Art Week South Walton

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Ten years ago, Mike Ragsdale looked upon the alabaster facades that uniformly characterize the buildings at Alys Beach in South Walton County and saw something more than white walls.

Jacqueline Ward Images

Projection art was born as a product of commercial applications, but has evolved in the 10 years that the Digital Graffiti festival has been around to the point where it is being created purely for (projection) art’s sake. Some 200 entries were received for the 2017 show. Above, a projected image from Digital Graffiti 2014.

The founder of The 30A Company, a brand that promotes kicked-back beach life, Ragsdale viewed them as empty canvasses that artists might paint with projection art.

Kelli Siler, the director of events at Alys Beach, was around for Ragsdale’s epiphany and wishes that what would become Digital Graffiti, a highly regarded art festival known internationally, had been her idea. Instead, it has been substantially up to her to speed the evolution of the event through its first decade.

“Projection art is a fairly new art form, and I can recall our first years when we had to try to explain what we were doing,” Siler said. “And, if you’ve never witnessed projection art, it is not an easy concept to picture. Today, though, it’s advanced to the point where artists are doing it not just for commercial applications, but simply as a way of creating art.”

Alys Beach continues to grow and Digital Graffiti has grown with it. More buildings make for an enlarged blueprint for the festival with more projection stations.
This year, the festival also stands to grow owing to its participation in Art Week South Walton, an initiative of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County. The alliance is succeeding in consolidating several events beneath the Art Week banner.

Art Week began to become a reality after the alliance acquired the Seaside Writers Conference, explained CAA Executive Director Jennifer Steele. A year ago, the alliance co-promoted the conference and its long established ArtsQuest as parts of the same whole. (ArtsQuest is a juried art show and art sale that is in its 29th year.)

This year, additional events have been added to the alliance’s Art Week, including, notably, Digital Graffiti.
“We’re finding that it is to everyone’s advantage from a marketing standpoint to combine forces,” Steele said. “We’ve already achieved success given the number of partnerships Art Week has generated.”  

Jacqueline Ward Images


There is strength, it seems, in the number, one, and Siler is fully on board.

“Our call for entries is highly targeted,” Siler said. “Art Week is spreading awareness of Digital Graffiti among artists representing other genres and their followers.”

Nothing says that Digital Graffiti cannot build on its already global reputation. When asked whether she has seen any interplanetary entries this year, Siler said, “No, but we’re working on Mars.”  

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