Words by Paige Townley
Alys Beach is known for its pristine white sands, sparkling blue water, and beautifully unique architecture, but another defining factor of this seaside town is its affinity for art.
An appreciation for all things art is woven into the very fabric of Alys Beach. In fact, that artistic vision was included in the initial planning of the community as a function of The Alys Foundation, tasked with procuring pieces designed to enhance the overall experience of the town in the display of art within the environment. Artwork and sculptures are tucked into parks and common areas all around Alys Beach, a natural gallery space to view the art within a clean, architectural context.
The first piece in Alys Beach’s collection—Alberta by Sonia Eberling of Brazil—sits within the Alys Beach Sales Center courtyard, the community’s very first building. Since then, Alys Beach has added to its collection, and each piece celebrates the beauty, diversity, and mindfulness of Alys Beach and the world around it. Today, the collection features unique pieces from artists around the world. The mediums of each piece—whether wood, bronze, marble, or original mixes and treatments thereof—are as diverse and distinct as the many world-renowned artists who’ve created them.
Mosaic tile murals by Concetta Rothwell Morales, found in each of the four butterfly buildings flanking the east and west entrances into Alys Beach, speak to the town’s coastal location and specifically to the history of the South Walton area. Also drawing on the Gulf-side location are two very different mermaid sculptures installed within pocket parks of Alys Beach. Marbella is a Carrera marble sculpture from Italy, artist unknown, tucked into a grove of olive trees in Papilio Park, and Leda, a cast stone sculpture by artist Steve Wagner, emerges from rolling waves of yaopon holly within Arboleda Park.
As a nod to the ecology of the community is another popular installation featuring gartist Dan Dutton’s untitled verdigris patinaed bronze turtle and hatchling sculptures along the, Turtle Bale Spring pedestrian path. Continuing along this path on the north side of 30a and adjacent to Fonville Park, this ecological homage continues with a collection of bronze sculptures by Jim Budish, depicting rabbits as a celebration of the creatures found within the more thicketed landscape as one travels towards the Nature Preserve.
Works of art are even found along the Alys Beach Nature Trail with the untitled dragon sculpture by Charles Lawson tucked into a sandy outdoor room surrounded by walls of palmetto and longleaf pine forest. At the edge of the Nature Preserve, John Aspley’s untitled teak wood horse sculptures frolic amongst the native Lovegrasses.
A highlight of the community’s art collection is a bronze sculpture (white varnish with ceramic coating) of a dancing woman by German artist Christian Peschke. Known as Tänzerin, the piece illustrates the very elements for which Peschke is known: joy and beauty. Another sculptural celebration of feminine beauty is one of Alys Beach’s newest additions, Recline in Blue. Situated across from the Alys Beach Amphitheatre on scenic 30a, Recline in Blue is a piece by sculptor and Royal Aacademician Dhruva Mistry. Many of Mistry’s works are featured in major galleries and museums around the world, including Tate, Royal Academy of Arts, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Asian Art Museum in Fukuoka, Japan, and Jehangir Art Gallery Mumbai, India.
As time goes on, the Alys Foundation will continue adding to the already renowned collection, further making Alys Beach an oasis for not only serenity of mind and celebration of beauty but a sought-after landscape for all things art.