Smith, Gary Ernest Biography

Smith, Gary Ernest Biography

Gary Ernest Smith was born in 1942, in Baker City, Oregon, an unassuming town in the rural heart of the Columbia plateau’s high desert that stretches across eastern Oregon, Washington and western Idaho. The rural setting of the Northwest became ground zero for the artwork of Smith.

Gary Ernest Smith was educated at Eastern Oregon College and Brigham Young University—earning both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in fine arts. Still, formal education alone did not fuel Smith’s artistic development. Before entering college, he spent much of his childhood working on drawings and paintings. Throughout his education and his career, Gary Ernest Smith has had the opportunity to travel and study the works of European masters and Russian painters. Smith cites Maynard Dixon as the artist that was most influential in the development of his own painting.

Although his studies and experiments were extensive, Gary Ernest Smith is most often labeled a regionalist drawing comparisons to such artists as Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood. The work of Gary Ernest Smith reflects the artist, expressive but humble, and is grounded in the rural and religious. The social commentary is a sturdy hymn of the beauty of hard work, a lament for a way of life that is at risk of fading away, and the beauty that exists in everyday scenes—not just the extraordinary.


Currently, Gary Ernest Smith resides in Utah. Highlights of his professional career include three terms as director of the Brigham Young University art gallery, numerous one-man shows and traveling exhibits such as the “Third Western States Traveling Exhibit,” sponsored by the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The exhibit of Smith’s series, “Journeys in Search of Lost Images,” traveled to twenty-two museums around the United States, and his one-man exhibit— “Fields” paintings- showed both at The Museum of Fine Art at Brigham Young University and the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis.

  • The Hadley Companies, 8’ Bronze, Man Lifting Sack, Bloomington, MN, 1990.
  • Springville Museum of Art, 8’ Bronze, Man Lifting Sack, Springville, UT, 1992.
  • City of Metropolis, 15’ Bronze Superman, Metropolis, IL, 1993.
  • Bradley State Park, 15’ Bronze, Owen Bradley, Nashville, TN, 1999.
  • Desert Caballeros Western Museum
  • Leanin’ Tree and Sculpture Garden of Western Art
  • Springville Museum of Art
  • Phoenix Art Museum

Third Western States Traveling Exhibition

  • The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY 1986
  • New Orleans Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans, LA 1986
  • Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX 1987
  • Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, CO 1987
  • Yellowstone Art Center, Billings, MT 1987
  • Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA 1987-88
  • San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA 1988


“Journey in Search of Lost Images” Traveling One-Man Show

  • University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington, KY, 1990
  • Concord Art Associate, Concord, MA 1990
  • Art League of Manatee County, Bradenton, FL 1990
  • Sheldon Swope Art Museum, Terre Haute, IN, 1990
  • Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Wickenberg, AZ, 1991
  • Wichita Falls Museum, Wichita Falls, TX, 1991
  • Kerns Art Center, Eugene, OR, 1991
  • Monmouth Museum, Lincroft, NJ, 1991
  • Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH 1991
  • Rogue Valley Art Association, Medford, OR, 1992
  • Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, 1992
  • Allied Arts Council, Yakima, WA, 1992
  • Nicolaysen Art Museum, Casper, WY, 1992
  • Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, OH, 1992
  • Anglo-American Art Museum, Baton Rouge, LA, 1992
  • Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery, Lindsborg, KS, 1992


“Covering the West” The Best of Southwest Art Museum Tour

  • Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, Colorado Springs, CO, 1995
  • Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ 1995-96
  • National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, Oklahoma City, OK, 1996
  • Autry Museum of Western Heritage, Los Angeles, CA 1996
  • Albuquerque Museum of Art, Albuquerque, NM, 1996


“Fields” One-Man Show

  • Brigham Young University of Art, Provo, UT, 1997
  • Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis, IN, 1999


More Exhibitions

  • Salt Lake City Art Center, North Mountain Artists, Salt Lake City, UT 1982
  • Robert Redford Hosts Utah Artists at Sundance Exhibition,         Sundance, UT 1986
  • Artists Society International Exhibition, San Francisco, CA 1986
  • Art Ald Auction, Sotheby’s Hard Rock Café, New York, NY 1986
  • Springville Museum of Art, Springville, UT, 1982-83, 88-89, 92-93, 95.
  • Sangre de Cristo Art Center, Pueblo, CO, 1989
  • Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, Colorado Springs, CO 1999
  • Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, IA, 2000
  • The Rockwell Museum of Western Art, New York, 2010
  • The West Select, Phoenix Art Museum, AZ, October - November 2011
  • 2012 - Landscapes of the West, Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
  • 2012 - 4th Annual Small Works Show and Sale, Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
  • 2017 "25th Anniversary Celebration" Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery, Tucson, AZ
  • 2019 "Along the Distant Mesa: An Homage to Maynard Dixon" Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery, Tucson, AZ
  • 2019 "New Works" Group Show, Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery, Tucson, AZ
  • Southwest Art, August, 1984, Gary E. Smith, Rooted Substance and Surface, Vern G. Swanson, pp.42-48.
  • Midwest Art, July-August, 1985, Gary E. Smith, Visions of Yesterday, James Thornton, Cover and pp. 18-23.
  • San Diego Tribune, March 26, 1985, Impressions of Rural America, Works by Gary E. Smith, Jan Jennings.
  • Art Gallery International, July-August, 1986, Gary E. Smith, Sandy Preston, pp.22-29.
  • Western Art Digest, July-August, 1986, Gary E. Smith, Renee Hooley, pp. 92-97.
  • The Phoenix Gazette, Marquee, Cover, March, 1987, Down on the Farm with Gary Smith, Lynn Pyne, pp. 34.
  • Scottsdale Progress, Weekend, March 27, 1987, Art Critic Joseph Young.
  • Art Today, Winter, 1987-88, Gary E. Smith, The Melding of Body and Soul, Ann Wilson, pp. 38-42.
  • Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine, January, 1988, Studio, Six Artists to Watch in 1988, Susan M. Bryan, pp. 34.
  • Third Western State Exhibition Catalog, Soft and Hard Cover, text by Charlotte Kotik, Curator of Contemporary Art, The Brooklyn Museum, NY.
  • Art Aid Catalog, Sotheby’s Auction House, Hard Rock Café, NY.
  • Art Talk, June-July, 1989, Gary Ernest Smith, Few People Ever Find the Rainbow, Danny Medina, pp. 24-25.
  • Southwest Art, March 1991, Gary Ernest Smith, Lynn Pyne, pp. 60-66.
  • A Design Manual, Shiri Brainard, 1991, Prentice Hall, pp. 73.
  • Utah Art, Vern G. Swanson, Robert S. Olpin, William c. Selfrit, Gibbs Smith Publisher, Gary Ernest Smith, pp. 194-95, 208, 218, pl. 89, 1991.
  • Being An Artist, Lewis Barrett Lehrman, 1992, Northlight Books, Gary Ernest Smith, Know Your Strengths, pp. 22-27.
  • Southwest Art, May, 1992, An Artist’s Passion, Gary Ernest Smith, Comic Capers, p. 62.
  • InformArt, May-June, 1992, Suddenly—It’s Another Time, Another Place, Leslie Marchando, pp. 14-17.
  • Art: Do It! A Handbook for Artists, 1996, Peter Livingston Myer, Kendall-Hunt Publishing, Gary Ernest Smith, p. 4.
  • Leading the West, One Hundred Contemporary Painters and Sculptors, 1997, Donald J. Hagerty, Northland Publishing.
  • Southwest Art, February, 1998, Lynn Pyne, pp. 74-79.
  • Arizona Republic, April 5, 1999, Kyle Lawson, pp. 14-17.
  • New West, August, 1999, Emil Call.
  • Southwest Art, October, 1999, Donald J. Hagerty, pp. 30-32.
  • Indianapolis Star, November 14, 1999, Steve Manheimer, p.16.
  • Focus Santa Fe, Oct-Dec., 1999, Redefining the Contemporary American West, Diane Cauble, pp. 20-23.
  • Southwest Art, March, 2000, Bonnie Gangelhoff, p.68.
  • Art of the West, Nove-Dec., 2000, Nancy Gillespie, pp. 22-24.
  • Deseret News, Dec. 31, 2000, Holding Ground: Book Review, Dave Gagon, p.E-5.
  • ArtTalk, February, 2001, John Jarvis.
  • Southwest Art, March, 2001, Bonnie Gangelhoff.
  • Western Art Collector, February 2008
  • Western Art Collector, December 2017
  • Western Art Collector, May 2018
  • Western Art Collector, November 2019
  • Southwest Art, May 2021