The New Urbanist Art Movement is budding along the 18-mile stretch of scenic highway situated on Florida’s Gulf Coast, called 30A — and its influence is global.
By Anne Hunter, Proprietor of World Six Studio Gallery, Rosemary Beach Photos of Anne Hunter by Michael Granberry
On the evening of December 16, 1895, a newly transformed gallery opened its doors at 22 Rue de Provence in Paris. The owner was Samuel Bing, an established art connoisseur and gallery owner. Bing called it L’Art Nouveau to emphasize the modernity of the works he intended to show.
The opening of Bing’s gallery marked the beginning of the new style and gave its name to the international stylistic movement in the fine and decorative arts that defined a new way of European living. The Art Nouveau movement sought to make art part of everyday life, to break all connections to classical times and to bring down the barriers between fine and applied arts. It was underlined by a particular way of thinking about modern society and new production methods, attempting to redefine the meaning and nature of art so that art would not overlook any everyday object, no matter how utilitarian, hence the name Art Nouveau – “New Art.”1
Historically, a visionary artist is the first member of a culture to see the world in a new way. Then, nearly simultaneously, a revolutionary physicist discovers a new formula for interacting with the world. The artist’s images, when superimposed onto the physicist’s concepts, create a compelling fit, precipitating social and cultural changes in lifestyles and ways of thinking that sculpt movements in art. Nations and regions of the world historically experience their own independent sequence of movements in culture, with varying degrees of global influence. As world communications have accelerated, geographical art movements have become less common, fueling the now rare synchronized art movements for far reaching impacts of global proportions.2
The Way of Art
The question of how to participate in social struggles and integrate meaningfully into society is a challenging one for most artists.
The 1800s introduced the capitalist industrial society and expanded the bourgeoisie with disposable income and time. They desired a new kind of space for the enjoyment of art—the gallery. It emancipated art from state and religious institutions for the purpose of expanding thoughts and ideas. As a result, artists evolved from the role of servants to established religion or aristocratic patrons and into a world where they would be judged on their merits by a larger and more populist society—the marketplace, the critics and the gallery patrons.
For the artist, the advent of the art gallery brought the inevitable reality that in order to be understood, there must be some degree of bridging between the distinctively different lifestyles of the artists and their patrons. Conversely, their patrons, as business capitalists, faced an identical struggle when contemplating a life devoted to the appreciation of the arts.
This disparity between the two worlds is a gap that is rarely traversed. When attempted, it ultimately creates a conflict that causes both the artist and the capitalist to work in ways that contradict established paradigms and institutions. The few pioneers who tread this course are regarded as freethinkers in their respective fields.
For the artists, there are moments during which the desire for social or market change has led to working within the sphere of business capital to align themselves with wider social movements or to break with the established institutions of art.
For the capitalists, it serves their social and political purpose to consider how to leverage the arts in their favor, by positing art as outside of political engagement—and as dependent upon the perpetuation of existing economic conditions and social relationships.3
The New Urbanist Real Estate Sector
New Urbanism is an emerging real estate sector that challenges the traditional resort model. These changes are multi-layered, encompassing everything from design and master planning to construction and development, operations and retail mix. Driving this change is a customer demographic dictating fundamental changes related to evolving lifestyles.
The New Urbanist buyers value premium real estate offering superior quality, excellence of design and consistency. They are connoisseurs of haute cuisine and fine wines, they are art lovers, sportsmen and outdoorsmen, spas and personal health are part of their daily regime, and they are focused on spiritual studies and pursuits. For these Boomers, Zoomers and the Mass Wealth Segment, leisure time has become a highly coveted commodity. These affluent consumers have grown more sophisticated in their creative expression and their personal pursuit of the arts. These are tough customers to please, as they are seeking new and different experiences, cosmopolitan venues, challenging things to do and new ways to expand their personal and spiritual horizons.
While art is subjective, physics is the objective arena of motion, formulas, forces and aspects of light.
The demand for amenity-rich New Urbanist communities will continue to expand. In addition, the supply of properties within a drivable radius of urban centers that can effectively satisfy this demand is limited, creating a favorable supply-demand imbalance.
Could the changing conditions of the real estate market, along with the accelerating New Urbanization of Scenic Highway 30A, become the compelling energies that fuel a global art movement?
Cultural movements are increasingly focused on the ideals of independence from existing market structures. Leaders of such movements choose their tools sensibly and build their networks across disciplinary boundaries, often occurring in opposition to government and social policies. However, successful movements have moved beyond the polar opposites to produce some of the most powerful social, political and market changes in history.
In the conflict between artists and social structure, some artists have sought to align themselves with wider social movements that engage capital enterprise in order to effect change. In this regard, artists discover roles as consultants who could be called upon to address social needs through creative thinking and communicating powerful messages through works of art.
Likewise, the business capitalists—in our case, the developers—are called upon to align with developments beyond their property boundaries to expand the economic impact of the 30A community as a whole. Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach, Seaside, WaterColor, WaterSound and Grayton Beach provide the significant synergies, critical mass and market for positioning 30A as the international center of an art movement.
Scenic Highway 30A integrates authentic New Urbanist living with effective retailing; however, because we are in a transformative phase of growing consumer demand, we need year-round experiential infrastructure targeted at the seasonality of traditional resort real estate. Witnessing local residents engaged by the amenities of our community naturally compels the seasonal-tourist market to indulge in the New Urbanist lifestyle until ultimately acquiring the real estate befitting the new way of living to which they have been exposed.
A rich slate of all-season activities, in conjunction with the natural amenities of the destination, result in significantly enhanced consumer demand matched with animated retail concepts that both boost the local economy and increase long-term real estate values for the community. This translates into superior financial performance and appreciating real estate values, ultimately positioning 30A as a New Urbanist community that hums with activity and vitality at every level. This ideology strengthens 30A’s global position as the world’s premier New Urbanist corridor and as the preeminent geographical location for celebrating the human creative spirit.
The Reorganization of Perceptions
Consider that art encompasses imaginative aesthetic qualities while physics exists as mathematical relationships between quantifiable properties. While art is subjective, physics is the objective arena of motion, formulas, forces and aspects of light. The world between is mostly unchartered and a loss to the human condition.
Creating the bridge between art and physics requires individuals with common goals who are concerned with both the inner realm of emotions, dreams, spirituality and the external scientific dimensions of time and space, social order and market conditions. It requires a technique that merges the realistic with the abstract, revealing the disparity between art and physics and forcing harmony upon them. However, there is one fundamental truth that connects these two disciplines. Revolutionary art and visionary physics are both investigations into the nature of reality concerned with the perceptions in the study of quantum physics and the mysteries of the universe.
Local citizens, as the physicists, can unite the community under the banner of art, and local artists, as visionaries, can focus on producing great creative works.
Next, consider that art, as an objective technical discipline, is wholly compatible with the interests of capital and then imagine local citizens as the physicists in this model.
The principal question? How to create an active alternative central to positioning ourselves for the re-emerging real estate market.
The answer? Cultivate the emerging art scene while attracting new artists on both national and international levels.
This ideology requires commitment from both organizations in order to forge a new path that positions our community as the global center for the protection and nurturing of the arts.
Local citizens, as the physicists, can unite the community under the banner of art, and local artists, as visionaries, can focus on producing great creative works. Thus, they participate together in restating the concept of our community. This beckons with a stentorian tone, does it not?2
The New Urbanist Art Movement
When the works of master artists and the world-changing ideas of great thinkers are juxtaposed with the emerging New Urbanist artists and business leaders along Scenic Highway 30A, the combination is the provocative and compelling synergy of the New Urbanist Art Movement.
Fast-forward one century and imagine yourself discovering these words inscribed in a future history of American culture:
Celebrating the achievements of the past century and accelerating development into the next, the New Urbanism design movement, which began in the 1980s, is both a reaction to sprawl and a return to centuries-old European living. Based on sound planning and architectural principles coming together to create human-scale, walkable communities, New Urbanism was founded upon the work of architects, planners and theorists who believed that conventional town planning could be more effectively composed. This new conception of 21st century lifestyle is adept at nurturing creative expression and New Urbanists have uncovered an ancillary benefit of New Urbanist living – the artist within. New Urbanists have become incubators of art, manifesting their creative talents in a variety of art forms.
New Urbanist Art is considered a “total” style, meaning it encompasses a hierarchy of scales in design, embodying all art forms, the sciences and philosophy. The seeds of New Urbanist Art expression are manifested through the various art disciplines: architecture and the decorative arts, including jewelry, furniture, textiles and lighting, coupled with the full range of visual, literary and music arts.
Then, rewind to find yourself reading these future words of history today:
The New Urbanist Art Movement erupted in response to the discovery of human creative genius exemplified through the outstanding examples of architecture, design, music and literary, visual and performing arts in the New Urbanist corridor called 30A, situated on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Illustrating a global transition thought reminiscent of centuries-old art movements, the New Urbanist Art Movement sprang from the artful lifestyle born of New Urbanism, an American urban design movement that arose in the early 1980s.4
1 Masini, Lara E. (1984). Art Nouveau. Great Britain: Thames & Hudson
2 Schlain, Leonard. (2007). Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space,
Time and Light. New York: Harper Perennial
3 Bradley and Esche. Art and Social Change. New York: Tate
4 Wikipedia. (2008). Tags: Art Nouveau. New Urbanism. Art Movements