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Allen Smith - May & June 2018

Noumenon (n. origins in Kantian philosophy): an object or event outside the detection of the senses; itself inaccessible to experience, to which a phenomenon is referred for the basis of its sense content.

Allen Smith's paintings are inspired by two primary forces:  1. The singular fleeting experience of ontological revelation―the sheer sublime wonder at the existence of our being;  2. The richly nuanced depths of our human spirit. Where is the limit of our human potential for understanding? This frontier is very important to Smith. Resulting implications include a full spectrum of arrogance and humility in our human race. He is at peace with paradox and wonder.

The surfaces of Smith's paintings reveal their history like geography, and I intend them to. The marks of paint sit in generations; some of them are old and some are young; some of them are fresh, sharp, and ambitious; others are weathered and dull, sloppy, and in decay. They rest frozen in time and space in relationship to one another. Some elements that were once dominant become faded, buried under dusty layers of glazes. Other elements, having not yet fully materialized, are left in a state of incompletion. Each act in his painting process is an identity claim in the journey to completion, simultaneously advancing toward finality and eliminating an infinite number of potentialities. He often plans his paintings multiple steps ahead―3, 4, or more―but reconsider the plan after each action and revise if necessary. He takes pride in being highly sensitive and intimately responsive to the surfaces of his paintings. He considers the character of each individual mark and carefully amplify it in concert with others, allowing them opportunities to influence successive actions and ultimately, the finished painting. The countless smaller parts support the integrity of the whole, the totality, which must speak for itself in an instant.

Allen Smith was born and raised in Medford, OR.  He studied art at Shasta College and Cal State Los Angeles before transferring to Abilene Christian University in TX to complete his competitive baseball career and earn his BFA in 2D studio art, graduating with numerous awards and honors. His studio practice explores the noumenal world of truth in itself, outside the realm of human experience.  His paintings seek to speak to themes of time, mystery, and the sublime, and stand in as contradicting metaphors for our individual and collective existence.  Smith has completed artist in residence programs in Troy, NY, at the Contemporary Artists Center Woodside (2010), and at the Morris Graves Foundation “The Lake” in Loleta, CA (2017).  Smith holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Southern Oregon University and was awarded the Oregon Rookie Art Educator of the Year Award in 2014 for his work at Logos Charter School.  Smith lives and works in Medford, has a wife and one year-old son, and they are expecting a second child in June, 2018.

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