Kent Michael Smith

New American Paintings article...

Posted on June 25, 2013



New Work From Kansas City at Carrie Secrist Gallery by New American Paintings

An effort to define “Midwestern Painting” has been a major topic of discussion lately – not a quite debate, but definitely an inquiry.  Carrie Secrist’s recent exhibition New Work from Kansas City, featuring work by Anne Lindberg, Kent Michael Smith, and Paul Anthony Smith, foregrounds an emphasis on site and contemporary practice in the Midwest.  While the press release pushes against a read of “regionalism”, the exhibition suggests otherwise – though perhaps this ever-present theme of region is symptomatic of a larger condition concerning a rise in questioning Midwestern “standards” for a definition toward “painting,” the term.  Strung together by a loose thread of abstraction, the exhibition features the artists’ differences as opposed to their similarities.  Far from being a negative thing, New Work from Kansas City highlights some very prevalent issues in what it means to put together exhibitions with a Midwestern slant today in Chicago. – Stephanie Cristello, Chicago Contributor


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Anne Lindbergparallel 39, 2013, graphite and colored pencil on cotton mat board, 58 x 51 inches,Courtesy the artist and Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago


While the exhibition speaks to themes of regionalism, the experience of looking at the three very distinct bodies of work, by three very conceptually and formally different artists, is varied and refreshing.  Contrary to my expectations, the visual gaps between the bodies of work are celebrated in the gallery space in terms of installation, and are perhaps the exhibition’s greatest strength.  The collection of predominantly large to medium scale works also propose a reversal to what one might expect – monumental sized drawings by Lindberg that are anything but preparatory, Kent Michael Smith’s deeply layered resin cast paintings that at first appear flat and graphic, and Paul Anthony Smith’s altered photographs that seem to be covered in glitter, though the effect is merely a simple material treatment of little tears in the surface of the paper.  Spanning across three different mediums alone causes the exhibition to resist a coherent aesthetic that would flatten the concept of the show, which is after all to feature the work.  The exhibition is not “easy” in that regard – not easy to talk about, because the artist’s trajectories appear oppositional, but also because the very foundation of the premise takes the concept of regional site, often treated a unifying factor, to displace an inherent connection in favor of something more autonomous.

Kent Michael Smithanchor, 2012, acrylic, resin and spray paint on panel, 40 x 40 inches, Courtesy the artist and Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago

Although the works are flat, Lindberg’s drawings feel sculptural in their slow and carefully mediated graphite lines – somewhere between a more visually kinetic Agnes Martin and the interference on a TV screen.  Capturing what resemble subtle moirés of light, there is something familiar, though pointedly not domestic, about the images on the surface of the pristine white paper – like the effect that occurs when two semi-transparent scrims of fabric alter their visual patterns in passing, sheer curtains in a motel.  The drawings reference an installation that also took place at the gallery in 2012, where threads of aqua, green, and pale blue Egyptian cotton were diagonally stretched across the corner of a wall, occupying space in a similarly elusive manner.  Equally as tactile, Lindberg’s drawings elaborate on her ability to create fragile circumstances out of commonplace materials. The effect of the many clustered lines that make up the final pattern of the “image” is like a textile, perhaps as much as the actual thread piece itself. Lindberg’s lines weave a cloth out of pencil – a drapery that could at any moment unweave at the delicate touch of an eraser.

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Paul Anthony Smith | Port Antonio Market #1, 2013, Unique picotage on C-print with spray paint, 30 x 20 inches, Courtesy the artist and Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago

Staging a similar material circumstance is Paul Anthony Smith’s photographs, treated with a term coined “picotage,” in which the surface layer of the paper that holds the ink is lifted up and partially torn away by a sharp ceramics tool.  While the surface treatment slightly obscures the image, the picture remains – resembling instead a luminescent overlay, or a glittering interference of light more so than an actual intervention of the image.  The imagery appears to take advantage of this partially masking context; Smith applies the picotage directly and noticeably as a pop outline in the photographs, which exclusively picture African-American figures against non-descript vernacular or domestic backdrops.  Every surface of the bodies within the pictures are torn away, with the exception of the eyes and mouth, and the surroundings are left untouched, like theatrical backdrops.  While the masking effort is made to reference sacrificial masks and African ancestry, it more poignantly speaks to the subjective material treatment of the figures within the portraits themselves.  One cannot help but question why the figure is forced into such a dual context, which is both violent and shimmering, depending on your distance.

Kent Michael Smith | Growth, 2013, Acrylic, resin and spray paint on panel 14 x 14 inches, Courtesy the artist and Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago

Kent Michael Smith’s multi-layered combinations of graphic forms against gestural abstract planes offer a stark difference in volume, both visually and physically.  Like looking into a shadow box, the process of the painting literally exposes itself through its depth; each film of paint is visibly suspended in resin at the location of when that mark was made.  The bold colors of the implacable stacked forms clash with more sketchy backgrounds that look as though they have been buried under panes of glass, the last layers often framing a border of what resembles sparkled custom car paint – essentially functioning on the level of a monochrome, in excess.  The paintings offer a counterpoint to how we can read the regional slant of this collection of work, where site is just one process in a system of many, and each artist exists autonomously within a deeper layered system of exchange.

Anne Lindberg is a 2011 Joan Mitchell Foundation grantee. Her exhibition history includes projects with the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno; Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, and Bom Retiro Cultural Center, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Recent exhibitions for Kent Michael Smith include the Lawrence Arts Center, Lawrence, KS and Kansas State University, Manhattan. His work is included in public collections such as the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; Emporia State University, Emporia, KS; and Ohio University, Athens. 

Paul Anthony Smith is the recipient of a 2013 Charlotte Street Foundation Visual Artist Award and a 2013 ArtsKC Inspiration grant. Following his debut solo exhibition with ZieherSmith, New York in early 2013, Smith was named by Huffington Post as one of the 30 best Contemporary Black Artists Under 40.

Categories: exhibitions, reviews

Group Exhibition at Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago

Posted on June 04, 2013


New Work from Kansas City


Anne Lindberg
Kent Michael Smith
Paul Anthony Smith

June 8 - July 27, 2013

click here for details


Carrie Secrist Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new work from Kansas City, featuring Anne Lindberg, Kent Michael Smith, and Paul Anthony Smith. The exhibition is on view from June 8 to July 27, 2013.


Our summer exhibition highlights and further develops cultural relationships between artist communities in Kansas City and Chicago. While the exhibit does not celebrate regionalism, it does underscore modes of contemporary practice in the Midwestern United States. Through individual applications in technique, form and content, Kansas City-based artists Anne Lindberg, Kent Michael Smith, and Paul Anthony Smith form an anthology of work that coalesces abstraction and impression. Their two dimensional works originate a space that interrelates by referencing perception, examining cultural impact and background, or exposing self-identity.


Gallery artist Anne Lindberg is a mark maker who examines the distinction of drawing as noun and drawing as verb. Composed of tightly spaced lines that vary in density and darkness, Lindberg’s labor-intensive graphite and colored pencil drawings vibrate and shape shift. The artist writes meaning into the lines and spaces of each indexical image. For Lindberg, abstraction is a means for self-portraiture; the repetition of marking a single line acts as a device to render internal thoughts into an external language.


Kent Michael Smith’s paintings are bold and colorful; they combine gestural fluid abstraction and geometric patterns to create harmonious, yet jarring textures. Layering paint with epoxy resin unifies disparate forms of mark making, at the same time giving the paintings a sculptural quality. Abstraction created in the flatness and implied depth of Smith’s pictures behaves as a camouflage for unwelcoming populaces.


Kent Michael Smith, like Anne Lindberg, employs abstraction to expose introspection. Lindberg’s dense line drawings represent the trickle of her innermost reflections, which she calls “private, vulnerable, fragile, and perceptive to the human condition.” Kent Smith’s juxtaposition of graphic, vivid and multicolored motifs atop more neutral backgrounds emanate conflict. Smith constructs these conflicts to mimic the historical and current apprehension of community members to welcome outsiders. Smith’s intention to illustrate this tension is emblematic of societal issues such as immigration and gentrification.


Manipulated photographs by Paul Anthony Smith investigate autobiographical, ancestral, and cultural self-identification.  For the works in this exhibition, Smith employs a technique called picotage, wherein he uses a ceramics tool to pick away the top layer of photographic images. Referencing African scarification and masking, these tears shimmer as if flecked with glitter.  His obscured black figures are abstracted cultural portraits, feeding the artist’s interests in family history and heritage, as well as his broader research into African Diaspora.


Both Kent Michael Smith and Paul Anthony Smith emphasize the estrangement and history of different cultures.  While Kent Smith’s practice accounts for a broad spectrum of conflict within an archetypal community, Paul Smith’s work engages his own social history and descent from Jamaican emigration. In the physical alteration of his portrait photographs, Smith distorts the skin of black individuals.  This powerful negation unifies the subjects of his portraits, acting as a tribute to his personal ancestry.



Paul Anthony Smith and Anne Lindberg, in particular, art-make in visual and theoretical harmony. Both utilize meticulous and rhythmic techniques to emphasize the conceptual background of their practices. While Smith repetitiously carves away the top layer of each photograph in a precise, exhaustive pattern, Lindberg uses a systemic repeat of compact lines. Smith scrapes away bits of photographed skin to accentuate the importance of ancestry to his own self-identity. Lindberg brings her pencil across the cotton board again and again to create a visual language to match the intimate depths of her psyche. Together the two artists work with labor-intensive methods of making to bring light to their beliefs and subconscious perceptions.


Gallery artist Anne Lindberg is a 2011 Joan Mitchell Foundation grantee. Her exhibition history includes projects with the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno; Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, and Bom Retiro Cultural Center, Sao Paulo, Brazil. She is currently completing a commission for the General Services Administration’s Art in Architecture program.


Recent exhibitions for Kent Michael Smith include the Lawrence Arts Center, Lawrence, KS and Kansas State University, Manhattan. His work is included in public collections such as the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; Emporia State University, Emporia, KS; and Ohio University, Athens.


Paul Anthony Smith is the recipient of a 2013 Charlotte Street Foundation Visual Artist Award and a 2013 ArtsKC Inspiration grant. He will participate in the Art Omi International Artists Residency this summer and debut a solo museum presentation this fall in Houston.


Please contact Stevie Greco at 312.491.0917 for further information.



Categories: exhibitions, links

"Mixed" at Kansas State University

Posted on February 07, 2013

Partial MIX installation Chapman Gallery



Six Kansas City painters are featured in “MIX” an exhibition opening January 28 and running through February 8, 2013 in Mark A. Chapman Gallery in Willard Hall on Kansas State University campus.

Kansas State University Department of Art presents “MIX” an exhibition of six Kansas City painters exploring new materials and methods in contemporary painting and challenging the boundaries of the medium. Joe Bussell, Tanya Hartman, Amy Kligman, Anne Austin Pearce, Kent Michael Smith, and Larry Thomas are featured in this exhibition from Monday, January 28 through February 8, 2013 in the Mark A. Chapman Gallery, first floor Willard Hall. Gallery hours are 10am – 5pm, Monday through Friday. There will be a reception for the artists on Friday evening, February 8th, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm in the gallery.

Nelson Smith, a painter and instructor in the Department of Art at Kansas State University, is the curator for the “MIX” exhibition. 

Categories: exhibitions

"VIM" at Lawrence Art Center

Posted on January 24, 2013



January 18 thru March 2
Opening Reception: January 18 | 7 to 9pm
Final Friday Reception January 27 | 5 to 9pm
INSIGHT Art Talk: February 7 | 7pm
Book Release: February 22

This exhibit features new works from four artists who have created a dynamic experience for visitors to the Lawrence Arts Center. VIM accentuates distinctive qualities in materials, processes, and ideas in distinctive two and three dimensional works that convey ebullient vitality and vigor, or, VIM. Each of the artists in this exhibition use color and technique to inject energy into their work. The artists have individually accomplished much in their careers thus far, and their futures promise far more. Select works from this exhibit will be featured at the Lawrence Arts Center Benefit Auction taking place April 13

Categories: exhibitions, videos