Passing of Chicago's Nicole Smith, Patron of the Arts, Curator and Gallerist

Curator and Gallerist, Nicole Smith was a friend and supporter of many artists and collectors.   Born in in the Republic of Haiti, Ms. Smith became a Curator at the Centre d’art in Port-au Prince, Haiti in 1971 moving to the United States in 1973.   Nicole Gallery was opened in 1986.  History Makers reports the following about her trailblazing spirit:  "Smith was instrumental in bringing Shona stone sculpture from Zimbabwe into prominence and the Nicole Gallery maintained one of the most comprehensive collections of Shona sculpture in the United States. The gallery came to represent one of the finest collections of world renowned Haitian, African and African African artists". (Left: Nicole Smith)

Commended for her dedication, Nicole Smith was Honored by the Chicago Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in 2009 and 2010 and was named a Chicago Defender Woman of Excellence in 2010.  Ms. Smith nurtured the careers of many important artists such as Chicago's Allen Stringfellow and George Carter, Haitian artists Franck Louissaint and Fritz Millevoix as well as Nigerian artist,  N’Namdi Okonkwo. History Makers further reports that "In 2005, she curated an exhibit of Fritz Millevoix paintings at the Daley Civic Center in cooperation with Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs.

In 2010, after the Haiti earthquake, Smith organized a fundraiser at the Nicole Gallery to benefit displaced artists who were affiliated with the Centre d’Art and also to rebuild the center itself. Also in 2010, the Nicole Gallery featured the work of Afro-Carribean influenced artists Alexandra Barbot and the microscopic sculptor Willard Wignan. The Nicole Gallery closed in 2011 after celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary".  (Left: painting by Allen Stringfellow, and above - right: painting by Fritz Millevoix)

Ms. Smith was referred to as an "angel for artists", by artist, Najee Dorsey who made this statement yesterday upon hearing of her passing: "Nicole Smith of Nicole Gallery was a champion for the arts and so many artists. "Miss Nicole", as I called her, gave me my first shot in 2006 with my first showing at the Black Fine Art Show at the Puck building and my first solo show in Chicago and I will never ever forget. She was a loving spirit and was one of the finest representatives of this industry. Many became collectors because of Nicole and artists had someone who respected and worked hard on their behalf. I loved this woman and all she stood for. Miss Nicole you will be missed ..."

From the family of Nicole Smith:
It is with a heavy heart that we announce that our Aunt, the renowned gallerist Nicole Smith, has made her transition after a brief illness.  She was a giant in the art world and we know her legacy will continue to impact artists for generations to come.  Arrangements are forthcoming.  Thank you

Learn more about Nicole Galleries at History Makers, and the Nicole Gallery Facebook Page and in an article from Chicago Art Magazine.  Also please see the latest tribute to Nicole Smith in Radio Television Caraibes.

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Comment by Joyce Owens on March 31, 2016 at 2:18pm

Famous for her yellow walls, the work showed surprisingly well in her space. This was the occasion of a 4-person exhibition in 2007 with Thomas Lucas, Preston Jackson, Joyce Owens (me) and Barlow. Dr. Bob Derden is a major art collector. I showed in Consciousness and Conditions exhibitions, and other exhibitions, including a Sapphire and Crystals show that I curated.

Comment by Martha Henry on March 31, 2016 at 11:50am

Nicole had the most positive spirit and encouraged me throughout the years that I knew her.  And she was gorgeous inside and out.   R.I.P. beautiful Nicole.

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