Vincent Smarkusz

Undiscovered American Genius in Modern Art

The School of Fine Arts in Mexico (Bellas Artes)

Vincent developed his painting skills while at Bellas Artes in San Miguel, Mexico

After the 1946 spring semester at Hartford Art School, Vincent then traveled to Mexico to study fine arts and fresco painting under the GI Bill, at La Escuela Universitaria de Bellas Artes in San Miguel de Allende - aka "Bellas Artes".  He studied with sculptor Simon Ybarra, and painters Helmuth Wagner and Felipe Vasquez.  During his course of study, special guest teachers and speakers included David Siqueiros, Diego Rivera, and Jose Orozco - "The Big Three" painters of Mexican muralism. Vincent was highly regarded by the instructors as a talented artist with a uniquely vivid imagination, and was invited to stay on as an assistant instructor by the school's founder Stirling Dickinson.
Vincent loved the exotic central Mexico environment of San Miguel - named a "GI Paradise" by TIME Magazine in 1948 - almost as much as he enjoyed the island tropics when stationed in the Pacific. Bellas Artes was closed in 1949 however, in relation to a "Red Scare" political scandal.  Siqueiros had allegedly assaulted the school's owner during an impassioned dispute, and in retaliation the owner used his political connections to have the American expatriate instructors aligned with Siqueiros deported as communist sympathizers.
A bit disgusted, but not disheartened, 29 year old Vincent returned home to Connecticut to seek work as a professional artist.  He would also complete his B.A. in Fine Arts at the Hartford Art School, which had just recently received its accreditation as a four year college.