Art event benefits Artificial Reef Association

Sheri Kotzum | 315-4353 | @DestinLogSheri |

On Thursday night, the art community came together at The Henderson to help raise awareness and funds for the South Walton Artificial Reef Association.

Nine artists who have art work on display at The Henderson mingled with guests and demonstrated their work during the three-hour Art Wave event in The Henderson’s Crystal Ballroom.

“We just wanted to celebrate the local artists that are here on display while also bringing awareness to the coastal reefs and everything SWARA is doing,” said Jessica Proffitt Bracken, the president of Proffitt PR.

In addition to having pieces for sale, each artist selected a piece of their art to be sold in a silent auction during the event. All proceeds from ticket sales and the auction benefited SWARA, which is a non-profit aimed at the construction, deployment, and monitoring of permitted artificial reefs in Walton County’s Gulf of Mexico coastal waters in order to benefit the underwater habitat and ecosystem.

“What a great turnout,” said Jim Richard, VP of SWARA, as he looked around the room. “It’s great seeing all these artists in one place to support a good cause. We have some big aspirations and some big plans so we need all the help we can get.”

Jeff Waldorff, a landscape photographer, lives in Navarre and takes often takes pictures near Navarre beach. He said he believes rebuilding reefs is a win-win for everybody.

“It’s a win for businesses, it’s a win for locals and it’s a win for ecotourism,” Waldorff said.

He chose a picture of a baby ghost crab sitting on a starfish skeleton, whom he named “Sonny,” to be featured in the silent auction.

“That’s my best-selling picture of all time,” he said. “He’s about as wide as your thumb. That was a difficult shot because ghost crabs are so skittish, but my wife calls me the critter whisperer because I’m able to get so close to them.”

Lori Drew was another local artists featured at the event. Instead of creating a clear picture, her unique oil and cold wax paintings give you the feeling of being at the beach.

“The coast is beyond beautiful and just inspires me to try to create the feeling of it,” she said.

No two pieces of Drew’s are exactly the same as she said her process is more intuitive than methodical. Instead of using brushes, she uses drywall knives to apply the wax and paint to wood panels made by her husband.

In addition to meeting and chatting with the artists, guests were treated to complimentary cocktails, live music and light finger foods.

The event raised a total of $7,615 for the South Walton Artificial Reef Association.