Maggie Smith & Ned Stern

Creative couple Maggie Smith and Ned Stern have been together for 17 years, practicing art and encouraging each other’s visual expression. Their relationship has fostered artistic growth with their quirky personalities and free spirited energy filling the studio space they share. The collection features mixed media paintings and found object jewelry by Maggie Smith and a series of figural, landscape, and architectural paintings by Ned Stern.

E X H I B I T : Maggie Smith and Ned Stern
E X H I B I T : Maggie Smith and Ned Stern

Maggie Smith

Art-making has always been imperative in Maggie Smith’s life, as it gave her confidence in school at a young age. Raised in the New York City area, she studied under Will Barnett at the Art Students League in New York, before receiving her B.F.A. in Painting at the University of Denver. Smith went on to study art in Florence, Italy for several months, then returned to the United States and worked as a children’s book illustrator in Boston. Her first illustrated book was Deer Country (1973), written by Anne Eliot Crompton. She also illustrated Osprey Island (1974), written by Anne Lindbergh Feydy, the daughter of aviators Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. After working as an illustrator, Smith received her Master’s degree in Art Therapy at Wright State University and worked at the V.A. Hospital with Vietnam veterans struggling with PTSD. Painting all the while, she worked as an interior designer and commercial designer for several years, designing boutiques and private homes.

Smith eventually discovered a passion for creating found object sculptures and jewelry as she collected objects and frequented flea markets, antique malls and shops both in the United States and during her travels in Europe. Her jewelry and mixed media assemblages are composed over years of searching and discovering objects, consisting of various antique objects ranging from doll faces, Tarot cards, cast iron and bronze trinkets, musical instruments, animal horns, foliage, and other materials. Smith eventually started her company the Velvet Antler, where she sold her found object jewelry. She explains that every found object composition, including her jewelry, tells a story indicated by their titles, with each object interrelating with one another. She often does not begin a piece with an overall concept in mind, but instead allows her discoveries to guide her concepts and determine when a piece is complete.

Smith also paints a variety of subjects, including figural work, interior scenes, and European scenes, however many of her pieces often feature animals with a regal theme. Rendered with gestural and impressionistic brushstrokes, her paintings typically exhibit overall lyrical, whimsical, and even Surrealist themes.

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Ned Stern

Ned Stern has been creating art since his youth and received his B.A. in Painting at American University in Washington, D.C. Although he paints a variety of subjects including landscapes, figural paintings, and interior scenes, he specializes in architecture often truncated or rendered from oblique angles, portrayed with a Precisionist style. After receiving his degree, Stern worked as an illustrator for Defense contractors of the Air Force, creating charts, graphs, and illustrations of military equipment. He eventually went on active duty in the Navy and was employed as an artist illustrator for the Navy, then worked as an illustrator for the Combat Operations Research Group in Virginia.

After illustrating for several years, he made the decision to leave for California in his 1950 Studebaker pick-up truck. Along the way he purchased a used camper to travel throughout the American West, painting en plein air landscapes, while making ends meet selling and trading artwork. After years of traveling and painting, Stern spent the next several decades working for various art institutions and organizations, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Amberley Greeting Card Company in Cincinnati, and as a art teacher at the University of Michigan and the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art & Design (DAAP). After the death of his wife, he eventually decided to become a full-time artist in 1998.

Since then, Stern has exhibited his work at multiple galleries, such as Closson’s Art Gallery, Miller Gallery, the Cincinnati Art Club, the Cincinnati Art Academy, Kennedy Heights Art Center, and the Clifton Cultural Arts Center among others. Stern’s work has been collected by multiple institutions including the Skirball Museum at Hebrew Union College, the Verdin Bell Company, the Cincinnati Fire Museum, and the Metropolitan Club.

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E X H I B I T : Maggie Smith and Ned Stern

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