New exhibition honors James Smith, whose art hangs in several Midwest JCC’s including St. Louis


Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

Honoring a life dedicated to art is the theme of a new exhibition honoring St. Louis artist James Smith at the Gallery At The District. The show, which opened on March 31, honors Smith who passed away suddenly last month at the age of 73. The exhibition runs through May 31 and is open to the public.

James Smith

“Words can never do justice to describe James’ creative abilities. Making paintings was his passion, he had an amazing studio and his dedication to art, research & creativity was limitless,” wrote his family about the artist.

Smith attended the University of Kansas graduating with a bachelor of fine art degree followed by a master of fine art from the University of Illinois.

He taught fine art as a grad student at the University of Illinois, followed by the University of Manitoba, University of Illinois, Macomb, University of Missouri, St. Louis, as well as an adjunct professor at St. Louis Community Colleges: Florissant, Meramec, Forest Park and Fontbonne University.

He departed teaching to focus full time on creating & selling his artwork and would often receive letters of appreciation from former students.

James Smith’s art inside JCCs

Although not Jewish, Smith’s work is displayed in the public collections of various facilities including the five Jewish community centers in St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, Omaha, and St. Paul. For many years, Smith worked with Michael Staenberg, who was a force behind the development of these JCCs.

“James Michael Smith conducted a tremendous amount of research to create these images in conjunction with the Jewish beliefs and the facilities that these works of art were created for,” said Maneta Siegel, director at the Gallery At The District.

At the opening of the exhibit, Staenberg remembered his friend and commented on how Smith, through his art, learned much about Judaism.

Gallery At The District

The Gallery is a beautiful, modern and inviting art gallery and showroom located in The District in Chesterfield, just outside of St. Louis. The current exhibit features a portion of Michael Staenberg’s extensive personal collection featuring works by local, regional and international artists. When you visit the gallery, you will enjoy a diverse selection of eclectic paintings, sculptures and photography covering a range of subject matter and mediums that are available for purchase.