Coastal Person

Susan Ryles, the new executive director of Glynn Visual Arts, is pictured in the gallery of the art center.

For Susan Ryles, life is synonymous with art. It’s even more so now that she’s taken on the role as the new executive director of Glynn Visual Arts on St. Simons Island.

Ryles comes to the helm of the local nonprofit with plenty of experience — both artistic and managerial. The Jacksonville native has a degree in sculpture from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta.

She also has worked in the corporate world for more than three decades. So when the executive director position at Glynn Visual Arts opened, it was only natural that she jumped at the chance.

“I’m an artist and wanted to get involved in the arts here. I love the fact that GVA is the community art center,” she said.

“I believe art is for everyone and that everyone has a kernel of art in them just waiting to be uncovered. I love helping people discover their creativity.”

The newly revamped Glynn Visual Arts is precisely the place to do that. The new center, located at 106 Island Drive off Skylane Road on St. Simons Island, offers a variety of art classes, including painting, pottery and photography.

She’s only been on the job since Aug. 5, but Ryles has big plans. For one, she is hoping to continue the long-held tradition of celebrating all things art while reaching out to a broader audience.

Ryles is particularly excited about the newest program Glynn Visual Arts is offering aimed at engaging “non-artist” types.

“I’m excited about new one night art workshops for the non-artist because they are all about people trying new things and getting in touch with their creative instincts,” she said.

“I’m also hoping to improve and enhance educational programs and operations. I plan to continue our ramp up of fund raising and push the level and edginess of our exhibitions quality to the next level.”

Most of all, she is hoping to keep the community’s art hub vibrant and open to all.

“Glynn Visual Arts is important because of its legacy of providing great art programs to the community for both adults and children as well as opportunities for artists to develop and grow and show their work,” she said.

When she’s not working for the arts or crafting her own work, Ryles can be found taking in the beauty of her surroundings through kayaking or walking her dogs, a Siberian husky and Akita-shepard mix. And while she and her husband moved to the area just a few months ago, she’s no stranger to the Golden Isles.

“I’m originally from Jacksonville but lived in Atlanta for the past 25 years. My husband is the former Georgia state insurance commissioner and we’ve been happily married for 23 years,” she said.

“We moved here about 18 months ago and we love it. But we’ve been vacationing here for years and decided to downsize and try to slow things down a bit.”

That also gives her the freedom to spend time with her other favorite person.

“We also have a fabulous and fun 11-year-old grandson,” she added with pride.

Coastal People appears Mondays. Contact Lindsey Adkison at or at 265-8320, ext. 346 to suggest a person for a column.

Reporter Lindsey Adkison writes about business and other local topics. Contact her at on Facebook or at 265-8320 ext. 346.

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