Watercolor on Paper, 14.5″ x 21.5″
The Central Florida Watercolor Society’s exhibition is being held currently at the Terrace Gallery in City Hall, downtown Orlando Florida, through March 22. The entries had to be a piece inspired by or representing something in the Orlando area.
My painting in the show, Mayan Gate, was inspired by a gate in the Mayan Court at the Maitland Art Center, Maitland Florida. Formerly knows as The Research Studio, it was an art colony founded and built in 1937 by artist and architect J. Andre Smith (1880-1959), and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The main building, gardens and courtyards, have a unique Mayan Revival Style.
J.Andre Smith was born in Hong Kong, and as child, moved to Germany and eventually came to New York City. After receiving a master’s degree in architecture at Cornell, he travelled in Europe for 2 years on a fellowship from the university. He served in World War I in active duty as an artist. Additionally, he designed The Distinguished Service Cross, still in use by today’s military. Unfortunately, he underwent a post war amputation of his right leg.
Known for his etchings, he published in France, an illustrated volume of his work, with the American Expeditionary Forces. His etchings also won him a gold medal at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915.
His main residence was in Connecticut, but in his retirement years he wintered in Maitland, Florida. He met Mary Curtis Bok, who assisted him in opening The Research Studio in 1937. Over the fireplace in the main gallery, a concrete carving over the fireplace summarized the intention of the center, “The artist’s job is to explore, to announce new visions and open new doors.”
I feel I opened a new door with this piece, it was a bit of a departure for me from my other works, exploring more textural techniques in watercolor and focusing on a more graphic composition. Not knowing anything about Smith prior to doing the painting, I discovered later, we have both lived in Hong Kong, France, and central Florida, and studied and worked in architectural fields before pursing art careers!