If there is one thing Chad Smith knows, it’s rhythm.
As the drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the iconic Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has recorded and toured around the world with the Peppers, producing rock classics such as “Suck My Kiss,” “Give It Away,” “Aeroplane,” “Otherside,” “Scar Tissue,” “Can’t Stop” and many more.
Smith also drummed for the Sammy Hagar-fronted supergroup Chickenfoot, formed his own instrumental group Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats and has worked — and earned six Grammy Awards — with not just the Chili Peppers but The Chicks, Johnny Cash, Jake Bugg, Post Malone, Lana Del Rey and even Ozzy Osbourne.
So it makes total sense that Smith uses rhythm and motion to create his art that can be seen in his latest exhibit — The Art of Chad Smith — Friday to Monday, May 28 to 31, at Ocean Galleries in Stone Harbor.
It all started in 2016 when Smith entered the art world with Parallax, his first collection of rhythm-driven prints.
“About five years ago, this company came to me and said, ‘Look, we are doing this new kind of art where we are going to put you in a dark room and we’re going to give you these fluorescent, light-up, different color drumsticks, and these will be your brushes and the drum set is your canvas. We want to express yourself any way you want, and we are going to photograph you,’” Smith says. “So those who know about photography know that with different exposures and shutter speeds, it will give the arm and stick movements shape and color and validity.
“So we did that, and then with modern technology, you can change a lot with textures and canvases and colors,” Smith adds. “There are so many things you can do to make it something unique and original.”
Three years later, Smith’s experimentation continued as he released more art that evolved from his original sessions which will be what art lovers will see this weekend in Stone Harbor.
“The first collection I did was just the photography part and colors, and then I started adding more things post production,” Smith says. “I wanted to add more energy to the canvas using bright colors because I wanted to convey the power and excitement and the energy of how I drum and how I was feeling, so I accentuated that with different strokes and things. It’s like anything, you keep growing and changing to make it better.”
The Art of Chad Smith, presented by the Road Show Company and SceneFour Productions, will not only display Smith’s art, but the drummer/artist will also appear for two artist receptions 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 29, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, May 30. More than 80 pieces will be on display in a variety of sizes and price points and are available for acquisition. The exhibit is free to the public to view, but a minimum purchase is required to spend time with Smith.
Smith says he never really considered creating visual art until he was approached, but it made complete sense once he heard the pitch.
“It connected to me because drumming and music are something I love to do and have been my passion for a long, long time, so it was a natural progression to take a risk and try something different and grow into a new, creative avenue,” Smith says. “It sounded interesting to me because it was an extension of my music and my drumming. It made sense to me. I just do it because I have a good time doing it, and I hope people like it.”
Smith generally uses traditional canvases — but sometimes drum skins — for his artwork, each hand-embellished and crafted from rhythm using brushes with oils of different colors.
“I don’t really go into art with any preconceived thing about how people are going to accept it,” Smith says. “Of course, when you put yourself out there as an artist, you want everyone to like it, but I don’t expect everyone to like it just like I don’t expect everyone to like the music I make. And that’s OK.
“I would rather make art that really appeals to someone and they love it, or I would like them to say, ‘This is terrible. This is the worst thing I have ever seen.’ That sort of visceral experience is what I would rather invoke in someone as opposed to some milquetoast, down-the-middle, ‘Yeah, it’s OK. It’s all right.’ That’s bulls—t. I want to get a real reaction from someone – either way.”
Smith, who has been busy during the pandemic making art and recording a new Chili Peppers album (see sidebar), says his new art project is another chapter in a very impressive — and artsy — career.
“It’s another outlet,” Smith says. “When you have been doing music for such a long time – and I still love music and am still really passionate about music – it’s great to have another way to express yourself as an artist. I am doing it because this is what I want to do. I love it, and it’s another way to grow and change. So I hope people come and have a look and that it speaks to you.”