Beach waves and coastal breezes speak to an artist’s soul. With its sparkling beaches, picturesque emerald waves, and stunning coastal views, South Walton, in particular, is a creative inspiration to local artists and artists from around the world. Just step foot into any of the coastal villages along Scenic Highway 30A, and you’ll find all kinds of art on display, including paintings, photographs, mixed-media art, sculptures, and more. Some can be found in art galleries or shops, while others are on display for the public to enjoy.
30A’s Alys Beach is home to an incredible selection of outdoor sculptures. This unique beach town has long been committed to incorporating art within as part of its very structure. In fact, according to the Alys Foundation, it “believes art within the environment is part of the larger artistic thread woven throughout the fabric of the town.”
In June, Alys Protzman, the granddaughter, and namesake of Alys Varian Robinson Stephens, led a virtual sculpture tour of Alys Beach’s distinctive sculptures, sharing fun details and tidbits about each piece. And you, too, can explore these remarkable pieces in Alys Beach. Learn a little bit about each piece now, and impress your family and friends with all of your knowledge when you visit!
Recline in Blue
Recline in Blue is a bold blue sculpture designed by modernist sculptor, Dhruva Mistry. Mistry is known for using intersecting planes and bold colors to create his work. This method allows viewers to see different forms and perspectives from every angle, getting the most out of each creation. Recline in Blue is located across from the Alys Beach Amphitheater. It is made from blue powder-coated steel, and its pose is like that of a sunbather, fitting perfectly into the beach setting. One interesting fact, as noted by Alys Protzman in her virtual tour, is that there were complications in getting the sculpture made and shipped to the US. For this reason, the foundation worked closely with the artist to get the drawings and specifications and then worked with a local fabricator to produce the one-of-a-kind piece on 30A.
Turtle Bale Spring
Artist Dan Dutton’s Turtle Bale Spring is part of the Turtle Bale Spring pedestrian pocket park that runs south of 30A to the Gulf and ends at the Turtle Bale Beach Walkover. The turtle sculpture is made of cast bronze, and is evocative of the sea turtles that come to South Walton to build nests and lay their eggs. Bronze baby turtles tell a story of the beach environment, which is woven into the fabric of 30A life. Visitors, especially sea turtle lovers, won’t want to miss this beautiful piece of artwork! It’s a great place for a walk, as well as a fun spot to take photos of the kids or the entire family.
Related article: Everything You Need to Know About Sea Turtles
Created by Brazilian Sonia Eberling, Alberta was one of the very first sculptures purchased for Alys Beach. As an artist, Eberling explores the relationship between the human form and nature, and Alberta is a testament to that exploration. Made of bronze, it provides a beautiful contrast to the smooth white architecture of Alys Beach. The sculpture is located in the Alys Sales Center Courtyard, which offers a respite from the busy life outside of the courtyard walls. This piece is a wonderful addition to that respite. It radiates a peaceful, organic, and natural quality that allows visitors to take a breath, relax, and enjoy a natural setting augmented by beautiful art.
Carved out of a solid piece of solid marble, Marbella is nestled in a serene olive grove in Papilio Park on North Charles Street. The detailed sculpture depicts a mythical mermaid, blending splendidly with the beach environment. Alys Protzman’s aunt found this sculpture while traveling in Italy, and it is a great addition to the peaceful pocket park. While the artist is unknown, there is no doubt that they were a master crafter to create such a delightful piece.
Located north of Lake Marilyn, a pair of teak wood horses emerge from the tall grasses. These horses were designed by John Aspley, and he worked closely with skilled craftsmen in Indonesia to bring them to life. These wooden horses create an illusion of movement, while also contrasting beautifully with their surroundings. The teak wood structure also has a driftwood-quality about it, which is reminiscent of the driftwood found on South Walton beaches. These majestic creatures integrate flawlessly with the natural environment of Alys Beach.
Tänzerin, or “the dancer,” was created by German artist Christian Peschke, who is considered a leader in 20th-century modern art. This piece is made from bronze and coated with ceramic paint. This joyful figure dances near the Caliza Pool. When the Alys Foundation was looking for a piece for this site, they made a list of everything they wanted the sculpture to represent – movement, joy, and a sense of whimsy. The Tänzerin checked all of these boxes! It radiates female power and joy, and its organic form stands out spectacularly against the surrounding geometric architecture.
Head to the nature trails, a hidden gem of Alys Beach, to catch sight of the Dragon. This sculpture was designed by local artist Charles Lawson. It is made of repurposed metal, and the patina gives it a raw and rustic look. Its location on the nature trails provides a kind of adventure. The dragon sits among the native Florida flora, providing a fairytale-like experience. Grab the kids for a fun quest – journey along the bike path and give them a chance to spot this mystical creature!
A local painter and sculptor, Steven Wagner, has been sharing his creativity with the 30A community for many years. Alys Beach is proud to display one of Wagner’s incredible pieces of art. He designed Leda, a beautiful sculpture of a woman’s head located in Arboleda Park. This statue is made of cast stone. Leda’s gaze is focused toward the Gulf of Mexico, and her wavy hair is reminiscent of the Gulf’s waves. The yaupon holly shrubs in which she is nestled also reflect those calm emerald waves that we love so much. The white statue shrouded in green shrubbery creates a peaceful atmosphere in this quaint park.
Bunnies & Carrot
Joie de Vivre is a whimsical piece by sculptor Jim Budish, depicting bunnies and carrots in exaggerated scale and proportion. The playful bunnies are the newest members of the Alys Beach sculpture family. The piece is located to the north of the Turtle Bale Pedestrian Path. This sculpture is a fun way to pay homage to the cute animals in the natural 30A environment. And it is also a great spot to snap some fun vacation photos!
Finally, the white butteries that flank the east and west entrances of Alys Beach are a well-known and beloved piece of architecture in the community. These pieces represent a Bermuda architecture design aesthetic, which was originally used to keep food cool. When the Alys Beach architects visited Guatemala, they fell in love with the type of design and implemented it on 30A. Within each buttery, there are ceramic tiles created by Concetta Rothwell Morales, each of which depicts a part of South Walton’s history. These historical references include the Native American heritage, European settlement, the history of timber and agriculture, and the development of the Emerald Coast as a vacation destination.
The public art on display in Alys Beach is a great way to experience this quaint 30A town on a personal level. Whether you choose to look at these pieces individually throughout your visit, go on a scavenger hunt with your kids, or take a self-guided tour chronologically, it’s sure to enrich your vacation.
Ocean Reef Resorts has an office right next door to a variety of vacation rentals in Seacrest Beach that are within walking distance of Alys Beach and these wonderful sculptures. Book your stay with us so you can enjoy the magic that is Alys!
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