Out with the old, in with the new banners for Main Street Destin

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

With a new year comes new banners for Main Street in Destin. 

This marks the fourth year for the Destin Banner Art Project headed up by Ron Sandstead of Flutterby Antiques. 

The whole idea behind the project is to get the artwork of local artist out in the public for people to see.  

Mathis Wyren of the city of Destin works Tuesday morning to put up one of eight banners displayed on Main Street in Destin.

"Who knows, one of them could be your neighbor,” Sandstead said.  

Tuesday morning, staff from the city of Destin spent about an hour taking down the Christmas banners and replacing them with new ones that depict a coastal theme. 

The eight banners that hang in the medium on Main Street are changed out four times a year. Sandstead tries to incorporate new artists each quarter. 

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This time Sandstead has five artists that are new to the project. They include 80-year-old John Pope of Shalimar, 15-year-old Lolea Hill of Destin and Pat Roberts of Fort Walton Beach, along with Megan Keyser and Carolyn Williams. 

Pope, a retired pharmacist, lives in Shalimar and loves to paint. 

John Pope painted parasailers for his artwork for the Destin Banner Art Project. This is his first year to participate.

As a matter of fact, he wanted to go to art school instead of pharmacy, but him mom said no those many years ago. 

So, from 1965 to 2011 Pope worked in pharmacy. Then in 2011, he started to pursue his love for art. 

“Art is part of my heart, it’s part of my being, it’s part of who I am. I needed to pursue it,” Pope said sitting at Flutterby Tuesday morning. 

Pope said he likes to paint everything from portraits, abstracts and even Renaissance paintings. 

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“My wife keeps telling me, you not going to make any money. Nobody is going to want that,” Pope said about the Renaissance art. “She said paint fish.”

Pope started painting lionfish and sold every one of them. 

“But I don’t like to paint lionfish,” he said. 

“This is a hobby. I do it for fun … I want to paint what I like to paint,” he told his wife. 

For the banner project, which he found out about online, he painted a parasailing scene. 

This is Lolea Hill's first time to participate in the Destin Banner Art Project. She is the 15-year-old daughter of Robert and Amber Hill of Destin.

“Parasailing is a big deal. I see them all the time,” Pope said, noting he lives on the water. "Plus, it didn’t take me long to do it.”

Pope’s banner was the first to go up on Main Street Tuesday morning. 

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“I love it,” he said, liking the idea of it being out there for folks to see. 

“Art is really something …  it’s like looking at a rose," Pope said. "It’s an impression and it does something to our chemicals and if you look at a rose, and you say I love it. Art is the same way. You either love it or you don’t love it. 

“A person gets a response, and if it’s a happy response and they love it, I like it. That’s what I like about art, is making people happy,” he added. 

Reese Monson hands a banner to Mathis Wyren Tuesday morning as the two worked to get the new banners installed on Main Street in Destin.

For 15-year-old Hill, she painted a picture of a girl with her head above water. 

“I chose a reference to my artwork that expressed a confident feeling in my head, then I searched for water- and beach-related ideas I could tie into the reference, and came up with a girl holding her head above water,” Hill said. 

“I’ve been creating art since I knew that I could,” said the young girl. “But I started properly practicing and producing art when I was around 11."

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Hill said she likes to paint because it allows here to take her own ideas and thoughts and express them in a visual way. 

“It’s also a very helpful outlet (if she is feeling sad or unhappy),” she said. 

Mathis Wyren of the city of Destin works to straighten and attach the banner that displays the work of local artist Robin Cannon (Redbird) on Tuesday morning on Main Street.

As for her art being displayed on Main Street, Hill said, “It’s very exciting for me because most of my art isn’t publicly shown. I mainly do it for myself and sometimes my mom will post it on her Facebook page. 

“This to me is entirely new, and I’m excited to see where it takes me next,” she added. 

For Roberts, she’s new to the banner project, but not new to art. 

“I’m not a new artist,” said the Fort Walton Beach resident. “I’ve been painting all my life … but I’m old.”

Roberts painted a beach scene for her banner submission. 

Pat Roberts, of Fort Walton Beach, is not a new artist but new to the Destin Banner Art Project. She says she likes to paint landscapes.

Her favorite things to paint are sunsets and live oak trees. 

“Landscapes mostly … I like the best,” Roberts said. 

She has her artwork shown at a gallery in Fort Walton Beach and has been on the wall at Emerald Coast Gallery and Gifts in Destin. 

“I’ve been doing it awhile,” she said. 

As for the banner project, “It makes you feel good” to have it on Main Street. 

Other artist who has their work displayed on the banners are Robin Cannon, Lynn Craft and Jennifer Viaene.