Saturday, June 2, 2018

Another Year Passes at the Orange County Regional History Center

I sketched the final day of the exhibit install for, Another Year Passes: Orlando After the Pulse Nightclub Massacre. The Exhibit will be on display from June 2, 2018 through October 14, 2018. Last year's exhibit honoring the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting was only up for one week because a wedding was booked in the exhibit hall. This year the exhibit will be up for four months in a different space.

I was on hand to sketch the install of a huge piece of art created by Jeff Sonksen of Paint the Trail fame. He paints on wooden fencing and has created a long stretch of art along the biking trail in Longwood, Florida. After the Pulse Nightclub massacre he painted 49 portraits of the victims of the shooting. The portraits surround a large fence panel that has the Orlando skyline along with several tourist attractions in silhouette. The museum staff had to remove the heavy and cumbersome wooden supports he used when he left the panels freestanding at the Dr. Phillips memorial in 2016. They devised a method of disassembling the panels so it could be brought into the museum and installed for the exhibit that is opening just two years after the fateful shooting on June 12, 2016.

Assembling and hanging the piece was a herculean task. The staff looked like the soldiers who raised the flag at Iwo Jima in the famous WWII photo and sculpture. The sign, along with a set of 49 beautiful hand-painted tiles, however will not be present for a few days to the public and will have to be taken down intermittently throughout the exhibition to allow for weddings happening in the same space. If isn't up when you come, I recommend you come back another time to see them. 

I walked through the exhibit and it is incredible, with so much information about how this community continues to try and heal after the tragedy. It wraps around the second floor hall bringing the walls close for an intimate view. Over 1,800 images of quilts from the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild were miniaturized and then exhibited en mass together on one wall. The shear volume of colorful quilts is staggering. A few of my sketches from oral histories are scattered throughout the exhibit.

The museum staff have to be commended for again crafting an incredible exhibition. The Orange County Regional History Center has received five significant national awards from the American Alliance of Museums, the American Association for State and Local History, and the Southeastern Museum Conference for their work on the One Orlando Collection in the last two years related to the impact and legacy of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016. It is hard to see their hard work needing to be compromised against a funding initiative. It would be a great day when the museum was well enough funded by the community so it no longer needed income from weddings.

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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