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Utah Father, Sons Bond Over Art Featuring Chickens, Tony Soprano

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – What do get when you combine TV mobster Tony Soprano and chickens? You get an art show by renowned Utah artist Tony Smith and his two sons, Evan and Willie Smith, titled “3Smiths.”

Tony, now 80 years old, made a name for himself in illusionist art. His work is in the National Collection of Fine Arts, the Smithsonian and other national and state collections.

However, working alongside his sons was something new.

“You spend most of your life alone, working with your own mind and your work,” Tony said. “So for three people that do something together is much more social and has all those aspects, and we’re not used to any of that.”

The three Smiths drew and painted what Willie draws best – Tony Soprano and chickens.

Evan made a monoprint of a chicken and Willie added Tony Soprano to it. Evan, Tony and Willie drew pictures of themselves as chickens.

Willie drew pictures of the Sopranos and Evan and Tony improvised on the canvas.

“Then Willie would come in and look at that and say, ‘Nope, it’s ruined.’ So then he would have to do the drawing again,” Tony said.

“He loves the Sopranos,” Evan said. “He loves family, he loves the idea of family – and Italians, I think, embody that. He’s so loyal and loves his family.”

“For Willie, the family is everything,” Tony said.

Tony devoted his professional life to art. Evan, who teaches art at West High School, said he doesn’t feel that same connection.

“I never wanted to be an artist necessarily,” he said. “I never had that feeling like ‘I’ve got to express myself. I have to have art shows and things like that.’ That was never a kind of a motivation for me.”

Willie, Tony said, cares even less about art.

“He wasn’t interested in the show, he didn’t want to go to the show,” Tony said. “You think Evan doesn’t care less, Willie could care even less about art.”

The show isn’t really about the mobsters or chickens – maybe, it’s about family. That’s something that Evan and Willie do care about.

“3Smiths” is at the Alice Gallery through September 6.

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