A new museum is coming to Orlando this year — one without walls.
The outdoor Urban Art Museum would scatter original, museum-quality art throughout the artsy Mills 50 neighborhood, east of downtown Orlando. In the beginning works would be commissioned from Central Florida artists, and the first piece could debut as soon as October.
Although several Orlando neighborhoods offer monthly art walks, in which patrons can view temporary exhibits, the Urban Art Museum is designed to be permanent. The project is spearheaded by architects James Cornetet and Wes Featherston, who have offices in the newly restored Cameo Building.
An app for smartphones will provide museum patrons with details of the art, as well as information on businesses in the neighborhood around Mills Avenue and Colonial Drive.
As with traditional museums, the artwork will be identified with plaques and a curator will oversee the collection.
The project is one of more than two dozen local campaigns currently seeking support through the Internet fundraising site Kickstarter.com. So far, about $4,600 has been raised, more than enough to commission the first work of art, say organizers. That campaign continues through Thursday.
Also part of the team is artist Marcos Cruz, a sculptor whose work can be seen in such venues as Orlando's Amway Center and South Lake Hospital in Clermont. Cruz, who specializes in using acid-etched aluminum to create art, has donated his time to create the museum's first piece. Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon, director of downtown Orlando's Jai Gallery, will be the curator.
The museum will enhance the idea that the neighborhood is a fun destination, said Joanne Grant, executive director of the Mills 50 Main Street District, which promotes programs to preserve and improve the neighborhood's character.
"What has happened in the last few years is this area has gotten a reputation of being artsy, quirky, eclectic," Grant said. "This idea really goes along with what we're trying to do with the district."
Separate art initiatives in the district include painting traffic-control boxes, and installation later this year of new decorative bus stops. The main floor of the Cameo Building will soon become an art gallery called Snap! Space.
Grant is looking into having artists paint the dumpsters of neighborhood businesses to build on Mills 50's reputation, she said.
"That's how these neighborhoods get their identities," she said.
The Urban Art Museum is similar to See Art Orlando, a public-art program announced a year ago by Mayor Buddy Dyer. The first pieces for that program will be installed this fall, a city spokeswoman said. The sculptures will be placed around downtown with local businesses underwriting the cost.
Beyond improving the aesthetics of Mills 50, the project hopes to help nearby shops and restaurants.
"It's not only an idea to create great art, but it's an idea to fuel the local economy," said Cornetet.
The museum's first piece of art will be installed along Mills Avenue near Tako Cheena restaurant, Educe Salon and Saya Couture and Décor.
"It's so much better than some flashing neon sign," said Trisha A. Eckoff, owner of the Saya Couture boutique.
More public art is likely headed to the nearby Ivanhoe Village neighborhood when a SunRail train station opens there next spring. A National Endowment for the Arts grant will help pay for improvements to Loch Haven Park, including public art between the SunRail depot near Florida Hospital, and the Orlando Museum of Art and Mennello Museum of American Art.
The multiple art efforts can energize neighborhoods, said Barbara Hartley, director of Orlando's Downtown Arts District, who attended a recent fundraiser for the Urban Art Museum.
"Public-art projects such as See Art Orlando, the NEA Ivanhoe project and the Urban Art Museum make art accessible for all to enjoy, both tourists and locals," Hartley said.
"The city becomes more alive and vibrant because of these efforts."
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