Thursday, May 10, 2018

Artegon is Long Gone

I did a series of sketches when plans were made to open Artegon Market Place on International Drive. I was fascinated by the idea of a thriving market similar to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul Turkey. What appeared in the first weeks were a series of cages filling the empty space of a former mall. Those cages were eventually replaced with mini themed store fronts but the place felt fractured and cut up. I had been toying with the idea of renting a space in the market to sell my art because they promised low cost rents for artists to start. RV, a local artist rented a large gallery but soon left because of broken promises by the management.

Being across from many of International Drives Premium Outlet malls where tourists spend plenty of money before heading back home, I thought there might be a ready market. For whatever reason, the market place never thrived. The center first opened in 2003 as Festival Bay Mall, but that only lasted until 2011. Artegon opened in 2014. The place seemed cursed. In the open inner court area a large Aerial Adventure Course was built with rope bridges, zip lines, suspended disks. The first week the course was opened, Robert Belvoir, 52, fell 30 feet to his death.

Lightstone Group ended its two-year experiment to take the "property in a new direction." Bass Pro Shop and Cinemark Theaters remain open since their buildings aren't owned by Lightstone. Artegon's owner recouped its $25 million investment, selling the properties for Bass Pro Shops and Cinemark Theaters for a combined $30 million. In the Noor Salman trial, footage was shown of Pulse Nightclub shooter Omar Mateen buying ammunition for the rifle used in the Pulse Nightclub attack along with some candy from Bass Pro Shops in the weeks before the massacre.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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