My Exhibition, “Painting for Myself” and the Reception.

September 13, 2015 was an inviting day. Warm sunshine splashed the sidewalk as people spilled in threes and fours through the wide open friendly doors of the Old Town Art Center. The crowd came early to enjoy the show, the food, the wine, the friends and the paintings. Buying was brisk. Out of 42 images on display, 20 were sold by the end of the day.

I greeted the guests as they came through the doors . So many surprises —there were the Towbins, Jennifer and Steve from Winnetka, past patrons whom I had not seen in ages and delighted to see again. Eileen Leeming, long time friend, from Florida to see the show, Colette Holt from San Francisco. Then there were hosts of my former students and many of my neighbors. The guests were wonderfully varied and came from the city and suburbs as well as those from far away places.

I thank all of you for coming and making this a successful exhibition and for the deep pleasure we all experienced being together. And a special thanks to The Old Town Triangle Association for their help and for the Old Town Gallery for the exhibition.

Thank you, Leslie Wolfe, Triangle’s director. We could not have had the success we enjoyed without your advisement and guidance. Also thanks to Barbara Guttman. Leslie’s work mate, for her cheerful hands on help when we needed it. And for taking messages for me concerning the exhibit.

Thanks to the Lincoln Park Village for their promotion of my show and help for me through their intern, Courtney Wilson.

I must thank my Team K– Julia Smith, Karen Burnett, Ruth Kimerer, Bev Hossa, Jeanette Keogh, Danny Lena, Steven Rosofsky. These eight individuals are the spark plugs, the generators of the work I am doing. Their help working together to pull this exhibit out of my archives and putting it together for display was what enabled me to have this show. It was My Team, My Team, My Team. Need a drum roll here. Hearty Thanks team. Another time I will tell this whole story and about each member. A story that should be told.

“Painting for Myself” is an expression of me that is unfettered by anyone’s input but my own–they come purely from the inner artist. Some of these subjects relate back to my American Legacy Collection. “Isla, Christina, Spain” is one sketched when I was “following the footprints of Columbus”, 1991, across the south of Spain. It is a direct sketch of the three caravels as a possibility to use it in a show later.  “Genoa, Italy,” the birthplace, of Columbus is another painting from that trip.

Ordinarily these would have gone into The American Legacy Collection but at the end of a month painting in Spain I had a plethora of subjects on Columbus and did not need these two. It is to help me with the future of the American Legacy Collection that my team was formed—to work to see it placed in a facility that will use it for education.   In this we need help that you out there can provide.

If you would like to help me raise money for my American Legacy Collection Foundation, host a fundraiser or contribute or if you have an idea on where we could place the American Legacy Collection, please email me at

What a joyful day it was. My heart is full.

About Illinois Artist Laureate Kay Smith

After completing my studies at the School of the Art Institute, I worked as an illustrator. As the 1976 Bicentennial approached there was a fever of interest in American history. In 1971, I was asked to illustrate a book on the American Revolutionary War period which required me to travel to historic locations to paint the actual scenes. As my travels crossed and crisscrossed the paths of the patriots, I entered their lives and was forever caught in the inescapable skeins of history and was thrust into the role of historical painter. What began as a single assignment has grown over the past 40-plus years into the largest collection of American historical-site paintings ever created by a single artist. To see these historical works and to learn more about The American Legacy Collection, please visit my website at: The American Legacy Collection is a dramatic panorama of this country's historical places and its defining moments. My original watercolors chronicle 500 years of the American experience and preserve with an artist's palette our American heritage.

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