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Mark T. Smith


Mark T. Smith
Jun 19 – Jul 26, 2009

“Art should leave you breathless, amazed and wondering, perhaps even terrified or furious – art should bring you somewhere miraculous within yourself – somewhere you may not have ever known existed.” – Mark T. Smith

CLEVELAND, OHIO – The Contessa Gallery is proud to present the works by celebrated American artist Mark T. Smith, whose large paintings, sculpture and works on paper have found their way into major private collections and won the artist multiple important public commissions. His works are filled with passion, desire and heart, just like the artist himself.

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Mark T. Smith found a love of art at the earliest of ages. He graduated from the Pratt Institute and found his home in New York City where he lived for many years until 2004.

Smith’s rise to fame began with the first commission at the age of 22 from the Walt Disney Company. His consequent commissions included MTV, Pepsi, Harper Collins, Coors Brewing, Budweiser, VH-1, and many more. He has had 15 major solo exhibitions and 21 group exhibitions in the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

Today, Mark T. Smith speaks with love about his years in NYC: “While living and working in New York City I learned more than I ever could have imagined…I got knocked around quite a bit, but always came back to the table, smarter, more aggressive, better informed and ready for the unexpected… The high water mark of my time in New York City is so hard to pinpoint, the Absolut Vodka ad in 1996, the packed solo show in Chelsea in 2002, the never-ending rollercoaster ride… New York City was very good to me…”

In 2003, however, Mark T. Smith left the Big Apple and relocated to Miami. It was also the time, when he clarified his goals and vision, his artistic ambitions and life priorities.

In 2008, he received a very important international commission to create an official work for the U.S. Olympic Committee that visually bridged the gap between China and the United States. The status as an official 2008 Olympic artist has allowed him the freedom to express himself and interpret this major international event in his own style.

Over the years, Mark T. Smith has developed a highly recognizable imagery and iconography. He chose The Dragon as the symbol of the Olympics in Beijing, but he also uses such elements as The Horse, The Bull, and The Rabbit take on a symbolic meaning in his art. The Horse symbolizes majestic power, strength, elegance of design in nature. The Bull represents the masculine, the male experience in the world. Through the image of The Dragon, the artist blurs the lines of reality and legend. It is a spiritual and complex embodiment of luck and mystery.

Creative process is extremely important for Smith. His artwork embraces the classic skills of drawing and painting with the balance of a modern mindset. Drawing is where every idea, project, thought, or expression starts for him. “Drawing for me is as natural as breathing, as joyful and satisfying as sex, as mysterious as love and as transcendent as faith”. The drawings can result in fully actualized concepts, or progress towards becoming a painting.

Mark T. Smith is also a very skillful and talented printmaker. He will demonstrate his printmaking skills and technique at the Contessa Gallery during the opening receptions and opening weekend, giving collectors a rare opportunity to directly participate in the creation of their print. Please call the gallery to inquire about the fees and schedule and to make an appointment.

Please join us for opening receptions on Friday, June 19th and Saturday, June 20 6 – 9 pm each evening. The artist will give a lecture and demonstrate printmaking process at 7:30 pm. Please R.S.V.P. if you would like to attend the receptions at 216.382.7800. Images will be soon available on or through the gallery. To arrange media interviews with Mark T. Smith please contact Steve Hartman at 216.956.2825.