Of all the adventures that await in Orlando, Florida, art usually isn’t the first exploit to come to mind. But, the city is experiencing a cultural boom, and the art scene is flourishing. Here’s a look at Orlando’s 10 best contemporary art galleries, some of which are located in the most unexpected places.
Voted #1 Gallery in Orlando by Orlando Magazine 2016, Snap! has gained recognition from the NY Times, BBC News, and TheHuffington Post, to name a few. Truly one of the city’s most impressive artistic endeavors, spearheaded by director and curator Patrick Kahn, Snap! Orlando is actually two galleries, Snap! Space and Snap! Downtown. Broadening visibility and appreciation of photographic mediums, the galleries showcase over 100 international photographers and multimedia artists, as well as ongoing educational events throughout the year. Snap! Space has an idyllic location, inside the restored historical Cameo Theater in the up and coming Mills 50 District, and not only offers viewers renowned artists, but is also a fabulous choice to host an event. Just as noteworthy, Snap! Downtown has displayed such talents as Dutch photographer Hendrik Kerstens, and Nadia Wicker, a visual artist and photographer based in France, in an exhibit line up that does not disappoint.
This 4,000 square-foot modern industrial art space, located on North Edgewater Drive, graciously offers the city some of the best contemporary art. From exhibits featuring local college faculty—Solaris A Valencia Faculty Art Show—to Orlando’s biggest print party—Down to Earth Print Party—which featured live screen printing gig posters, live music and whiskey tasting, it’s all about the experience, and Jose Henao, founder and director of the gallery—who “has always been around creative people,”—brings the arts to the community through more than just art. Nestled in the 6,000 square-foot “backyard” sits an outdoor stage surrounded in true artistic form by murals. The space has been making waves as a hot spot for indie artists.
Hip and unconventional, this Downtown gallery is an art lover’s dream, flaunting a vast collection of vibrant and funky pieces from both local and international artists to “delight and inspire the viewers in ways a museum could not.” Downtown’s largest collective of art galleries expands beyond the visual arts to include performing arts, and there’s always something new as the exhibits rotate monthly. City Arts Factory provides studio space to artists, so lucky patrons just may catch a glimpse of artists working on their latest pieces. Admission is free Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Located in the Visual Arts Building of the University of Central Florida, the U.C.F. Art Gallery extends beyond the students and faculty to members of the community as an incentive to draw dialogue between viewers and artists. Unique collections and traveling exhibits strive to create community engagement in the arts. Admission is free Monday through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Orlando Museum of Art | Courtesy Orlando Museum of Art
While the Orlando Museum of Art has a wide spectrum of art in various media and style, the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art, now in its fourth year, has become a highly anticipated event for the venue. The initiative recognizes Florida’s most progressive artists and elemental ideas translated to works of art. The Florida Prize in Contemporary Art runs until August 20, 2017, however other contemporary exhibits rotate throughout the year.
Located inside the beautiful Grand Bohemian Hotel in downtown Orlando, the gallery was established by hotelier and art enthusiast Richard C. Kessler. Even if you’re not staying at the luxury hotel, it’s worth stopping in for a cocktail in the Bosendorfer Lounge and visiting the gallery. The gallery features a collection of international and local artists’ original works and rare pieces ranging from oil paintings, contemporary jewelry, glass, and wood. Each gallery offers monthly art exhibits and even hosts receptions where patrons can meet the artist.
Situated in the Howard Phillips house on beautiful Lake Formosa, in Loch Haven Park, the grounds alone make this museum worth the visit. While the museum’s backbone is its permanent collection of paintings by Earl Cunningham, it often unveils works of other American contemporary artists. Breathtaking large-scale structures grace the grounds, but inside art enthusiasts will savor exhibits such as The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston, guest curated by American novelist Megan Abbot, including some never-before exhibited photos.
If you’re looking for Central Florida’s largest gallery this is it. With a 15,000 square-foot showroom, Baterbys Art Gallery houses over 1.7 million pieces of artwork. Showing like a who’s who of contemporary art, works of internationally recognized artists grace the walls. The award-winning gallery has not only featured the works of famed Fauvist artist Marcel Mouly, but highlights events immersing the community in art, such as Lunch with Picasso, where patrons enjoy tasty treats while viewing the one-of-a-kind collection from the Spanish artist.
Stroll through the picturesque city of Winter Park, and stop by the Rollins College campus to view the works on display at this museum, which include contemporary pieces but also those created centuries back. Here, at the only teaching art museum in Orlando, and at The Alfond Inn at Rollins hotel, you’ll find parts of the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art. Conceived by Winter Parks’ noted art collectors and philanthropists Barbara and Theodore Alfond, along with independent curator Abagail Ross Goodman, close to 300 works in various media from international contemporary artists have been collected. From political to civic affairs, the collection includes works from Joseph Kosuth, Lawrence Weiner, Alfredo Jaar and Charline Von Heyl.
If this Queen Anne-style building looks familiar, you may have seen it on our list of Orlando’s Most Impressive Buildings. This unparalleled building makes for a utopian backdrop to some of Orlando’s most notable artists. Some of the past exhibits include Atelier, featuring the artwork of Kathleen Brodeur and Edson Campos, and a collection of photojournalists’ stories about the city following the Pulse shooting, in the exhibit Orlando Continues. Besides featuring works of contemporary art, the space also hosts literary and film events.