Recently opened collective offers artistic enrichment and community growth for all By Laura Holloway
South Walton, and specifically 30A, is celebrated for the importance it places on art, serving as an inviting and inspiring place for artists from around the country, many of whom have made their homes here. Seaside has been a part of this movement from its inception, with Ruskin Place originally formed as an artists’ colony, an artistic community existing as a place for the creation and collaboration of art and its makers. Today, the Foster Gallery is replanting this seed in Ruskin Place, and celebrated artists from around the country are giving life to the gallery’s name, lending their time and talents to truly ‘foster’ its growth.
Led by the Cultural Arts Alliance (CAA) of Walton County, the Foster Gallery was named for the late Susan Foster, one of the founders of the CAA, and opened its flagship location in Grand Boulevard several years ago. Jennifer Steele, executive director of the CAA, explains, “The word ‘foster’ was also chosen to symbolize our commitment to supporting artists. It has developed to symbolize the support the CAA and the gallery receive from our community.”
Artists are chosen for gallery representation through a quarterly application process and jury selection, and those selected showcase their work as part of a three-month rotation. Steele says, “The artists work the gallery and they all make a point to be welcoming and inviting to guests.” Artists featured in the gallery include Allison Wickey, Marian Pacsuta, Jenna Varney, Doug Foltz, Mary Redmann, Melody Bogle, Kevin Campbell, Marscha Cavaliere, Sandra Horne, Melissa Brown, Joan Vienot, Skip Deems, Donnelle Clark, Christon Anderson, Joyful Enriquez, Samantha Stalnaker and Heather Clements.”
Doug Foltz, an artist featured in the gallery says, “The Foster is an extension of the full-on CAA mission ... one of the ways it delivers on its promise. It’s a channel, a critical, locally focused channel that feeds our community and our culture. It’s an opportunity to deliver on the critical role of the arts in society — beyond simple entertainment [and it’s] driving exploration and forcing new views of ourselves, each other and our shared world.”
Marscha Cavaliere, whose work is also featured at the Foster Gallery, describes why the gallery is important to the artists and the Seaside community: “[The gallery] means endless opportunities for us. I’m personally humbled to be on the walls with other amazingly talented artists. Now in Seaside, we can exhibit, teach art and engage with the community, showing off the cultural community of South Walton.“
The gallery, a collective in every sense of the word, provides support in the arts community to both the artists and their appreciators, moving forward the CAA’s mission of being “the catalyst for Walton County’s growth as a destination for cultural and artistic excellence through which lives are enriched, economy is stimulated, and community is strengthened.”
Art is vital to a community, and especially communities like Seaside, whose roots run deep into the pursuit and celebration of culture and style. Why? “The arts do so many things to improve communities,” Steele explains. “They drive tourism, strengthen the economy, improve well-being of individuals and those in our military, spark innovation, make a high social impact, and improve healthcare and academic performance in schools. A healthy arts community is indicative of a healthy community.” And truly, the addition of the gallery to Seaside’s already flourishing cultural environment, will only serve to foster the continued growth and enrichment of the 30A community and the lives of its locals, visitors, and artists. c
The Foster Gallery can be found at 201 Ruskin Place in the Artist Colony and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information about gallery exhibits and artist application, visit culturalartsalliance.com.