Cover artist Randy Smith is here, there and everywhere, at least logistically speaking. He has lived in many different areas of the United States, had various professions and often can be seen here riding his bike, his small paintings, umbrella and easel strapped in the back. (On a recent day he was on his way to the Hampton Classic, just returning from a plein air session at the beach.) Which is amazing because his art seemed intact. As a matter of fact, Smith’s success also remains intact wherever he goes. Smith’s cover of the Bay Street Theatre is very close to his heart as he captures local scenes that have special meaning for him.
Q: Last time you were on the cover, about a year ago, you were painting bateaux (boats), calling attention to the James River near Charlottesville, Virginia. Are you still doing that?
A: Yes. I’ve painted bateaux for 25 years. And I’m still living in the James River Valley in a log cabin, an old slave quarters.
Q: How did you end up here in the Hamptons?
A: I’ve been coming here for three years. I have a friend here; her family has been living in the area for 135 years.
Q: Where else have you painted or created art, besides Virginia? And where have you traveled in the process? Also, I bet you did other things while going from place to place.
A: I grew up in New Jersey and went to the University of New Mexico. They wouldn’t let me major in painting so I switched to sculpture. I bought some acres in New Mexico but I didn’t stay, although my favorite place is the Jemez Mountains there. I worked for Kinko in New Mexico and became a crane operator, and I also built photo shops for the company. I went to Missouri and Lawrence, Kansas, too.
Q: Wow. I am reeling from all that you did and where you lived. After Kinko, where did you go?
A: After that, I went to California and lived in Petaluma, the chicken capitol. I worked with Mark Desalvo, who taught me not to do huge sculptures. And I also ran cranes for him.
Q: Cranes take skill to manage. It’s like working with big sculptures like he does. Your sculptural talent came in handy. Also with cranes, you work in space, like sculpture. But your paintings that I saw are really small compared to huge sculptures. That’s interesting. Changing the subject, then you moved to Virginia, where you are now.
A: Right. I raised five kids there.
Q. Are any of your children in the art field?
A: My oldest son is 30 and works in steel. I have two sons and one daughter who work in steel.
Q: Another observation from all your experiences: you have worked in all kinds of weather.
A: I remember painting in Montauk during the winter where it was snowing, rainy and hot all in one day.
Q: You like the winter?
A: Yes, I remember in Manhattan, in Bryant Park at Christmas. I loved the people. People are landscapes.
“Honoring the Artist: Cover Artist Randy Smith” brought to you by Bay Street Theater. For a full list of events at Bay Street Theater during HarborFest or any time, go to www.baystreet.org.