articles and reviews

quote Smith's career deals with the subjective context of perception, as with these small staged constructs and their presentation of the found object. Smith suggests that there is more to perception - than to have perceived. quote
Mark Sasway, Alternative Perception
quote The titles, which complete the work, are lifted from the encyclopedia of misery. quote
Lisa Buck, The Downtown Gazette
quote I haven't seen Smith's work yet, but it sounds like a Jumpstart on the caffeinated art scale... you'll need a four-shot just to keep from sobbing out loud or curling up fetal on the couch. quote
Inigo Jones, The 'Catalyst'. Caffeinated Art
quote I'd hang one of his pieces in my home. Especially the one where the little locked door, so intriguingly bloodied, makes one want to open it - and go inside. quote
George Metivier, The Missing Link
quote You are already inside. quote
Linda Yoon, Unveiled
Long Beach Rocks
Rebecca Schoenkopf, OC Weekly

...Dying on the Vine features a split-pea green facade with a baby's wooden block in the window. Vine It might be manipulative; it might be schmaltzy, all I know is, thinking about it later, I wanted to cry. Of course, without the title, it would be merely inscrutable.

Trial by Fire is probably the most interesting piece. Against a coppery background, Trial by Fire small twigs bar the window and form a prison cell as the nub of a burnt candle drips wax down the face of the work. I'm always happy to see some good paeans to Joan of Arc.
WL Smith art
Alternative Perception
Rachael Una

Tied into the physical presence of Smith’s work, the observer is engaged in the interplay of texture, color, and depth. Sensory perception is an inherent element of Smith’s style, which includes conceptual color, found objects, impasto, and intensive surface manipulation.

His almost monochrome pallet is applied in sharp and subtle gradations, creating a shadowy fluctuation of depth. Addition and reduction of paint builds an amorphous surface of highlight and shadow. All of which are meticulously rendered. These details allow for the emergence of darkly disturbing imagery and cause the cathartic interplay between form and content.
Monochromatic Message
Shirle Gottlieb, Long Beach Press Telegram

Conceptual in content, these monochromatic paintings all feature highly textured surfaces that are achieved from a mixture of plaster, acrylic, and polymer. Smith then embeds found objects directly into the matrix, or places them in recessed apertures that act as miniature stages.

Though all the work is intriguing from a conceptual point of view, people will get different inferences or meanings depending on how they relate to it. That is exactly Smith's intention.

Are Smith's paintings really art? In our amorphous post- modern world where culture, economy, politics and aesthetics all cry for your attention - the answer is a resounding 'yes'.
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Uncooperative Abstraction
James Scarborough, The Project Box in association with ArtWeek
Smith's work undercuts the severe look of minimalism with the inclusion of objects like a single domino in a small recession off-centered on a canvas. Donald Judd meets Joseph Cornell.

Like a polite but rambunctious child, the work in this show wants to do something more than pretend to be well-behaved, cultured and proper.
Melancholic 'Hindsight' Shows Surprising Insight at Portfolio
Lisa Buck, The Downtown Gazette

The title of the exhibition is itself melancholic: 'Hindsight' meaning "I figured it out too late", is a solo exhibition by WL Smith at Portfolio Gallery. At first glance a show of tidy minimalist abstractions that proclaim their own objecthood with a brash attention to surface and substance, the work soon reveals its quiet sorrow.

My favorite pieces are those into which is cut a neat, rectangular niche. Into the niche Smith parks a small dead object of little importance. WL Smith Benign Neglect

Benign Neglect, the color of grimy terra-cotta, hosts an old, corroded sprinkler head that stares at the viewer with a mute ineffectiveness.

The canvases, if that's what they are, have the thickness and weight of a chunk of wall. They are tough, heavy and hard, like rock or cement, an impression Smith creates by building up the surface with impasto, glazes and pigments.

The titles which complete the work, are lifted from the encyclopedia of misery. It is not the kind of suffering that WL Smith Triage yells out in agony, however, but the dull ache of eternal damnation. Like Triage and Judgment and Ignorance, they describe the underbelly of the human condition.

Trial by Fire is as grim as a life sentence in a forgotten dungeon. Colored the brown of rain-soaked rock, the painting encloses an extinguished candle behind a rusted fence. Little drips of wax dribble from the cell, lending an element of pathos to this metaphor for resignation.

Looking like a slab of smog-corroded marble, Compromise houses an old high-intensity light bulb and is wrapped in barbed wire. Compromise Where the barbs touch the surface, there are little red gashes that look like wounds. Bleeding rock in bondage. I love it.

Despite the tone of gloom and woe conveyed by Smith's work, there is a touch of cheer in their physical appeal. They are really, very nice paintings. This is art that keeps on giving.

By Emily Bumgarner

When people walk through an art gallery they usually pick out a piece that for one reason or another catches their eye. Very few people stop to figure out what each detail means. The buyer would be surprised if they took it for more than face value. An artist expresses a point of view and feelings in everything they make. It can be a dream to see the ocean or a political statement. The point of the picture may be as simple as the title or it could be found in the last brush stroke. The artist want's to communicate with a large number of people at once and there is no better way than mass media. By just figuring out the meaning of the title, one has started the climb into the artist's mind.

Purgatory is the postponement of heaven while suffering is inflicted to forgive sins. The New Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges: "In the final analysis, the catholic doctrine on purgatory is based on tradition, not sacred scripture." This temporal punishment is for those who died in grace but are not free yet from all imperfection. To those of us who are not without sin, the traditional belief of purgatory may act as a comfort when looking at the alternative, hell. In 1991, W L Smith created "Purgatory" using tangible items to interpret the doctrine. The artist uses this creation to challenge the definition and creators of purgatory.
Blood catches my eyes, then scratch marks upon the door. Chills hit my spine as I feel the pain and suffering in the piece. The key hole locks the vault and the occupants within. All humans are imperfect and only one, Jesus, was free from sin. With that fact in mind most of mankind would be in purgatory. What is so comforting knowing that I will work hard all of my life to be the best person possible and still have to suffer? It doesn't make much sense. Behind that door the living don't know what happens. By the looks of the blood from the dripping key hole it is not pleasant.
WL Smith
Adding a bit of history, Jesus died as a ransom sacrifice for all mankind. It is through him that our sins are forgiven. (With nails driven into his body, being beat and tortured to his death, so that mankind would be free from such punishment) The mere suggestion of purgatory degrades his sacrifice. The ludicrousness of this idea helps support Mr. Smith's definition of purgatory as senseless torture for sins that are emanated by men to dominate men.
The traditional teaching is also out dated and a very old way of thinking. Knowing that Mr. Smith is some what of an activist the thought of a bunch of old men sitting around thinking up another way to control people is probably what moved him in choosing his materials. He chose an antique key plate. One reason for that choice might have been that that was what was available at the time. A more logical reason would be to express a point. Why should people be frightened into a life that some old stuffed shirt dictated to people so long ago that the idea is more antique than the key plate? The answer; we should dictate our lives, not doctrines invented in the imaginations of control freaks.

Another outstanding use of materials is demonstrated with the use of plaster, acrylic, and tempera on canvas. Mr. Smith combined these items to make the cement box. Cement last for decades and if an animal were to die in it, its imprint could be preserved, as happened with the idea of purgatory. No where in the Bible is purgatory mentioned, a fact the Catholic Church recognizes. But it is continued to be taught because of tradition, also known as a fossil being stuck in cement. Once cement is set it can't be changed, maybe that is what is meant by being stuck in your ways, purgatory is a perfect example.

The scratches on the door mean more than the obvious pain of souls in purgatory. They are the wanting out of tradition. The artist himself is an activist, he along with others continue fighting old ways to breed new ways. Society and tradition change with every voice just as the scratches have warped the door and changed it. Eventually purgatory won't be taught. Not because men have lost.