Chaves Smith was born in New York and formally educated at New Mexico State University, currently living and working in Oakland. Chaves’s work references his time in New Mexico as well as his extensive nomadic travels, characterized by primal abstractions in rich colors, with an emphasis on geometric shapes and collage. Chaves’s playful figures and symbols celebrate and interpret human connection. While his work is not explicitly political, it references personal struggle and distills simple truths in a complex time.
Chaves is formally trained in fine art photography and photojournalism; however, he is entirely self-taught as a painter. He painted in isolation for years, refining technique and vocabulary, until encouraged by a professional artist to share the work in a solo exhibition in Las Cruces, NM. After exhibiting for several years in New Mexico, Chaves turned to traveling the American west, painting and researching for his expanding body of work before settling in Oakland