Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Illegal Art in Winter Park

I went to the The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art (445 N Park Ave, Winter Park, Florida 32789) for Spring Friday Nights. The Museum's annual Rites of Spring Celebration included free admission, live music, tours, and more.

Of  interest to me was, The Domes of the Yosemite, the largest existing painting by Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902), which was making its post-conservation debut at the Morse through a special loan from the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum in Vermont. The monumental 1867 painting, which had not been seen outside the Athenaeum since its installation there in 1873. The huge painting was created in the context of the Hudson River School. These loosely affiliated landscape artists produced grand, romantic images of New York’s countryside. In this genre, no artist’s work was more luminous, theatrical, or better loved. The painting was commissioned for $25,000.

I settled into a seat and started sketching the monumental painting along with a round Tiffany stained glass window that dominated the gallery. I had finished the line work and was blocking in some color when a guard stopped me. She was concerned for  the wood floors and asked me to stop. I have never spilled a drop of color doing my tiny watercolors, but she must have considered me an anarchist and or a slob. I added a few color notes like, Grey, Ochre, Orange, etc to let me know what my plan had been when I started painting. I then went outside the museum and sat on a bench to block in the colors there. That was an act of civil disobedience since sketching on Park Avenue is illegal in Winter Park. I walked back into the museum one more time to check the color scheme and went out to paint again. Outside it grew dark as the sun set. I grew discouraged and left. I haven't returned to the museum since.

The Bierstadt is no longer at the Morse. Winter Park has an crazy back woods ordinance that prohibits the creation of art in it's downtown streets. It seems the Morse also considers sketching, an illegal act. Sketching on the public bench outside the Morse could have been punishable with a $500 fine and or 30 days in jail. Welcome to the Central Florida arts scene.

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 analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com

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