Art has been part of the human experience for millennia; witness the cave painting of Altamira, Spain and Lascaux, France, which date to 15,000 – 10,000 BCE. That human beings need to express themselves in some form or fashion for whatever reason is well-established; that there is a universally agreed upon definition of art and artists is not. Our series will introduce you to six artists who have chosen to convey something about themselves, their life experiences, their craft and their talents through the prism we call “art.” We thank them for sharing their art and their time with us.

What do the Miami Dolphins, the Wine News and a fine art photographer have in common? The answer is Tom Smith. This issue’s Artist in Residence, living in the High Pines just east of town, is one of those remarkable, multi-talented people who is successful in his versatility.

Let’s begin by dispelling the myth that athleticism and aestheticism are mutually exclusive. Tom, who attended the University of Miami on a football scholarship, was drafted by the Dolphins as a running back. Proud owner of a Super Bowl ring, he played on the team when they won their second championship in 1973, Super Bowl VIII. This was the era of players like Bob Griese, Mercury Morris and Paul Warfield.

This is one of his Aqua Series, taken from the stern of an idling boat, this unmanipulated image depicts turtle grass beneath crystalline waters thrown into the abstract by wind and surface vibration.

“Well, if you know anything about a guy named Larry Csonka, you’ll know why I didn’t get to run the ball too often,” says Tom with a laugh.

Drawing and painting since childhood, Tom took an interest in photography while studying Fine Arts in college.

“Photography was another form of art for me,” observes Tom.

He applied his skills as a photographer and his keen love of wine to the magazine he and his wife Elizabeth Kuehner-Smith (publicist) co-founded and produced together for more than 25 years. Publishing Wine News necessitated traveling to wine country all over the world for the purposes of researching and photographing subjects for the chic niche publication. They placed the magazine into hiatus two years ago, but their love and appreciation of fine wine endures.

Smith’s original reflective red boat hull, shot at the Matheson Hammock Marina several years ago, was so well received by designers that boat hulls of every hue now comprise one of his signature series.

Tom Smith’s fine art photography draws upon the patterns and quality of light unique to South Florida. The animal and plant life of the Everglades, the serenity of Matheson Hammock, the abstract reflection of a boat’s hull in the water, and detailed shots of palm fronds are some of the subjects he captures. And he skillfully depicts the designs that emerge from the play of light on architecture.

For many years the artist exhibited his work in South Miami’s Sunset Gallery & Framing; he continues to exhibit at the new gallery (Art Dealer Miami) in the same location on Sunset Drive, and he participates in art shows in Coconut Grove.  Currently he has an exhibit at the South Miami/Coral Gables Elks Club that will hang through winter 2013. Among those decorators who make Tom’s photographs available to their clients are Joan Thompson of Summerhouse Interiors and Betsy Fantis of Living Alfresco.

Tom discussing his work with an admirer during an SOMIartwalk© event hosted at the Tropical Audubon House.

Tom’s photography conveys an understanding of the natural and often subtle beauties of our region that can only be realized by one who has lived here and observed the aesthetic delights we sometimes take for granted. Tom says that Miami has a lot to offer visually. He is so right. His work proves this over and over again.


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  1. Betsy Comendeiro on

    Good press, great art. I enjoyed the article and look forward to seeing you and Betsy at the next Art Walk.

  2. Melissa Garcia on

    Hello I recently framed some photos that I purchased from Mr. Smith at an arts festival and wanted to share them with him. Do you have an email contact for him? Thank you.

  3. Tom I love your art work. Would love to see a catalog and want to buy something. I was really surprised to see that you are doing this. Hope all is well. Always, Rose

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