The Thirty-A Review March 2020

l o c a l c u l t u r e

Artist Joan Vienot Returns to Seaside From Card Table to Gallery Exhibition b y A n n e H u n t e r A fter growing up in a farming community north of Denver, earning her Bachelor of Arts Degree Joan Vienot

As 80-acres of scrub oak and sand transformed into the world’s first new urbanist town, founders Robert and Daryl Davis opened doors for the arts community. “Daryl invited artists to sell their creations. I would set up a table in the beach-shrub clearing where Perspicasity was planned to be built.” From her card table, Vienot sold ink drawings of beach scenes for $5 each. Now, forty years later, the artist returns to Seaside, this time with a series of large oil paintings from her collection Sea and Sky that will hang inside the gallery at 25 Central Square this spring. In the 40 years that would pass between Vienot’s Seaside exhibitions, her large oil painting of a Caribbean scene hung behind the bar at Criolla’s Restaurant in Grayton Beach. Susan Foster opened one of the first art galleries in Walton County at Van Ness Butler’s old office in Grayton, where Vienot first encountered Robert Davis and where the name “Joan Vienot” was inscribed on the gallery sign as the featured watercolorist. The big boom of development was yet to come. Having met with only moderate artistic success in the then-sparsely populated secret of the south, Vienot started a pool service business called Pool Pal, which grew exponentially with Scenic Highway 30A. She sold the business in late 2015 to focus solely on supporting the arts while resuming the life of a full-time artist, the career path she intended from her studies at the University of Northern Colorado. An avid stand-up paddle boarder and nature enthusiast, the artist often returns with a palette in hand to the magnificent local scenes or landmarks that she scouts on her adventures. “My paintings and drawings reflect my love of the natural world as I strive for effective expression of the truth and beauty I experience. My goal is to express my truth and to share with others in a way that helps them to see beauty and to think about my imagery in relation to themselves. By sharing my perceptions filtered through my worldview, I try to convey my understanding that we are one with each other and with nature.”

in Fine Art from the University of Northern Colorado, and teaching art in the Denver area public school system, a young woman named Joan Vienot charted a new adventure and set out for the Forgotten Coast on the panhandle of Florida to become an artist. The year was 1980, and Walton County was not yet established as one of North America’s burgeoning last frontiers. In the silence that once filled our now bustling towns, the pioneering painter would dedicate her creative passion to transforming blank canvas into the chic and effortless style for which she is now known. “I met Joan at a figure drawing class in Alys Beach in 2010 and wondered who she was because she was clearly one of the most talented artists I had seen in the area. She has stellar use of light and dedication to improving her craft,” artist Allison Wickey says, when she learned that Vienot would be presenting a collection of her works in Seaside at Anne Hunter Galleries this March and April. Vienot’s two-month solo exhibition introduces a collection of works inspired by the artist’s interpretation of the iconic waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The collection brings her full circle with the community of Seaside that was still a young man’s dream when Vienot set foot on the shores of Walton County. Soon after her arrival, the aspiring artist was visiting the real estate office of the late Van Ness Butler in Grayton Beach. “A young man came in for a short conversation with Van Ness,” she recalls. “When he left, Van Ness said to me, ‘Keep an eye on that young man. He just inherited 80-acres from his grandfather, and he has an idea to develop a whole community.’ Of course, ‘that young man’ was Robert Davis and he would go on to do just that!”

My goal is to express my truth and to share with others in a way that helps them to see beauty and to think about my imagery in relation to themselves.

For more information: Anne Hunter Galleries, 25 Central Square, Seaside, FL, info@annehuntergalleries. com; www.annehuntergalleries/joanvienot

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