St. Augustine is just under two hours from Orlando and so it was a fun adventure to head out the morning of Promenade the Alcazar and stay overnight after the event. My friend Annie (above) and I have known each other for almost 30 years. Here’s a great blog post I did about our friendship, how we met in London, our unknown family connection from back in Boston, and our mutual affinity for the permanent art of tattoo.
When I told Annie over the phone that I didn’t have a date for Promenade the Alcazar, after winning the People’s Choice Award for my artwork, “Coquina Kiss” and scoring two VIP tickets to the event….. she immediately said “I’d love to be your date!”
She’s an amazing friend indeed, because being my date meant flying across the country from San Jose, California to Orlando, Florida!
An Amazing Evening
I entered Promenade the Alcazar’s art contest because the prospectus indicated the theme was Art Nouveau and the Gilded Age… absolutely perfect for me. Gustav Klimt is my muse, and Alphonse Mucha has always inspired me with his graphic design and artful combination of long-haired ladies. As it turns out, I’ve been using a lot of gold leaf in my artwork lately; all of these key factors added up to be a match made in art heaven.
The Lightner Museum sponsored the event and the art contest, as part of their annual fundraising gala. The Lightner Museum is housed in the former Alcazar Hotel which was built in 1888 (the height of Art Nouveau) by Henry Flagler. Today it is home to one of the finest collections of fine and decorative 19th century art in the country.
The hotel was at the peak of its popularity during the 1890’s. More than 25,000 guests visited the Alcazar during those early winter seasons and countless more used the recreational facilities. For the pleasure of the guests, there was the world’s largest indoor swimming pool at the time, the grand ballroom, sulfur baths, a steam room, massage parlor, a gymnasium, a bowling alley, archery ranges, tennis courts and a bicycle academy.
If The Shoe Fits
While I was in New Orleans being trained by GOLDEN Artist Colors last month, I made a visit to the Mother Ship, John Fluevog Shoes. Typically I purchase my Vogs online, but every once in a while I get to experience a brick and mortar store.
While perusing the footwear, I came across this wonderful MaryJane with big buckle, thee tone leather, gold, and metallic. It was love at first sight–I knew these beauties would be a perfect match for the dress I had chosen for the event.
In order to find the perfect Art Nouveau dress, I poured over online fashion websites. It was important for me to have the perfect outfit for this event, because my love of fashion is a close second to my love of art.
Another match made in heaven.
I found an Art Nouveau styled dress that looks just like the shape of the one in my painting (how cool is that?). I loved the fact that it was white, because I figured that everyone else at the event would be dressed in black. The shoes from New Orleans complimented my dress perfectly. The blue heart-shaped glass necklace is by Canadian artist Amber Higgins, who’s work I have admired and collected for years.
Art Nouveau, Fashion, and Friendship; what could be more perfect rolled into one weekend? Annie and I thoroughly enjoyed out time at the event. The Museum has an incredible collection of art and artifacts that we enjoyed learning and talking to the docents about. As part of our VIP tickets, we were able to take an incredible tour of the upstairs rooms of the hotel that are typically off-limits to the public. Some of the upstairs rooms had not been touched since 1920, they remained exactly the way they were when the hotel staff lived there. Other upstairs rooms had been converted into modern storage spaces for pieces in the permanent collection, here we got to see several original Tiffany stained glass windows that were in need of repair.
Tourists for a Day
Neither Annie nor I had ever been to the Fountain of Youth and we figured after 28 years of friendship, we probably could use some of that water. Off we went the morning after the Gala, to explore our nation’s oldest city. Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park has canon and musket firing demonstrations, a black smith shop, Spanish watchtower, and the Timucua Theater.
Side Note: In 1934 a work crew found human bones while digging on the Fountain of Youth property. The University of Florida and, later, the Smithsonian Institution excavated 90 Native American remains. The find was significant due to the fact that these are the earliest known remains of a Christian burial for indigenous peoples in what is now the United States. Check out the very cool history of the park here.
There were about a million peacocks at the park, they had been breeding there since the Fraser family started this attraction to educate the public about Juan Ponce de Leon. I chased them down photographing, taking video, and trying to outrun them because there was a peacock collage on my easel that weekend and I wanted more inspiration for the piece.
A Long Time Coming
I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend… and it was a dream come true to have Annie there to make it so. I told the folks at the Lightner Museum that really the ONLY reason I entered the art contest in the first place was to win tickets to the event. (there was a purse for the first prize winner) Because ever since I’ve been in college, I’ve been captivated by the curvilinear lines, the organic forms, the peacocks, the long-haired beauties of Art Nouveau.
When Annie and I lived in London together, we were dirt poor. We slept on the floor, ate beans out of cans, cleaned hotel rooms for a living, and hung out with the locals. We loved every minute of our time there, but we would look into the windows of restaurants at night, drooling over the dinners of the diners who were dressed up nice, not eating beans OR bread.
Annie used to say, “Someday we will come back here when we have money, and WE will do that…” She meant we would get dressed up, eat in restaurants, and drink wine together.
We may not have been in London, but 28 years later we had arrived!
I love you kid!
And as always,
for being a part of my