Arts United announces the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for the 2024 Arts United Awards. The Lifetime Achievement Award is granted to individuals who have continued to make significant contributions through arts and culture throughout their career or lifetime.


The 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award is being bestowed posthumously to Jody Hemphill Smith.


Jody Hemphill Smith was a successful artist for more than 50 years. A painter, Jody was known for her expressionist style works of floral, landscape, and still life featuring vibrant colors. In honing her craft, she also was an educator at heart. Her seventeen-year teaching career included her becoming the first female Chair of Valparaiso University’s Art Department and serving in local schools like New Haven High School and Sunnymead Elementary School. 


In 1995, Jody and their husband Mark Paul Smith bought a building in the West Central Neighborhood that was the original site of Fort Wayne Museum of Art. Together, they developed the building into Castle Gallery Fine Art. Here, she introduced nationally known artists and collectors to the Fort Wayne arts scene. Castle Gallery shows broke record sales for several national art organizations, and it has been a springboard for many more visual artists. National publications have dubbed it “The Gem of the Midwest.” The gallery has been open to the public, free of charge, for nearly thirty years. Jody also used this space, her time, and her talents to help other artists develop their career trajectories, including local creatives Terry Ratliff and Cary Shafer.


Sadly, Jody’s devotion to the Fort Wayne arts community ended in October when she passed away. She has left a legacy of artistic excellence, collaboration, arts education, and historic preservation. With this, Arts United proudly honors Jody Hemphill Smith as the 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.


For more information about the Arts United Awards, visit