You’ve probably seen Gilbert graphic designer Tad Smith’s work and not even realized it. He’s the man behind the old Historic Downtown Chandler “lamp post” logo, and his Glamour Girls hung for a time on the brick walls of Queen’s Pizzeria in Mesa.
Now Smith’s eye-grabbing creations are helping tell the story of Chandler in bold, pop-art style.
The Chandler Portraits, opening Jan. 24 at Vision Gallery, honors people who have impacted the city with colorful illustrations that are a far cry from the nostalgic photos or historic documents one might expect in a community retrospective.
“They’re done in an almost cartoony or comic book-ish style, with heavy black lines and basic flesh and hair tones,” says Smith. “I try to take it down to the simplest line that can capture a person.”
The result is a collection that instantly hooks passers-by with familiar faces made fresh again, from town founder Dr. A.J. Chandler and grocer Eddie Basha to Laurie Fagen, owner of the now-shuttered Art on Boston.
Every person featured has worked diligently for the betterment of their community; a short bio accompanying each illustration tells how.
“I don’t know who said it first, but it’s kind of like, ‘It’s not what you add, it’s what you take away,’” says Smith. “A lot of times, I’ll over-illustrate and find I have to go back and omit to get to the simplest color, the simplest line, the simplest expression of the person.”
The project received so many nominations for portrait-worthy people that Eric Faulhaber, visual arts coordinator for Vision Gallery and Chandler Arts Commission, says the exhibition will likely be rolled out again next year with new additions.
If you go
What: Gilbert artist Tad Smith illustrates 20 local people in The Chandler Portraits
When: A free public reception with the artist opens the show, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24. The show remains on display during regular hours through March 8.
Where: Vision Gallery, 10 E. Chicago St., Chandler
Cost: Free admission
Information: (480) 782-2695 or VisionGallery.org