‘He could have been famous…’
Quinn Smith was a man bound up in local history, a small and unassuming man, but with such a huge imagination, Penny Wolboldt, reference librarian at the Warren Public Library, said.
An artistic biography of Smith’s life is on display in the Wetmore Gallery at the library, beginning Monday, Aug. 25 and running through the end of September.
The show tracks the art and times of his life, beginning with an artwork he did when he was ten years old and ending with his obituary.
“You can see in his early work the complexity,” Wolboldt said. “The seed was there from the get-go.”
She explained that through schooling in Chicago and time spent in the army in England during World War II where he was exposed to European art, he became enamored with simpler, spontaneous designs. “It just sprang out of him,” she said.
He opened the Yankeebush Workshop in Warren, along with Bob Long, a classmate from the Chicago art school, and worked with textiles, silkscreening, stencilling, paper cut-outs, oil painting, watercolors and pencil drawings.
“After the workshop closed, he moved on to theater, designing costumes and sets for the Warren Players,” Wolboldt said.
In a natural progression, he designed sets for the Warren Area High School proms in the early 1960s, scale models of which are also on display in the show. He was made an honorary member of the WAHS class of 1963.
In 1982-83, he did the artwork for the restoration of the Struthers Library Theatre.
“He was an artist and a mentor, active in the community. He could have been famous, world renowned if he wanted,” she said.
Wolboldt said that he was an intensely private person, as was his family, and living in Warren suited him.