Flickr Widget

Monday, April 7, 2014

Art Smith

Art Smith (1917-1982) was born in Cuba to Jamaican parents. In 1920 his family moved to Brooklyn. He was educated at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, where he majored in sculpture.

Graduating in 1940, he first worked with the National Youth Administration and later Junior Achievement, helping teenagers find jobs. During that time, he took a night jewelry making course at New York University. He became friends with Winifred Mason, a jewelry designer who became his mentor. He first worked as her assistant and then opened his own jewelry studio.

His career began to take off, and soon he was selling to craft stores in Boston, San Francisco and Chicago. By the mid-50s he had business relationships with Bloomingdales and Milton Heffing in Manhattan, James Boutique in Houston, Black Tulip in Dallas and L'Unique in Minneapolis.

Dancer Tally Beatty introduced Smith to the dance world salon of Frank and Dorcas Neal, where he met leading black artists like writer James Baldwin composer and pianist Billy Strayhorn, singers Lena Horne and Harry Belafonte, actor Brock Peters and painter Charles Sebree. Also through Beatty, he began to design jewelry for several avant-garde black dance companies. These commissions required work on a grand scale, which undoubtedly influenced some of his later large pieces, some of which would look as good hanging on a wall as worn on the body.

In the 1950s his work was featured in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar and recommended in The New Yorker shopping guide. His work includes cufflinks made for Duke Ellington and a brooch given to Eleanor Roosevelt by the NAACP chapter of Peekskill, New York.

From artsmithjewelry.com



brooklynmuseum.org

1stdibs.com

Ad from Life magazine

Half & Half  necklace
brooklynmuseum.org

amazingadornments.com

Ellington  necklace
brooklynmuseum.org

aqua-velvet.com

ispycincy.com
Smith's business card
slapmefabulous.com

9 comments:

  1. Love this jewellery....such a pity this sort of stuff isn't worn as much these days.....it makes such a strong design statement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems to me that some of today's designers are more into shock value than glamour. It's a shame, because jewelry like this says so much more than simply showing bare skin.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Yes, he certainly applied his training as a sculptor to his jewelry deslgn. I was really surprised when I found out how large it is.

      Delete
  3. Oh my, what an amazing guy, I absoultely love his jewellry. The bracelet in those two first pics is my favorite, but they're all really gorgeous!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had a feeling you might like his work. I thought of you when I was writing this post.

      Delete
    2. Really? How lovely, Dana, and spot on:-)

      Delete
  4. Good one! And wow. Something new for me to browse around for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could definitely picture you wearing some of his pieces.

      Delete