The first painting went down recently at the City of Hope's highly anticipated ARTpark in downtown on the north sidewalk adjacent to E. Division Street.

The first painting went down recently at the City of Hope's highly anticipated ARTpark in downtown on the north sidewalk adjacent to E. Division Street.
Dr. C. Jason Smith, a retired professor from LaGuardia College, used spray paint to mark off certain areas as he started a forest scene at sunrise, complete with a trail and one of his painted pallets.
“I saw some pallet art at various places and thought, ‘I can do that.” Deciding what he wanted to contribute to the ARTpark was easy, he said, “This painting is what I see off my back porch every single morning.”
Several persons stopped by while Smith was painting, many wondering what he was doing, while others inquired more about the project, which is being promoted by the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council for the Hempstead County Bicentennial.
Jason Smith, as he is known locally, got his start in art by painting the backs of leather jackets in college and later while in the Army. He is into rustic art such as tables, benches, wall hangings and painted pallets, and he is also a published writer of three books. Since retiring, Smith said he was looking for something to occupy his time.
Jason Smith is the son of of George Smith, the executive director of the Southwest Arts Council in Hope and a principal in the development of the ARTpark concept for downtown.
George Smith had been talking up and presenting the concept at various meetings and organizations in Hope for months
“We have been shooting for this start-up for several months and, being retired, Jason has been ready to paint about as long as we have been planning,” George Smith said, adding that several other local artists are expected to add their creative endeavors within the next several weeks.
George Smith also said he anticipates “the total number of original paintings from artists of every possible genre and degree of professionalism – from working artists to school children – will number somewhere between 110 and 150.”
Some of the “areas to be painted, including parking spaces that are 20x10 feet can be divided into three or four ‘canvases’ simply because the areas are so big,” he said.
George Smith said the Southwest Arts Council’s ambition is to complete the ARTpark project by December 2018 to coincide with the end of the county’s year-long Bicentennial celebration.
George Smith added, “We have a small school northeast of Dallas that is bringing students over to paint on the ARTpark.”
“When completed, this will be the only ARTpark like it in the world, if our extensive research is correct. This is something that people will notice and will bring worldwide attention to Hope,” he said.
George Smith said that the mission of the Hope ARTpark was to display various styles of paintings in a unique setting, but he added that perspective artists desiring to show their work in the park must follow certain guidelines, including:
• Submit a drawing, picture or sketch of the intended work.
• Sign a contract “owning” the art and understand that, when the arts needs restoring or rehabilitating for any reason, the artist has first option to maintain the artwork. If the artist does not wish to keep the space, it will be painted over and another artist will be allowed to “own” the space under the same conditions.
• Provide his or her own paint, which must be either all-weather porch paint or concrete paint or paint specifically for outdoor and/or concrete use. If the artist cannot for economic reasons provide the paint, the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council or one of its sponsors will attempt to secure the necessary supplies. There could be limited color selection due to cost factors and the ARTpark budget.
George Smith said that a committee of creative individuals will review each drawing and will determine placement in the park.
“The intent is to not put paintings which may be similar in style together,” he said, “Artistic license is left to the discretion of the artist. However, the committee of SWAAC members will determine whether or not the painting will be included in the ARTpark based on common sense, logic, and community standards.”
He said that obvious works or submissions off-limits were nudity, political artwork, religious references or pornographic images will be allowed.
“Artists may also donate paint, supplies or money to assist other artists to participate in this one-of-a-kind project. All donations are tax deductible based on the SWAAC 501(3)(c) status,” he said.
George Smith added that artists may bring information sheets to hand out to the public who may be interested in their work, and he said “Artists are encouraged to interact with interested people who are viewing the creative process if it does not interfere with the work at hand.”
For more information on the project, a Southwest Arts Council Membership or securing a “canvas”, interested parties are encouraged to call George Smith at 501-259-8545.