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Current Exhibition 

Stop in to see the latest ARTservancy Artist in Residence

Current Exhibition 

Featuring our ARTservancy Artist in Residence
Tom Smith

We invite you to visit Gallery 224 in the month of February 

   to view paintings by ARTservancy Resident, Tom Smith.

This exhibition features plein air paintings

from his year-long residency at Spirit Lake Preserve.

  (in collaboration with the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust)

February Hours:  Thursdays - Sundays, 11am - 4pm

Please join us for his Artist's Reception at the Gallery on

Friday Evening, February 11th, 6-7:30pm.

Tom will also host a Winter Plein Air Painting Event

on Saturday February 26th at Sauk Creek Nature Preserve

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Image detail of December: The Calm.  Tom Smith. 

Tom Smith

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Set-up for  January: The Trek.  Photo by Eddee Daniel



As a painter, I try to capture the evanescence of light and dark, of snow and rain, and of wind and calm, through my painting. Perhaps, in my own small way, I can preserve the sense of nature’s beauty and wonder. 


The property that I visited this year for the ARTservancy project is Spirit Lake Preserve in Mequon, WI. This beautiful slice of Earth appeals to me for its variety of natural features, including forest, lake, marsh, and river habitats.


My project intention was both planned and spontaneous. Planned in the sense that I intended to make at least 12, 12×12 inch plein air paintings. Spontaneous because I had no idea what I would paint!


Each time I visited with the intention of painting, I hoped to discover something new to be inspired by, some aspect of the Preserve that will call out to me. I am so lucky to have this special piece of land in which I can explore.   I hope to capture, at the very least, some of its wondrous beauty.

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Portraits by Eddee Daniel for his blog,

June:  The Light, Tom Smith, 2021

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August: The Flow, Tom Smith, 2021

It was after I was unable to continue my career that I began to paint. Therapy, one could say. I say: a renewal of my childhood dreams. And so, I began to know that I love standing on the Earth and knowing that I am a part of its wonder. Yet, I also know that time is fleeting.

One of my favorite quotes is by writer James Agee: “…and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth, lying on quilts, on the grass, in a summer evening, among the sounds of the night.”

Life was for a time, for me, full of sorrow. A sorrow I wanted to end. Painting brought me out of this darkness. When I was in the hospital, the one book I brought along was about oil painting. So, when I came home, I began to paint.

I hadn’t painted much since I was young, but now I began to see it as a way to a new life. I wanted to be an artist, and so I painted.

I found other artists, I joined art groups. I painted. 

Being a painter has brought me into the light in so many ways. Sometimes being in it can be hard for me. I still struggle, I don’t know how or what to say. But painting has saved my life. I can look and say: here, that’s me. My name is Tom Smith, and I am an artist.

Artist bio

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Originally from Toledo Ohio, Tom Smith has lived in the Milwaukee area since 1981.

His art training consisted of lessons at the Toledo Museum of Art in Elementary School, and then classes in High School. After one class in college in 1977, he essentially stopped painting.

Earning a Master of Music Degree after moving to Wisconsin, he became a professional cellist performing in The Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra, as Principal of Festival City Symphony, and in many other orchestras around Wisconsin. He also taught 1st Grade for 15 years in Wauwatosa. 

He began to paint again in 2012 when he stopped teaching. Painting mainly landscapes from photos, in the summer of 2016 he discovered and began painting “en plein air”. This has developed into his passion, working in everything from snow and rainstorms, and a range of 8ᵒ to 98ᵒ weather!

With permission from his website.



Background - Into the Light


In my childhood, there were dreams. I would paint. I would make beauty. Always present though: a shadow. Even my name was hateful to me.


Then, childhood passed. There would be no beauty. There would be other things, though. Wonderful things: love, children, a career. Yet hiding, in that shadow would be the art, the beauty.


There was a crash. I was unmoving. I was lost in the darkness. Until slowly, emergent, it came finally: the art. 


You see, I have suffered from severe anxiety and depression for much of my adult life. The shadow: blocking out the beauty. Then the finding: Asperger’s. Mild but present—and the knowing brought light.

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