fbpx vie magazine subscribe button

Art Aquatic

by emme martin | photography by lori saczynski

Nature has always served as the best inspiration for art. Whales, in particular, have been creative and literary muses for centuries thanks to their vast size and elusiveness to shore dwellers. Northwest Florida–based artist Andy Saczynski belongs to the ambitious category of artists who have pursued a life-size replication of the mysterious creatures. Saczynski was determined to make this vision a reality, and what better place to do it than the artfully aquatic community of South Walton, Florida?

As Saczynski is an awarded artist in the area and his work has graced the walls of Chef Jim Shirley’s restaurants for years, it didn’t take much convincing for Jim Shirley Enterprises (proprietor of Great Southern Café, The Bay, North Beach Social, Farm & Fire, and The Meltdown on 30A) to get on board with the project in early 2021. Shirley and his team feel deeply about creating more public art destinations in Walton County for visitors and locals to enjoy, and this was a perfect opportunity to start that initiative at North Beach Social on the shore of the Choctawhatchee Bay.

Saczynski planned the wood and mixed-media sculptural mural, loosely based on the Rice’s whale species found in the Gulf of Mexico, for over a year before installing the piece at North Beach Social in February 2022. | Photo by Nathan Saczynski

Not only was Shirley on his side, but so was fate when Saczynski came across an article about "Rice’s Whale." The endangered whale species is in dire need of preservation, with likely fewer than one hundred individuals remaining. Saczynski learned that the unique whale is consistently found at the continental shelf break in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, usually at depths of one hundred to four hundred meters. The artist decided that his project would honor Rice’s whale through a loose interpretation of the species. He hopes the sentiment brings awareness to their preservation and pays homage to the magnificent creatures that call the Gulf home.

With the basis for the project in place, Saczynski and Shirley decided that North Beach Social would be the best canvas for the extensive feat. The two-story structure offers a large wall overlooking the bay that allows the whale to serve as the perfect backdrop for musical and fun-filled afternoons and evenings at the restaurant’s outdoor seating area. Meanwhile, guests upstairs at Farm & Fire restaurant might catch a glimpse on their way in or out if they head across the back patio!

On February 8, 2022, after about a year of planning and with the execution process already underway, Saczynski delivered pre-cut pieces of wood to the site, where he began to outline the shape of the whale. He pieced together the installation throughout the week, starting with the tail and head. The installation process made quite a spectacle for restaurant-goers, but according to Saczynski, they didn’t seem to mind—some even came to watch. Next, he continued the installation process, which involved completing the structure of the whale’s body, adding more layers of wood, and painting it in his signature abstract style.

Chef Jim Shirley and artist Andy Saczynski with Saczynski’s new whale mural at North Beach Social in South Walton, Florida

After five days and a lot of hard work, the result was a massive array of bright turquoise details, swirly fish in the whale’s belly, and guitars on the tail that pay tribute to the days and nights full of live music at North Beach Social. The project was not for the weak, as Saczynski estimates he used and carried over eight hundred pounds of wood for the life-size mural. Nor was it frivolous, as it was essential to the artist to keep waste at a minimum, a feat in which he succeeded.

It is easy to marvel at Saczynski’s ability to execute such a large project. However, the vision and purpose behind it are even more significant. Saczynski’s concept embodies some of the best parts of the local community—an appreciation for the arts, dedication to preservation, and a desire to make life more beautiful. He and Chef Shirley hope the installation will bring viewers a sense of joy that will spread through South Walton and beyond, and we have a good feeling it already has.

— V —


To see more of Andy Saczynski’s art, head to AndySaczynski.com. For more information on North Beach Social and Farm & Fire, visit ChefJimShirley.com.



Read Responsibly

VIE Magazine - The Art & Design Issue November 2021
VIE Magazine January 2021 Special Commemorative Edition
VIE Magazine September 2020 Wanderlust Issue, Fancy Camps, The Idea Boutique
VIE Magazine August 2020 Art & Culture Issue, Nathan Alan Yoakum Art
VIE Magazine - Architecture & Design Issue - July 2020
VIE Magazine - Decor and Home Issue - June 2020
VIE Magazine May 2020 Entertainment Issue, Leslie Odom Jr
VIE Magazine - April 2020 Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine March 2020 The Fashion Edit, VONDOM, Alys Beach Fl, Digital Graffiti, Tres Chic, isidro dunbar Modern Interiors, Digital Graffiti Festival
VIE Magazine February 2020 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Travel Issue - January 2020 - Tanzania Safari Cover
VIE Magazine - Women's Issue - December 2019 - Tina Brown Cover
VIE NOV19 Goodness Issue
VIE Magazine, September 2019 Art & Culture Issue, Paul Hanninen
VIE Magazine - August 2019 - The Architecture and Design Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2019 - The Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - June 2019 - Fashion Edit
VIE Magazine - May 2019 - Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine - April 2019 - The Health & Wellness Issue
VIE Magazine - Special Entertainment Edition - March 2019
VIE Magazine February 2019 Luxury Homes & Technology Issue with Robbie Antonio of Revolution Precrafted
VIE Magazine - January 2019 - Southern Sophisticate Issue Cover
VIE Magazine - Special Anniversary Travel Edition - December 2018
VIE Magazine - The Goodness Issue - November 2018
VIE Magazine - The Art & Culture Issue - October 2018
VIE Magazine - Home & Garden Issue - September 2018
VIE Magazine - August 2018 Animal Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2018 Architecture & Design Issue - Subscribe to the magazine!
VIE Magazine - June 2018 Travel & Tech Issue
VIE Magazine - May 2018 Couture Issue
VIE Magazine - The Culinary Issue - April 2018 Cover - Chef James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst
VIE Magazine - The Entertainers Issue - March 2018
VIE Magazine - February 2018 Destination Travel Issue
VIE Magazine - January 2018 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine, The Sophisticate Issue, December 2017
VIE Magazine - November 2017 Art & Culture Issue
VIE Magazine - October 2017 Home & Garden Issue
VIE Magazine | September 2017 | The Stories and Storytellers Issue
VIE Magazine - The Adventure Issue - August 2017
VIE Magazine - July 2017 - Art & Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - The Voyager Issue - June 2017
VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
Summertime!
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail

X

A LIFESTYLE