Published June 23, 2022
One of the most remarkable things about The J is its fine art collection. Approximately 215 works of art, worth over $ 1 million and representing approximately 50 artists, were all donated by Jewish philanthropist and developer Michael Staenberg. And within the collection, an artist stands out who owns the largest number of pieces, 56, included in The J’s collection. That artist is James Smith.
James Smith and Michael Staenberg
For many years, Smith worked with Staenberg, who was the force behind JCC development not only in St. Louis, but also in Kansas City, Denver, Omaha and St. Paul. Smith’s work can be found on display in the public collections of those facilities.
“James Michael Smith has conducted an enormous amount of research to create these images in combination with Jewish beliefs and the structures for which these works of art were created,” said Maneta Siegel, former director of Gallery At The District.
Sadly, Smith passed away in March of this year at the age of 73. Soon after his passing, an exhibition honoring Smith and his work was opened at the Gallery At The District.
At the opening of the exhibition, Staenberg recalled his friend and commented on how Smith, through his art, learned a lot about Judaism.
All of the work in the exhibit is for sale with the proceeds going to Smith’s family and to help support other artists in the form of a new scholarship in Smith’s honor.
Recently, James Smith’s wife Mary announced that she is organizing a new scholarship at the University of Illinois, where Smith earned his Master of Fine Art. He also began his career as a college professor teaching Belle Arts as a graduate student in Champagne.
The James Michael Smith Endowed Scholarship will benefit the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Applied Arts School of Art & Design. Recipients must be Studio Art graduates in good academic standing with a concentration in painting. Preference should be given to students primarily in painting, drawing, engraving and / or sculpture and can be used for lessons, materials and artistic tools.
The exhibition will last until the end of June. Viewing is by appointment only, so call 314-356-0223 to schedule a time to view the exhibit. Here is a look at each piece of the exhibit that is for sale.