The arts are a big part of the popularity of Rosemary Beach. The community is celebrating the arts by hosting its first sculpture exhibition from May 26 through Oct. 7 and bringing in artists from around the country.

Rosemary Beach visitors and residents are in for a treat this weekend when the town unveils the first Rosemary Beach Sculpture Exhibition in Knot Garden on E. Green Lawn.

There will be 12 sculptures in all, with all juried into the event except one special sculpture.

The 12th is an 8-foot sculpture by renowned Blue Dog artist George Rodrigue.

Rodrigue died Dec. 14, 2013, but left behind a highly acclaimed legacy mainly centering on his simple and easily recognizable blue dog paintings.

Rodrigue created a sculpture of his infamous Blue Dog in 2008 and it has only been exhibited once, and that was at the New Orleans Museum of Art. His widow, Wendy Rodrigue, is accompanying the sculpture to the beach for a special unveiling and to be included in this exhibit. The piece is titled "Colors of My Mind" and changes colors in the light.

"I am thrilled to be invited," said Wendy. "The area is my home. I attended high school in Fort Walton Beach and my father still lives there. I watched Seaside and Rosemary Beach being built."

Wendy said when event organizer Victoria Lee asked her to be a part, she knew just the piece to bring.

"This piece has not been on view since 2008 and never properly unveiled," she told The Sun.

Rodrigue sculpted several pieces of artwork, but his widow said this one is truly unique.

"It took him 10 years to put the design together. It's very simple, but how do you properly represent something in three dimensions that's on a canvas? He made it very contemporary and not how you think of a traditional sculpture. It's innovative and will shock people, but it's really beautiful. To be able to have it outside in the sunshine is exciting," said Wendy.

Lee said planning for this exhibit began in 2014 and when Project Director Tom Kramer went to Europe and came across a sculpture art show there, the committee then knew what it should look like.

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Late last year, experienced sculptors were invited to submit work to be considered.

More than 30 artists submitted sculptures for consideration, with 12 selected.

"We were gratified by the response we received," said Kramer. "The featured artists have extensive resumes and together their work is included in numerous public, corporate, private, and museum collections both here in the states as well as abroad. We are excited to be able to offer works of such high caliber. Adults and children alike will enjoy the exhibition."

The 66-inch tall bright red Sunbeam II by Syd Atkinson and the cast bronze shell-enveloped Sea Beast by David Richardson are two of the 12 on exhibit May 26 through Oct. 7. Most of the sculptures are between 5 and 10 feet tall. Colors range from bright primary and secondary hues to the more monochromatic tones of the media such as brushed stainless steel or cast bronze. Some evoke ancient times while others delight in references to pop culture.

The sculptures are distributed throughout the lawn and on the park side, all within easy walking distance. A map and catalog lists them by number with a snapshot of each. All pieces are for sale except Rodrigue's, which is on loan from the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts. See them all at rosemarybeachsculpture.com.

Visitors can participate in the event by tagging their pictures of the sculptures on Instagram or Facebook. A prize will be awarded for the best photo of a sculpture.

Visitors can also vote for their favorite for the People's Choice Award.

In addition, Wendy Rodrigue will speak on "The Art of George Rodrigue" at 6 p.m. May 25 at Rosemary Beach Town Hall. The talk is free and a cash bar will be provided until 6:15 p.m.

The exhibit opens with a wine reception and unveiling at 4 p.m. May 26 in the Rosemary Beach Town Hall Courtyard.

Rodrigue will sign copies of her book "The Other Side of the Painting" at 2 p.m. May 27 at The Hidden Lantern Book Store.