Talented Local Artist with Sweet Family Ties
By: Lee Ann Swartzentruber
Art can be defined in numerous ways across the spectrum of creativity and everyone has a different taste pertaining to what they like. In regards to local artist, Gary Pope, Jr. ‘taste’ has a dual meaning. Pope is the son of Gary Pope, Sr. and Maxine, Lynn Haven residents and owners of Touch of Velvet Bakery on Highway 77 North.
Pope helps out in the family business as a baker, but not only has he mastered the art of tasty confectionaries, he’s also a master artist and his paintings adorn the walls of the bakery.
The Pope family has been baking for over 20 years, but in 2011 they opened their store.
Pope’s father said, “Gary helps us some with the baking, but now makes a living as an artist. When he was about eight years old he started drawing pictures and we realized he had a special talent. My favorite painting of his is titled ‘Spare Change’ – he drew the picture and I wrote a poem to go along with it.”
As a teen Pope read comic books and looked at the artwork and would draw from them, but when he was a junior in high school he became more interested in fine art through the encouragement of his teacher, Judy Revere.
The 1993 Rutherford high school graduate’s first art project was entitled ‘The Three Wise Men’ – he went on to major in fine art at Gulf Coast State College and the Callaway resident has since created over 100 pieces of artwork.
“It was Dean Mitchell at the Visual Art Center (VAC) that inspired me to be an artist. Meeting him changed my life and how I viewed art and now I have a career as an artist,” said Pope.
“Being an artist gives me the freedom to express myself and create something that will last a lifetime.” He’s had his artwork displayed at the VAC and also sells his paintings at a variety of art festivals.