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Last summer, Byron Smith stood behind his canvas in Peace Park, studying the new Center for Missouri Studies building across the street. Smith wanted to get it right. SHSMO had commissioned him to do an oil painting for the Center’s grand opening celebration in August. For two years Smith had walked past the construction site each morning on his way to work as a custodian for the University of Missouri. As the sun rose over it, the building’s colors and shape would take on new dimensions. A completely new scene would unfold midday when he walked back home.
Smith’s painting Center for Missouri Studies, View from Peace Park is now on display through spring at the SHSMO main art gallery. Other works he has donated to the Society include his favorite painting of trees more than a century old on his family’s land in Boone County. According to Smith’s father, four pear trees were planted to honor the birth of the family’s first child born out of slavery. Three of the trees are still standing.
“It’s comforting to know that some of my work is here in this wonderful new building,” said Smith. “I call this place my home, too.” Watch our short video of Smith creating his commissioned painting below. Smith will also be featured in the upcoming edition of Missouri Times, available to SHSMO members in February.
In 2019, the State Historical Society of Missouri commissioned Columbia artist Byron Smith for an oil painting of the Center for Missouri Studies. Smith's work can also be found within the Society's extensive art collection.