March 8, 2002 - Smitty

A rose by any other name may "smell" as sweet, but what if the rose is made out of a recycled Coke can? Will it "look" as good? It will -- if it's made by the Rose Man of Chimes Street.

Just call him Smitty because that's the only name he wants to give, and as he twirls a pair of metal shears, I ask, "Is that a part of the routine, or are you just showing off?" "Oh, I show off," replies Smitty. "That's part of the routine because I can do that."

You'll find him on Chimes Street, right in front of the Bayou Bar, and Smitty says he can make a rose out of anything. "It's really not that tricky. You just have to be smarter than what you're working with. And working with a can, being smarter than a can is not that tough."

This all got started when Smitty's wife showed him how to make a rose out of a satin ribbon about 25 years ago. Now he's branched out. He'll do a rose out of anything -- window tint, brown bags, burlap coffee sacks, rice paper and, of course, Coke cans.

Smitty says, "Coca-Cola collectors, their motivation is to have that one thing that no one else has, and as far as I know I'm the only one. I'm what's called a blessed artist, but I think most of us are. My dad used to say all the time that it's a privilege to be in the art business."

He'll share that privilege on Chimes Street. Smitty can usually be found at his curbside gallery on Fridays, Saturday's and "whenever the weather is particularly nice."