Walk into Unleashed Gallery on Main Street and you will find yourself surrounded by dramatic art pieces of vivid, glossy hues swirling as if in motion.
The gallery’s owner is Christie Smith, a professional golf instructor-turned-artist who has found a new passion in abstract art. Last week, the Redwood City artist unveiled a new installation of her work at Navio, the refined restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay.
Joel Costa, director of sales and marketing at the luxury resort, said that this is the first art installation of its kind at the restaurant.
“We were looking to refresh the artwork in our signature restaurant Navio and were looking to collaborate with a local artist with a modern aesthetic,” he said. The Coastside chamber directed him to Smith’s Unleashed Gallery, and Costa was impressed with what he saw.
“Christie’s artwork is eye-catching and really complements Navio’s warm atmosphere,” he said. “I was very intrigued, especially with her dramatic ‘Ocean’ series, which I thought fit perfectly with Navio’s concept of artfully presented sustainable seafood overlooking the Pacific Ocean.”
Smith created five large-scale, custom works for the restaurant.
“They have probably upward of $80,000 in art there,” she said. “I got artistic control and the opportunity to showcase larger pieces.”
Smith started her exploration into art about seven years ago with acrylic paints and also has a passion for photography, but her preferred medium is resin, a clear, two-part compound that hardens to a glossy finish.
Smith mixes the clear resin with vibrant pigments and pours the viscous liquid over custom-made wood panel canvases. The process is mesmerizing to watch, as the colors spread and blend. Smith attempts to control the chaotic movement with carefully coordinated pours of color, coaxed with a hairdryer and blowtorch.
She says that she likes the movement and spontaneity of working with resin.
“With resin, you only have about 35 minutes to work,” she said. “It starts reacting right away, so there is this time pressure.”
Smith is a self-taught artist and loves exploring. She lets her intuition and creativity guide her as she ventures into new territory.
Recently, she has been experimenting with adding real elements to her pieces, like particles of sand in her ocean-themed pieces or flecks of mica, Swarovski crystal or even diamond dust for sparkle.
She is working on a new series called “Illumination” where she pours translucent resin over clear acrylic instead of wooden panels, leaving spaces where light can shine through like an abstract, stained-glass window.
Smith says that she wants her art to inspire people to create, dream and imagine the life they want to experience.
“I’m a happy artist,” she said. “The fun thing for me is that I get to create what makes me happy, and people can find a piece that makes them happy.”