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 3rd through 5th Grades and then in High School. After one class in college in 1977, he essentially stopped painting.
He went on to earn a Master of Music Degree after moving to Wisconsin and became a professional cellist. He plays in the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra and has been Principal Cellist of the Festival City Symphony since 1985. He also taught 1st Grade for 15 years in Wauwatosa.
In 2012, Tom began oil painting again after he left his teaching career. Three years later he began painting “En Plein Air”, which is painting outdoors, “on site”. He has since participated in many plein air events in Wisconsin, won awards, and was instrumental in planning the League of Milwaukee Artists first “West Bend Plein Air and Paint the Market” competition which was held in August of 2018.
He is a member of many art organizations, including: The League of Milwaukee Artists, The Wauwatosa Artists Workshop, Fine Art Montage, The Rogues Artist Group, WIPAPA (Wisconsin Plein Air Painters Association), and The American Impressionist Society
He has exhibited his oil paintings in many local venues and had several solo shows including at the Wauwatosa, WI Public Library, North Shore Presbyterian Church (Shorewood, WI) Bridgetowne Gallery (Wauwatosa, WI), and Art and Soul Gallery (Milwaukee, WI).
Awards have included:
2015 WAW Fall Show Honorable Mention
2017 LMA Winter Show Honorable Mention
2017 WAW Winter Show Award of Merit
2017 Cedarburg Plein Air Competition 2nd Place Award
2017 LMA Fall Show Honorable Mention
2017 Plymouth, WI “Paint the Towns Plein Air” Honorable Mention
2018 Arbor Place (Menomonie, WI) Plein Air Competition 2nd Place Award
2018 Jerry Goldstein Foundation Artist Merit and Achievement Award
2018 New Berlin (WI) Plein Air Honorable Mention
Fusion.art 2nd Season Quarterly Art Exhibition 4th Place Award
Juried Exhibitions and Plein Air Competitions have included:
“GALEX 52 National Exhibition and Competition”, Galesburg. Ill 2018
“The Modern Landscape” at Redline Gallery, Milwaukee, 2018
Taliesin Plein Air 2018 (Invitational)
“Water Works” 24th Annual Juried Exhibition, Plymouth (WI) Arts Center
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 finally came: 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 that knowing brought light.
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; tried 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. When I returned home, I began to paint. Therapy, one could say, but also a renewal of my childhood dreams.
I began to realize that I love “being on this earth” and knowing that I am a part of its wonder. Yet I also know, like James Agee, that time is fleeting, and so I try to capture the beauty of this world in 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, painted landscapes, painted our Earth.
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.
I can’t actually remember a time when The Little Prince was not a part of my life. I don’t remember the first time I heard it, read it, or when I saw the film with Gene Wilder as Fox and Bob Fosse as Snake. The story has always been a backdrop to my life. It was one of my mother’s favorites. I was certain she knew the answer to the Aviator’s question, that she could speak the language of the stars. When I was 16, I left for Africa on a Rotary Exchange. She told me to always look at the moon. She would always be looking at it too, so in this way, no matter where we were, we would always together.
When Laura invited me to co-direct this production, my mother was very ill and I knew I would be doing this story after her passing, in the sacred place of grief and gratitude. Laura, too, was in an underworld journey with the discovery of her son’s brain tumor. We were both living in the unknown with our best beloveds, and yet we were each able to turn to this masterpiece for solace. Exupèry says, “It is such a strange place, the land of tears.” And he was right. We began really feeling the paradoxes of life and death, love and loss, hope and renewal. We were somehow no longer in the world of either/or, but in the exciting realm of both/and.
In exploring the deeper mysteries of the duality of this story, one has to know how it came to be written. Antoine de St. Exupéry was a pilot at a time when the airplane was a new technology. His iconic writing about flying was considered vital to the development of the aero-technology. Exupéry was no stranger to sorrow. His father died before he was four, and so did his younger brother. Like the pilot in the story, Exupéry actually crashed in the Sahara desert with his navigator, André Prévot, on December 30th, 1935. They both survived, by nothing short of grace—they didn’t have enough food and water to last one person one day in such heat. They had no idea where they crashed, and were rapidly losing any chance of survival. Both men suffered from severe dehydration during this time and began to hallucinate quite viscerally. It was from these desert hallucinations that the story of The Little Prince was born. Some suggest that the boy who visited Exupéry when he was so close to Death, was the ghost of his little brother, who would not leave his side until he was rescued.
Throughout the show, you may notice that we made very specific choices to explore the duality we discovered. To begin, we have two directors on two different, yet similar, journeys with death: one which leads toward loss, and one which leads toward miraculous recovery. All of our principals hold different kinds of dualities: we find with Rose that when we fall in love, we must be willing to accept both the conscious and unconscious forces at work in the psyche of the Beloved, and in ourselves. Exupéry seems to suggest that we carry the wounds of our childhood into our adulting; he reminds us to be gentle with one another. Snake is the Great Goddess, the Womb and Tomb of Natural World. She inspires us to confront the fear of the unknown through acceptance of our constant ability to transform and transcend our limitations. Both roles are played by two actresses to amplify this powerful theme. We also have real people and puppet actors in the show. It was important to heighten the sense of distortion between those who see with the heart and those who see only with the eyes. We have two Little Princes: one, a girl, and one, a boy. Gender, after all, is a construct of the mind and of society, it is an agreement, not a truth. It’s time to really challenge paradigms which are based in power and move toward creating paradigms based in love. In this double-casting choice, the Little Prince is also not fixed to a single vision of “who the character was, or is,” it also suggests the possibility of who the character is going to become after returning home. Ironically, we had three sets of twins involved in the casting of this production: both actors playing the Little Prince are twins, as well as one of our Roses. You might also notice the striking similarities between the Aviator and Fox. I like to think of Fox as the Aviator’s higher self; the ancient one inside all of us, that gives us the exact wisdom we most critically need dark nights of the soul. And finally, the script called for an ensemble so we called upon the ancient and powerful idea of a Greek Chorus: the ensemble play the supporting cast members as well as create sunsets, baobobs, volcanoes, and birds; they are the landscape of the world around this story. Blending the idea of my love for Greek Chorus with Laura’s passion for ballet was so exhilarating to watch come to life.
We are so incredibly honored to share in this creative vision with such a talented dream team of designers as well as our unbelievably talented cast. We are deeply grateful to all of you for sharing this vision with the eyes of your hearts. Thank you to Harmonie, Michael, Liz, Evan, Mike, Mark, Linda, and David. Thanks to my son, Charlie. (I love sharing this story with you!) Thank you, Mary, for stepping in as ASM. Thank you, Kristelle, for lending your artistic expertise. Thank you to Doug for warmly welcoming us and cheering us on. Thank you to John Cramer for being our champion and never losing faith that we could tell this story through our own challenging journeys. Thank you to the WCT administrative team: Rhonda, Katie, Meghan, and Nancy for invaluable mentorship through the entire process. Thank you to Phillip and all the volunteers. Thank you for consulting on the set design, Derek Castor and Dustin Martin. Thank you, Jim Padovano. We so appreciated your welcome and support to us in this space. Thank you to all the parents and families that allowed us the time with your talented children and partners. Thank you to Katie Cummings and Pink Umbrella Theatre for consulting with us on sensory-friendly performances. Thanks to Peter for spear-heading WCT’s first inclusive show. We cannot think of a more beautiful story to launch this new WCT tradition.
Finally, we dedicate this performance to you, the audience, and to all who hold this story dear. Actually, no. We dedicate this show to the children you used to be, who knew the difference between a hat and a boa constrictor eating an elephant. Most importantly, we dedicate this to the little ones inside you who know how important it is to tend to the baobabs of doubt and fear, like Laura’s son, Burgoyne, who despite having a tumor removed from his brain, the size of a grapefruit, miraculously continues to get stronger and stronger every day! While we were in rehearsal, he not only traveled to Korea, he managed to complete his final class for his master’s degree in education! Burgoyne is living proof of the transformative and healing power in the stories we tell ourselves.
As for me, I am learning to see my mother with the eyes of my heart. On a quiet evening, when I look at the moon…I think…I can hear her laughing…
Dr. Shannon Sloan-Spice
Now that summer is almost over, along with vacations and all of the summer activities, maybe it’s time to think about our entertainment schedules for the fall and on into next year. One great idea is to enjoy a change of pace, to be able to sit back and just enjoy a live stage performance put on by local actors. I am talking about the Waukesha Civic Theatre, located in the old PIX theatre building in downtown Waukesha. This non-profit organization puts on a variety of plays every year, and this is in addition to theatrical education programs, video showings, and much more.
When was the last time you went to live theatre? It’s much different than going to a movie or a sports event. Sometimes the plays just entertain you, sometimes they challenge your basic concepts. Whether you like a play or not, you have to be impressed with the time and effort our local entertainers put into the productions. So why not try something different this year and visit the Waukesha Civic Theatre? My wife and I are season ticket holders, and before that my parents were season ticket holders. I have to say that these plays are done as well as any I have seen from Purdue University to Milwaukee to Fort Atkinson.
This fall’s Mainstage lineup begins with The Little Prince, a play based on a book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The Little Prince brings to life the story of an Aviator lost in the desert who learns what it is to be tamed. This show deals with the themes of love, loss, and friendship. This play runs from September 13-29, 2019. Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office on Main Street in Waukesha or online via the Theatre’s website www.waukeshacivictheatre.org. If you go to the website, take time to look at all the things the Theatre does in our community, and if I were you, I would buy season tickets for the seven Mainstage shows.
Board of Directors
Susi Schuele is a self-taught abstract artist. Raised in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, she now lives in the Town of Lisbon, Wisconsin with her husband, Chuck and their two very spoiled dogs and studio mates, Stardust and Hanna.
Susi has been creating in some way since she was a child. She is self-taught, beginning with acrylic paint and drawing. She has been creating abstract art with colorful stains on wood since approximately 2015.
Susi has attained her technical abilities from studying the works of artists she admires, such as O’Keeffe, Van Gogh and Monet. She is always experimenting with tools and mediums to achieve her desired effect.
“Creating colorful art on wood has refocused my perspective toward the lighter, happier, positive side of each new day. And…I have seen the same effect on people when they view my art work! Their wide smiles reach their eyes. Their expressions as they realize that each of my signature pieces are stain on wood and not paint is always a powerful, joyful reaction, both to them and to me.”
Schuele was nominated for the “People’s Choice” award in the ArtisTTable 2017 Women’s Exhibition online. She a member of many art communities and associations, including the League of Milwaukee Artists among others. She has been represented by the Gallery of Wisconsin Art (GOWA) in West Bend, Wisconsin since 2017 and Woodland Studios in Stoughton, Wisconsin since 2018. She has exhibited at prestigious exhibitions for abstract and contemporary art at GOWA and was featured in the One of a Kind Spring Art Show Fine Art Gallery in Chicago, IL in 2018 and 2019.
Words cannot describe my art. Emotions tell a bigger story. I tell my stories through vivid color inspired by all forms of nature, my imagination and music. My “Second Touch” from God has arrived and my lifetime desire to create and “be myself” is fulfilled.
I like to create art with a magnetic appeal. Art that draws you in. It says “Come closer. Tell me what you see. Tell me how you feel. I want to be what you need me to be.” Visual inspiration is a beautiful garden bursting in Spring, breathtaking sunsets glowing with orange, the subtle but sublime metallic golds and coppers in Raku pottery, the magnificent Rainbow Eucalyptus tree or the beaming contrast and glitter of colorful elements of nature such as geodes. When creating on various wood panels, the grain of the wood is oftentimes perfect inspiration alone.
Abstract brings my world and your world together by allowing each individual to see and feel their own story. From a primary emotion of a color-infused visual to secondary emotions evoked by “hearing” the music or remembering the lyrics from the piece’s carefully researched song title, this art will connect you to the experience of a memory in another time in your head and heart each time you view it. I achieve incredible depth in my work and bring a little more of my soul into each painting by titling them with song. My love of music is only surpassed by my love of art. As a result, my paintings evoke a powerful emotional effect on viewers from every sense. Joy, curiosity, maybe even dark.
My art is unique because I am currently the only artist in the country creating fine art on wood with colored stains. Most always, I use only my hands, but on occasion I work with a brush for detail and include other mediums such as alcohol ink in my work.
September is a great time to gather the family together and come to PIX Flix, in Historic Downtown Waukesha! We are thrilled to bring The Sound of Music back to the PIX Theatre, now the home of the Waukesha Civic Theatre, on Monday, September 16, at 6:30 p.m.! I say “back,” because, while I wasn’t able to find historical proof, I feel certain this film must have been shown at what is now our amazing community theatre, back in 1965, when it was first released by 20th Century Fox. The film, which debuted in sold out theatres around the country for over a month, was produced and directed by Robert Wise and stars Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The film was adapted from the musical, and two new songs were written just for the movie, “I Have Confidence,” and “Something Good.” Becoming an instant hit, it is no wonder this stunning film won five Oscars at the 38th Academy Awards!
Influenced by other successful movies of the day, such as Camelot, Mary Poppins, and Cinderella (all of which also starred Julie Andrews) the screenwriter, Ernest Lehman, used artistic license to convey the meaning and essence of the times in Salzburg, just as the Nazis were gaining power. A small amount of historic exploration will uncover many ways that opulence and pageantry, which were not historically accurate, were employed to draw the audience deeper into the unfolding story and to create a visual masterpiece. In reality, the von Trapps did not live in a mansion or play in the hills of Salzburg and the home they lived in was not actually their ancestral home, as is depicted in the movie. However, the visual backdrop of the movie we have come to know and love is enchanting and it is almost impossible to imagine the story without it.
Then there is the music! Who of us has not grown up with “Do-Re-Mi,” “Edelweiss,” “So Long Farewell,” and “Climb Every Mountain,” as part of our own personal soundtracks? My family had such a thrill sharing these songs and the film with the next generation that our daughter was cast as Brigitta von Trapp in Waukesha Civic Theatre’s 2014 production of the musical! These songs will forever be in our hearts.
We hope you will take this opportunity to bring your families, young and old, to see the cinematic treasure The Sound of Music at the Waukesha Civic Theatre on the big screen on Monday, September 16, at 6:30 p.m. Always a value, our PIX Flix films are still only $5 per ticket and of course, we have popcorn and refreshments available too! While you’re there, pick up an A.C.T. (Academy at Civic Theatre) brochure and discover all the amazing educational opportunities that await at our own community theatre, WCT. You will also be able to find a calendar for our 63rd season Mainstage productions – the first of which, The Little Prince, opens September 13, 2019. Mainstage Season Ticket Packages are available now and the lineup is outstanding! We will also present Bad Seed, Elf the Musical, Come Back, Big Fish, Silent Sky, and The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes this season, in addition to many Random Acts of Entertainment! We look forward to seeing you at the Theatre.
Beauty and the Beast was released in 1991, part of a resurgence of Disney animated musicals in the late 1980s through the early 2000s. From the very beginning, the film adopted a theatrical tone, with a grand opening number featuring the full cast. For its voice talent, veteran Broadway performers lent their voices to bring these now classic characters to life: Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts, Jerry Orbach as Lumiere, David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth, Robby Benson as the Beast, Richard White as Gaston, and Paige O’Hara as Belle. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken filled the score with tunes that have now become unforgettable classic songs like, “Belle”, “Be Our Guest”, and the title song, “Beauty and the Beast”. The film went on to become the first animated film nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Picture category.
The animated film was adapted into a stage musical that made its Broadway debut in 1994. It ran for 13 years and closed in 2007. Throughout its run, many famous singers played its iconic roles including Toni Braxton, Debbie Gibson, Donny Osmond, and Nick Jonas. In 2017, Beauty and the Beast was turned into a live-action film, starring Emma Watson as Belle, allowing a new generation to experience the magical story.
Coincidentally, my own introduction to Waukesha Civic Theatre started with Beauty and the Beast in 2008. Braving a snowy evening in an unfamiliar city, I drove to WCT to audition for my dream role: LeFou (Gaston’s sidekick). Being new to the city and new to community theatre, I felt very much like Belle upon entering the castle. I was nervous, unsure of expectations, and a little bit scared. While I ended up not being in that production, I was welcomed with open arms by the wonderful people here at WCT, just as Mrs. Potts, Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Chip welcomed Belle. In no time at all, I found myself at home.
Beauty and the Beast has cast a magic spell on generations that is as enchanting as the talking objects found within the Beast’s castle. It is only fitting that the film returns to its theatrical roots as part of the PIX Flix Kids series. Get your tickets today for this iconic film!
Beauty and the Beast truly is a tale as old as time.
Welcome to Alice In Wonderland JR. at the Waukesha Civic Theatre presented by our A.C.T. program. Join Alice as she chases the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole and journeys through a topsy-turvy world that gets “curiouser and curiouser.” Meet the Mad Hatter, Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, the Cheshire Cat, March Hare, Caterpillar, the flowers, Doorknob, Queen & King of Hearts and more unforgettable characters as they take to the stage.
This fun-filled tale is being performed by students aged 6-17 and they are having a great time. These students come to Waukesha Civic to experience participating in a Mainstage show. They get the experience of going through an audition process in a safe and encouraging environment. This program gives each student the opportunity to participate, as they are all guaranteed a role in the production. They are taught how to support their fellow actor friends and how to handle disappointment and to realize that all roles are important to make a show complete. Once casting is finished, the students go through a full rehearsal process and gain a better understanding and appreciation of everything that goes into a Mainstage production. This program wants every student to grow and gain confidence in their stage skills.
I have an older child that started in the summer A.C.T. Production shows about 5 or 6 years ago now. Her experience was amazing as she took to the stage and I watched her confidence grow. The support she received and the skills she learned are helping her in her current performances as well as helped shape her into the person she is today. So, it was no question to me when my next 2 daughters wanted to try acting as to where to send them. They are both in this Alice In Wonderland JR. production and once again the encouragement, skills training, and support from the directors and other kids is building their confidence and they LOVE coming to rehearsal 5 days a week in the middle of summer.
When I asked my 9-year-old daughter about her experience in the show, she said: “It is amazing! Just being here and being able to be a part of the show is amazing. You get to be someone else. You get to see a whole different side of yourself. And you get to try new things. Everyone in the show is so supportive which makes it fun and more comfortable.”
I realized, from observing my own children, that each of these kids may have overcome an obstacle to be on this stage today. They may have stage fright, extreme shyness, anxiety, or they might just be a natural performer who is working on enhancing their skills. This stage experience, along with the entire A.C.T. program at Waukesha Civic Theatre, is helping to shape their futures. Check out our theatre website for additional A.C.T. program opportunities.
Thank you for supporting the A.C.T. program. Sit back and enjoy the show!
Francis Annan Affotey was born and raised in Accra, Ghana. After graduating from Ghanatta College of Art and Design winning Best Student of Still Life, Best Imagination and Composition, and Best Abstract Drawing awards, Annan joined the Revolution Art Organization and displayed his work in several group and solo exhibitions in Accra. In 2013, Annan helped found the African Young Artist Organization (AYAO), an organization dedicated to supporting African youth in the arts through programs and exhibitions. Since coming to the United States, Annan has displayed his work around Wisconsin, New York, and Miami, was a Pfister Artist-in-Residence finalist, and has worked in Milwaukee Public Schools with Arts@Large.
As a child in Accra, “poses” were part of daily life. I was surrounded by women peeling oranges, carrying head pans, and braiding hair. Children played in the dirt, invented games, took care of siblings, and cooked with their mothers. I did not realize at the time how much these images or poses had a lasting impression in my mind; little did I know how important they were in revealing the “secret” joys of which millions of Africans are familiar yet to which much of the world remains blind.
I use poses to expose the paradox of everyday African life. By depicting a pose as semiabstract, my paintings highlight both the mundane and the joy in everyday African life. Images that seem pitiful or sad to the outside world have much deeper implications. A woman feeding her family suggests pride, not inferiority. A child playing in a slum suggests friendship and imagination, not hopelessness. My artwork is meant to challenge those who only see Africa through the lenses of conflict, poverty, and corruption.
Since coming to Milwaukee, my work has explored stories with more universal themes, as I connect my past with my present. Milwaukee introduced me to many new cultures with surprising differences and even more surprising similarities to those back home. The similarities and differences have led me to use new media, new techniques, and new concepts.
Francis Annan Affotey
125 E. Wells St #403
Milwaukee, WI 53202