“My story is a bit of a fairy tale,” says Marisol Gullo, the 2017 South Walton Artist of the Year. “I never thought it would happen the way it happened, and as quickly as it has happened.” 2017 was a whirlwind year for Marisol, who has had a number of doors open for her in the art world – including an invitation to Art Basel in Miami in December; an international art fair that showcases artwork from established and new, upcoming artists. “How blessed am I? My hobbies turned into a real career,” said Marisol.
Marisol started her professional career as an attorney in Costa Rica, where she is originally from. Although she loved art, she thought of it as more of a hobby and sought out a profession that would allow her to be more financially independent. While representing a casino owner, Marisol met her husband Tony, who was born and raised in Las Vegas. Tony had been in the casino business for some time, and came to Costa Rica to run her client’s casino. Tony and Marisol came to South Walton on their honeymoon, and as does everyone when they come to visit here, they loved it. They vowed they would one day move here. They have now lived in South Walton for almost 18 years.
Shortly after their move, businesses began leaving the area due to hurricanes, the economy collapsing and the BP oil spill. However, the Gullos managed to stay and thrive due to their construction company. In 2011, they opened their store Not Too Shabby Boutique, which has recently moved to Miramar Beach, allowing the store to double in size.
The Gullos specialize in a furniture theme Tony calls, “Coastal Chic.” They make the furniture and produce their own paint and finishes. The pieces are made from reclaimed wood and antique pieces that are repurposed, made to look like they are from the old world with faux finishes infused with coastal colors like emerald, turquoise and white. “If you put it together well, it’s one of the most elegant, coolest relaxed looks,” says Tony. They also customize pieces such as dining room tables, end tables, side tables, mirrors and headboards.
When the store opened, Marisol decided to paint a few pieces that would complement the furniture. They sold immediately, and she made a few more pieces and sold those as well. The stability of the furniture store allowed her to work on her art, which is her passion. Her art became known throughout the area by word of mouth, and soon she was asked to produce art for local charities, and restaurants in the area. “This community has been so embracing. It has been incredible.” Marisol stated. She currently has pieces in Cuvee (Destin), Trebeache and Stinky’s Fish Camp.
In 2016, Marisol, who is a self-taught artist, applied for South Walton’s Artist of the Year (for 2017) and won. “There are so many amazing artists here. It’s Incredible. I am so humbled, she said. “That absolutely gave me the validation of becoming a professional artist.” It definitely helped to catapult her career as an artist, and now galleries from around the country are seeking out her work. Marisol and Tony are staying busy, but they are very grateful. “I am fully invested, and happy to do it,” said Marisol. “The blessing of God has been upon us and our family.” If you are interested in the Gullos’ one of a kind Coastal Chic furniture, stop in to Not Too Shabby Boutique at their new location at 9755 Highway 98 in Miramar Beach. You can check out Marisol Gullo’s art at www.marisolgullo.com.