpsonStylus Pro 4000 printer utilizing Epson's UltraChrome pigment based inks on fine art papers. Both inks and papers have high archival ratings.
"The artist Gary Smith is a sensitive visual gleaner of the natural world as it plays itself out in the wasteland of our urban industrial buildings, train-yards and roadways. He sees what is not meant to be seen and records the effects of time, of decay, of urgent expressions by anonymous spray cans. His record of the changes through layers of amended signs, letters, drips and violent bursts of color, makes order and beauty and art. His compositions are soaring. There is an inherent drama in his soulful abstractions that includes a gentle subtlety at times, while at others, a bold playfulness. His creativity speaks to a visual knowing in the viewer, both familiar and transporting."