Geoff Smith, a nationally known sculptor who liked to make gigantic pieces out of material ranging from wood to steel to fiberglass, died of complications from brain cancer Tuesday at his home in Versailles. He was 68.
Lexington residents might be familiar with his 22-foot-tall piece called Gyroscopic that was displayed downtown in 2007. That piece is to soon be moved to Lexington's Distillery District on Manchester Street.
In New York, he created a steel sculpture in the 1980s to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge.
He especially liked making large-scale sculptures meant to be used in outdoor settings, but he also made indoor pieces that were 8 to 10 feet tall, said his wife, Teresa Lynch.
"I think the thing that was so different about Geoff's work was the diversity in media," she said. "He tried everything ... He would take a huge tree, obviously elm, and just carve it out," she said. "His ceramic sculpture was never small."
In addition to private collections, Mr. Smith's work has been displayed at the Portland International Jetport in Maine, the Portland Museum of Art, Bennington College and the University of Vermont.
His sculptures also have been in the Ann Tower Gallery in Lexington, and galleries in Louisville and Maine, where he had another home and studio.
"He really has a national reputation," said Lexington architect and painter Charley Jolly.
"His work over the years really was quite varied," he said, adding that Mr. Smith made "structural" pieces of iron and steel and "organic" pieces from wood.
"He was very much a hands-on sculptor, as opposed to others who conceptualized and had others do it," Jolly said.
In recent months, Mr. Smith had been concentrating on smaller bronze pieces, he said.
Mr. Smith, a Philadelphia native who lived in Kentucky for the past 31/2 years, spent two years as a merchant seaman after graduating from high school. He received a bachelor's degree in philosophy and English literature from the University of Vermont in 1968 and worked toward a master's degree in philosophy there.
His studies also included advanced courses in sculpture, ceramic sculpture and design. He received three National Education Association grants to create sculptures. His interests included opera and jazz, horse racing, literature and travel in Italy.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a brother, Mark Smith of Philadelphia.
A private memorial service will be held later. Memorial gifts are suggested to Hospice of the Bluegrass. Blackburn & Ward Funeral Home in Versailles is handling arrangements.