Paintings, Drawings, Poems, and Stories
Selected and Edited by Eric Pervukhin and Carla Stine
art can help you to lead a halfway decent life,” Robert
E. Smith (1927-2010) was heard to say; but Springfield, Missouri’s
most famous, eccentric, and beloved painter pushed his work
into the realm of outsider art. Self-taught, Smith began painting
while a young man: forcibly institutionalized following a
nervous breakdown, he retreated into his art. Unsurprisingly,
his art brut is unbounded by logic, time, and space, brilliantly
colored, at once childlike and troubling.
But Smith’s art reveals more than an imagination unfettered.
The work of an inveterate story-teller, his paintings present
witty, savvy, complex visual narratives. Cartoon animals mingle
with sidewalk preachers, movie stars, and U.S. Presidents;
in busy street scenes, bicycles and trolley cars bustle below
while blimps and airplanes and UFOs—and an occasional
nuclear bomb—fly overhead. Smith’s painting revels
in satire, revealing an eye for incongruity and an inherent
love of life. Even a cursory view of his work reflects a man
who led a rich, wondrous life and whose fanciful yearnings
inspired the community that cherished him.
Born in St. Louis, Smith moved to Springfield in 1975. Drawn
mainly from local, privately-owned collections, the present
anthology features thirty full-color illustrations along with
cartoons, poems, and stories by the artist.
is Professor of Art and Design at Missouri State University.
His paintings, drawings, and book illustrations have earned
Stine is a designer, collage artist, and illustrator.
She is an admirer of Robert’s work and life and honored
to have been his friend.
7 x 7, 80 pages, 50 illustrations
(30 in color)
Distributed for Moon City Press.