A slender silhouette with long dark hair and a firm handshake, Melanie Little Gomez Smith greets me warmly, with her husband Des Smith just behind her as we sit down to talk at the bar in West Oak on a breezy evening. Kambucha, their drink of choice, was their one precondition for our meeting spot.
Artists at their heart, the duo have seemingly explored it all, and are still -with only slight exhaustion but still enthusiasm -exploring it all. They do a diversity of art projects and mediums including photography, sculpting, mural painting, album art, music videos and more.
Most recently, within the span of two days the couple painted a mural that is funny, dark, thought-inducing all at the same time. A porpoise, a white rhino and other endangered, majestic species sit around table at LSA restaurant, coming together to resolve and discuss their looming fate of on-coming extinction.
The duo thought of the idea the same week that Trump had pulled out of the Paris treaty for climate change, which they said directly influenced the idea for the mural.
“It was hard to think about anything else. I personally was outraged by that,” Des Smith said. “Ultimately we wanted to make something that was really fun for people to look at but had a lot more depth if they were to look at it and explore it, explore the idea.”
Titled, ”The Guild of the Endangered Species,” it is one of 6 new murals painted onto LSA’s new rooftop extension and the mural is packed with iconology and symbology.
Not knowing many other artists, they were excited to meet the other 5 muralists and loved the idea of the project where LSA would employ the artists a decent rate Des said. They had a blast.
“I loved the excitement around the whole thing, we were borrowing brushes from each other and paint,” Melanie said. The other painters even came to help Melanie and Des complete their mural towards the end.
Unlike the Juicy Pig mural the couple did, the LSA mural is only around for one year, until 6 new artists are employed by the restaurant next year to paint over them. Be sure to see it before its gone!
However, that’s nothing new for Melanie, who, when she first began art only wanted to make art that would eventually disintegrate.
“I made a book out of rust, in about 5 years it was pretty much gone,” she said of some of her original disintegrating art.
Following that, she eventually did paintings of miniature figurines. She then wanted to bring her paintings to life by sculpting them. She tried eight times on the same thing and failed miserably.
That’s when Des came in and created the sculpture she wanted on the first try. They have been working together and now married, ever since. Together they have what they call Artlab3000, a small group of artists who are enjoying what they are doing sans ego.
Melanie has come full circle, graduating from TWU in 1999 with BA in photography going on to be featured in publications including Time, Newsweek, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone, living in New York and traveling the world, where along the way she met her husband, Des, at a gallery in Switzerland in 2012, and finally has settled back down here in the dirty D.
They say maybe they are out of their minds for taking on all of their current projects including album art, music video, two murals and a recreation Fry Street Fair in a puppet music video. But they do it for the challenge and their pure love for art.
You can read more about this mural and other murals currently up at LSA in our post from this past June.