Walter Washington Smith's paintings have hung in renowned galleries in both the United States and France. Most of his work was done from the 1920s to the 1940s, by which time he was living near Philadelphia.
Born in Clearfield, PA in 1887, Smith lived in his father's hometown of Greencastle during his elementary school years. Walter's father moved the family to Pittsburgh during "boom times." When his father died, Walter's mother moved the family back to Greencastle where Walter operated a studio on West Baltimore Street in the Stover building located in Greencastle. Walter assisted in raising two of her 14 children. Smith graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Art with a degree in commercial art.
Smith's talents were displayed on the walls of Greencastle's A.M.E. Church, where he painted religious scenes. He also adorned the raincoats of his nieces and nephews with the popular comic characters of the day.
Walter Washington Smith is listed in the book, "Who's Who in American Art," a biographical directory of noteworthy artists from around the United States.
"About 1914 or 1915 he came to Philadelphia. He designed rings & pins for Geo Frye & Co."
"In the summer he went to Wildwood, NJ and opened a shop on the boardwalk. He hand painted scarfs, ties, hankerchiefs & leather covers.
He returned to Greencastle again to assist his mother. After a while, he came back to Philadelphia. In 1929 he worked at the Standard Theatre making & painting scenery & posters.
In 1913 he married Victoria Baptiste. For several years he owned & operated a sign shop at 1800 Ludboro (?) St., center city making signs, posters and pictures.
His last work was at Food Fair, a local chain food store corporation. He supervised the display sign shop. After several years work there, he passed away July 30, 1950."
Looking North toward West Franklin Street, Greencastle,PA
The following quotes of Smith about his painting, "Snowing," as quoted in a Philadelphia newspaper article expresses Smith's perfectionism and patience in achieving it. "In explaining why it took so long [seven years] to complete this painting the artist, Mr. Smith, stated, There are more than one hundred different kinds of snowstorms, and having begun with a certain type it was necessary to wait each winter for a similar storm. Two winters we had no snow of that kind. But on April 7, 1928, in Greencastle, PA, the locale of the painting, it began to snow - a small blizzard - and I finished it that day."
This and several other paintings are hanging in the museum house. All paintings have been restored.
This painting was obviously unfinished because of the pencil lines on the left side of the painting that are extending the tree trunks of the two largest trees in the foreground. It was also unsigned and unframed.
At first glance, the snow appears to be white but on closer examination the viewer can see that Smith used lots of pink tones throughout the snowy areas including the individual snowflakes. Smith used little of the complimentary color yellow in this painting as compared to the use of yellow in "Love’s Walk". Notice the clear Caribbean blue at the bottom of the picture under the red car and how the blues gradually change into more muted teals at the top of the picture.
Smith has also set up an amusing dilemma for the viewer to contemplate. There are two strings of cars traveling in opposite directions in only one open lane of traffic in a driving snowstorm. They converge behind the hill at the red barn. What will they do then? And why are there so many cars out at night in a snowstorm? Questions that are very thought provoking at this particular season of the year. One answer is: All the cars were not traveling together at the same time. The first two cars, which we can’t see, met head on and couldn’t go anywhere. Who was going to back up? As time passed, other cars were out and ended up "stuck" behind the first two.
Levester "Lee" Taylor, nephew of Walter Smith, shared that his uncle related the following story, about Red Car in Snow. On this particular day, there was a funeral for a family member. The funeral was not postponed and this painting depicts what occurred during the funeral procession, in the Fairfield, PA area.
"Walter W Smith, Jr., has sent two of his works to the Exposition of Independent Artists of New York, entitled) "Love's Walk" and "Creek Bridge"; these two canvasses posses remarkable and indeed unique qualities; their construction is solid, their design vigorous; beautifully harmonized coloring, delightful proportion, a fine exception of light and atmosphere distinguish them; the workmanship is excellent and entirely original. These are pictures-of excellent conception, of execution at the same time delicate and robust, and pictures which betray a noble artistic fervor.
It is of especial interest to note that one of these pictures, "The Creek Bridge is a painting of the stone bridge over the Conococheague Creek one mile west of town along the Mercersburg state road. Smith has painted a large number of pictures of local scenes which will be exhibited if arrangements can be satisfactorily made, for the benefit of the townspeople and visitors during ' Old Home Week
Another snow scene, showing a path on the north side of the old First Dam was his favorite.
Copyright © 2020 Allison-Antrim Museum Inc - All Rights Reserved.
365 South Ridge Avenue, Greencastle, PA