Art in Bloom

By By Mary Rose Boswell | Photography by Turner Photography Studio | Posted on 07.26.16 – History, Timepiece

With flowers in full bloom, it’s a great time to enjoy the artwork created by Helen L. Smith of Frederick (1894-1997).

You might say Helen Smith blossomed as an artist. She accepted commissions for her paintings and illustrated books and newspapers. She is probably best known for embellishing clock faces, china, jewelry and trays. Even her gardens were testaments to her creativity.

Smith received her education at the Maryland Institute of Art (now the Maryland Institute College of Art), Columbia University and the University of Rhode Island. From 1916 to 1925 she taught at Hood College and was head of the art department for four years. In 1925 she and Marion Spinning, a Hood graduate and former art instructor at the college, opened the Palette Shop, an art and gift store, at 311 N. Market St. In 1935, she moved the shop to 237 N. Market St. In 1940, she bought a house west of the city, where she lived and worked until she died at age 103.

This metal tray represents one of many styles adopted by Helen Smith. Toleware, the technique of painting on metal, grew in popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries. The flowers depicted here are likely to have come from her garden.

This tray and other items decorated by Helen Smith are on view at the Museum of Frederick County History at 24 E. Church St. The tray was donated to the museum by the Frederick Art Club; other items displayed are on loan from Hood College.