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Take a Look Inside the Foster Gallery

If you haven’t been to the Cultural Arts Alliance’s Foster Gallery yet, be sure to schedule a visit to this new artistic space. The co-op gallery features a rotation of different works from local artists who also help manage the gallery. We interviewed Jennifer Steele, Executive Director of the Cultural Arts Alliance, to learn the story behind this initiative.

Where did the inspiration for the Foster Gallery come from?

Part of the Cultural Arts Alliance’s mission is to support local artists and an art gallery is a great way to do that. Opening a gallery had been a goal of ours for a long time, but we just hadn’t had the right space or resources to do so until recently. One of our board members brought an opportunity to us to move into a space that had previously been a gallery and was available again. When we looked at the space we knew it was the perfect fit and location. And, our organization had finally grown enough to where we would have enough staff to help support the gallery with the artists’ help, too. So we went for it!

Where did the Foster Gallery get its name?

The Foster Gallery is named after Susan Foster, who was one of the first gallery owners in South Walton and the founder of the Cultural Arts Alliance. Susan was a photographer and was very passionate about making art a part of our community. She founded the Grayton Beach Arts Festival – what eventually became ArtsQuest – with Jeff Ellis and Jan Clarke in 1989. Not only is the gallery’s name a tribute to Susan, but it also reflects our mission to foster arts in the community.

How did you set up and organize the gallery?

After we secured the space, we set up the gallery and opened its doors in only three weeks! We had all hands on deck to transform the empty space into a complete gallery in such a short amount of time. I was really impressed by what we were able to do. The gallery, which is 2,300 square feet in size, is organized into zones for different artists’ works. We also have a “one size fits all” wall that features 10x10 panels from a variety of different local artists.

What has the response from the public been like since the gallery opened?

It’s been extremely positive. As the word gets out about the Foster Gallery, we’ve had nothing but support and encouragement from local artists and community members. More than 200 people attended our grand opening event, which was double what we expected! We anticipate that the gallery will continue to grow. My vision is that eventually the gallery will be so successful that we’ll have hundreds of artists wanting to present their work here every year, and that it becomes a go-to place for people to find unique, local art for their collections.

Melody Bogle & Jennifer Steele
Artist of the Year Melody Bogle poses with Jennifer Steele, Executive Director of the Cultural Arts Alliance, at the Foster Gallery grand opening.

Why do you think South Walton is the right location for the gallery?

I have been a part of the South Walton community for my whole life and witnessed the incredible growth of the creative scene here. South Walton draws in creative people with its natural beauty and the community here is so supportive of the arts. That type of culture allows places like the Foster Gallery to thrive.

The Foster Gallery is located in Sandestin’s Market Shops and is open Monday through Saturday. Stop by during your next visit!

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