Get to Know Arvie

His story, involvement, work, and more


Smith spent his childhood in rural Texas and South Central and Watts Los Angles, California. He received his BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art in 1984 and his MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, Hoffberger School of Painting under Grace Hartigan in 1992. During a sojourn to Italy, Smith studied at Il Bisonte and SACI in Florence in 1983. From 1998 to the present he has traveled extensively through Ghana, Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso, West Africa.

Photo Credit: Intisar Abioto
“I am Somebody” can be found on the 2nd floor, north hall of the Multnomah County Courthouse

Community Involvement

In 2011, Smith completed a public arts project through RACC where he worked with incarcerated youth of the Juvenile Detention Justice Center of Multnomah County. Five, 7’x15′ murals resulted from his work with primarily Measure 11 inmates based on the prospect of hope. As of 9.2012 four of these works are installed in Multnomah County Courthouse and the fifth is on display at Donald E Long detention facility.


Arvie Smith transforms the history of oppressed and stereotyped segments of the American experience into lyrical two-dimensional master works. His paintings are commonly of psychological images revealing deep sympathy for the dispossessed and marginalized members of society in an unrelenting search for beauty, meaning, and equality. Smith’s work reflects powerful injustices and the will to resist and survive. His memories of growing up in the South add to his awareness of the legacy that the slavery of African American’s has left with all Americans today. His intention is to solidify the memory of atrocities and oppression so they will never be forgotten nor duplicated. Smith creates this work because he must.

Arvie Smith’s CV


MFA 1992          Hoffberger School of Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art, studio assistant to Grace Hartigan, Baltimore, MD
BFA 1985           Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, OR
1983-1984         Studio Art Centers International, Florence, Italy; Il Bisonte International School of Printmaking, Florence, Italy

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2017-2016         Portland Art Museum, curated by Bonnie Laing-Malcomson
2015                   Mark Woolley Gallery, Portland, OR
2014                   Gallery 114, Portland, OR
2011                   Hope Mural Project, Donald E Long Detention, Portland, OR
2009                   Beppu Wiarda Gallery, Portland, OR
2008                   At Freedom’s Door, PNCA, Portland, OR
2007                   Beppu Wiarda Gallery, Portland, OR
                            Reed College, Kaul Auditorium, Portland, OR
2006                   Beppu Wiarda Gallery, Portland, OR
2004                   Alysia Duckler, Portland, OR
2002                   Alysia Duckler, Portland, OR
2000                   Alysia Duckler, Portland, OR
1999                   Sylvia Schmidt Gallery, New Orleans, LA
1999-1996         Quaratersaw Gallery, Portland, OR (annual exhibits)
1995                   University of Oregon, Evelyn Kraus Gallery, Eugene, OR
1994                   Wentz Gallery, Pacific Northwest College of Art Portland, OR
                            Temple University Gallery, curated by Grace Hartigan Philadelphia, PA
                            Blackfish Gallery, Portland, OR
1993                   School 33 Art Center, Baltimore, MD,
1992                   55 Mercer, curated by Grace Hartigan, New York, NY
1990-1989         Blackfish Gallery, Portland, OR
1989                   Brockman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
                            Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, Portland, OR
1988                   Fremont Fine Arts Gallery, Seattle, WA

Selected Group Exhibitions

2017                   Constructing Identity, Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art, Portland Art Museum, curated by Berrisford Boothe, Portland, OR
                            Borders, Reed Arts Week, Reed College. Portland, OR
                            Galerie Myrtis, Baltimore, MD
2016                   The Soul of Black Art, Upfor Gallery, Portland, OR curated by John Goodwin
2015                   The Image of the Black, Galerie Myrtis, Baltimore, MD
2015-2014         Emergence 2014: International Artists to Watch, Galerie Myrtis, curated by Myrtis Bedolla, Baltimore, MD
2014                   Art Beat Alumni Exhibition, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Portland OR
2013                   Highlights of the Lewis Museum, Baltimore, Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Baltimore, MD
2012                   Race: “Are We So Different”, Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, curated by Victor Maldonado, Portland, OR
2011-2010         Wall of Heritage Walls of Pride African American Mural Exhibit, Oregon Historical Society, Portland, OR
2008-2007         At Freedom’s Door, Maryland Historical Society Museum,  curated by George Ciscle, Baltimore, MD
1996                   A Fifteen Year Survey of Baltimore Art, Artscape, curated by George Ciscle, Baltimore, MD
1995                   Oregon Biennial, Portland Museum of Art, Portland, OR
                            Northwest Vision, The American University of Rome, Rome, Italy
                            Gli Amici di SACI, Florence, Italy
1993                   Variations of Vision, Howard County Center for the Arts, Ellicott MD
                            Five Baltimore Artists, Maryland Art Place, Baltimore, MD
                            Works on Paper, Rockville Art Center, Rockville, MD
                            Juried Exhibition, School 33, Baltimore, MD
                            Figure as Subject, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD
1992                   Mixing it Up: Art Reacts to Society, School 33 Art Center, curated by Eleanor Hartney, Baltimore, MD1992 Tribute to African American History, Kromah Gallery, curated by Leslie King-Hammond, Baltimore, MD 

Selected Collections


Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art
Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation 
Hallie Ford Museum, Willamette University, Salem, OR
Portland Art Museum, OR
Reginald F. Lewis Museum Baltimore, MD
City of Portland, Portable Works Collection, OR
Multnomah County Courthouse, Portland, OR 
Donald E Long Juvenile Detention, Portland, OR 
Planned Parenthood, Portland, OR
City of Tualatin, Police Station, OR
Regional Arts and Culture Council, Portland, OR
Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Legacy Hospital, Portland, OR
Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, Portland, OR
Self Enhancement Incorporated, Portland, OR 
Transitional Housing Program, Baltimore, MD


Foster Goldstrom, Oakland, CA
Nelson Mandela Estate, South Africa
Charlayne Hunter-Gualt, Johannesburg South Africa
Jules Maidoff, Florence, Italy
Willie and Damien Staudemeier, Portland, OR
Dan Wieden, Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, OR 
Al Solheim, AWS Real estate Portland,OR
Sue Diciple Group, Portland, OR
Mura Lundy, Santa Barbara, CA
Carol Hagin, Bend, OR

Selected Publications

2017                  The International Review of African American Art, curators statement, Berrisford Boothe
                           Portal. Portland Art Museum Magazine, Constructing Identity
                           Portland Monthly, Summer 2017
2016                  1859 Oregon’s Magazine, Talking About Color, Anna Bird
                           Oregon Artswatch, Strange Fruit: Arvie Smith’s Seductive Provocations at PAM, Bob Hicks
                            Willamette Week, Arvie Smith’s Show at PAM…., Jennifer Rabin
2011                   The Oregonian, Oregonlive,  Pheonix Rising, Mural project… Larry Bringham
                            Skanner, Arvie Smith Unveils Five Stunning Murals….. Helen Slivis
2006                   The Oregonian, “Race in Your Face”, DK Row
2004                   Artweek, “Arvie Smith at Alysia Duckler,” cover and p.25
                            The Oregonian, “Arvie Smith’s version of The Scream”, DK Row
2002                   The Oregonian, A&E, Critiques Choice, DK Row
                            The Oregonian, “Nudes in electric colors bare painter’s boldness, DK Row
                            The Oregonian, “A Discomforting Collection” DK  Row
1999                   Southern Living, “Great Art in the Big Easy”Julia Reed
1994                   Welcomat, Whores and Angels, Andrew Mangravite, Philadelphia, PA
                            Oregonian, Where color and story collide, Terry Ross
                            The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Gritty narrative vigorously draw in high-key color” Edward Sozanski
1993                   The Baltimore Sun, “Fivefold Power Joins’ Hands” John Dorsey
                            The Washington Post, “Visions that Invigorate the Mind” Mary McCoy
                            Howard County Times, “Variations gives viewers lots to ponder” Mike Giuliano
                            The Baltimore Sun, “Laudable art work struggles for some share ‘Vision,’”John Dorsey
                            City Paper, “Life in a Fishbowl: Subtle Stuff and Blatant Barbs at School 33,” Mike Giuliano
                            The Baltimore Sun, “At School 33; forcing viewers to confront issues of race,” (You Better Dance Now If You Gwinter Dance at All reproduced ) John Dorsey
                            The Baltimore Sun, “Variety in clear ‘View’ at UMBC annual exhibit” John Dorsey
                            Art in America, “Arvie Smith at 55 Mercer,”  Eleanor Hartney, (Two Eves Reproduced)
1992                   City Paper, “Art with something to say at School 33…” Carol Wood
1991                   Exhibition pamphlet, Mixing it up: Art React to Society Eleanor Hartney
                            City Paper, Vol. 15, No. 51, “Tell Mama All About   It,” (Reproduction)
                            The Baltimore Sun, “Seven Artist Show Works That React to Society” John Dorsey
1990                   The Oregonian, “Art Critic’s Choice’ Randy Bragg
                            Willamette Week, “Art Choice” Bernardo Barden
                            Artweek, “Tracing the Journey”, Lois Allen
1989                   Willamette Week, “Colors and Perspectives” Bernardo Barden


2017                   KBOO – interview on the importance of arts in the schools, Portland, OR
2016                   State of Wonder, OPB, April Bear, Portland, OR
                            Oregon Public Broadcasting, Art Beat, featured artist, Portland, OR
                            KBOO, artist talk show, Guest Artist 2016, Lois Allen, Portland, OR
2009                   KMHD radio interview, Portland, OR
2008                   Oregon Public Broadcasting, Art Beat, featured artist, KC Cohen, Portland, OR
                            KBOO, artist talk show, Guest Artist, Julie Bernard, Portland, OR
2006                   Oregon Public Broadcasting, Art Beat, featured artist KC Cohen, Portland, OR
                            KBOO, artist talk show, Guest Artist, Julie Bernard, Portland, OR
2004                   KBOO, artist talk show, Guest Artist, Julie Bernard, Portland, OR
2003                   Oregon Public Broadcasting, Art Beat, featured artist, KC Cohen, Portland, OR
2001                   Oregon Public Broadcasting, Art Beat, featured artist, KC Cohen
1989                   Portland Public Schools “The African-American Artist: A Portland Close-Up. Portland, OR
                           “Black Eyed Susan,” documentary  of Arvie Smith, Mary Avalon, Mardi Gras, New Orleans
1994                   Spirit of the Northwest, Channel 12 TV, Featured Artist, Portland, OR 
                            KBOO, artist talk show, Guest Artist, Julie Bernard, Portland, OR


2017                   Portland Art Museum Lecturer, Almost Good Hair
                            Constructing Identity series
                            Portland Art Museum, APEX Gallery Talks , monthly
                            Portland Art Museum, Panel & Gallery Talk, Constructing Identity
2016                   Portland Art Museum, APEX Gallery Talk ( Monthly)
                            Portland Art Museum, Docent Orientation Lecture, (March)
Whiteness Month, How Racism Impacts the Arts, Panelist, Cascade Campus, Portland Community College, Portland, OR
2015                   Maryland Institute College of Art Authorship and Representation: Race, Ethnicity, and Black American Life in Art,  Baltimore, MD
2013                   Portland Art Museum, Artists talk on Robert Colescott, Portland, OR
2012                   Oregon Arts Summit, Speaker, Portland, OR
2010                   Wall of Heritage Walls of Pride African American Mural Exhibit, Lecture, Cascade Campus Portland Community College, Portland, OR
2009                   Regional Arts and Culture Council Mural Commission, Juvenile Justice Center, Portland, OR
2007-2009         Lecturer, 
Portland, OR
                            PCC, Sylvania and Cascade Campuses, Portland, Oregon, Lecturer
2008                   Humanities Series on Social Justice, lecturer, Columbia George Community College, Hood River, OR
                            Pacific Northwest College of Art, At Freedom’s Door, Lecture, Portland, OR
                            Reed College, public lecture on exhibition, Portland, OR
1999                   Reed College Joy of Struggle, Lecturer, Reed College Joy of Struggle, Lecturer, Portland, OR
1997                   Reed College Joy of Struggle, Lecturer, Reed College Joy of Struggle, Lecturer, Portland, OR
                            Pacific Northwest College of Art, Speaking of Art, Lecture, Portland, OR
1994                   Visiting Artist Lecture and Workshop Series, University of Oregon Dept. of Fine Arts, Lecturer, Eugene, OR
1993                   Pacific Northwest College of Art, Speaking of Art, Lecture, Portland, OR
                            Hugh O’brien Youth Foundation, “Art As Education And Industry”, Panelist, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD

Honors and Awards

2017                   Culture of Caring Award, Cascadia Behavioral Health, recognition for community development and advocacy, Portland, OR
                            Portland Art Museum for Governors Award for State of Oregon
2015                   Outstanding Performance Outside the Profession Award, Oregon Education Association 


2017                   Public Art, Alberta Commons, Portland Development Commission, 18’x24’ mural, Portland, OR
2008-2011         Project Hope, 5 8’x14’ murals working with adjudicated youth, Regional Arts and Culture Council , Portland, OR
2005-2007         At Freedom’s Door, Maryland Institute of Art, Reginald Lewis Museum, Maryland Historical Society, Artist in Residence, Baltimore, Maryland  (five large format paintings) Baltimore, MD
1993                   “Genye”, Transitional Housing Program Project, Collaborative Installation, funded by Maryland State Arts Council, Baltimore, MD
1991                   Artists in Action, Installation Collaboration, Inner Harbor, Baltimore, MD
1990                   City of Tualatin, Tualatin Visual Chronicle, large format painting installed in Police Station, Tualatin, MD


2017                   Visiting Artist,  MFA summer program, PNCA
2005-2007         Artist in Residence, At Freedom’s Door, Maryland Institute of Art, Reginald Lewis Museum, Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, MD
2007-1994         Artist in Residence, Self Enhancement Inc., intercity youth enhancement, Portland, OR
1993                   Artist in Residence, Transitional Housing/Shelter project, Baltimore, MD
1990-1989         Artist in Residence, Creative Arts Council of Manucha, Painting and Drawing, Corbett, OR

College Teaching Experience

Present             Professor Emeritus, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, OR
2014-2002         Associate Professor, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, OR
2001-1993         Assistant Professor, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, OR
2001-1989         Instructor, Extension program, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Painting and Drawing
1996                   Visiting Assistant Professor, BFA, MFA Department of Fine Arts, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
1993-1992         Instructor, Maryland Institute College of Art, Painting, Baltimore, MD
1989-1988         Visiting Artist, Oregon School of Arts and Crafts, Life Drawing Portland, OR
1985-1984         Teaching Assistant, Studio Art Center International, Florence, Italy, Printmaking

Community and Professional Involvement 

2016-Present   Diversity committee member, PNCA
                            Juror for “the Nude” (international), Clatsop College, Astoria, OR
Present-2005   Board of Directors, Ko-Falen Cultural Center, Mali/Portland, OR
2012                    Juror, Regional Arts and Culture Council, Portland, OR
2008                    Juror, Open Studios, Portland, OR Artist Talk, City of Tualatin, OR
2006-2005         Painting Instructor, Caldera Camp, Sisters, OR
2004-2003         Instructor, Summer Arts Camp, Skamaniah Lodge, Stevenson, WA
2000-1995         Art Instructor, Homowa Summer Program, African Festival, Portland, OR
1996                   Scenic Artist, The Hayden Project, Portland, OR
1995                   Art instructor, Hyalite Summer Program, 
Portland, OR
1994                   Instructor, Whitaker Middle School, Youth Outreach program, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Life Drawing, Portland, OR
1991                   Installation collaboration, Artists in Action, Inner Harbor, Baltimore, MD
1989-1988         Art Instructor, Talented and Gifted Program, Portland Public Schools, Portland, OR


What I see happening on Martin Luther King (Boulevard) and other places is that these policeman are just picking the low hanging fruit — the people who can’t afford to fight back.

Arvie Smith

A Portland-based painter, professor emeritus, lecturer, and community engager.


Portland, Oregon