Mike McCarty brings enthusiasm to Artist of the Year
When the Walton County Tourist Development Council panel searched for its next Artist of the Year, they found the winner in the diverse talent and enthusiasm of Mike McCarty.
"The panel views all the artwork anonymously, looking for someone whose work is representative of the area, whether in nature, lifestyle or architecture," said committee chair Mary Brown. "We then narrow the selection, review their bio and invite them in for an interview. We selected the winner by who we thought would best represent Walton County. The consensus was that he had the talent and enthusiasm that would best represent the area. Based on the interview and his work, he was by far the best talent."
The selection was made in August and announced at the TDC's annual luncheon held Oct. 21.
McCarty was selected from a field of 18 applicants and will represent the TDC and Walton County at functions for the coming year. He will also receive promotions of his artwork from the TDC.
"They said I had diversity in my work and represented the brand they were looking for in a way that stood out," said McCarty.
A resident of Walton County for the past three years, he and wife Sherri have owned property here for several years.
McCarty's career as an artist hails back to childhood when he began drawing with pastels. He began taking art lessons and then winning contests, but at that time he said he never thought of it as a career.
"At first thought I wanted to be a vet, but midway through college I decided to switch majors," he said.
He landed a job as a design/illustrator with an Atlanta graphics firm, which he held for five years. During the early 1970s, McCarty had the distinction of designing the first funky cars used in advertising by the Chevron Oil Company, which gained him some notoriety.
He began freelancing and working with some groups in the music industry, such as Roy Orbison. When he was tapped to do two album covers for The Atlanta Rhythm Section in 1974, it led to more freelance work and was the impetus he needed to make the decision to quit his job and freelance full time.
In time, McCarty's design work began to branch out into the realm of fine art. He placed his paintings in two Birmingham galleries and eventually brought it to the beach. His work is represented in this area by Paige O'Connor's gallery at Miramar Beach.
"I feel blessed and fortunate to live here," said McCarty. "I'm thrilled with being selected as Artist of the Year and thrilled to represent the area. I love the area."
"His enthusiasm for the area and the quality of his work will represent the area well," said Brown.