Bright pink trees, a floating birthday cake in a pond and a shingled Studebaker are just three of the many memorable visions created by sculptor, Leon Smith, 78, of Ancramdale, NY.
A sensibility somewhere between Willy Wonka meets David Lynch, Smith has created a mind-altering dream world enjoyed by all ages. Smith Hill, his brain child he created with his muse and wife, Elaine, has about 100 sculptures spread over more than 100 acres.
Creating art for more than 40 years, Smith began his career as a sculptor when studying for a career in dentistry at the University of Sydney, in his native Australia. He was intrigued by the materials that created molds and bridges, and encouraged by an architect brother who had a passion for engineering, he started creating sculptures. After a brief stint as a dentist in the UK, he moved to New York, where he met his wife, Elaine, a talented painter. On a trip in the 1960’s to the Yucatan, the couple met a terra cotta floor and wall tile manufacturer. The tiles were extremely rare and could not be found in the US. They became the only U.S. distributor for the popular tiles and founded their company, Elon.
Smith quit his dentist practice and devoted his time between the tile business, making sculptures, and raising their son, Dan, and daughter, Jessica, in Hastings, New York. Within five years, he sold the business and was able to devote his energies full time to creating sculptures. They bought Smith Hill in Ancramdale as a second home almost 40 years ago, and moved there full time more than 20 years ago.
Smith’s work can be enjoyed around the country and is part of many permanent installations in New York State and the Berkshires. Some of those installations include, Pratt Institute in New York City, the Roeliff Jansen Community Library in Hillsdale, NY, to a temporary installation at Chesterwood, the home of Samuel Chester French, the creator of the Lincoln Memorial, in Stockbridge, MA. His cedar and wood chip chairs were on display at Chesterwood, in 2011. Click below to hear Smith speak about his work at Chesterwood.
For more information on Leon Smith, or to contact him for a studio visit, click here. The outdoor sculpture park on Woods Rd. in Ancramdale is open to the public. However, many of the installations viewed in the video are on his private property and are not open to the public. But the public sculpture park is definitely worth the visit. And after feasting your eyes on the spectacular setting and art work, treat yourself to lunch at the cozy Farmer’s Wife less than five minutes away.
Images from the Berkshire International Film Festival