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Celebrating Orange County’s Artistic Heritage

The visual arts have a long relationship with Central Florida. For some artists, the natural scenery is a source of their work’s inspiration. Others have been drawn to the area as a place to continue their work in retirement. Orange County has long contained a thriving community of artists alongside the arts leaders who promoted and supported them. Now, from August 2015 through September 2016, the “Art Legends of Orange County” project celebrates 50 years of Orange County art in a series of ongoing exhibitions.

Spearheaded by Maitland’s Art & History Museums, the project reflects the collaboration of 11 county museums and galleries, representatives of which identified 20 of Orange County’s most important “art legends”: artists and art leaders who were involved in and cultivated the arts in Central Florida from 1932 to 1982. The 50-year span begins with the formation in the 1930s of an artists’ colony in Maitland that would later become the Maitland Art Center.

The resulting list of “legends” active within those years included, among others, longtime art teacher Ralph Bagley; Jules André Smith, founder of the Maitland Art Center; Bill Jenkins, who established Crealdé School of Art in Winter Park; Doris Leeper, abstract painter and sculptor; Hugh and Jeannette McKean, together a president and a benefactor of Rollins College who founded and directed what would become the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art; and Texann Ivy Buck, a graduate of Orlando’s Edgewater High School and Baylor University and an expert in American printmaking who established Texann Ivy Fine Arts in Orlando in 1977.

These and the rest of the 20 legends are honored by exhibitions throughout Orange County in participating galleries through September 2016. This includes Art Legends of Orange County: Albin Polasek, presented at the History Center from March 5 through May 29, 2016, in collaboration with the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens in Winter Park.

As a history museum participating in the Art Legends project, our exhibition about Czech-American artist Albin Polasek unites history, art, and sculptural technique into a single gallery. In addition to showcasing key castings of Polasek’s sculpture and presenting a historical context for his works, the exhibition offers visitors an opportunity to learn about the different sculptural media Polasek mastered.

To learn more about the Art Legends of Orange County project and see a full schedule of exhibitions, go to artlegendsoc.org.

If you would like to know more about exhibits at the History Center, please contact our assistant curator of exhibits, Emilie Arnold, at 407-836-8519 or emilie.arnold@ocfl.net.