Hi Amy, A small but incredibly inspiring place of wonder is The
Maitland Art Center, in Maitland, FL. It’s just a 30 minute drive
from Kissimmee - I-4 North. Once you’re in the Central Florida area,
you’ll find directions and hours for the center in the phone book.
They also have a website but I don’t have the URL handy. Email if
you’d like me to look it up.
Anyway, the Maitland Art Center is a sort of Mayan styled walled
complex of court yards and individual art studios. I took sculpture
classes there in 1984-85 and always drop by on the rare visit back
home. My historical info is quite rusty but I think the center was
built in the 1920s, by a painter whose name escapes me now.
They have a small gallery too but the center itself is really the
draw. There is a haunting timelessness that lingers amidst the
winding pathways that brings to mind images of Spanish moss draped
cypress branches…particularly if you go at a quiet time and tune in
to the surroundings, it’s like being transported to another realm.
If you’re planning on taking a sketchbook, the center is a great
place to relax and let ideas flow.
Not far from Maitland is Winter Park, home of Rollins College, the
closest thing to Ivy League in the South. The campus is beautiful,
situated between a scenic lake and the southern end of Park Avenue.
Park Ave is lined with unique, upscale boutiques, trendy dining and
art galleries. It reminds me of a mini-La Jolla, FL style, and
definitely a nice change from the tourist trap environs of Kissimmee.
Again, my recollections are vague but The Morse Gallery is quite
popular though I can’t remember if they house the Tiffany Glass
collection or if there is another gallery devoted to it. And if
you’re into Tiffany windows, there’s a French restaurant also on Park
Ave with the matching panes to those located in an Episcopalian
church in Honolulu, HI. I can’t remember the name, it may have
changed by now anyway, but I’m sure any Park Ave merchants can guide
you. The lunch menu used to be surprisingly reasonable - and top rate
- a real treat for all the senses…
Kissimmee doesn’t offer much art beyond the seashell/glue gun variety
but another hidden treasure trove is at the Marriott Grand Cypress
Resort. It’s just off of I-4 (which runs from Daytona to Tampa and
like the NJ turnpike, most everything is accessed from some exit or
other). It isn’t too far from Disney Village.
The Grand Cypress lobby is dotted by tables topped with the biggest
floral arrangements I’ve ever seen. Off to one side is an absolutely
phenomenal carving of a ship, I’m guessing 5x3 foot in size - all
hand sculpted from a single piece of jade, even the tiny link chain
detail that is perfectly unbroken. I haven’t been there in 15 years
but it’s such a memorable work, I can still see it clearly. I also
remember something made from mica of a heavenly sky blue/silver
variety that came from, I think Sri Lankan, temple roofs. I just
recall the mica and the how the way it was applied as one of those
things that makes your brain think in entirely new ways.
The Dali Museum is wonderful, worth the drive. I was a Dali fanatic
from an early age and regret not making it to the museum more than
Hope you didn’t mind such a long reply but I lived in Orlando for 10
years and I’m glad to have had this chance to share some of my
favorite spots. Thanks for the trip down memory lane and best wishes
for a safe and enchanting journey!