Orlando’s art scene is often overlooked by visitors, as it hides in the shadow of the city’s entertainment giants. But beyond the theme parks and attractions are tight-knit communities passionate about creating and sharing home-grown artwork. If you’re a cultural traveler in search of unsung art, let Orlando be next on your list.
Crealde School of Art is truly an invisible gem of Orlando, hiding humbly behind a Publix grocery plaza in all of its fairy-garden glory. This scenic art school offers art classes year-round for both children and adults. Students can study all sorts of visual art here with classes in painting, drawing, jewelry, ceramics, photography (the stuff of dark rooms), and even fiber arts. If Crealde’s location in historic Winter Park is far, take classes at their Winter Garden location in partnership with the Jessie Brock Community Center. Crealde is also home to many galleries that house artwork of its students, faculty, and visiting artists. If enrolling in a series of classes is too much of a commitment, attend one of their special events or workshops like “Date Night Ceramics,” or “The Business of Photography.”
Just passing through Orlando? Stop at Crealde’s sister site, the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, which features visual exhibitions that focus on preserving and displaying Winter Park’s African American heritage and southern folklore.
In North Orlando, far from the fray of theme parks, Casselberry Art House and its community enjoy art classes amid an eclectic campus on Lake Concord. Bathed in Spanish Moss and Florida nature, the modest campus offers classes in watercolor, oil painting, drawing, ceramics, and pastels. Be sure to check out their public art exhibits and sculpture garden, open to the public for free, five days a week.
Hear the voices of Orlando’s arts community and experience cultural tourism at its most authentic at Orlando’s designated arts district, nestled in the historic area of downtown. On these cobblestone streets are City Arts Factory and 3rd Thursday Gallery Hop, both of which showcase rotating local and international artists. The Downtown Arts District offers a call-for-artists featuring themes of political and social change such as climate change, water conservation, and women in the arts. Do not miss their upcoming show on June 12, 2017, showcasing local works inspired by the aftermath of the tragic Pulse shootings.
You’d be hard-pressed not to find inspiration on the grounds of the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. The historic home of famous Czech sculptor Albin Polasek is now a proud Winter Park attraction situated on beautiful Lake Osceola. Visit the grounds for a history lesson, or take part in some of the hands-on community art events such as “Plein Air Family Day,” Or “Paint Out Garden Party.”
Orlando’s art scene is incomplete without the Orlando Museum of Art (OMA). Located in culturally rich Loch Haven Park, OMA is home to resident and rotating exhibitions of international acclaim. The museum’s outreach and education program extends to classes, workshops, and lectures for all ages. Hands-on art is open to the public with events like “Art Night Out,” perfect for a date night or unique Orlando experience.
Kids, teens, and adults can enjoy art classes in a variety of genres, from jewelry-making to ceramics, amid Maitland‘s historic studios and grounds. This unique and picturesque attraction offers artists residencies and features a woodworking museum, art school, and exhibition space with rotating international artists. Popular short-term workshops include “Sketch Club”—a drop-in figure-drawing class—and a two-day intensive for couples looking to create their own wedding rings.