'I love the vibe that it has'

Festival of the Arts returns for 22nd edition

Sheri Kotzum | 315-4353 | @DestinLogSheri | skotzum@thedestinlog.com
Art enthusiasts browse through artwork during last year's Mattie Kelly Festival of the Arts. [FILE PHOTO]

Deb Nissley has been co-producing the Mattie Kelly Festival of the Arts for 20 years.

“I love working with the artists,” said Nissley, the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation director of operations. “Some of them I’ve known for almost 20 years but there are also new people ever year, so it’s a good mix.”

The two-day annual art festival and sale features over 150 artists combined in the juried category and collaborative tent, various art mediums, food vendors and live music.

“Everything from painting to sculpture, pottery, jewelry, glass, anything you can think of is here,” said Nissley.

Almost 95 juried artists have been chosen to sell and display their art work, while a collaborative tent will feature 20 adults and students from high schools in Okaloosa and Walton counties, including South Walton High and Rocky Bayou Christian.

There will be a total of $10,000 in cash prizes given out to the winners of each category, including Best in Show and People’s Choice.

While most of the artists are local or from states like Texas, Ohio and Louisiana, one of the artists is coming all the way from Estonia.

“This is her fourth year here,” Nissley said. “She does ceramic work and she makes some really cute things.”

Gary Worthington is a local artist from Destin who has showcased his art at the Festival of the Arts many times before.

“I love the vibe that it has, the community comes there, everyone is always positive, and it’s a beautiful setting for a show,” Worthington said. “… It has that Destin feel to it. It’s like home to me."

Worthington creates mixed-media art pieces that involve image transferring, painting and collaging. He said he brings visual aids to his shows to help people see the process of his art.

“When I explain it to people, they don’t understand, so I bring visual aids to show them,” he said. “I take a gel medium that forms like a skin over an image and then peel it up, cut that up and collage it back together, which gives it a kaleidoscope feel. Then I paint over and underneath it, which gives it a depth that’s very unique.”

As an artist of 30 years, Worthington has been to his share of shows and exhibits around the country, but he says none of them have the same feel as the festival in Destin.

“The staff does a great job of taking care of everybody and putting on a great show,” Worthington said. “… I’ve met some great people out there. … It’s a lot of fun.”

The 22nd annual Festival of the Arts is scheduled from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 27 and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children 12 and younger.