Unforgotten: The Art of JD Smith

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Unforgotten: The Art of JD Smith

March 11, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm


San Pedro, California: Gallery Alfa Romeo Tango at the National Museum of the Surface Navy at the Battleship IOWA is pleased to present the artwork of Los Angeles-based artist and Navy veteran J.D. Smith.

J.D. Smith is not your average artist. He did not attend art school, and he has no formal art training. He is what many in the art world would call an outsider artist or a folk artist.

After high school, J.D. started work in the trades as a pipe fitter and shortly thereafter, joined the Navy. There he became a boiler-room technician on an amphibious assault ship. Today he works as a pipe fitter in Venice, CA.

These experiences gave J.D. a deep and lifelong appreciation for the ships that he and his fellow sailors lived aboard and called home. Studying the naval history of World War II is his lifelong obsession. His grandfather worked as a hydrostatic welder during the war, repairing many damaged ships. J.D. has taken these deep connections to the warships that fought in the Pacific and turned them into a prolific art practice.

The result is a trove of painstakingly-detailed, beautiful, and deeply-loved renderings of historical vessels. Each drawing, which can be over 10 feet long, exhibits J.D.’s tender and true illustration of the complex form and composition.

Hidden messages and understandings exist in these drawings, sometimes decoded with Navy flag codes. The drawings exude an honest obsession that is hard to look away from.

Showing these works inside an actual World War II battleship allows a unique and focused understanding of J.D.’s artwork. It’s a perfect fit to share this local veteran’s drawing at Gallery Alfa Romeo Tango on Battleship USS IOWA.



Please park in the Port of LA lot adjacent to Battleship IOWA. Parking is free for the first hour, then $2.00 for every subsequent hour.

Note: we are expecting cruise traffic that may reduce the number of spots available. If the POLA lot is full, alternative parking locations include:

  • Maritime Museum lot (6th & Harbor)
  • 5th & Mesa St.
  • Topaz Building (between 5th & 6th St, paid)


Battleship IOWA
250 S. Harbor Blvd.
San Pedro, CA 90731 United States
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Other photos - US Navy Archives and National Archives

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