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 Paul Kauvar Smith  (1893 - c.1977)

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Lived/Active: Colorado/Missouri      Known for: mining town-landscapes, still life painting

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Ad Code: 3
Paul Kauver Smith
from Auction House Records.
Mountain Summer
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Savageau Gallery:

“Smith's work bears the strong stamp of his personality and vision …
the sum total of years of sensitive and creative reflection and work.”
- Otto Karl Bach, Former Director. Denver Art Museum.

Paul Kauvar Smith was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri on February 27, 1893. Sometimes known in Denver as the "Hermit of Stuart Street", Smith was a solitary man and a singular artist.  He was part of the American and International movements toward abstraction but did not follow abstraction’s established schools.  Instead he created a uniquely personal style of painting with an emphasis on color and shape and the almost magical transformation of ordinary life.  Most creative people are talented in several areas and Smith was no exception.  In addition to painting he was also a carpenter and cabinet maker.

Smith began his professional training studying commercial art and design at the St. Louis School of Fine Art from 1915 to 1916.  World War I interrupted his studies but after the war he returned to the School of Fine Art, Smith also studied art at Washington University in St. Louis.  He headed to Denver in 1921 where he studied at the Denver Art Academy, and with Fred Carpenter and John E. Thompson, master teacher of the Denver avant garde.  Here in Denver he found considerable success as a full-time painter.  Smith avidly pursued a variety of subjects.  He painted Colorado landscape, mining towns and decaying buildings, relics of the past, still life, and Mexican genre subjects.

Smith's modernist emphasis in design stylized his work into a “mosaic of abstract pattern” without losing the recognizable representational elements.  Denver Post writer Anne Arneill, visiting his studio in 1958, was struck by the eclectic, playful and bohemian lifestyle of the artist: “Over Smith's easel hang several doll's arms, a little bluebird, some old faucet handles and a sign saying ‘masterpiece’.”

Smith was a member of the Colorado and the Denver Art Guilds, and the American Artists Professional League.  He also exhibited with a Denver group called The Colorado Fifteen.  “The Fifteen” came into existence in 1948 as a supportive association of professional artists dedicated to the avant garde.  The group was well known and considered to be an important contribution to Denver's cultural landscape. Membership, which changed over the years, was by invitation only and the group often staged their own exhibitions.

Smith also had the distinction of having two solo shows at the Denver Art Museum. The museum bestowed a purchase award and added his work to their Anne Evans collection, as well as reproducing his painting, Houses at Victor, for their Western Heritage exhibition catalog in 1959.  In fact, Smith held an unofficial record at DAM for being accepted into shows by various juries more than twenty times.

Other exhibition venues include The Colorado Springs Fine Art Center; the San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor, the Gilpin County Art Association; Muldane Art Center, Topeka, Kansas; the State Museum of Sante Fe, the New York World's Fair of 1939, The Joslyn Art Museum; The Community Art Gallery of Denver; Loretto Heights College, Bauers Cherry Creek Center, and Sak's Gallery.

Text by Savageau Gallery

Biography from David Cook Galleries (M-Z):
Paul Kauver Smith studied commercial art and design at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts from 1915-16 with a brief interruption during World War I. After the war, he returned to the School of Fine Arts and went on to the study at Washington University in St. Louis.

In 1921, Smith moved to Colorado to study under John E. Thompson at the Denver Academy of Fine and Applied Arts. Thompson, who is considered to be the pioneer of modernism in Denver, was a strong influence on Smith.

In 1923, Smith was hired by the Academy as an instructor. That same year, his work was accepted for the first time for display at the Denver Art Museum and he was also awarded two solo exhibitions. The museum later added his work to their Anne Evans collection. In 1959, the Denver Art Museum also reproduced one of his paintings titled Houses at Victor for their Western Heritage exhibition catalogue.

Smith became a permanent resident of Denver and was a member of the American Artists Professional League, as well as, the Colorado and the Denver Art Guilds. He also joined a Denver group called The Colorado Fifteen. “The Fifteen” came into existence in 1948 as an association of professional artists dedicated to the avant-garde. The group was well known and considered to be an important contribution to Denver's cultural landscape.

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