Vincent D. Smith Was Painter and Printmaker

Vincent D. Smith, renowned New York painter and printmaker who died in December 2003, was a seasonal Vineyard resident for 23 years with his wife, Cynthia.

Born in New York to parents who immigrated from Barbados, Mr. Smith studied at the Brooklyn Museum Art School (1954-56), the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine (1955), and earned his college degree in 1980 at age 50, when his career was well under way, from Empire State College at the State University of New York, Saratoga (1980). For nine years, he also taught at the Whitney Museum of American Art's Resource Program, a special program for teens who were seriously interested in art, on the Lower East Side in New York City.

He exhibited nationally and internationally, and his work is in many private and public collections including that of President Bill Clinton; the Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; Studio Museum of Harlem; Brooklyn Museum; Newark Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; The Baltimore Museum of Art; the Smite Museum of Art, Notre Dame, Ind.; The Detroit Museum of Art, and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, among others.

Among Smith's highly-publicized projects were a series of mural paintings in a Harlem public art project entitled Jonkonnu Festival Wid the Frizzly Rooster Band (1991), a portrait for the Harvard Law School of his friend, the late financial wizard and investment attorney Reginald Lewis, and a mural commissioned for Harlem's 116th street subway station depicting a syncopated celebration of uptown jazz.

His first studio as a youth was in the basement of a neighbor's home in Brooklyn. Later his work was created in a cavernous studio outpost in a Brooklyn warehouse-turned-artist colony. He shared his residence on Manhattan's Lower East Side with wife, Cynthia, living simply amidst a haven of books, prints and artifacts from their extensive travels in Africa, the Carribbean and the southern United States.

A reluctant visitor to Martha's Vineyard in the early 1980s, Mr. Smith was captivated after the first summer visit and insisted on an annual vacation here for 23 consecutive summers. For many years, he and his wife rented the same cottage on Ocean avenue, enjoying the fellowship of family and friends. Ironically, he always packed his brushes and paints for the Vineyard but never painted or exhibited here, preferring to relax and enjoy the beauty and magic of this special place.

Mr. Smith was an honorary member of the Polar Bears, the early morning swimmers at the Oak Bluffs Town Beach that included his wife, Cynthia. Although he disliked the cold water and didn't swim in the ocean with the group, he was often seen there sitting on a bench engaged in animated conversation about art and politics. Parenthetically, he was an active member of his neighborhood athletic club in New York city, preferring a daily visit to the hot tub rather than laps in the pool.

He is survived by his wife and muse for 31 years, Cynthia Linton; his sisters, Eleanor Smith Hughes of Jacksonville, Fla., and Cynthia Doris Pinn of Brooklyn; his brother, Walter Smith, of Durham, N.C.; and several nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of loving friends whose life he has touched.