Rising Tides Benefit: The Energy of Art in Community

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By Jennifer Talbert

On December 7, 2018, four local photographers, Jack Gardner, Shelley Swanger, Dawn Chapman Whitty, and Chandler Williams hosted the Rising Tides Benefit at Monet Monet in Grayton Beach, Florida. The event showcased artwork salvaged from Floriopolis, a non-profit arts and culture “metropolis” located in St. Andrews; and, art donated by the artists of 30A, to help raise money for those artists of Bay County affected by Hurricane Michael. The walls and gardens of Monet Monet were sprinkled with an explosion of creativity from works of art on canvas, jewelry, and pottery – all salvaged from Floriopolis.

Four hundred and forty-four pieces were salvaged from Floriopolis and more than 200 works sold at the Rising Tides Benefit. Floriopolis, owned by Heather Parker, was severely devastated by Hurricane Michael. At the time of the storm, the works of more than 100 artists was on exhibition  at Floriopolis. “We have artists who couldn’t pick up their work because their house was destroyed, car was destroyed, or their job didn’t exist anymore. By the time we reached out to them, most of them had left town.” In a matter of four hours, the Rising Tides Benefit raised $11,327 through the purchases of salvaged and donated art and and has since paid out $4,181 to 51 artists and musicians affected by Hurricane Michael. Eileen West, well-known local gallerist and contributing 30A artist, was excited to see the turnout and proud of all the artists who put the event together. “This community alway rises up to help when terrible events threaten to overwhelm us. The “Rising Tide” that lifts all boats was a beautiful tribute to that loving generosity,” explained Eileen. During the The Rising Tide benefit, Parker casually made her way from table to table sharing stories and information about each artist. “People bought art. A lot of it. They bought art made by artists that didn’t have well known names or large followings. They bought art ranging from $3 to $1500. They bought slightly damaged art that we salvaged from the ruined Floriopolis building, and they bought art that was donated by local and 30a artists. They bought art to help strengthen and unify the arts and the artists in Panama City, Bay County.”

All of the proceeds from the event will be used to rebuild the arts in Panama City. Parker and Floriopolis will be distributing the funds into other art organizations in Panama City, as well as into the pockets of the artists so they can keep creating, and for outreach and events. “People bought local art because they wanted it, and they wanted to help. They bought heart and soul, self expression, funkiness and talent, devotion and creative energy. They bought ART to help keep those things going strong here, while we endure the aftermath of Hurricane Michael,” Parker explained in a recent post on Facebook. With an immense amount of gratitude flowing around the room that night, Parker and the four photographers who put on this event were taken back with the response from the community. The Rising Tides Benefit was a showcase of the love and passion our area has for not only giving but for the creative artists that flow so deeply in our communities core.

While most of the salvaged work was sold at the event, the remaining pieces will  be displayed and for sale at the Amavida Cafe in St. Andrews, Rosemary Beach and Seaside, and Elmore’s Landing on Highway 331. If you didn’t get a chance to make the event, be sure to check out the art on display in those locations. If you are looking to make a donation to help with the healing, growing and creating in Panama City, be sure to visit the Floriopolis facebook page to make a donation to the non-profit culture and art metropolis.

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