Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Cactus County at the Tobacco Factory

Last night Mr Kitsch (otherwise known as Gary Smith) launched his new exhibition at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol. It was a great evening, with live music, tequila, lots of friends showing their support, and of course, his amazing art. The exhibition is on for the whole of October, in The Green Room, just off the main cafe bar of the Tobacco Factory, and as you can see, looks wonderful on the deep red walls!

I'm very proud of what Gary's achieved with his painting, in a relatively short period. He has only been painting for a couple of years with no formal training, but has developed a bold, naive style inspired by the Mexican folk art of the Day of the Dead. Into that, he has woven stories of a fictional place called Cactus County, where science and rationalism are celebrated, rather than religion. You can find out more at

It was great to see it up on the walls, to be appreciated by so many other people. Let's just hope he gets lots of buyers!
My lovely man with his lovely art!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Museum Is Now Closed

The week of our exhibition at Room 212 has, all too quickly, come to an end. It was a successful event in a variety of ways; we had a lot of people attend, we sold many more items than we expected and the positive comments and feedback were encouraging and complimentary. All in all it was a thoroughly worthwhile and positive experience for us both.

If you missed the opportunity to go round the exhibition, or if you would just like to re-live the experience, then please have a look at the video below.
If you have trouble loading the video then please go here to see it, where you will also see many, many photos of the exhibition

Thank you if you were able to attend and extra special thanks if you were one of the many people who bought something. We hope you like your purchases.

We hope to re-open the museum once more at a future date, possibly in Room 212 again or maybe in another gallery. If you can recommend somewhere we can exhibit or just want to get in touch then please e-mail the museum’s efficient administrative staff at

Kind regards,

Smith & Jones, Museum Curators

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

A Short Tour Round the Museum

Things have been going rather well at the gallery. We’ve had quite a number of people come in to see the work, lots of positive comments and we’ve even sold a few items. We’re open till Saturday so you still have a few days to come and see it for yourself. Meantime, here’s a few examples of what you can see in the show.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

We're open!

The exhibition opened to the public yesterday, after a wonderful preview evening on Sunday. Many thanks to everyone who came on Sunday, and to all our visitors so far. We've both sold some work, so that's made us very happy.

The setting-up on Sunday was the usual last minute rush and panic, but we're really pleased with the overall display and have received lots of great feedback. It's particularly good for Gary to have the chance to see all his amazing work in one place for the first time.

If you'd like to visit, you have until this Saturday (the 18th). We're open 12-6pm each day. Come and have a chat to us!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Folk Art Exhibition

A new art exhibition runs for a week in Bristol this autumn exploring the worlds of dolls and death. Called “The Smith and Jones Museum of Folk Art” the event is a joint exhibition by real life couple Gary Smith and Elsie Jones.

The exhibition is actually two separate shows; Elsie’s work is titled “The Dolls Have Eyes” and comprises handmade textile figures and collages which examine the culture of dolls; while Gary’s part of the show is called “The Folk Art Of Cactus County” and explores a secular celebration of the Mexican “Day Of The Dead” festival in painting, textile and sculpture.

“This will be the first time we’ve exhibited work together” say Gary “and although our styles are very different we hope they complement one another.”

“We’re both fascinated by the world of folk art” says Elsie “and we’re excited about showing some of our own interpretations of it in the exhibition.”

The Smith and Jones Museum of Folk Art is on at Room 212 on Gloucester Road in Bristol from Monday 13th till Saturday 18th of September, it is open from 12pm to 6pm daily and it is free to get in.

Gary Smith - The Folk Art of Cactus County

"The Folk Art Of Cactus County" is my interpretation of a secular celebration of "Dia de los Muertos", the Mexican "Day of the Dead" festival.

There’s a warmth and honesty in the self expression of unschooled folk art that I find compelling and inspiring. In particular, shrines dedicated to family members who have died, made by people in their own homes for the Mexican “Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) festival, I find touching and poignant. Traditionally these shrines are religious in character, however, as an Atheist, in my images of “Dia de los Muertos” I deliberately avoid the use of religious symbols; it goes against the grain for me to promote any form of supernatural belief.

The religious do not have a monopoly on death. It is open to all cultures and all individuals to honour the dead we loved and to celebrate life. So I’ve re-interpreted the art of the festival for a secular society.

I’ve taken this a step further by imagining a place where a secular celebration of “Dia de los Muertos” could take place and created Cactus County; a New Mexico desert community of scientists, philosophers and artists who live more or less by Epicurean principals, that is eschewing religion and belief in an afterlife, while pursuing happiness through learning and a knowledge of how the world works. My work reflects this utopian ideal, so while my art may be naive and unsophisticated in its style, it has meaning and it is sincere.

In short, a lot of my work is based round a secular celebration of the Day of the Dead, so there are a lot of skulls and cactus in my paintings.