Nine new sculptures and a “Super Reef Anchor Point” were recently added to the nation’s first permanent Underwater Museum of Art (also known as “UMA”). UMA is located in the Gulf of Mexico, just off the coast of Grayton Beach State Park on Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A.
Named by TIME Magazine as one of 100 “World’s Greatest Places,” UMA is part of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA)’s “Art In Public Spaces” Program and is produced in collaboration with the South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA).
The purpose of UMA is to create and deploy art that becomes a thriving marine habitat, expanding fishery populations and providing enhanced creative, cultural, economic, and educational opportunities for residents, students and visitors alike.
On June 21st, 2022, more than 60 onlookers – including several of the artists and project partners – were present to view the historic deployment.
With support from Visit South Walton, Walter Marine/The Reefmaker, and the Florida Department of State; Division of Arts and Culture, the sculptures were deployed with SWARA’s existing USACOA and FDEP permitted artificial reef project that includes nine nearshore reefs located within one nautical mile of the shore in 58 feet of water.
The 2022 deployment and installation included the following new sculptures: Currents and Tafoni by Joe Adams (of Ventura, CA), Pirate Shipwreck by Sean Coffey (Pittsburgh, PA), Bloom Baby Bloom by Brit Deslonde (Santa Rosa Beach, FL), The Seed and The Sea by Davide Galbiati (Valreas, France), Fibonacci Conchousness by Anthony Heinz May (Eugene, OR), New Homes by Janetta Napp (Honolulu, HI), Arc of Nexus by Tina Piracci (Richmond, CA), We All Live Here by Marisol Rendón (San Diego, CA), and Common Chord by Vince Tatum (Santa Rosa Beach, FL).
These latest installations join the 25 sculptures previously deployed on a one-acre permit patch of seabed off Grayton Beach State Park, expanding the nation’s first permanent underwater museum to a total of 34 sculptures.
The UMA space will continue to be filled with several new sculptures annually.
This year’s individual sculptures were sponsored by Beachy Blooms, Buddy’s Seafood Market, the 2021-22 CAA Staff, the Ellis Family, Hilton Sandestin Golf Beach Resort & Spa, the St. Joe Community Foundation, SWARA, and Walter Marine / Reefmaker.
“I continue to be amazed and inspired by all the groups and individuals who make the UMA installation happen each year, ” said CAA Executive Director Jennifer Steele. “The CAA is grateful for the dedication of the artists, fabricators, deployment team, and partners. We could not be prouder to work alongside project co-founders Allison Wickey and SWARA to build this unique environment for creativity and education.”
“This year’s UMA deployment was the best one yet,” said SWARA President Walt Hartley. “With 34 total sculptures now, you can really start to see and feel the vision and future of the Underwater Museum of Art. Fifty-eight feet down, you are literally surrounded by these fantastic art pieces and the colorful reef life that calls the museum home.”
Admission to UMA is free, however, the site is only accessible in person as a dive location. Divers who wish to visit the site can take a dive boat 0.93 miles south off the coast of Grayton Beach State Park. The coordinates for the new Super Reef UMA entrance are N 30°18.754 / W 86°09.521. Out of respect for the art, boaters are asked to anchor on or near the new Super Reef Anchor Point to protect the sculptures from unintended contact or damage.