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 Vic Joachim Smith  (1929 - 1994)

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Lived/Active: California/Nebraska      Known for: abstract expressionist painting

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Ad Code: 4
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from Auction House Records.
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Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Obituary. Los Angeles Times (December 24, 1994):

Artist Vic Joachim Smith, an O.C. Professor, Dead at 65
by Cathy Curtis, staff writer

Artist Vic Joachim Smith, who lived and taught in Orange County for years, has died of cancer at 65.

Smith, a professor emeritus of art at Cal State Fullerton, had been living in Mendocino in recent years. He died Nov. 17.

Born in Grand Island, Neb., in 1929, Smith grew up near Portland, where he developed a lifelong love of the natural world.  As a teenager in Long Beach, he worked as a free-lance commercial artist and as a free-lance cartoonist for Playboy, Esquire and Mickey Mouse comic books.

After studying at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, Smith attended Long Beach City College, Orange Coast College and Long Beach State College (now Cal State Long Beach), where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees in art.  He began his long teaching career at Cal State Fullerton in 1962.

Although the 1960s were the heyday of Finish Fetish art in Southern California, Smith and his circle of devoted students "did not want things too slick or too easy, much less too L.A.," as he wrote in the catalogue accompanying Toward Stillness, an exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum last spring.

"We did not want our work too urban, street-smart and glib. Above (or below) all, we did not want to be 'tough-minded' so much as grounded," he wrote.

Rather, Smith stressed the importance of gesture and the activity of "moving through the canvas in small, densely layered increments."

For Smith, whose early '60s trip to the Far East was a life-changing experience, inspiration for paintings came from the landscape and Eastern and Native American philosophies, as much as from the meditative work of such fellow artists as Agnes Martin, Mark Tobey and John McLaughlin, a close friend.

Beginning in the late 1950s, Smith was regularly included in group shows at Newport Harbor Art Museum, the Laguna Beach Art Assn. (now Laguna Art Museum), Long Beach Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Oakland Art Museum, San Francisco Museum of Art and elsewhere.

Morphologie Autre, a 1962 group exhibition in Turin, Italy, placed Smith in the context of the metaphysical philosophies of Lao Tzu and others.  Three other European shows of the '60s, which took place in Turin and Milan, placed Smith in the company of such American luminaries as Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Willem De Kooning, Sam Francis and Louise Nevelson.

But Smith mistrusted the art scene, ceasing to show in commercial galleries in 1970 and subsequently doing nothing to encourage any exhibition of his work.  Several years later, he stopped painting, though he did continue to make delicately evocative pen-and-ink drawings of the natural world.

In 1975, Smith moved from Laguna Hills to Carbon Canyon, where he became an environmental activist.  As a founding member of LIFE (Linking Intercounties for Environment), he worked on legislation to preserve the Chino Hills area, including the designation of Carbon Canyon Road as a scenic corridor and the creation of Chino Hills State Park, a 13,500-acre wildlife and hiking preserve spanning Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following was submitted April 2004 by Dennis Reed, Dean of Fine, Performing & Media Arts, Los Angeles Valley College

Smith was a longtime faculty member of the Art Department at California State Universtiy, Fullerton, California, where he taught painting. [He may have been a founding member.] He lived in Carbon Canyon for a number of years. He was a graduate of California State College, Long Beach, and was an early writer for "Artforum" magazine. He was represented by and showed at Comara Gallery in Los Angeles.

I was one of his many students.

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