I was fortunate this year to once again spend the 4th of July on Florida’s beautiful Gulf coast. I was also fortunate to have a show opening there at Amavida in Rosemary Beach on June 25th showing some of my abstract works. My thanks go out to Arix Zalace who worked very hard to get the show up and make it look great in the space. And I was very pleased that the image used to advertise the show sold on opening night. So thanks to Arix, Dan, and everyone at Amavida.
The Gulf Beaches were gorgeous when I arrived. Last year everyone was in a panic over the big oil spill, fearful it would reach this area, and it almost did. And many stayed away last year. But the “Emerald Coast” was fortunately spared. The temperatures were upper 90′s most days and the daily showers that seem to form rarely made it to the beach area. And despite the high gas prices and continued sluggish economy, the beach communities were packed for the holiday week.
My daughter, Tessa, left Ohio Wesleyan at the end of May after a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands and went straight to Florida to work all summer. So I was so happy to be able to spend a couple of weeks there with her and her girlfriend, Ariel. Otherwise I wouldn’t have seen my daughter all summer. Not that I got to see her that much even when I was there since she and Ariel were working jobs in Seaside and also doing internships at Zoo World in Panama City.
I had the great opportunity this year to visit Zoo World while the girls were working there and see some things up close and personal including an encounter session with the two new baby Bengal tiger cubs. Tessa and Ariel were helping with shows, handling lizards, snakes, and birds for families to see and experience up close among their many other tasks. The facility at Zoo World is relatively small as zoos go, and is dependent on admission fees and donations for its operation. But it has a nice collection of beautiful animals and I am greatful to them for allowing my daughter the opportunity to work and learn during her summer break.
As I have in the past, I attended the Fourth of July parade in Seaside this year. It is so Americana, with families dressed in red, white, and blue; children waving flags; beauty queens in convertibles; fire trucks and decorated cars; people throwing mardi gras beads and candy to the crowd. People line the parade route early with lawn chairs and local companies and organizations march down the main drag of 30A through Seaside entertaining everyone. It’s a patriotic American statement typical of so many communities in our country on that day and I love the atmosphere. The evening is always topped off with fireworks up and down the beach. It’s picturebook America.
I continued, while there, to document my vision of old and new Florida, the interesting juxtapositions of ticky-tacky souveniers and old Florida homes against opulent mansions and grand beach houses. It’s an interesting mix and I love the visual dichotomies. I also took some time to drive over to St. Andrews, a historic village by the bay on the outskirts of Panama City, and into downtown Panama City on a Sunday morning when the streets were virtually deserted. St. Andrews has a number of historic buildings and large oak trees with Spanish moss. And like other areas, both old Florida houses and new Florida mansions.
When I left to return to New York, I took some time to shoot in the small communities in southern Alabama, and on the second day, some time off the main highway on a foggy morning in middle Virginia. All in all, a wonderful trip with some great images.
A big thank you to my father-in-law, Art and his wife, Cheryl, for their ever gracious hospitality and generosity. You make us all so comfortable when we are there. It’s always such a long wait to get back.
All images are Copyright © George Cannon, All Rights Reserved.