In a recent interview with EU Jacksonville, Smith shines some light on his venture into the marriage of sight and sound.

Known for his work with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, drummer Chad Smith is making a name for himself in the art world with a new beat centric multi-media collection. Smith was supposed to showcase his works March 21-22 at Gallery 725 at 1250 Beach Blvd. Of course now in the age of Coronavirus, all non-essential businesses have been forced to close and gatherings of over ten people and without the ability to be 6 feet apart, are not allowed. However, there is a virtual gallery where you can view the art exhibit at

Smith is considered among the pioneers in the medium of rhythmic expressionism. Using open shutter photography, each piece is created by capturing small increments of rhythm into one frame. Once the rhythm is captured on film, the color channels are isolated and manipulated to bring out their visually abstract nature. The images are printed onto canvas or acrylic or metal which Smith augments by hand.

In a recent interview with EU Jacksonville, Smith shines some light on his venture into the marriage of sight and sound. “A company called Scene Four here in California started doing this rhythmic art thing with some other musicians. They approached me about it and I was kind of skeptical at first. It’s just me in a dark room with a drum set and these light-up florescent drum sticks in different colors,” he says.

“I just improvise around the drums and they photograph me at different angles in different shutter speeds. The shutter speed really is the thing that gives the motion to what you see with the movement of the arms. It gives it the fluidity and the energy and the power and obviously the color.”

The colors and textures can be manipulated in post-production to create softer images or bursts of aggression depending on his movements. The real challenge, says Smith, is trying to convey what is normally an auditory visual thing such as playing the drums and transfer that to a flat surface like a canvas in an inspiring way.

“There’s so much different stuff you can do which I found so artistic and fun. I thought this is cool because it’s what I’m based in – playing music and drumming which is what I’ve done my whole life pretty much. And that’s what brought it to me. There is an authentic connection for me how this is captured in this modern sort of way,” mused Smith. “People can look at it and say I see the power, I see the fluidity, I see the motion. I hear music when I look at that and that’s what I’ve set out to do. It’s another creative outlet to have and I’m always looking for new ways to do things. It just kind of made sense.”

This is Smith’s second collection. He experimented with sight and sound for his first collection “Parallax” in 2016. This time around, Smith was more in tune with the process.

“The stuff that you can do, the way that you can manipulate it now, it’s just incredible. The difference the second time I did it I kind of knew what to expect. The first time I was like just play and see what happens. I knew from other people what it looked like but I didn’t know how they achieved that,” he says. “If I want something bigger, bigger stroked, or bigger flash of light, I would exaggerate my arm strokes on the drum set. If I wanted a real burst, I would play really fast. The sticks, when you hit, they would light up more and as you lifted off the drums, the light would dissipate. If I went sideways or up and down, I kind of had an idea of how it would look. It gave me a starting point but besides that, I was just improvising and trying different stuff.”

While the appearance is not billed as music event, Smith eluded to the possibility of a live demonstration to show the cross pollination of art and music. Like music, the work is open to interpretation. What piques the interest of one person may not appeal to someone else. It’s all subjective. And for Smith, there are no limits when it comes to self-expression. It’s all about finding that connection.

“You never know what’s going to happen. I get Chili Pepper fans that come out because they’re interested and it’s been fun to meet them in a different arena. Then there are people from the art world that are coming out and both of them are like ‘we didn’t know you did that’,” he says. “It’s been really positive. I’m fortunate to be able to do this and have a good time with it. If it speaks to you, whatever it is, a photograph, a film, music, painting, they see it and they get it.”

You can visit the Virtual Gallery at Please call (904) 345-9320 if you find something that interests you.


About Liza Mitchell