The Cultural Hub of NW Florida, Inc. was founded by Maxwell Reynolds Miller and Kim Griffin White in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Maxwell and Kim recognized that the flourishing art ecosystem in downtown Panama City and the surrounding areas needed additional support and love to thrive again. They also envisioned a future where local artists could be an integral part of Panama City’s growth in a post-Michael future. Thus, the concept of a Cultural Hub, to provide networks, resources, and support for local artists was born.
Maxwell Miller passed away in 2021, leaving his family’s legacy to his daughter, Starlett Mary Ola Miller Massey. This legacy included the newly founded Cultural Hub of NW Florida, Inc. and the Gallery of Art on Beach Drive. With the support of local artists, Kim Griffin White (Founding Emeritus Director), Cynthia Smith (Director), Dolores King (Director), Tesa Burch (Programs Director), and professional colleagues, Angie Marcelli (Director), Kim Ogren (Director), and Nikki Barker (Director), the team set out to bring the early visions of the Cultural Hub to fruition. The guiding tenets of the Cultural Hub are that a thriving artists community creates a resilient community, that artists thrive when they are supported by connection and place, and that the more art and artists that work in any community drives support for all artists.
While still in relative infancy, the Cultural Hub is working with many local artists to set its goals and create opportunities for artists. One aspect of the opportunities that the Cultural Hub can provide artists stems from the donated space in the Gallery of Art on Beach Drive, thanks to the generosity of Hummingbird Events.
The Gallery of Art was founded by Mary Ola Reynolds Miller in 1966. It was the first art gallery in Bay County and the surrounding counties. The Gallery of Art humbly arose from Mary Ola’s vision of providing space to the premier artists living and working in Northwest Florida. She initially opened the Gallery of Art in an abandoned gas station. The Gallery of Art moved to its current location at 36 W. Beach Drive in 1971. Mary Ola personally served as the manager, art appraiser, exhibit curator, and community liaison for over thirty years. The Gallery of Art exhibited art by renowned regional artists of Northwest Florida, including Dan Dunn, popular painter of boats and the sea; B. Hopkins, master pastelists in The Pastel Society of America; Jane Segrest, versatile painter in oils, watercolor and acrylic; Dot Vickers, specializing in embossed metals and subject matter relating to the sea; Ralph Hurst, figural and natural sculptor in alabaster; Maggie Guinn, watercolorist of local scenes and wildlife; Betty Tenhundfeld-Johnson, portrait painter in oils and pastels; Mary McShane, watercolorist of floral and aquatic scene and still lifes; Kendall Bushnell, local photographer; Helga Bolheimer, painter on silks; and Robert Hodgell, nationally known Florida print maker using themes such as social and religious satire. Mary Ola’s gallery also offered resales of works by Emil Holzhauer, Pablo Picasso, and Norman Rockwell. Mary Ola’s many contributions to the arts scene in Panama City and her legacy continues to inspire younger generations of artists and art supporters.
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