By Ryann Lugo
The Ivanhoe District
For this month’s topic, though a bit late, focuses on a little something for art-seekers who are looking to explore a new creative area. If you aren’t too familiar with the Orlando scene, then you might not have heard about the Ivanhoe District on the north side of Orange Ave. (Whaaa? Orange Ave. has a north side? Yes, but don’t try to go north on it or you will get in an accident, like I almost did this one time...). Also referred to as the “Creative Village” or “Antique Row,” this is a half-mile stretch of happy, little family owned shops and restaurants. Chock-full of personality, it’s a perfect place to grab lunch, take a stroll, window shop, or spend a night on the town. Florida Travel & Life calls it the “coolest street in Orlando”. If you like the rustic feel of Italian iron-rod balconies, uneven brick roads, and buildings old as dirt, then you would fall in love with this quaint strand of businesses. You’ll find Italian restaurants and vintage clothing stores; coffee, pastry, and antique shops; salons, spas, and a really beautiful lake-front view from just about anywhere in the strip! For more information visit their website at www.ivanhoevillage.com.
In this area, there is one special place in particular, serving as a very important outlet for local artists: The Twelve21 Gallery. Sitting atop Tim’s Wine Shop, this lofty establishment has been hosting art exhibitions for over two years and is still a blooming feature of the district. Upon finding the place, I felt a bit awkward at first because the door was locked and I had to ring the bell to be let in. In the brief moment that I waited, I felt a little nervous about intruding or being an inconvenience but, when the door opened, I received a very warm welcome by a really friendly guy, named Elvis. Though a one-room establishment, the first thing I noticed was the openness – not just the expected empty floor of the main room but there were windows overlooking the street and balconies on each side, which I thought added a really fresh touch to the overall vibe. As I drifted its white walls, adorned with amazing works from Brandon McLean’s “In bloom” exhibition, Elvis was eager to tell me more.
The gallery is brought to the public by a creative agency called Laughing Samurai, which specializes in “cage-free” advertising, “entertaining” web design, and “strategic” brand development, you may check out their website at www.laughingsamurai.com. With spiffy new wood floors, a new website, and a new curator, Laughing Samurai is hoping to gain interest and grow support in the community.
At the beginning of every month, the gallery features a new artist who is welcomed with an opening reception (complete with delicious beer and wine!) and, at the end of the month, is also honored with a closing reception. Due to delays, as Elvis explained, McLean’s pieces might stay in the gallery for an extended time. So, the good news is: there’s still time to go view his work!
A mix media artist since 2000, McLean’s collage exhibition is a concept built on rejuvenation and celebration of new beginnings. Both glamorous and primitive, his collection is a balance of paint, gel transfers, photographs, newspaper clips, magazine images, and other things found and inspiring. He effectively utilizes bright colors, repeated patterns and flower motifs to catch and captivate the eyes. Want a taste? Check out the promo video for this show and take a peak at some examples from his exhibition online. In addition, you can still catch his closing ceremony. The date should be posted on the webpage within the next week or so (I’ll also post it as soon as I see it pop up).
Sweet promo video for "In Bloom":
So, climbers, on a day when you’re recuperating, go grab a delicious coffee from one of the shops on this street, maybe eat some delicious Italian nom-noms (I spotted a Greek restaurant there too!), take a short stroll up to the Twelve21 Gallery and check out Brandon McLean’s lovely artwork!