Emerging Artists | S. Carlyle Smith, Jackie Chiu & David W. Mayer


By Bonnie Gangelhoff & Alice Herrin

S. Carlyle Smith

Montana artist S. Carlyle Smith started painting 20 years ago after a series of unexplained scenes popped into his mind. “The scenes would seemingly have nothing to do with where I was or what was going on in my life,” he recalls. “I found I wanted to record these surreal visions.” So began Smith’s fascination with depicting the era that dominated his visions—the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s.

Today, in his colorful but moody images of a bygone time, fashionably dressed women pose on decks of cruise ships and well-heeled families ride in stylish Model-T’s. Smith uses old photo albums as source material, including ones from his own family as well as others he buys at estate sales, antique stores, and online. “The styles of the time, the clothes and the cars, capture my attention,” he says. There is a certain melancholy to the idea of purchasing a stranger’s photo album, Smith notes. “The last person that cared about the family’s heritage is gone,” he says.

The nostalgic mood is in sharp contrast with the bright color palette he employs to interpret the black-and-white images. “I push the color in the scene to become a plausible but extreme view of it,” he explains. “I want to go beyond the ‘colorization’ process. That’s why I like to pick modern color combinations that you wouldn’t think would come from that period.”

Smith is represented by Coda Gallery, Palm Desert, CA, Park City, UT, and New York, NY; Handsel Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; and Dana Gallery, Missoula, MT.


Jackie Chiu

Southern California painter Jackie Chiu is equally at home creating still-life, landscape, and figurative works, she says. But it is the human form that rests closest to her artistic heart. “I like to portray people in action, but I can’t say why for sure,” Chiu says.

She came to painting later in life than most. For many years Chiu worked as a medical technologist and painted on the side, studying pastels, watercolors, and oils on her own. But in 1997 she quit her day job to pursue a fine-arts career and to study with Jove Wang and Shu Giao Zhou, two painters she admires. The truth is, she says, she had wanted to be a painter since she was a small girl growing up in Taiwan. But her parents convinced her that the vocation wasn’t practical. “In Taiwan there were no jobs for artists,” Chiu says. When she settled in California in the 1970s, she was afraid to take art lessons because she believed she couldn’t measure up to other artists.

Today her works are garnering attention among her peers and collectors alike. “I’m trying to convey to the viewer what I see and feel and react to in a scene,” she says. For inspiration she turns to Joaquin Sorolla, Rembrandt, and the Russian Impressionists who influenced her teachers, Wang and Zhou. As for her future goals, Chiu says, “I just want to be a good painter. That’s all I wanted to do all my life. I wasted a good many years thinking I couldn’t measure up.”

She is represented by MJW Fine Art, Balboa Island, CA, and Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA.


David W. Mayer

The mountains, streams, and lakes of the Colorado high country are favorite subjects for David W. Mayer. The artist, who works in a loose, impressionistic style, especially likes the challenge of depicting water on canvas. “Water has a million looks, feels, shapes, and colors to it,” he said. “Artists should paint what they see and not what they think they see, and painting water is the consummate example of that idea.”

Born and raised in Wisconsin and now living in Colorado, Mayer worked for many years as a graphic designer while painting watercolors on the side. In 1997 he switched to oils and has been painting full time for several years. A member of the Oil Painters of America and the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters, he won the Collector’s Choice award at the RMPAP’s Painting the Parks show in Rocky Mountain National Park in August. In April his work will be on display at the Colorado Governor’s Invitational Show at the Loveland Museum/Gallery in Loveland.

He is represented by Abend Gallery, Denver, CO; Arts at Georgetown, Georgetown, CO; Gentry Gallery, Lakewood, CO; and Loch Vale Gallery, Estes Park, CO.

Featured in March 2003