“Passing Cemetery Hill” is one of Dennis Smith’s recently completed paintings, and, according to Dennis, it is one of the pieces that best defines him as an artist. His paintings are laced with an essence of symbolism. Some key concepts in “Passing Cemetery Hill” focus on an awareness of how we all live within our own separate worlds, within our own journeying to and from home. This concept is in part represented by the separate houses tucked along the edges of the painting. Even though we are all similar to one another, we are all unique in our experience and expression. Almost everything in a Dennis Smith painting has a greater meaning behind it. An example would be telephone poles and trees, which Dennis has said become binders between heaven and earth. Another example would be how fences, ladders and rows of trees represent, in their repetition, a consciousness of time.
Dennis said, “The significance of my visual images is connected not only to the world I see beyond home, but also within home. Home and memory are the core of past experiences. Memory merges images of the past with images of the moment. ‘Passing Cemetery Hill’ is a painting rooted in the place of my beginning – it is the small community where I grew up and where I now live. I have seen much of the world, but I always come home. Alpine, my home town, has become a metaphor for that place of rootedness. In my father’s old black truck, I pass the hill in a chronological movement through life. In the foreground, childhood prominently steps forward; our mortality and eventual demise linger always in our awareness; nevertheless hope and faith drive us toward visions of immortality. The road winds ambiguously into the distant landscape where all of us wonder about our eventual destiny, both here and possibly beyond.”