Redefining Retirement: Taking Her Foot off the Break in Retirement
Meet Drawing Jazz Artist Créme Sheri (Sheri Smith)

Redefining Retirement

Sheri Smith (aka Créme Sheri, a name that was given to her by Dave Jemilo, the owner of The Green Mill, a Chicago jazz institution) believes that there are many segments of your life and that you are the only one who can address them. For Sheri, living life as a professional artist happened when she “took her foot off the break” in retirement and the art form of drawing jazz found her.

Sheri earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and taught Fine Art in the Chicago Public School System for twenty years. After experimenting with many art mediums, including sculpture, textile design, and performance art, she immersed herself in drawing Jazz. As a teacher and in retirement, she has been devoted to historically chronicling – through her art – live performances of Jazz singers and musicians from around Chicago. For the last ten years her focus has been on creating art and having is acknowledged and appreciated.

As a self-described “nocturnal being,” Sheri visits jazz clubs around Chicago and beyond where she sketches the musicians. While she mostly draws jazz, she also draws Chicago Sinfonietta, Burlesque, theater, and other types of music. She is considered the resident artist at Le Piano, a jazz club in Rogers Park and considers Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn her happy place. Sheri’s vibrant drawings may be seen at gallery showings around Chicago, at The Smith at Home Gallery and online at Through her website, Sheri encourages connections and enjoys sharing her story and art over some jazz, coffee, or a glass of champagne.

Living in the present allows Sheri to live life to the fullest. She is self-described as “vital, creative, engaged, and giving of herself.” Her experiences are shaped by optimism and passion. While she used to put school first, now she gets to choose how she experiences each and every day.

Sheri suggests, “there is no reason to not to assert yourself on any level. Do everything now.”

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