It’s nearly impossible to travel through the Treasure Coast and beyond and not spot one of
Geoffrey C. Smith’s masterpieces. The Stuart-based artist’s work has become part of the fabric of the area, sculpted birds, fish, and wild animals peppering the landscape as well as residents’ private homes.
“What I’m trying to do is connect people to the natural world,” says Smith, 59, who shares his explorations and creative processes through his YouTube channel. “There are still lots of beautiful and wild places, and a lot of people don’t even know they exist.”
In late June, Smith set out on his paddleboard to Hole in the Wall, an estuary on the northern tip of Jupiter Island, to film a short clip for his newsletter, The Patina Journal. There, a reddish egret caught his attention. He photographed and filmed it, saving the footage for when he is ready to sculpt in his 7,000-square-foot studio in Port Salerno. “It’s all about observation,” he says.
A native of northern California, Smith spent time living in Montana and would often take trips in search of inspiration. Once, during a journey to Africa, he met his fate with a layover in South Florida that would change his artistic trajectory. A fellow sculptor friend introduced him to the late Hobe Sound art dealer John Payson, who would end up representing Smith and his gallery for several years. “I had enough of the cold and traveling, and Montana didn’t have too many people,” Smith says. “I thought, ‘I’d rather live where my clients are.’” That was 24 years ago.
Smith also owns a gallery downtown, right up the street from his famous, 19-foot-tall, bronze Stuart Sailfish, which was donated to the City of Stuart by the late Ed Sellian in 2003. He still has all of his sculptures cast in bronze at a foundry in Montana, which he has used since his early beginnings.
“One thing I get a great deal of pleasure out of is that final bit of interaction where the artwork finds a home,” Smith says. “It’s sure nice when I hear, 10 years later, that someone loves it even more than they did when they bought it.”
Tools of the Trade
Find what inspires you.
“I am inspired when I wake up. I love to get up before the sun and watch the sky change colors. I love being out in nature. There’s so much nature surrounding us since the coronavirus—more animals have encroached our neighborhoods because there’s less activity.”
Respect the planet.
“We have to get along with the animals. I think the health of animals and birds is our health too. We have to figure out a way to live sustainably in the environment and make it better for all of us. The world is a better place when the birds are out there singing. Take responsibility.”
Follow your instincts.
“Look for the good. Look for the beauty. It’s in the eye of the beholder—something that is beautiful to one person may have no meaning to someone else. Go on crazy adventures to far-off places. That’s the story behind the art. Most importantly, be true to yourself and follow your own views.”