Destin's newest resort is entirely decorated with art from 13 local artists.

When officials with The Henderson, Destin’s newest upper luxury resort, started looking for art pieces to adorn its walls, they were looking for the cream of the crop.

Luckily for them, they didn’t have to look far.

Every single one of the hotel’s 465 pieces of art were created by 13 local artists, according to The Henderson General Manager Doug Hustad.

“We were looking around and wanted to find the best of the best,” Hustad said. “I was excited that we had artists right here locally. And then, once I saw their art, I saw that it was really excellent and fascinating art. We were so impressed with their work, it completely made sense for both of us to join hands on this project.”

The Henderson’s design consultant, Raquel Hustad, worked with each of the artists based on their specific style of art and how it could fit into different sections within the resort. 

“Each area of the hotel has a different feel, with different design and color palettes,” Hustad said. “For the spa, we wanted pieces that were soothing and calming. For the restaurant, more edgy.”

Mary Hong, who has the Mary Hong Studio and the Shard Shop in Grayton Beach, was commissioned to do pieces for the Salamander Spa. The owners of the hotel were so impressed with her work that they came back and asked her to do more, and now her work, 17 pieces in total, is featured in the spa, the presidential suite and is also sold in the hotel gift shop. 

“It was an honor to be a part of this project,” said Hong, whose unique artistic style consists of broken glass over paint. “For the owners to come in an introduce themselves and explain their vision, and say they want us to be a part of it … it’s an honor for my work to be in such a public space for everyone to see and it’s in my community.”

Artist Lori Drew said Bill Dunavant III, president and CEO of Dunavant Enterprises Inc., which owns the hotel, personally visited her at her studio and was “very involved” in the whole process.

“Mr. Dunavant seemed so committed to the community,” said Drew, a Point Washington-based oil and wax artist who was commissioned to do 28 paintings for the men’s and women’s bathrooms. “He just insisted on having local artists, and I think that speaks volumes about how committed he is to being a part of this community and making this resort the best that it can be. 

“It was a phenomenal experience, just to be with all of the other professional artists who were chosen,” she added. “Just to be ... chosen to do something like that was probably, in my artistic career, the best thing to ever happen to me.”

Hustad said that the resort plans to make the art an experience for hotel guests and the public, by hosting “art designated weekends” where people can come in and meet the artists and learn about their work, facilitate self-guided art tours throughout the hotel and have “historical talks” led by local artist Tony Mennillo, whose father’s photographs of old Destin line an entire hallway.

“We just want to be great local partners,” Hustad said. “We want to get the guests actively involved, and really be a community partner and expose these artists to our guests.”

To learn more about each of the artists, you can go to www.hendersonbeachresort.com/play/artist-project.