The Stokes County Arts Council announced the opening of an exhibit of original art by Wendee Smith and Maasai Tabari in the Apple Gallery. An in-person meet and greet will be held on Friday, February 25 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. in the Apple Gallery of the Stokes County Arts Council, 500 Main Street, Danbury, N.C.
Smith was raised in Winston Salem, N.C., and lived in New York briefly as a child. She is the youngest of seven children. She is a teacher with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School system and has been teaching for 14 years total and teaching Art for 8 years. Teaching is a third career for her, but something she has always wanted to do.
Smith received a master’s degree from Salem College, Bachelor of Fine Arts from Winston-Salem State University, and studied contour and figure drawing at the Art Students League of New York. She previously exhibited her work in the Winston-Salem State University exhibit 5 in 1983, Black History Month Celebration at Carver Recreation Center in 2010, at the National Black Theatre Festival in 2011, Delta Fine Arts (WSFCS-Teachers) Exhibit in 2015, and Bennett College (One Woman Show) in 2017.
Smith’s work in this exhibit includes portraits, paintings, drawings, and abstract work, created mostly with acrylic paint and oil pastels. Smith explained that the portraits are often of herself or her family. Her work also includes African masks and stick figures, expressing imagery in the subject matter as well as the colors. Her favorite subject is people because “drawing people rather realistic or stylized, tells a silent story of love, time, culture, and custom.”
Smith attributes the beginning of her love for art to her third-grade teacher, Ms. Andrews, who asked Smith to draw for her class and instilled in her that she is talented artistically. That changed Smith’s perception of her art skill forever. Smith said her teacher basically unleashed the idea that she could be good at something she loved. “She is the reason I draw and the reason I always wanted to teach.”
Other than teaching and creating art, Smith spends her time traveling, reading, cooking, crocheting, knitting, and spending time with family. Above all, Smith said, “The most honorable thing I have ever done, in my opinion, was bringing my two daughters, Imani and Macee, into the world. They are a constant source of pride for me. In 2017 I married David Smith, a guy I have known since high school. He is the love of my life, which also explains why some of my pieces are signed Haywood, and others are signed Smith.”
Tabari was born and raised in New York City in the lower Manhattan area, where she attended a magnet math and science high school. Most of her family is from Winston Salem, N.C., where she now lives part time to support her mother. She has mostly lived in Los Angeles since 2000. From 2016-2018, Tabari lived in Central America; she travels from the east coast to the west coast, and abroad frequently. She’s also a mother of a 15-year-old boy.
Tabari began her art studies at the Arts Students League, NYC, NY in 1975 in the Fine Arts Summer Program and was the youngest student to attend in the 70’s at age 10. She attended the School of Visual Arts, NYC, NY from 1983-1986 and majored in Painting Sculpture and minored in Media Arts. Tabari also attended Long Beach Community College, Long Beach, CA from 2004-2005 to completed Media Arts/Film Production Certificate Program. From 2008-2009, Tabari attended Santa Monica College in Los Angeles, CA for study Web Design.
Tabari became interested in painting and use of color when studying the Pointillists and Expressionists. She was also influenced by simple lines and the bold colors expressed in Afro-Caribbean and African art, as well as, what’s seen in the work of European artists like Klee, Kandinsky, Manet, Monet, and Van Gogh. Tabari typically uses a mix of aquarelle watercolor crayons, oil crayons with vibrant colors, opaque gauche, and acrylic paints. She’s also creating with digital platforms and uses mixed media, such as, painting on top of printed paper, mixing paper collaging with a traditional painting style.
Tabari’s work has exhibited in several group and solo shows including 1992 Solo Show Private Fundraiser Exhibit in NYC, the 1994 Solo Show Private Exhibit in NYC, a 1996 Solo Exhibit Cafe’ Espresso Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, a 2011 Group Show Beacon Building Arts Studio Exhibit in Los Angeles, CA, and a 2013 Group Show “Art & Pancakes” in Los Angeles, CA.
Tabari’s goal as an artist, starting in art school, was to use color and line to create a mood, to explore and discover how colors are influenced when placed next to each other or when they’re blended on the canvas. This artist style as well as imagery, reflects a mood, tells a story and effectively uses color in the way that suits a vision. Currently, Tabari has chosen to create flowers because it offers a new vision of how she can explore color and line.
Tabari loves being active such as indoor/outdoor rock climbing, hiking, inline skating, and biking. She enjoys exercising, reading, writing poetry, dancing, singing, using social media, exploring tech innovations, and traveling abroad.
The exhibit will be on display through March 31 in the Apple Gallery. The Stokes County Arts Council is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday noon – 5 p.m. For additional information, contact the Stokes County Arts Council at (336) 593-8159 or visit www.stokesarts.org.