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The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art opens exhibition of works by American light artist Phillip K. Smith III
Phillip K. Smith III Portals, photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy Phillip K. Smith III Studio.

SONOMA, CA.- American light artist Phillip K. Smith III (b. Calif., 1972), noted for his large-scale installations and sublime works of art, presents Portals: A Space for Color, on view at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art from January 19 to April 7, 2019.

For this exhibition, the artist’s first in Sonoma, Smith installed three “Portals,” creating an immersive environment within the museum’s galleries. Each artwork, originally part of a monumental 85-foot diameter light pavilion, investigates the relationship between light, form, surface, and perception—a theme rigorously and inventively explored throughout Smith’s ongoing Lightworks series, in which the artist paints a highly specific three-dimensional canvas with light over time.

In Portals: A Space for Color, he crafts each color selection, location, and pace of change to evoke a sense of breath within the work. As the reflected light pushes across large, curved, opaque white surfaces, the spatial experience changes from each of the Portals based on Smith’s chosen color combination – at times giving the viewer a sense of pushing away from or pulling towards the wall.

Each work is meant to adapt to the space of the museum in which it is shown, merging with the changing ambient light. By day, the colors will merge with the sunlight, creating more pastel light and shadow relationships, while at night, the colors will saturate and appear to hover as they envelop the surrounding space.

Smith’s conceptual and multi-dimensional investigation of light, space, form, and environment mines a deeper understanding of perception, and as he asserts, “these works make us step away from our pattern, our life, our work, our errands, and our conversations and allow us to see sublime beauty shifting and changing before our eyes." His boundary-dissolving work has often been compared to that of his predecessors James Turrell and Robert Irwin, the pioneering California Light and Space artists acclaimed for their groundbreaking and radical installations that emphasize the viewer’s experience, as well as that of late Color Field artist Kenneth Noland and Constantin Brancusi, acclaimed for his sensual, beguiling sculptures.

After growing up in Southern California’s Coachella Valley, Phillip K. Smith III received his Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design. From his Palm Desert, CA studio, he creates light-based work that draws upon ideas of space, form, color, light + shadow, environment, and change.

Featured in hundreds of online and print publications, Phillip is known for creating largescale temporary installations such as Lucid Stead in Joshua Tree, Reflection Field and Portals at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, ¼ Mile Arc in Laguna Beach, The Circle of Land and Sky at inaugural 2017 Desert X exhibition, and Open Sky at the Salone del Mobile, Milano in 2018. Many of these installations are featured in his latest catalog titled "Five Installations" published by Grand Central Press. His public artworks are sited in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Kansas City, Nashville, Oklahoma City and beyond; and the artist was recently commissioned to create permanent, light-based works for the cities of West Hollywood, CA and Bellevue, WA. The artist's work is also included in the current exhibition Unsettled organized by the Nevada Museum of Art and artist Ed Ruscha, and in the accompanying exhibition catalog.

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