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Artist Spotlight: Dustin Porta

After sailing the Gulf Coast, writing a couple books, and looking for a new way to express himself, Dustin Porta found his niche through his travels and his friends.

What started as, he says, “industrial expressionism,” Porta found beauty in the rusty and rustic oil rigs lit up at night in the middle on the Gulf. Since moving to the Keys about a year ago, he found the local lighthouses have the same appeal.

“I’d say the form is like Monet, I like to capture the light in the paintings so people can see what is not there,” Porta said. “It keeps it surreal.”

In Marathon, he is able to tap into his artsy nature twice — as one of the newest artists featured at Shady Palm Art Gallery in Marathon; and as a bookworm while working at Food For Thought. He is a published author of several science fiction fantasy novels and poetry, and said while he struggled as an author, he is thriving as an artist.

“Marathon is such a supportive community with a small town, welcome feeling,” said Porta, a resident of one year. He moved to Marathon with his marine biologist girlfriend Jenny after stints in New Orleans and Fairhope, Alabama. “Everyone here has been so encouraging,” he said.

He said his art grew roots, in of all places, in an old barn in Pennsylvania where he and a graffiti artist painted canvas sails. From there he became friends with a professional sailor who helped him tap into his whimsical and spiritual side, and locally, he’s impressed with Dani Morley, whose work focuses on marine life in pointillism. His uncle, Kris, is also a local painter and wood carver. “Everywhere I go, I try to tap into new styles and ways to express my art,” he said. “Being an artist is ever evolving.”

Lori Gaukel, the owner of Shady Palms, said she’s happy to have Porta in the gallery. “He’s got a fresh perspective and beautiful pieces,” she said.

Porta has a couple of “side hustles” — he teaches poetry writing and painting workshops for interested parties.

Porta’s artwork can be found locally at Shady Palms Art Gallery in Marathon and at several Gulf Coast galleries in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. 

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