Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Accidental Historian


I was sent to several locations in Orlando to sketch scenes that had been photographed back in the 1920s. In this scene Many trees had been added over the years and the old bandshell was replaced by the now rainbow colored Disney Amphitheater. The original bandshell in the historic photo was designed by Frank Loyd Wright's secretary, Isabella Roberts who was an architect in her own right.  She also designed several buildings in  the Orlando area. I found it fascinating that many of the same shadows cut across the scene, 100 years later.

This is the Sperry Fountain which is actually the second fountain on this site. Having sketched this from life and comparing it to the original, I can say it is a fairly close replica. The duck on top of the fountain has a slightly different pose in the original sculpture, and today the green patina  had some purple paint stains perhaps from pride day.  The original is now located in Greenwood Cemetery. The fountain is made of wrought iron and has a duck base and water flows from the duck's beaks and an acanthus leaf.

In 1883, wealthy Orlando resident Jacob Summerlin the owner of the Summerlin Hotel, the first City Council president, and financial lender for the construction of Orlando's courthouse in the 1870s—donated a large tract of land to establish a park in Orlando. In 1883, Summerlin came to a city council meeting and offered the land around the lake on the condition that it be beautified and turned into a park. He also required that the city plant trees and put a "driveway" around the lake. To ensure that the city followed through with the stipulations of the donation, Summerlin put reverter clauses in the contract to allow his heirs to reclaim the property if the city failed in its obligations. Several years later, his sons threatened to exercise the reverter clause if the city did not make good on its promise. Today, the park is still maintained according to his requirement that it be kept beautiful.

These sketches were done as part of Accidental Historian at the Orange County Regional History Center (65 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801). The premise of the show is that any one today might be a historian without even realizing it. That could certainly true of many bloggers, urban sketchers, photographers, and more. In this engaging exhibition, created at the History Center, patrons can learn how individuals who are absorbed in documenting the world of today accidentally become some of Central Florida’s finest historians for the future. The show offers a glimpse into some of the museum's favorite collections that were created for the now, more than 100 years ago. Put it on your calendar,


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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