If you haven’t yet done anything of particular interest this summer, this is your chance to take some intriguing selfies and tuck away some conversation pieces for your next dinner party. The opportunity to contemplate the meaning of a red light bulb in a gum ball machine, explore your city’s unique symphonic sound or reach out and touch a “street urchin” does not come around often, so mark your calendars for the Art in Odd Places festival (AiOP). This new-to-Orlando event is an annual international visual and performance public art festival making its O-town debut downtown from September 17-20 along Magnolia Avenue.
The festival’s theme is TONE, so expect interpretations of tone ranging from the notions of sound and color to character and skin tone. Artists will transform Magnolia Avenue into a laboratory of sorts, stretching the boundaries of public communication outside the confines of traditional public spaces through visual and audio installations and performances. “By introducing Orlando to Art in Odd Places, we hope it will locate the cracks in public space policies, and to inspire the popular imagination for new possibilities and engagement with civic space,” said Barbara Hartley, executive director of the Downtown Arts District (DAD).
The inaugural event will feature nearly 50 works of art in a variety of disciplines from artists around the globe, including 27 from Orlando, five from within Florida, 15 from across the United States and two from across the pond (England and Ireland).
On the fence about attending? Be careful — the Pied Piper may lure you into an art experience via his theremin bike… yes, I said, beware the theremin bike!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the low-brow/high-brow/what-brow-is-this nature of an art festival like this, you can always start in the Reading Room, a popup immersive space for reading and learning about the rich history and context of contemporary performance art. I don’t blame you for trying to understand; however, performance art is generally more fun, sometimes enlightening, if you just go with it.
AiOP began under director Ed Woodham’s leadership to encourage participation in the Cultural Olympiad of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In 2005, in New York City, Woodham re-imagined AiOP as a response to the dwindling of public space and personal civil liberties – first in the Lower East Side and East Village and, since 2008, on 14th Street in Manhattan. AiOP has always been a grassroots project fueled by the goodwill and inventiveness of it participants. The festival has traveled the world before landing in Orlando.
“I’m hoping that the festival will engage the diverse cultural communities of Orlando,” said Ed Woodham, AiOP founder and director. “Just a few years ago, we were invited to take the event on the road to explore various themes in other locations around the world. To date, AiOP has spanned from Los Angeles to Russia and from Boston to Australia; and now we couldn’t be happier to bring it to the cultural destination of Orlando.”
What do we love more than a diverse and dynamic cultural event in The City Beautiful? A FREE diverse and dynamic event! You read that correctly — AiOP is free to attend. Exhibit times will vary daily. Here’s an overview of when you can find events going on:
Sept. 17, 6 – 9 p.m.
Sept. 18 & 19, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sept. 20, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
In addition to the festival’s interactive exhibits, these featured events will also take place:
- AiOP Kickoff: Thursday, September 17 at 6 p.m. in conjunction with the Downtown Arts District’s monthly Third Thursday Gallery Hop, which also features numerous galleries and non-traditional art venues that spotlight the best of established and emerging local and non-local acclaimed artists. The Downtown Orlando Partnership will also be hosting “Taste of Downtown” from 6-9 p.m. in the Orange County Regional History Center’s courtyard, where festival-goers can indulge in some of Orlando’s culinary highlights and experience AiOP; also enjoy complimentary admission into the History Center.
- Senior Day: Friday, September 18, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., includes performance groups, such as the acclaimed Downtowners from Lutheran Towers, along with additional special programming.
- Family Day: Saturday, September 19 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., ArtReach Orlando, an art outreach program that supports creative and collaborative art projects between teachers, organizations and local artists, offers family art activities that invite the public to engage more with the exhibits. The Orange County Regional History Center will offer complimentary admission to festival-goers from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Artists Panels: Occur at the Gallery on Avalon Island (upstairs) located at 39 S. Magnolia Ave. on Thursday, September 17 and Saturday, September 20, each at 7 p.m. The first panel will feature “What is AiOP?,” while the second will feature “TONE explored.”
For more information about AiOP’s history and artists’ project descriptions and schedules, visit artinoddplaces.org/orlando.
Learn more about the Downtown Arts District at orlandoslice.com.
Stay tuned for a future post featuring our Top 5 don’t miss Art in Odd Places picks.
Featured image – top: Drum Machine Circle, GREG LEIBOWITZ
AiOP 2015: TONE/ORLANDO is produced by the Downtown Arts District, Inc. with co-curators, Patrick Greene, and Genevieve Bernard; AiOP Festival Producer Tim Turner; DAD Executive Director, Barbara Hartley; and AiOP founder and director, Ed Woodham.
AiOP 2015: TONE/ORLANDO is sponsored by Aloft Orlando Downtown, City of Orlando, Dr. Phillips Center, Downtown City Beverages, Downtown Development Board, Downtown Orlando Partnership, Orchid Medical, Florida Blue, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, Orange County Arts & Cultural Alliance, Orange County Regional History Center, Starling Cadillac and United Arts. Media partners are Clear Channel Outdoor, Orlando Weekly, 98.9 WMMO, WRBW-TV My 65 and Fox 35 Orlando.