The walls of South Miami’s distinguished Wirtz Gallery, which is inside the First National Bank of South Miami, will come alive in March with the award winning images of South Florida photographer Tom Smith, the founder of Wine News and a former University of Miami and Miami Dolphins running back. The winner of Grove House Gallery’s 2010 “Miami Moments” exhibition developed his affinity for fine art photography while studying art and design at UM. “I picked up a camera in 1970, and basically never put it down,” Smith says.
He has since been capturing the textural, the unusual and the compelling through the camera lens. His broad body of work is defined both by the striking interplay of light and shadow cast at dawn or dusk, and by his unorthodox yet unmanipulated interpretation of the natural and material worlds.
The art-quality niche magazine Smith launched in 1984 paired his graphic arts background with his wine collecting passion. Wine News has been in hiatus since 2010, yet the numerous cover photos and feature spreads bearing his credit significantly enhanced the magazine’s international reputation for stellar photojournalism; and his studio work continues to be commissioned by wine industry clients.
The solo exhibit at Wirtz will include a cross-section of Smith’s expansive portfolio with an emphasis on the settings and subjects for which he is best known: protected places such as Matheson Hammock Park & Marina, Biscayne National Underwater Park and Everglades National Park.
Located within the elegant First National Bank of South Miami (FNBSM) lobby, Wirtz is a public art gallery featuring monthlong exhibits by local, national and international artists. It opened in 1983 in memoriam to Arthur M. Wirtz, a past FNBSM Chairman of the Board and a patron of the Arts. The gallery’s mission is to provide a professional setting for all levels of artists to exhibit and sell their works with no fee to the gallery or bank. The general public and bank clients are invited to meet the artists during opening night receptions (the second Friday of each month). The month-long installations can also be enjoyed during bank hours (Monday- Thursday, 9-4; Fridays 9-6).
“My wife’s family has banked here since the 1950s,” Smith notes, “and we really admire the bank’s sense of community and the way they still do business face-to-face. Their longtime commitment to elevating the Arts in South Miami is an exception to the way many banks operate these days.”
Miami is home base for the Iowa native, whose vocation often takes him beyond Biscayne Bay and the Everglades for forays along the Eastern seaboard and westward sojourns to Colorado and California. France, Italy and Spain, and more dramatic settings such as the Baltic Sea, also populate his portfolio.
Additionally, Smith occasionally contributes photographs to the Wines from Spain – Far from Ordinary Wine Guide. A selection of his unconventional South Florida bayscapes hang permanently at the Living Alfresco Showroom in the Bird Road Arts district; Coral Gables/South Miami Elks Club hosts a rotating exhibit of flora and fauna; and select edgier works are on offer at Art Dealer Miami’s South Miami and Miami Beach gallery locations.
Smith, himself a devotee of the photographic works of Edward Curtis, Ansel Adams and Clyde Butcher, feels fortunate to count art collectors and decorators among his patrons. He is represented in Florida by Art Dealer Miami.
The exhibition of Smith’s images at the Wirtz Gallery will anchor the final edition of the South Miami Art Walk 2012/2013 season on March 8th from 6 until 9 p.m. Smith will extend a warm welcome – and a glass of wine – to visitors attending Wirtz Gallery opening night. (Art Walk is staged in various venues and shops along Sunset Drive and side streets, and is free and open to the public.)
Wirtz Gallery is located in the lobby of the First National Bank of South Miami,