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Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Award Winning Artist Juan Francisco Adaro

As South Walton’s 2014 Painter of the Year and 2015 Artist of the Year, Juan Francisco Adaro may set the tone at Adaro Art but he does not consider himself the star attraction.

The light-filled space has refined collections and one-of-a-kind creations from around the world. Original ceramics, wool sculptures, photographs and paintings line the walls and shelves. Aesthetic touches by both Adaro and his photographer wife Brooke Gontarek are apparent throughout. Several of the artists were discovered on the couples’ travels to Argentina, Mexico and Australia. In this not to be missed Uptown Grayton gallery, Adaro Art has something for everyone.

Adaro’s distinctive visual style comes from the award winning artist’s colorful life. Growing up in Buenos Aries, Argentina, Adaro was attracted to street life. “I used to enjoy people watching and tried to imagine what kind of lives were being lived,” he says.

The artist knew he wanted to paint and bring what he imagined to life on canvas. In his youth, Adaro sold his work to tourists—first in the streets and later from a thriving city gallery. He liked painting large wall murals, the bigger the better. “My early work was dark, even a bit moody. Since moving to this area five years ago, I have been adding offbeat characters and light into my paintings. I believe I brought the memories of all those city people with me. Now I create with more color and whimsy. I know this comes from my new life here at the beach.”

Adaro enjoys his digs in the country, complete with chickens and a dog. “I like the open space, surrounding trees and the garden that my wife Brooke has created,” he says. “It makes me happy, and I hope the brightness can be seen in my work.” He begins each day with what he calls his coffee pictures. While quietly sitting with a cup of morning coffee, he doodles with pen on paper and creates his one-line drawings without lifting the pen. “This warms up my hand. The connection between my mind and working hand is essential for focus. I can then move on to something else.”

Adaro builds his canvases by using the wood from the wine crates his sommelier wife brings home from her workplace, Vin’tij in Miramar Beach. His extended portraits begin with an acrylic base and finish with oil on top. Heads and limbs are cut by jigsaw, then connected to the wood framing.

These vibrant pieces turn heads at local festivals and have gotten him into several large galleries from Charlotte and Charleston to Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans and Pensacola. Along with his own gallery, his smaller, unique work and vibrant heart paintings can be seen at the Art of Simple and Gordie Hinds Gallery, both in Seaside.

Adaro is excited about his own gallery. “Having this retail space allows me to connect with customers.

I like to be productive and work at home without distractions, but it is also important to have the feedback from those people who relate to my paintings and find their stories within my own.” Adaro likes to surround himself with a variety of artists whose work inspires him. He represents local artists Gontarek, Cody Copeland and Allison Wickey, along with a mix of artists from other countries.

Adaro Art has offerings at a variety of price points. “I think it is important to sell affordable style,” says Adaro. “Our handmade, one-of-a-kind items give customers that option.” So consider a trip to Grayton Beach and Adaro Art, where an easy smile and an omnium gatherum of creative work awaits.

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