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By Anne Hunter

For the past three years, a group of seven abstract painters from New Orleans have painted in Seaside Among them is their teacher, Nell Tilton. “After painting for years at The New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts and traveling all over for abstract painting workshops, Nancy Hirsch Lassen and I hatched a plan to find a place along 30A to create our own self-directed workshop,” says Crutcher.

After a few false starts, Crutcher was lucky enough to find Janie Henderson and more recently Beth Carr, who were both, at the time, with The Seaside Institute, who liked the idea of hosting artists as part of the Institute’s cultural programming.  With the help of Henderson, the artists coordinated a space, a tent and movable walls on which to paint. Then, in March of 2016, the seven artists drove in from New Orleans and set up shop at the Academic Village in Seaside for their first fabulous week of painting together. Their work is currently on exhibition at next to Amavida Coffee and Tea at Anne Hunter Galleries in Seaside.


We sat down with Janie Henderson, who coordinated the first Seaside Seven weeklong art studio, to find out her inspiration for initiating the program and how she hopes to see the future unfold.

What inspired you to build the program for the these artists?

I love art, and I love my community. I wanted to create a program that celebrated both of those things. I pictured the locals and visitors on their way to somewhere in Seaside, stumbling upon this outdoor art studio, with large pieces of canvas and paint splattered everywhere. I know that I always feel the most inspired when I’m surrounded by people who are creating. It gets my wheels turning, it opens my mind, it connects me with people in ways I never could before. I wanted people to feel that way when they were at the Seaside Institute.

What was it like the first year?

The end result was exactly what I had envisioned it would be, but getting there was another story. There were a lot of moving parts, red tape and hoops to jump through. At one point I thought the whole thing was a bust and I was crazy for attempting this type of program with the limited resources that were available at the time. But I had some great support. Arthur Abrams, our fearless intern, who would stop at nothing to get the job done. My husband, who built the movable walls that were used as easels (and also helped assemble the tent).

What are your thoughts on continuing the program?

Perhaps the ‘Seaside Seven’ will be the first of many artist groups that come to Seaside to create and connect with our community. I know that by the end of their first week, our abstract artists felt more like old friends, instead of colleagues or clients. It would be wonderful to have an entire network of artists who feel connected to our community in that way.

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