SoWal People: Artist Dwight Ward
October 30, 2015 by Sarah Robertson
SoWal locals either have the T-shirt or have seen it . "I Bought My Pot From Dwight" it says on the front, along with an image of the man himself making a pot. South Walton artist Dwight Ward makes and sells ceramics. And a few knickknacks. And T-shirts.
And that is all! He wants everyone to know.
Dwight was raised in Texas. He was an Army Reservist and worked for many years in both construction and the retail grocery industry. But none of those jobs truly suited him. Seems they were just the first few chapters of his life’s story.
For 25 years now Dwight has made his mark on our local artist landscape. His earthy, intricate pottery is inspired by nature and he creates stunning pots, sculptural raku, bowls, mugs, and decorative pieces - many echoing the creatures and colors of our emerald coast. He will entertain commissioned pieces too.
“Oh that’s Socks, she’s our community cat,” Dwight says, as a beautiful little tabby with name-worthy snow white paws tiptoe around our Adirondack chairs. It's an early fall morning at Gulf Place and I am enjoying hearing tales from a man who has had nine lives himself.
All around me are the beautiful and creative pieces of art Dwight has created, along with his famous T-shirts. One has a large image of his striking face with the words, "If It Is Too Loud, You Are Too Old." Dwight loves music and can often be found at local music venues.
I ask Dwight how he learned the art form of pottery, and with evident pride and gratitude he shares, “My sister Brenda learned the craft out in Wyoming. I visited her in Birmingham, bought my own wheel and kiln, and have been at it ever since.”
Dwight was a long time Cultural Arts Alliance member and an integral part of the beginnings of the SoWal arts festival, ArtsQuest. As its roots in Grayton Beach grew to Point Washington and on to Seaside and beyond, he’s watched the waves of the local artist community ebb and flow.
For more than a decade Dwight’s held the key role as overseer and essentially patriarch of the Artists at Gulf Place. He’s deftly managed and supported the eclectic community as artists have come and gone over the years.
If you haven’t ever been, eight artists rent vibrantly colored outdoor kiosks and it runs like a Co-Op. They all take turns minding the space one day a week and are invested in the success of each other. The dedicated area is a great platform to promote our beautiful local art.
The Artists at Gulf Place has been open longer than many other galleries in the SoWal area and represents a wide variety of art ranging from jewelry and pottery to photography, mosaics, watercolors and acrylics. Billie Gaffrey, John Hollan, Diane Taliaferro, David Hansel, Amy Boyd, Annette Taunton and of course Dwight are the current artists sharing this unique space.
The Artists at Gulf Place are also always enthusiastic to promote Gulf Place’s regular events. The Third Thursday Wine Walkabout is a wonderful way to enjoy an evening. For just $15, guests can visit the merchants of Gulf Place and sip on wine selections available at participating shops and restaurants. This event includes buoyant live music, shopping deals, mingling with neighbors and munching on tasty bites. It’s a great way to get to know the artists too.
Be sure to visit this unique open air gallery for yourself, support our talented local artists and say hello to Dwight (and Socks!) while you’re there. And you simply must grab one of his creations and a T-shirt. For information on other upcoming events go to our SoWal Events page or go to www.artistsatgulfplace.com.
Photos by Molly Parker