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DESTIN, FLORIDA – (July 7, 2017) Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) has named husband-wife duo Tony and Vivian Zack of Destin, Florida, the 2017 Festival of the Arts poster contest winners.

 Recognized as one of Northwest Florida’s premier fine art shows, the Festival of the Arts, produced by MKAF, is one of the most anticipated cultural events of the year on the Emerald Coast. This year’s 22nd annual event is set for Oct. 28-29, 2017 at the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village in Destin. 

Tony and Vivian Zack have been collaborating as an “art team” for more than 22 years in their Destin, Florida studio. The unique individual styles of these two self-taught artists combine to create their signature whimsical form of “funky” folk art.  

The winning mixed media (metal, leather and paper on painted wood) is entitled “Can’t Catch Me” and depicts a majestic mermaid at home in her “skin” made of wistful music. Clad in a pink butterfly bikini with flower blossoms woven through her flaming hair she floats effortlessly in emerald waters amid turtles and sea swirls casually grasping a wine glass and bottle, which seem to signal her sense of celebration.  

Though they have participated in Festival of the Arts for 19 years (1998 was their inaugural year), this is the first year they have been honored as the Poster Art Contest winners.  

“We use our life experience in our work and we are so excited to have won with our elusive mermaid,” Vivian says.  “I’m not the bridesmaid anymore, I’m the groom!” Tony quips of his first-time win. 

This is the first time an art team duo has won the contest. As the annual Poster Art Contest winners, the Zacks will receive a cash prize of $500. The winning artwork will be used to promote the 22nd Annual Festival of the Arts by being prominently showcased on the official festival poster, postcards, the festival guide, t-shirts and souvenirs, on the MKAF website, Facebook page and more.  

This creative couple met in 1994 as employees of Big Kahuna’s in Destin, where Tony, a carpenter by trade, carved many of the attractions wooden tiki-style pillars and sculptures from a chainsaw. Vivian has moved on from her stint as a gem assayer for a mining attraction no longer in operation, but Tony still works there full-time overseeing all daily maintenance.

Before trying her hand at a few different entrepreneurial businesses along the Emerald Coast, Vivian entertained audiences all over the nation (and on cruise ships) as a professional singer. Now, she focuses her time on the couples’ artwork and custom commissions, taking the lead on their line of Zack Cats — whimsical canisters and mugs depicting the likeness of the couples’ cat, Kiki.  

The couple started creating art as a way to spend quality time together. “We were looking for something we could do together as an outlet for our creativity,” Vivian explains. “Now it is our passion.” 

When they are not collaborating on a new direction for their artwork, you can find this good humored, gypsy-hearted couple traveling cross country by car. “We stay off the interstate and try different routes. If the map says it’ll take three days, we’ll spend eight enjoying the sights along the way,” Tony says. 

“When you travel, you see things differently when you come home and that’s what makes our art what it is. We have different creative minds that combine when we collaborate on art,” Vivian tells.  

“After nearly 20 years of participation, the Zack’s have become mainstays of the Festival, so we’re delighted the judges selected their beautiful collaborative mixed media piece as the winning entry,” said MKAF Artist Market Chair Deb Nissley. “The spirit of this piece well reflects their light-hearted personalities as well as the whimsical life of the coastal lifestyle we enjoy here on the Emerald Coast.”  

During the Festival, more than 100 premier artists from across the United States and Europe will offer up their original artwork in the form of oil, watercolor, acrylic and glass paintings; photography, sculpture, pottery, wood, paper, fiber, mosaics, mixed media, jewelry designs and more in order to compete for $10,000 in cash prizes in 27 award categories, including the coveted Best in Show and People’s Choice Award which is selected by the festival fans.

The Festival also will feature a Collaborative Art Exhibit, which showcases select artwork of more than 40 community adult and student artists.  

A celebration of art, music, food and family fun, special features of the Festival include a live music lineup, hands-on arts and craft activities for children, souvenir posters and t-shirts, art raffle and more. A diverse menu of delicious cuisine served up by local restaurants and food trucks, along with a wine and beer garden, and water/soft drink beverage stations. Convenient on-site parking and free shuttle service are also available.  

Admission is $5 for adults; children (12 and under) are free. Proceeds from the Festival help MKAF live its mission of supporting both emerging artists and education outreach for all populations of children, adults and local disabled veterans, including special needs.

To make a tax-deductible donation or provide a corporate sponsorship or learn more about the Festival of the Arts, visit or call (850) 650-2226. Deadline for sponsorship opportunities is September 1, 2017. 


Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF), a 501-c-3 not-for-profit charitable arts organization, founded on the cultural, educational and spiritual beliefs of the late Destin matriarch, Mattie Kelly. MKAF’s mission is Northwest Florida’s champion of cultural arts and arts education for all. Since it formed in 1995, its art programs have reached and inspired more than 300,000 children in over 61 schools, and United Way agencies, children and adults with special needs, and wounded warriors.