How I Met Rodney

How I Met Rodney

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A visionary who was devoted to his art, Rodney Smith was an artist of the highest order. His friends often describe him as particular, meticulous and detailed. Simply put, an embodiment of “living well.”

But he was also caring and had a great sense of humor. Following are some first impressions of Smith’s, and how the perceptions evolved over time.

“I had been asked to produce a commercial campaign in South America with a “famous photographer” named Rodney Smith. The executive producer told me I first needed to go up to Rodney’s house to meet him and essentially get approved for the job. I had never heard of Rodney Smith and didn’t know anything about him. These weren’t the days of Googling everyone and everything so I truly went up to Rodney’s house not knowing anything about him or his work. Based on a few assumptions that I inaccurately made, and the fact that his executive producer was a guy who I associated with hip hop culture, I had assumed Rodney was a young hipster. Clearly, upon arriving at his house which was a beautiful estate, and meeting Rodney with his monogrammed Brooks Brothers shirt and tie, he was clearly not what I expected. He looked more like a CEO of a bank. My impression changed over time and I found Rodney to be playful, fun, funny, serious but he could also laugh at things and be lighthearted.”

— Alec Sash, Producer

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“I met Rodney in 1974 as a college teacher of mine. At that time, I felt that he was very serious, intense and committed to his craft. In later years, his sense of humor came forward, but his commitment to creating photographs as works of art continued unceasingly.”

— Terence Falk, Rodney Smith’s Former Assistant

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“Rodney wasn’t a small talker. He got right into the hard questions and wanted to know the intimate details of your life. It was very startling the first time I met him. But after getting to know him, I realized it was how he showed he cared about you as a person and wasn’t concerned with the trivialness of small talk. He wanted to know you and cared about you as a person.”

— Patricia Barrett, Rodney Smith’s Assistant and Master Printer

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“When Jill told me that she wanted to introduce us at his house, I was intimidated at first. He was very well dressed, and, like so many other designers, I admired his work so much. He loved our company and made us feel so welcome. He was very down-to-earth and excited that I loved the same things he did. We had this immediate friendship with one another because we respected and appreciated one another’s work.”

— Suzanne Kasler, Interior Designer

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“Always in a hurry, curious about other people, selective and precise, very funny. Pretty accurate.”

— Sabine Feuilloley, Fashion Stylist

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“My first impression was over the phone when I had inquired about representing his work in Sun Valley. He was warm, thoughtful and thorough. He was not willing to commit to anything until we met in person, which we did. He was all of those things in person as I experienced and the phone. That initial impression stayed true over all the years I knew him.”

— L’Anne Gilman, Director of Gilman Contemporary

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This article appears in Holiday 2021 issue of Chanintr Living Download full issue

Or explore the entire library Visit the Chanintr Living Archive

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