Scattered showers weren’t enough to keep hundreds people away from the 31st annual ArtsQuest Fine Arts Festival on Sunday. The event at Grand Boulevard was sponsored by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County. Some 170 artists from across the nation showcased their work Saturday and Sunday. According to Jennifer Steele, executive director of the CAA, artists apply for inclusion and the group works to provide a variety of styles for visitors to choose from. She added that ArtsQuest was the first event the CAA ever sponsored, and was originally known as the Grayton Beach Fine Arts Festival. 2019 marked the sixth year ArtsQuest has been held at Grand Boulevard, and it will stay at the South Walton destination for another 5 years.
“It’s a great opportunity for especially an emerging artist to get involved and to be seen,” said Steele, who added that high school and college artists were also welcome. Among the artists on hand was Bay County’s Patrick Reynolds, who said he’s been apart of the festival for around 20 years. He noted that ArtsQuest was his first art show and a “pivotal” moment in his career. “I love this show in particular because it has such a diversity of art,” said Reynolds, who added that it led him to pursue art full time. He described his work as figurative romanticism, and said he primarily worked with charcoal and graphite under oil. “My work never matches the couch or the curtains. It’s borderline strange, but it’s conversational pieces,” he said. “It’s not just another decoration, it’s something that comes from the heart and it’s a storytelling piece.” Of the artists who attended from around the country, about 50 are members of the CAA, Steele said. She added the event was a great opportunity for artists to learn the ropes and get a feel for what it takes to make it in the industry. “It’s just a fun, family thing,” Steele said. “ArtsQuest is kind of the foundation of the Cultural Arts Alliance. … It’s kind of our staple.”