Lona Hymas Smith, 50, of Burley, Idaho, passed away Friday, March 9, 2012, from injuries sustained in a bicycle accident.
Lona was born April 14, 1961, in Burley, Idaho, the daughter of LaVern and Hazel (Linzy) Hymas. She graduated from Minico High School in 1979, then went on the attend Ricks College, where she studied art.
Lona also enjoyed creating "illusionary realism" as she fondly tagged it, through her woodcarving. At 4 years old, she was drawing human forms. Later, she majored in sculpture at Ricks College, taking all the classes she could in human figure drawing and
3-D art. But it wasn't until 14 years after college that she discovered her rare talent in wild life art. Lona was one of only two recognized women bird carvers in Idaho, as well as the only woman fish carver. Her creativity, skill, dedication and love of her craft was beautifully displayed in her carvings, which were sold at the renowned Kneeland Gallery in Sun Valley, Idaho, and the Horizon Gallery in Jackson, Wyo. Private collectors recognized her incredible gift and commissioned her to do pieces for them. Her work was sought by numerous collectors for the exquisite attention to detail and the beauty of the pieces she crafted.
Lona's work has been publicly recognized through a number of honors and awards, including the prestigious Ward World Championship and placement in the University of Tulsa Gilcrease Museum collection. Although very humble and sincere by nature, Lona was so thrilled when her carving of the Stellar's Jay won the Advanced Level "Best in Division" for Decorative Life-size Wildfowl in the 2010 Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition in Ocean City, MD. This event is the top competition for world-class woodcarvers, and Lona's exceptional Stellar's Jay was a great representation of her skill. Lona gave of herself and her talent to bless the lives of others by donating art work to auctions benefitting wildlife.
Lona showed her work across the region, commonly drawing praise for its realism and detail. It has also been
displayed across the country, including in a display at the Bronx Zoo in New York.
Prior to the November 2011 Ketchum Gallery Walk, Lona's carvings demanded between $1,500 and $20,000 each.
Lona found inspiration in every living thing. There is no greater example of wisdom than nature. I can spend sometimes months researching every detail of the life of a fish or bird - how it thinks, what it eats, why it behaves in a certain way and what makes it unique.
She was given the ability to visually express her deep connection with, and love for the overlooked life within the natural world. Her greatest joy and feeling of accomplishment comes with capturing the pure magic of the simplest moments in nature and sharing this gentle love and excitement of all things wild.
"People ask me how long it took to carve a specific piece and I tell them, 19 years. A lifetime," she said at the time. "Thatís because every piece I do started with research, collecting photographs and reading piles of ornithology books in order to learn everything I could. Thatís how I capture the life of what Iím portraying."