A recent YouTube video for Raising Buffaloes, the family vlog Dustin Patrick Smith and his husband Burton Buffaloe launched this summer, finds the handsome Raleigh couple en route to “test drive an Alpaca.” What the less imaginative among us might call a tour of a local farm, the outing is a part of their real-life plan to become alpaca farmers in the next year. You’d think the busy parents — raising four-year-old twins in the house they built together while juggling two full-time jobs and a bonus social media career sharing their journey as a gay couple in the South — might not have the bandwidth for such an undertaking, but you’d be wrong. And beyond buying a farm, Dustin also finds energy to devote to expanding his art collection.
As a salon owner, stylist and makeup artist, creativity is a way of life, and art has been a passion since college. It all started with a David LaChapelle book, Hotel LaChapelle. “It spoke to me,” recalls Dustin. “The images he created struck every sensory [receptor] in my body. Inspired is an understatement.” Today, some of his favorite artists include Canadian illustrator Geoff McFetridge, pop surrealist Mark Ryden and Raleigh artist Shaun Richards, who painted a large mixed-media work that’s the focal point of the couple’s living room and an especially meaningful piece for Dustin. He explains, “Like that view from your favorite rooftop bar or the balcony of that perfect mountain getaway, art is a way to surround yourself with moments of emotion.”
“Just like that view from your favorite rooftop bar or the balcony of that perfect mountain getaway, art is a way to surround yourself with moments of emotion.”
What's your take on how art can enhance daily life?
“I can tell a lot about someone by the way they dress or the haircut they rock. I feel like art is a continuation of that. It's a way to express and reveal yourself to others in an unspoken way.”
Is there one piece of art that anchors the rest of your collection?
“There is a large painting in our living room by Shaun Richards. It’s an image of an airplane crash with two boys, one is supporting the other, allowing him to spread his wings to fly. It's a beautiful painting, and at first glance, we knew we had to have it. It connects to us in so many ways that we are confident were not Shaun's intentions….but we saw the two of us in these boys — one giving strength to the other out of the wreckage.”
Tell us about the one that got away.
“Eyvind Earle did a series of barns that I absolutely love. There is one in particular that I obsessed over forever and dragged my feet on it. When I finally came around to buying it, it had been sold. To this day, I give my husband a hard time about it, especially now that we’re buying a farm.”
Any insights on unusual places to discover new talent?
“These days the most unexpected place I find art is in my driveway. Seeing the creations that my kids do with sidewalk chalk makes me want to take a jackhammer to the driveway and hang it in my house. I love their minds and how they see things. It's beautiful to me.”