Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Dezerland


I heard about a game night at Gods and Monsters called Tipsy Tabletop. I had sketched in Gods and Monsters in the past and they were located in the former Artegon Marketplace on International Drive. I typed Gods and Monsters into my GPS and headed out. When I got close the GPS started giving me unexpected directions. I ignored the directions and parked near the Cinemark Theaters which is where I usually park when going to Gods and Monsters. The Cinemark was active but when I turned into the Market there was a high metal fence set up blocking access to the inner market area. I knew that Bass Pro shop was open on the west side of the mall, so I figured I might be able to get to Gods and Monsters by walking around the exterior of the building.

Dark storm clouds with lightening loomed on the horizon. When I got to this front facade of the mall I stopped in my tracks. The huge letters used to spell out Artegon but now spelled Dezerland. What is Dezerland? The mall had been empty for over a year. Did it mean Deserted land? I decided to sit down and sketch to ponder the possibilities. Gilson's Brazilian Restaurant with a large black limousine parked in front was open to my right but Fudruckers looked closed.  Also to my right was an automobile museum that didn't look like it was open yet.

Artegon had been sold to a business associate of Donald Trump named Michael Dezer for $24 million dollars. Mr Dezer was converting the interior of the mall into an action park. I remember that Artegon had installed an indoor skyline course where people could walk tightropes several stories up. On the first week it opened a tourist fell to his death since he had not been harnessed in correctly. I wonder if Dezer will remove that skyline or keep it?

The city of Orlando had put a stop work order on Dezerland since the proper permits had not been filed. Cars were being painted inside without proper ventilation. Interior walls were altered and electrical work done. Dezer is being fined $200 a day until the paperwork is filed. He had planned to open the park as an auto dealership and theme park early this year. That would explain why the place looked so deserted.

The auto museum is supposed to house one of the largest collections of cars in the country. When I peaked in the closed entrance I just saw a few child's toy sized cars. A map of the plans shows that the car museum would be much larger that I was able to see peaking in the front windows. The museum is supposed to house the largest privately owned collection of cars in the world, including the James Bond Cars, the Bat Mobile and the Ghostbusters Hearst.

The theme park includes, a retro pinball machine palace an arcade game room, bumper cars, various virtual reality rooms and experiences, trampolines, a bowling alley, laser tag, and Florida's longest straightaway go-kart track. Future plans include an apartment complex on the south side of the former mall. The Dezerland website lists the opening date as Spring of 2019. I'm not sure what to expect but it could be a sketch opportunity when it is up and running.

Just as a footnote I found out that Gods and Monsters had moved a few blocks away. I will eventually find my way over there again.


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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