When Al Morris began painting in 1996, he dreamed of someday opening a gallery — filling it with vibrant, colorful pieces of art that “dazzle the eye.” Morris started with acrylics, painting landscapes and interiors; dove into art history books about impressionism and abstract expressionism; and filled his travel with visits to modern art museums in New York, Paris and Barcelona. But it wasn’t until he purchased a book on Morris Louis and discovered Color Field Painting that his art came alive.
“I had this profound moment of clarity,” Morris said. “I knew I wanted to be a Color Field artist. The movement in the paintings coupled with the vibrant colors immediately took hold of me. I really enjoy doing it and want to continue experimenting with it.”
So after finding his niche, he relocated from Atlanta to Seacrest Beach and opened his own place, Colorfield Gallery, in 2013. Located in the Alexander building near the east end of Alys Beach, Morris said his art is a lot different than what you typically find on 30A.
Morris paints on large canvases, using a “secret sauce” of pigment, oil and assorted solvents. His technique involves multiple utensils, sometimes incorporating mixed media such as thread, embossing powder, ribbon or sand to achieve the desired effect. And he always, always paints with bright, beautiful colors.
“There is no angst in my art but rather a playful movement of color,” Morris said. “There is no darkness but rather vivid colors—some would say a ‘myriad of rainbow colors.’ I want the viewer to experience a sense of vibrancy emanating from the color as well as the freedom to interpret what they are viewing and can perceive from the art.”
Six months after opening the gallery, another opportunity for Morris came along when the space connected to his gallery went up for sale. He decided to buy it, and “why not open up a wine bar?”
“I thought the combination of a wine bar would work nicely,” Morris said. “People can come in and have a glass of wine, walk into the art gallery and start a conversation about art. It creates a good connection — engaging in art rather than sports at a sports bar.”
Morris decorated the wine bar to reflect his artistic style — using a clean white canvas, adding splashes of bright colors. The wine list is made up of boutique wines not available in most stores, offering a large selection of wine by the glass and a variety of different styles and flavors. You can also pair your wine, or assorted craft beer, with small plates of meat, cheese and bread.
“The wine bar has truly been a great addition,” Morris said. “The concept is — I have an art gallery that’s connected to a wine bar. You can flow to and from each, enjoying the experience. A friend said it best, ‘the glass is always half-full at The Gallery Bar.’”