The Legacy Continues at Elmore's Landing

August 21, 2017 by Manny Chavez

Art lovers and collectors of Joe Elmore’s art will be glad to know that his legacy will continue at Elmore’s Landing thanks to the efforts of Sam Douangdara and Mike Madriaga. 

Joe Elmore at Elmore's Landing in 2014


Elmore's Landing has been a landmark in SoWal for many years. It's hard to miss the giant chainsaw sculptures and colorful folk art as you enter or exit South Walton on Hwy 331 just south of the bay. If you ever had the good fortune of meeting Joe, it's likely you haven't forgotten the big bear of a man with the bear-hug personality. Joe was intense and creative when wielding his chainsaw to cut away at a massive piece of wood. Joe’s passing this past March left a big hole in SoWal’s art culture and it is heartening to know that his gallery will continue.

Sam Douangdara and Mike Madriaga Planning Renovations


“We are trying to keep his legacy going…when we purchased the property we promised his son that we would keep his father’s legacy alive,” explained Sam.

Sam and Mike, who are partners in Doma Development and Design (they design and build houses), partnered up to purchase the Elmore’s Landing property and Joe’s art work. Literally thousands of pieces remain (chainsaw wood sculptures, paintings, stone work, etc.) and will be available for purchase with the gallery opening set for some time in September.

The gallery is undergoing a major facelift with Sam and Mike busy as beavers repairing and remodeling the existing three buildings on the property. Joe’s art will be showcased in the main gallery building, a second structure, and extensively on the gallery grounds outside. Plans are in the making to have spaces available for additional artists.

“We see Elmore’s Landing as a true Artist Village, says Mike. “Our plans are to make this a very family-friendly art environment with visiting artists displaying and making their art. We will have a stage for musical events, places for kids to paint, a farmer’s market, artist workshops, charity events, a cool botanical area, and hopefully, bring in food trucks for people to enjoy. This is a very unique property (just under an acre) and we are looking forward to all that can be had here. We just want to keep this as a creative place for the community, keep Joe’s art alive…keep the old school authenticity going.”

Joe always maintained that new customers would come by saying they “just wanted to buy an Elmore.”

Thankfully, this will still be possible. Though Joe has “crossed the river” to continue his artistic soulful journey, he’s left the light on for art enthusiasts who have always cherished his work. So, go by and visit Elmore’s landing and take in the view. His spirit permeates his old stomping grounds. The sound of his chainsaw no longer fills the air, but his surviving work still allows for those “wanting to buy an Elmore.”

In past conversations with Joe, it was always his dream to someday have such an artist village. The property looks to be perfect for it and the Sam/Mike combo are focused to make it happen.

Gallery location: 24728 Hwy. 331 South (just north of South Walton High School). Phone: 850-267-2323. Days of the week and open hours to be determined (please call for further information).


Manny Chavez's picture

Manny has been a working photojournalist his entire career and is now writing stories/taking pix for He and his wife Kris live in Seagrove and have “seen a lot come and go.” Lots of stories have been told, with lots more to come!

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