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.
For this show I’m presenting some of my favorite Wisconsin based art. Being a Wisconsin native myself, I wanted to showcase some of the sights and scenery that makes it such a beautiful place to live. I hope that you see the beauty through my art.
Hatton Custom Design
The last we saw of Atticus Finch, when the Oscar winning performance of Gregory Peck’s film followed the release of the novel, he was sitting in the corner of injured son Jem’s bedroom, the warm arms of his cardigan sweater wrapping and re-wrapping around the clinging figure of his daughter Scout, the three of them recovering from a painful experience of racism, hatred, and violence, and the often lonely cost of standing against it.
I have a feeling that many of us, both on the stage and in the audience, whether fans of the book or film or both, join Scout and her older self Jean Louise in waiting to see Atticus again.
The play strikes a chord for me as I had a very Atticus-like father, a dead ringer in both looks and mannerisms and as I grew into an adult and journalist, I had the opportunity to see lawyers and judges in action at the county courthouse in Virginia. And just as I still get that experience today covering trials today in rural Wisconsin, I also have witnessed the conflicts of race and prejudice all too recently near us in Milwaukee and through the nation.
Like Scout at the start of the play we wait for Atticus to return from the courthouse. Like Jean Louise at the end we look back through the window, and through the decades, wishing we could go back to him, to speak to him and finish the lessons. Lessons of putting ourselves in others shoes, and realizing that even as we rail against what isn’t right, we are not alone as others quietly do the uncomfortable business of protecting Mockingbirds be they a Tom Robinson or a Boo Radley.
I suspect those of us who were graced with a great father miss him; and those of us who didn’t miss and yearn for such an experience.
Fortunately Christopher Sergel’s play gives us that opportunity in an up-close and live setting not to be missed. It’s been said that in some ways To Kill A Mockingbird is a love letter from novelist Harper Lee to her father. Of the several Sergel versions of the play that exist, the one being performed at Waukesha Civic Theatre comes closest to depicting that moment, and lifetime of reaching out to Atticus.
It’s a safe bet you’ll feel him reaching back and holding you safe.
Written by Jim McClure, who plays Judge Taylor in To Kill A Mockingbird at the Waukesha Civic Theatre
Floyd the Flamingo, local celebrity and COO (Chief Office Ornithologist) of WCT recently sat down with WCT’s Education & Outreach Administrator, Doug Jarecki.
Floyd: Hello everyone. I’m here with Doug Jarecki, the Education and Outreach Administrator at the Waukesha Civic Theatre. How are you today, Doug?
Doug: Are you kidding me?!? You’re a talking flamingo! This is amazing. I have so many questions for you.
Floyd: And I have questions for you, so let’s just alternate. First you ask a question, then I ask a question.
Doug: Can we do that?
Floyd: Yes, and since that was your first question, I guess it’s my turn. What is a typical day for the WCT Education and Outreach Administrator?
Doug: Well, the days really aren’t that typical, and I love that. My job covers a lot of different ground. One day I might be teaching an acting class with the ACAP PlayMakers, then conducting a meeting with the Civic Senior Players, then teaching some afterschool classes for our Academy at Civic Theatre. The next day I might be speaking to students at a local school’s fine arts day, writing scripts for a class, then driving up to Hartford to conduct one of our outreach programs. Every day is full of new challenges.
Floyd: In other words, you find everything challenging.
Doug: Yes….wait, what do you mean by that?
Floyd: Nothing. But since you just asked another question, I guess it’s my turn again.
Doug: Oh come on, that’s totally unfair! I deserve another chance.
Floyd: Alright, I’ll give you another chance.
Floyd: And you just wasted your question again.
Doug: Ugghhh, come on! One more chance!
Floyd: Ok Doug, one more chance. But make it a good question.
Doug: Oh it is. It’s a great question. I’ve waited my whole life to ask it. Are you ready? Oops….wait, I didn’t mean to….NOOOOOOO!!!!!
Floyd: Thank you, Doug, that really was a great question. My turn: What do you do when you’re not at WCT?
Doug: Just recently I wrote a children’s show that’s running at a local theatre. And I still do a lot of acting around Milwaukee, both on stage and in commercials. In fact, I am currently in a series of Fleet Farm commercials. Maybe you’ve seen them.
Floyd: You play the dumb guy in those commercials, right?
Doug: Yes, I do. So you’ve seen them?
Floyd: No, you just give off a vibe. To wrap things up, I would like you to tell us one last thing about yourself in ten words or less.
Doug: Ten words?!?! Seriously? That is going to be really, really…
Floyd: And that will do it for us here. I want to thank all of you for taking the time to learn more about Doug Jarecki, WCT’s Education and Outreach Administrator. See you at the theatre!
If you don’t know her, Katie Danner is the ultra-talented Box Office Supervisor and Marketing Director at Waukesha Civic Theater (WCT). She’s the mother to Byron; wife to Jonathan.
Most importantly (at least as far as this story goes), Katie was the author of an e-mail which went out in May of 2012, asking any local musicians if they wanted to help publicize WCT’s upcoming season by playing at the Waukesha Farmer’s Market.
That tiny bit of encouragement was all I needed. I am primarily a “pit” musician, playing for musical theater productions throughout Milwaukee. I’ve been meaning for a while to get back into a band, but my pit work keeps me pretty darn busy (and happy), so the “band” thing was pretty much always on hold.
Until Katie’s e-mail.
When I got the e-mail, I had just finished playing in a production of Aida. My friends Jay Kummer, Maddie Dietrich, and Brian Carter were in the Aida pit as well, and I had said some random thing about how much fun it would be to get together and jam. Which wouldn’t have happened, except that Katie’s e-mail gave us a reason to do it.
So I told Katie sure, I could pull something together.
“In a couple of weeks?” Katie asked sweetly.
Um… sure, okay, why not? So, with barely time for a rehearsal, and with about one hour of music, Jay, Maddie and I made our debut.
Katie liked us well enough, or was desperate enough, that she asked us to come back again, and we did, this time with Brian joining us on percussion.
We quickly settled on a few things – music pretty much from the jazz standards, but with some songs from western swing, gypsy jazz, and blues. Instruments would be guitar and uke (Jay); mandolin, bass, or fiddle (Maddie); mandolin, guitar, or bass (me); a whole bunch of percussion toys (Brian). Vocals would be – very few!
The name came around pretty quickly, too. There are several things about “Hot Damn” that I liked. First, even though it’s not exactly a common saying anymore, I used it a lot. Second, the “Hot” makes a bit of a link with the “Hot Club of France”, Django Reinhardt, and the whole gypsy jazz world. Third, “Hot Damn” was a popular American saying in the 20’s and 30’s, which is when much of the music we play was written. It just seemed like the obvious fit!
The band has gone through a few personnel changes, as Maddie finished her Master’s degree and planned for a move out of town. Early this summer we added Linda and Jeff Binder, who are cohorts of mine from the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra, and just recently we added Tim Dondlinger on bass.
I like to think of us as playing melodic and recognizable jazz standards. We have an easy-going style, with a lot of variety in the instrumentation and sound, and we have a lot of fun playing gorgeous songs. We even throw in a few vocals now.
We’ve played several venues, but we keep coming back to WCT in one form or another – at the Farmer’s Market several Saturdays during the summer, or at Friday Night Live three times this past summer. In all cases, we’re playing in front of either WCT’s front door or back door – and usually Katie is there to say hi and give us a big hug.
So, come on out to hear the band sometime, or check out our website . If you like our music, please tell your friends and help spread the word about us.
If you don’t, just blame Katie.