Artist Andy Saczynski On Fire in South Walton
Upstairs in the Grayton Beach loft, there’s a stockpile of old musical instruments, rusty lawn tools and disassembled light fixtures. Vintage drawer knobs, bottle caps, and pieces of scrap metal fill up crates and drawers, waiting to be reassembled into something new.
Eventually this junk will be turned into funk as part of a painting (slash sculpture) like the ones that fill the gallery downstairs at the Andy Saczynski Studio Gallery. A drawer knob forms the eye of a fish, a guitar neck forms the stalk of a sunflower, and an old lamp turns a painting into an electrified and illuminated work of art.
Andy Saczynski (sah-zinsky) and his wife Lori hard at work in South Walton
Folky, funky and colorful, Andy Saczynski’s art is always more than the sum of its parts. Using his own take on folk art and inspiration drawn from gulf-coast living, Andy, who is 35 and a father of five, uses paint, wood, metal and found objects to create works of art that are truly unique.
Most of his work takes the form of a painting, but the use of random pieces and objects construct a brighter and more vibrant context, reflecting local attitudes, scenery and wildlife.
“I've trained my eye to look at things in a different way,” says Andy about how he puts his work together. “I just love working with found objects and seeing something beyond what is normally perceived.”
Andy and his wife Lori opened their gallery in the Shops of Mystic Porte on Hwy 283 last April. In a lot of ways, the gallery is a culmination of Andy’s complicated relationship with creativity. His love of art came at an early age, growing up in a home with a lot of color and details that inspired him to express himself. But after high school, he had a hard time reconciling painting with business.
“I realized that's what I wanted to do as far as for a career,” Andy says. “But only because that's what I was passionate about, not because I could get a job out of it. Just because that's what I love to do.”
For almost 10 years Andy went through periods of never painting at all, pushing aside his creative impulses to provide for his new family. He worked odd jobs and eventually started his own landscaping business, but had a hard time making art a priority.
In 2004 after a three year hiatus from doing anything creative, Andy started to work his way back into painting and made his first attempts to capitalize on his hard work. It wasn’t a triumphant comeback though. Even though he was now putting more time and effort into it and finding interested buyers, he didn’t feel creatively engaged.
“I was doing what I wanted to do, but not exactly” he says. “I was concerned with what people would buy. My creativity was in it, but my heart wasn’t.”
It wasn’t until his art became more true to self that others started to take notice. After a few years of using mostly paint for his medium, Andy had a small breakthrough. He remembered a project for College years before where he turned two old guitars into a lamp.
“These guitars had really sparked the direction for where my art was going,” he says. “I had held on to this this project for 10 years. Once I started getting into mixed media I looked at them and cut them in half, used the front side for one piece, the back side for another piece and the rest is history.”
His paintings that piece together instruments out of guitar parts and other objects have become best sellers and a sort of trade mark for Andy. Once he started incorporating more found objects in his work, he found tons of inspiration from his antique-filled childhood home, sometimes incorporating parts from the actual house in his paintings.
His most used materials come from places in his own life that have inspired him the most. He uses skateboarding as an example.
“I've skated all of my life and that was a big part of my youth,” Andy says. “I've held on to a bunch of broken skateboards and now I’m turning them into mixed-media fish projects.”
This development in Andy’s body of work has made him stand out from the pack of folk-style artists, bringing a fresh perspective to the South Walton area. In October 2010 he won the “People’s Choice Award” at the Destin Festival of the Arts and followed it up seven months later with “Award of Merit” at the ArtsQuest Festival in Seaside.
It was on this increase of momentum that Andy found the courage to open his own gallery. Within only two weeks of deciding to go for it, the gallery was open for business. Considering the way that Andy’s career has grown, the speed of it all is not surprising.
His goal is to expand past the Florida panhandle and is working to get openings and gallery exhibits in cities like Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham and Austin. It seems like a far stretch, but if there’s one thing he’s learned, it’s that doing what comes naturally brings the best results.