Florida Business Forum Podcast

Nature's Artist Geoffrey C. Smith Shares Perspective on His Amazing Art, Part 1

October 26, 2023 Sam Yates, Yates & Associates, Public Relations & Marketing Season 1 Episode 42
Nature's Artist Geoffrey C. Smith Shares Perspective on His Amazing Art, Part 1
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Florida Business Forum Podcast
Nature's Artist Geoffrey C. Smith Shares Perspective on His Amazing Art, Part 1
Oct 26, 2023 Season 1 Episode 42
Sam Yates, Yates & Associates, Public Relations & Marketing

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He has travelled the world and is known and recognized worldwide as Nature's Artist. The Florida Business Forum was fortunate to sit down recently with Geoffrey C. Smith as he reflected with Business Forum Host Sam Yates on the legacy that art has on our communities.

In this exclusive interview, Part 1 of 2, Smith also reflected on his first major bronze sculpture -- a gigantic 19 foot tall sailfish that has given the City of Stuart, Florida an awesome piece of art that is symbolic of the Sailfish Capital of the World. 

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The Florida Business Forum Podcast is produced by Yates & Associates, Public Relations & Marketing, and hosted by Emmy Award winning reporter and television anchor Sam Yates. If you or your business or not-for-profit organization would like to share your news with our Florida, national, and international audience please contact Sam Yates, Sam@YatesPRO.com.

The Florida Business Forum Podcast is the only business forum of its kind dedicated to Florida news, business, and not-for-profit organizations. When Florida business minds need to know, they turn to The Florida Business Forum Podcast first!

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Direct Media Inquiries to Sam Yates, Sam@Yatespro.com.

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Show Notes Transcript

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He has travelled the world and is known and recognized worldwide as Nature's Artist. The Florida Business Forum was fortunate to sit down recently with Geoffrey C. Smith as he reflected with Business Forum Host Sam Yates on the legacy that art has on our communities.

In this exclusive interview, Part 1 of 2, Smith also reflected on his first major bronze sculpture -- a gigantic 19 foot tall sailfish that has given the City of Stuart, Florida an awesome piece of art that is symbolic of the Sailfish Capital of the World. 

Support the Show.

The Florida Business Forum Podcast is produced by Yates & Associates, Public Relations & Marketing, and hosted by Emmy Award winning reporter and television anchor Sam Yates. If you or your business or not-for-profit organization would like to share your news with our Florida, national, and international audience please contact Sam Yates, Sam@YatesPRO.com.

The Florida Business Forum Podcast is the only business forum of its kind dedicated to Florida news, business, and not-for-profit organizations. When Florida business minds need to know, they turn to The Florida Business Forum Podcast first!

Program Sponsorships are available starting at $500/monthly with a minimum six-month sponsorship.

The Florida Business Forum Podcast is affiliated with the Pod National News Network USA providing business news podcasts to every State in the U.S.A. The Florida Business Forum Podcast is herd throughout Florida, the United States, and 32 countries and territories.

Direct Media Inquiries to Sam Yates, Sam@Yatespro.com.

Sam Yates, Host, Florida Business Forum, Florida's Number One Business News Podcast:

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another informative episode of the Florida Business Forum Podcast. Let's open the Florida Business Forum floodgates and let the information begin to flow. Here's your Florida Business Forum information guru and Anchorman Sam Yates. Hello, everyone, the information floodgates are indeed open and the information is flowing right here on another episode of the Florida business for us. You know, one of the great things that I enjoy about being in the media business, whether it's streaming worldwide as we do, or perhaps it's the the conventional television that I used to do, or even that old time thing called Radio, it's that you get to meet some very, very interesting people. And sometimes those people are right in your own backyard, and you have to see something from outside to go, oh, wait a minute. I remember, I know this person, and you say to yourself, wake up. This is an interesting story. And that is exactly what has happened with this particular episode with someone that I've known for a long time, and was just browsing through some information. And there you were receiving an award. And it was sort of like a wake up call that said, Hey, you haven't talked to Jeffrey Smith in a while, get on the phone, get in touch with him. And I am so happy to welcome on our program today. Geoffrey Smith, and he is an internationally acclaimed artist, sculptor, photographer. And you know, he is one of those people that you're always going, what is the next talent that he's going to reveal that you don't know. And actually, for those who cannot see, but are watching or listening to the audio portion of this. The latest talent that he has is sculpting his moustache. So Geoffrey, welcome to the program.

Geoffrey C. Smith, Nature's Artist:

Thank you, Sam, that's quite an introduction.

Sam Yates, Host, Florida Business Forum, Florida's Number One Business News Podcast:

Well, you know, I've never had a loss for words, but it is my pleasure to welcome you to the program. And I know that we have known and chatted with each other for quite some time. But not everyone is familiar with you, as I am. Tell us about yourself. Give us a bit of the historical vantage point.

Geoffrey C. Smith, Nature's Artist:

I grew up in Northern California, in a family where we spent all our time outdoors whether on the bay on the ocean, in the marshes in the mountains, and my my love of wildlife was fostered at a very early age. And I think when I was 15, I started doing duck decoys, carvings, wood carvings, my my grandfather was quite an accomplished Carver and he helped me get started. And I made these decorative duck decoys and I enjoyed that. And that was kind of my job through high school and college, creating these duck decoys and I would sell them and just keep going. That when I was 18, we moved from Northern California to Montana. Or I went to Montana State University in Bozeman. And shortly after getting out of college, I learned about the lost wax casting techniques and making the bronze sculptures and I was so enamored with with this with you know, shifting from the wood to clay and casting. And I you know, I never thought I can make a living doing woodcarvings, but I thought I could with the with the sculptures. And so I kind of prematurely went headfirst into it. And, you know, we're 40 something years later, and you know, I'm still at it. So I love it. It's been my life. My subject matter has always been a nature of the wild animals. And that's that's what I love.

Sam Yates, Host, Florida Business Forum, Florida's Number One Business News Podcast:

You know, the award that you were recently given and I want to come back to that in a moment. But you know, it's interesting, you mentioned nature. I think the title that was used in that, in that media release of the award was nature's artist and And that segues right into something that's sitting over your right shoulder for those who are not watching on YouTube but are listening to the audio portion of this and that is something related to the city of Stewart Stewart is known as the sale Fish capital of the world. And if you've ever visited Stuart, you will come into contact with this behemoth. 18 To 19 foot tall depending on how, how you measure it, it is a ginormous sailfish in a fountain. And it is more or less, I think, in many ways was symbolic of the city of Stuart, tell us how did that that brand selfish come to be?

Geoffrey C. Smith, Nature's Artist:

Well, the, I think it was in 2001. My studio was over on Canada Highway, and we need a straight, a beautiful building there. And the downtown business association group, they came to my studio and they have Jeffrey, we've got great news, we want you to do this big statue. And, you know, it'll be around about going in Joe Jefferson way to round about big fountain, it's gonna be fabulous. And everybody was excited, and they thought they could sell T shirts, raise the money, and we'll have the statute. I explained to him that these things are very expensive and a lot of work and, and, you know, there, there's no way we could sell enough T shirts, you know, it would take 1020 years to raise the money. So I was excited. This was a wonderful opportunity. And I went to everyone I knew and told them about what these people wanted to do. And, and they wanted me to create a sculpture. And within a very short period of time, there was Stewart light tackle sailfish tournament going on and, and I've been involved with them since I moved down here. And they at that party had sell in one day, you know, great philanthropic leader in our community and Big Sail fish, fishermen and, and I mentioned it to him, along with other people. And, you know, I was asking, you know, anybody, you know, was, you know, not accustomed to begging for money, but that's what I was doing. And then that was one day of the tournament, the next the next night of the tournament, and I had my sculptures here, I was selling my sculptures. And he came over to me, he goes, I'll do it. Like, you'll give us$10,000 He goes, No, he goes, I'll pay for the whole thing. So that ended my fundraising career. So I didn't get the experience I was looking for of getting all these people to, you know, amass this fortune pay for this big statue. But we move forward, I made this sculpture, you know, the impact that it has had on the community is unbelievable. And I travel around the world a lot. Everybody knows to statue and Stuart. I've even had people say they move to Stuart because of that. Sculpture. You know, any town that has a fish in the center of their town. That's why I want to live kind of thing. It was USA Today did a an article on it. And you know, it was in when we put it up all the local newspapers, but even today, it's 20 years old. It's our 20th anniversary. And people love it. I mean, it's it's a point of pride. It's iconic. It's It's fabulous. I'm so glad that I made it so happy that it's been received this way. And it really has shaped Stewart. In addition to the steward sailfish, that's probably my most famous sculpture in town. We have I think 818 other, you know, half a dozen large scale pieces, and a number of smaller ones all over town. And I don't know any other city that has an outdoor collection of sculptures by one artist, such as this

Sam Yates, Host, Florida Business Forum, Florida's Number One Business News Podcast:

truly, truly fortunate community to have that.

Geoffrey C. Smith, Nature's Artist:

I've had many times people will be taken pictures of it and I'm like, hey, you know, I'll let me take a picture for you know, oh, thank you, you know, and then I tell my mate and they're like No Get out of here. You didn't make this. So it is interesting and it. It is a beautiful sculpture and like any piece of art. They grow on you over time. And you know that it it is as powerful today or more powerful today than it was when when we installed it 20 years ago.

Sam Yates, Host, Florida Business Forum, Florida's Number One Business News Podcast:

It is certainly taken on quite a patina and that sort of leads into something I want to come back to the sailfish but for anyone who wants to get in touch with Have you whether they're looking to purchase something from one of your galleries, they see something online. Or perhaps they would even like to say, Jeffrey, I have this, this idea, I would like for you to sculpt something for me or paint something for me, how can they get in touch with you?

Geoffrey C. Smith, Nature's Artist:

We have our website, it's Jeffrey smith.com. That's GE o FF, R EY smi th. That's easy. We also were also in the process of setting up a nonprofit to help with our environmental work and getting sculptures out to help with that message. And that's the art of nature dotnet. But we have our gallery in downtown Stuart but the our flagship is a studio in Port Salerno. We're right on Dixie Highway. It's over 7000 square feet. It's a beautiful, beautiful studio.

Sam Yates, Host, Florida Business Forum, Florida's Number One Business News Podcast:

It's impressive. I've been there. And folks, if you really want to see what the inner workings are all about, I invite you to stop by and say hello. Let's move back to the to the sailfish. When I look at that sale fish, I can almost see it coming to life. And, and really, you have brought that to life. But as I as I think you mentioned was a lot of work. The Lost Art came back to being not just with that, but explain what went into making that sculpture.

Geoffrey C. Smith, Nature's Artist:

When bringing something to life, I think you know, for me, I can look back and say you know, that's a lifetime of observation and learning and see and knowing how to make something move. And then having the skill to to execute it. Now in the case of any of my sculptures, I start with observation. Sail fish, you know, we have a lot of sail fish here, I've done a lot of fishing for them, I've swam with them, I photographed him underwater, down in Costa Rica, where the waters a little flatter and warmer. And the fish are more plentiful, but just the same. So I try to learn as much about the animal as possible. And then put that all together, it's you know, goes into drawings. And then from the drawings we make up, usually, I call it it's a mock cat, which is a French word for model. And we make the mock cat. And that's we'll see three dimensional sketch and I start out with a rough one, and then I'll refine it and refine it. And that will eventually become the essentially the blueprint to where we enlarge and make the big sculpture. So I have this two foot sculpture and then we kind of enlarge it. We use Styrofoam and various techniques to now we have some computer technology that helps with that. But when that was done, it was all done by hand raised up so we cut it all out of Styrofoam. And then there's like an inch of clay over the top of it. And then it's the like how about the lat lost wax casting launched are so investment casting or serate produits, the French term for launched blacks from the original sculpture and it's a complicated process. We have videos online and here in the studio, but most people don't. I've even had people in big museums that thought they knew everything about bronze sculptures and when they saw our video, they're like we had no idea what goes into it from the original clay sculpture. A rubber mold is made and the sculpture gets beat up. Oftentimes cut into pieces but it gets tore up pretty good when the rubber mold is made. And then we use that rubber mold and then we pour a wax in that mold and then we recreate the original in a hollow wax and I'm simplifying this but and then that hollow wax is dipped into a silica slurry and it's called investments in Destin. And we create a ceramic shell around the wax and then that shell is heated up. The wax melts out and that's where the term washed wax comes from. The wax melts out the Laxus last. Then the bronze is poured into that shell at 2200 degrees. It pours like water it's glowing hot. bronze is essentially a copper with a little bit of tin, sometimes silica or zinc is added different other different trace metals, but it's predominantly a copper and tin. Then when the when that cools, they beat beat that shell with a hammer, whatever you know and, and break it all apart sandblast it and pull the the raw metal out of there, then the metal is cleaned up just sprues that the gates where the bronze are flowing, that's all cut off. And then heat and chemicals are applied to the surface texture to get the patina that patina is the color. And that goes from all different, you know, rich browns and greens to sometimes we use some paint pigments to get different colors. But that's a traditional treatment to the metal that patina. And patina is a comes from the Greek word for color. And that's an in it. The last thing is it's sealed waxed. And to protect it and keep that color.

Sam Yates, Host, Florida Business Forum, Florida's Number One Business News Podcast:

How long this sounds like a for ladies and gentlemen, for those of you who want to see more meticulous detail of what goes into this, as as Jeffrey said, it is on their website and also in their in their studio. But how long does that entire process take from beginning casting to final product?

Geoffrey C. Smith, Nature's Artist:

Well, on my larger projects, they're now in that two to three year process. But the actual sculpting may may be anywhere from a week to a month. And then the foundry process can be anywhere from used to be like three months, but now it's more like six months to a year between the molding and all the casting. It's gotten much more after COVID much more difficult.

Sam Yates, Host, Florida Business Forum, Florida's Number One Business News Podcast:

Were you there for that sailfish casting in person when when the the the molten metal was poured into the cast? Were you there.

Geoffrey C. Smith, Nature's Artist:

So not during that, but I'm there when all the panels are welded together. I mean, there were people crawling inside the body of the fish welding on the inside. So I'm there for putting all the metal together, getting it just right. And then going over the surface texture, making sure you know where the welds are that they're all chased out, you can't see them. So I was there for all of that I was there for the whole patina process. That's the piece that big, we've got multiple people on multiple scaffoldings you know, with blow torches going around trying to kind of evenly heat this whole structure up. You know, and it's really easy to to back into somebody else with a blowtorch. So it can be and that the patina on that pieces was probably an eight hour 10 hour process. But you know, turned out great. Then we loaded on a trailer and had it driven down here to Stuart.

Sam Yates, Host, Florida Business Forum, Florida's Number One Business News Podcast:

What was your feeling? Like? I don't know if the sailfish was your first major piece, but what was the feeling like for your first major piece? How did you feel what What emotions did you have?

Geoffrey C. Smith, Nature's Artist:

Well, it's a long process, and you have a lot of time to think while you're, you know, working on it. I know, when I first started working on the full size model going up and down a scaffolding because 18 feet high with a bucket of clay. At first you're very cautious and scared, you know, and you could fall and get hurt and people have you know, but you know, after a few days of that, you know you're you're going up and down the tree you know up and down the scaffolding and use do it and in the flow. And then you know when that was all done it's so much work they're just worn out and and even if the foundry when that piece is finished with a patina, you know, you're wiped out. And then you know, it takes a few days to you know, you're recover and still look back and say wow, I did that. That's cool. And then a few weeks pass and now we're at Joan Jefferson. Well A there's a crane lift in that piece piece off the trailer and it's up in the air and you know, the TV stations are there and you know, there's hundreds of people watching it. You know, it's it's, it's it's wonderful it's beautiful I'm you know, I'm proud that I did it and I'm happy you know it was a that was a true milestone in my in my career and that was my first big big picks

Sam Yates, Host, Florida Business Forum, Florida's Number One Business News Podcast:

Our special thanks to Geoffrey Smith artists sculptor and photographer, nature's artists for being here on the Florida Business Forum Podcast. We do have yet another episode with Jeffrey so I invite you to stay tuned for more news the Florida Business Forum is dedicated to showcasing Florida businesses and CEOs of all sorts to promote their business or not for profit in the only business forum of its type in Florida. Thanks for tuning in. And remember, the Florida Business Forum is now accepting guest applications. Have a great day everyone and stay tuned for more business