The 2004 Island Treasure Awards went to Hidde van Duym and Maggie Smith.
Hidde van Duym (in his own words)
I was born in 1935 in The Hague, Holland. My father was an engineer who had grown up in Indonesia; my mother was a native of The Hague. Economic circumstances at the time were such that couples limited the size of the family and I was to be their only child. My creative urges caused concern at an early age. Anxious to bring me up in the best manner possible my parents sent me to a special pre-school program where I wanted to draw while the teacher wanted me to start math; moreover, my drawings of an apple tree made the school authorities advise my parents to have me tested for normalcy. The tests came out OK.
My fifth birthday was special because it was spent taping the windows in preparation for the German air attacks; five days later the Dutch capitulated to the Germans. In retrospect, I think the occupation had a lasting effect on me and my peers because it left us with a sophisticated understanding of what constituted moral authority. Soon after the war I went to the Gymnasium, a highly competitive, college preparatory school laden with a heavy dose of sciences and languages, including Greek and Latin. The school faculties were the last of a breed who lived and breathed the values of Greco-Roman civilization and who saw everything related to the burgeoning mass culture as destructive. For better or worse my high school education left deep marks on me.
Then, I received a scholarship for one year of study in the U.S. One year became three years culminating in a B.A. in Journalism in 1957. On my return to Holland it soon became clear that my degree was acknowledged in the U.S. but not in Holland. I had begun building a life history in another country. I immigrated to the U.S. in 1960 and spent the next ten years studying and teaching English literature. The focus of my studies was Chaucer and I lived with him, his wife, his work and thought until I finished my dissertation in 1970. Then I felt I needed to move in a new direction.
My wife and I moved back to her hometown in Montana and I found a job conducting a survey of the needs of the elderly. That started me on a new career of organizing a wide range of community services. I was also the lucky recipient of the American West’s willingness to believe in somebody’s potential to make a contribution. The work itself quenched a thirst I didn’t know I had for learning about people, politics and history. I also developed the courage to become stepfather to two boys, ages 10 and 14. In 1986 I came to Washington and Bainbridge Island to become director of the Washington Commission for the Humanities and soon after was drawn into the Island’s cultural planning process.
During all these years, though, I had nourished my little creative demon by doing some drawing, graphics and welding whenever the opportunity arose. I decided to open the box and let it out despite the questions of my kindergarten teachers. With the encouragement of an artist friend and people very dear to me on this island I started submitting works of art for exhibits and I am intending to continue to do so. If I give the impression that this story is the result of careful planning, it is false. After all, if I had told my parents that I would spend my later years on an island in the Northwest married to an oilman’s daughter from Montana, they would have had me tested again. Luck, people’s willingness to give me a chance, and the infectious optimism with which American culture meets adversity have enabled me to try out my abilities and satisfy my curiosities.
Maggie Smith’s first experience with her future medium of choice was at an early age when, as an active tomboy, she dug out a vein of clay under the jungle gym at her playground. Born in 1950 in New Hampshire, as a child she also loved to draw, read and write.
When it came time for college, she couldn’t decide if she should major in literature or fine art, so she acquired a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the University of Delaware. Maggie first focused on drawing and painting as an undergraduate, and then rediscovered clay through functional pottery classes, leaping from fine art into craft. Her love for the medium took hold, and after receiving her B.A. she started a pottery cooperative in the early 1970s in Rochester, New York.
In graduate school she chose to pursue a degree in fine art because by that time she knew she wanted “to build things.” Her work at Indiana State University towards her M.F.A. allowed an evolution, once she had established her proficiency with the medium of clay, from craft back to fine art through ceramic sculpture.
Maggie’s first marriage was to her high school sweetheart at 19; but after graduate school she moved to Seattle in 1978 alone. She taught public school students as an artist-in-residence around the State, as well as adult artists’ workshops and mentoring programs. She had a studio in the old Polson building in Pioneer Square, where her own work was focused on abstract sculpture.
In 1986, around the time of her first public art projects, she married Victor Martino and moved to Bainbridge Island. She then moved her studio to Bainbridge in 1989, when she and Vic had a new energy efficient home, designed by Jim Cutler and resplendent with a composting toilet, built on Beck Road by Pleasant Beach Construction.
In recent years she has experimented with different materials, especially through working with architects and landscape architects on public art projects. Since 1983 she has created 20 public art commissions across the country, including the Salem Witch Trials Tercentenary Memorial in Massachusetts, completed in 1992, and the Oak Grove Freedman’s Cemetery Memorial in North Carolina, to be completed this year.
Her Bainbridge Island public art pieces are the Water Quilt ceramic tile mural at the Nakata Memorial Pool, and the Island to Island Bench Collaboration, a concrete bench with children’s tiles and bronze inlay located in the Grand Forest. With artist Buster Simpson, she produced the Winslow Gateway Project and Arts Master Plan for the Bainbridge Island 1% Public Art Program in 2003. Awards include the Boston Society of Architects Artist and Architect Collaboration Honor Award in 1993.
Maggie Smith has served her community as an artist, participating for several years as an advisor to the Bainbridge Island Public Art Program. While her main focus has been the realm of public art, Maggie’s résumé includes many gallery exhibitions, including several at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts.