Applications released for 2018 South Walton Artist of the Year

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Applications released for 2018 South Walton Artist of the Year

July 25, 2017 – Visit South Walton is now accepting applications for the 2018 South Walton Artist of the Year award. Now in its 16th year, the award seeks to recognize a local artist who lives and works in Walton County and whose signature style embodies the creativity and beauty for which the area is known.

Artists who meet the criteria can download the application and instructions from Visit South Walton’s webpage; direct link:

The South Walton Artist of the Year award is a community program that showcases local artists, promoting the selected artist’s work throughout the year through a variety of publicity opportunities and events. The winner will also receive an award of $4,000 in exchange for a piece of artwork that will be put on public display.

“The Artist of the Year program allows us not only to support local artists, but also to underscore the extent to which art is truly a part of the South Walton brand,” Says Visit South Walton Executive Director Jay Tusa. “It’s very rare that a beach community can also boast a thriving art scene – that’s what we have here, and it’s something we’re very proud of.”

Submitted artwork will be evaluated based on criteria such as originality, authenticity, and overall appeal. Finalists will be interviewed in-person and must present 3 examples of artwork during that panel discussion.

The deadline for submission for the South Walton Artist of the Year program is August 25, 2017. The winner will be announced at Visit South Walton’s Annual Meeting in October. Winners for niche categories will also be announced at that time.

Former Artists of the Year include:

Marisol Gullo:

Marisol Gullo was named the 2017 Artist of the Year. Gullo’s artwork incorporates a variety of textures and colors and draws inspiration from the natural beauty present in South Walton. Gullo and her husband own the Not Too Shabby Boutique in Santa Rosa Beach. To learn more about Gullo, visit

Melody Bogle:

Melody Bogle was named the 2016 Artist of the Year. Bogle’s work focuses on oil and pastel paints on canvas painted “en plein air,” meaning “in the open air” setting. Bogle, who began her professional career with the Federal Aviation Administration, has found her calling in the art world. To learn more about Bogle, visit

Juan Francisco Adaro:

Juan Francisco Adaro was named the 2015 Artist of the Year. Adaro’s signature style utilizes oil, watercolor, industrial paint, gesso, and acrylic in a chaotic freestyle form. Adaro, who operates a gallery along 30A, moved to Northwest Florida from Argentina in 2012. To learn more about Adaro, visit

Mary Hong:

Mary Hong was named the 2014 Artist of the Year. Hong is known for her works that feature a combination of paint and glass on canvas. Hong, who moved to the Emerald Coast in 2004, operates the Mary Hong Gallery and The Shard Shop, where visitors can receive guidance while they create works of “ShardArt” for themselves! To learn more about Hong, visit

Andy Saczynski:

Andy Saczynski was named the 2013 Artist of the Year. His work focuses on the use of acrylics along with found items, reclaimed wood, or other repurposed object. Saczynski grew up along the Emerald Coast and always dreamed about owning his own gallery in Grayton Beach, a dream he accomplished in 2012. His signature pieces are not only beautiful works of art, but also intrinsically speak to a message of eco-friendly practices and a conservation. To learn more about Saczynski, visit

Allison Craft:

Allison craft was named the 2012 Artist of the Year. Craft’s primary medium is leather and pearl jewelry, which she accents with turquoise, recycled glass and antique coins. Craft, who operates a gallery in Grayton Beach, was the first jewelry artist to win Artist of the Year honors. To learn more about Craft, visit

Allison Wickey:

Allison Wickey was named the 2011 Artist of the Year. Her work, which uses a four-day, 10-step process, focuses on the use of Venetian plaster, acrylic paint, glazes, and an orbital sander. Wickey draws inspiration from her surroundings on 30A and landscapes from her Midwest roots. To learn more about Wickey, visit

Michael Granberry:

Michael Granberry was named the 2010 Artist of the Year. Granberry specializes in fine art photography that showcase natural settings as the main focal point, while the individual is a small part in the grand scheme of the photograph. To learn more about Granberry, visit

Michael McCarty:

Michael McCarty was named the 2009 Artist of the Year. McCarty creates contemporary, modern art. His works showcase an abundance of color interwoven with subtle visual suggestions. To learn more about McCarty, visit

Donna Burgess:

Donna Burgess was named the 2008 Artist of the Year. Her works are a study in the use of colors being used capture the beauty and joy of coastal life through multimedia interpretations. Burgess operates the Donna Burgess Gallery at Grand Boulevard. To learn more about Burgess, visit

Bill Stephenson:

Bill Stephenson was named the 2007 Artist of the Year. As a woodturner, his works are revelation in what can be created using recycled wood, talent and patience. To learn more about Stephenson, visit

Phil Kiser:

Phil Kiser was named the 2006 Artist of the Year. Kiser specializes in dimensional mosaics, creating beautiful works from recycled glass that combines hundreds of pieces of hand-cut glass. To learn more about Kiser, visit

Justin Gaffrey:

Justin Gaffrey was named the 2005 Artist of the Year. An artistic icon of South Walton, his work uses acrylics to create thick, textured paintings, many of which depict scenic local landscapes and wildlife. Gaffrey has a gallery along 30A in Santa Rosa Beach. To learn more about Gaffrey, visit

Susan Lucas:

Susan Lucas was named the 2004 Artist of the Year. Lucas uses acrylic paints on canvas to capture emotion in her works that showcase the rare natural beauty found along the coast, and the interplay of light in natural settings. To learn more about Lucas, visit

Dorothy Starbuck:

Dorothy Starbuck was named the 2003 Artist of the Year. She specializes in painting natural landscapes using oil paints on canvas, and her use of color and attention to detail are masterful. Dorothy’s works have been exhibited at the Florida State Capitol, the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida and the Elliot Museum in Stuart, Florida, among other venues, and she was commissioned by the US Air Force to paint “Camp Pinchot” as part of their 50th anniversary celebration. To learn more about Starbuck, the inaugural Artist of the Year, visit,


About South Walton:

Located along a 26-mile stretch of white sandy beaches in Northwest Florida, South Walton encompasses 16 distinct beach neighborhoods, each with its own visual style, amenities and charm. South Walton is home to four state parks, one state forest, and more than 200 miles of hiking and biking trails. Renowned for natural scenic beauty, turquoise waters and sugar sand beaches, South Walton was named one of the “Secret Florida Beaches” by Travel + Leisure, but is easily accessible as a drive to destination or by flying to nearby airports Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) or the Destin – Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS). An upscale, yet casual place to unwind, South Walton is the place to recharge and build lasting memories. Learn more at or follow Visit South Walton on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.