Former Odessa artist passes away

The Odessa art community lost a longtime friend.

Former Odessa resident Becki Smith passed away last week from a brain tumor on May 5.

Smith and her husband Jon M. Smith, moved to Driftwood near Austin in 2013.

Becki Smith attended classes at University of Texas of the Permian Basin where she was taught by associate professor of art Chris Stanley.

Stanley described Smith as “an incredible artist.”

“As a teacher, there’s this thing called raw artistic talent and Becki had that,” Stanley said.

Stanley, who has taught at UTPB since the fall of 1992 says that Smith was one of his early students.

“I was a very young teacher when I was hired,” Stanley said. “For me, I was so fortunate to have such incredible students that were here when I got here. Becki and her classmates were, what I still think, legendary as far as what they’ve gone on to do after graduating. Becki’s loss is such a tragedy for the art world in general but also for Odessa as well.”

Smith’s work focused on three-dimensional assemblages and paintings that often had found objects as part of the composition.

“She was a mixed media artist,” Stanley said. “She was one of those artists that didn’t have a boundary. She was fearless and would use materials that were in a lot of ways that people wouldn’t normally do. If you look at her artwork, you see that fearlessness with using different materials to have a voice.”

In addition, she had most of her work photographically documented as well as a current resume listing the various regional and national venues her work was exhibited.

Her family has been heavily involved in the art world.

Stanley said Smith left an impact in the local art scene during her time in Odessa.

“I think she was fundamental in us building an artistic community, her whole family in a way,” Stanley said. “She has a daughter that’s a world-class photographer now,” Stanley said. “Her husband is an incredible photographer. I think when you have a family that’s so involved with the arts, they create their own gravitational pull. That was Becki. There was an academic side to her but then there was also this artistic side to her and having those people in your community that are serious about art and making a lot of art and showing it a lot, it’s important to have a strong artistic community and Becki was that person.”