Some people might consider sign painting as a dying art, just as some might have seen local printing becoming slowly executed by the internet’s ability to provide online magazines, catalogs and quick email blasts. For a time, hand-painted company signs were becoming something of the past and people couldn’t make a living off sign painting alone. There have always been sign painters though and people who learn under them, even if the number is few. Today the number of sign painters are growing. For Memphis, one of our dear local sign painters is Artiek Smith. However he is mostly retired, you might still catch him producing artwork around town, such as the holiday window display on Blues City Cafe completed recently. Smith became a very well-known local artist, responsible for most window art and signage you would find at your favorite local venue. He also stayed busy creating caricatures at events and fine art you could find around town and across the deep blue see in Paris, France. The fine art he continues today are portraits but his all-time favorite subject to paint was black cowboys because of the style and history.
About 25 years ago, Calvin Farrar began painting alongside Artiek Smith. Thanks to Farrar, the art of window painting and signage is still vibrant and strong. Come near Halloween, Farrar’s paintings begin popping up on windows around town. When December hits, the jolly goodness appears just about everywhere. Farrar recalls his very first holiday window painting was at the Huey’s midtown location but today his work can be seen from West Memphis all the way to Germantown. One of his first murals remains imprinted on the outside wall of West Memphis’ Panchos. And if you like murals (you should like murals) then you also might be interested to know he created the wall painting at Molly’s La Casita near Overton Square about 10 years ago.
For kicks, I went around town collecting photographs of my favorite holiday window paintings this season. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Feel free to tell us where your favorite holiday window art can be spotted too!