George Rivera
Executive Director
Triton Museum of Art
Santa Clara, California

August, 2002

Upon experiencing the paintings of Sandra Smith-Dugan for the first time, the viewer immediately recognizes the richness and quality inherent in her work. That the artist has great talent is evident throughout, but it is the intuitive employment of color, the creative use of compositional elements, and her technical virtuosity that allow the work to stand well apart from that of contemporaries. Whether it is in her lush and luminous paintings, or in the outstanding graphic strength that emanates from her drawings, the work of this artist exemplifies the quality, maturity and diversity of the visual arts in the San Francisco Bay Area.

For sheer power and visual presence, it is in the medium of painting that Smith-Dugan excels. However, there is often more to Smith-Duganís work than is seen on the surface. A clear sign of her maturity as a painter is that while her messaging may contain an interesting complexity, it is always delivered with understated impact. Viewers seem to be invariably drawn into Smith-Duganís paintings because of the artistís ability to imbue her canvases with a subtle mix of atmosphere and physical presence, mainly achieved through a careful but seemingly effortless interplay of color and composition.

Sandra Smith-Dugan creates a powerful sense of mystery in many of her works. These compositions can be both informative and allegorical, yet the artist always leaves ample room for viewers to use personal experience to seek questions, find answers and to create stories within the context of the paintingís elements. While the artistís subject matter remains variable, all of her paintings contain figurative components that are the result of a skillfully orchestrated, experiential creative process. As with Lucien Freud, one of Smith-Duganís primary influences, the goal is engagement itself, to draw the viewer deep into the painting but to then leave the ultimate interpretative process open.

The powerful presence of color is integral to Smith-Duganís work, and her bold use of it is evidence of the artist's joy in the process of painting. This is an intuitive painter who approaches each canvas with a combination of confidence and curiosity. This allows her to remain solidly in the creative moment, in touch with emotions and nuance, adjusting and resolving the work as she moves forward. It is this exact lack of confinement and restriction that allows Smith-Dugan to bring such freshness, immediacy, passion and richness to her work.

In addition to Lucien Freud, artists who have been influential in the development of Sandra Smith-Dugan's painting style include Richard Diebenkorn, Alice Neel, Joan Brown, and others who are associated with the Bay Area Figurative School. Smith-Dugan continues to produce work at a very mature level, and she pursues her artistic career with great passion and commitment. Fortunately for collectors, the artist is young and energetic. Her signature painting style continues to evolve, and she will remain a vital creative presence in the Bay Area art community for decades to come.