This biography from the archives of


An impressionist painter of western landscapes, Jack Wilkinson Smith was born in Paterson, New Jersey. He had early exposure to artistic expression because his father was an artist who did decorative work on the Capitol Building in Albany, New York.

He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and apprenticed to George Gardner Symons, who later became a well-known landscape painter in California. He worked for a period in Lexington, Kentucky as a commercial artist and then became a staff artist for the "Cincinnati Enquirer." In Cincinnati, he studied at the Art Academy under Frank Duveneck. During the Spanish American War, 1898, he did front line sketches that brought him national attention.

In 1906, he settled in Alhambra, California, and his studio home was in the area called "Artists Alley," where his neighbors included artists Frank Tenney Johnson, Eli Harvey, and in the summers, Norman Rockwell. Smith was a primary organizer of the Biltmore Salon, where works by local artists were exhibited and sold.

For his work, he switched from watercolor to oil painting and traveled the state doing impressionist landscapes. He is renowned for his colorful High Sierra mountain views, missions, and marine paintings, and is considered one of California's most important painters. He also painted and exhibited in Arizona, winning second prize at the Phoenix Expo in 1920 and first prize in 1922. His work is in the Phoenix Municipal Collection.

He had many prestigious affiliations including the Salmagundi Club of New York, Academy of Western Painters, and the California Art Club.