Four unexpected places that will ignite your imagination.
Art on the Fly
Whether you’re rushing in or out of Orlando International Airport, if you find yourself in Airside Two, gates 100 to 129, slow down the pace because you’re in for a treat. More than just a terminal of steel and glass, this section of the airport was turned into an art gallery and is home to some amazing mosaics—huge displays of color, texture and depth—that will have you looking at this art form in a new light. In Florida homes, mosaic designs of ceramic and stone tiles work beautifully in patios, pool areas and lanais, as well as in baths and kitchens as accents. So pausing to admire these works of art, created with polished natural stone and vitreous ceramic, will definitely generate a creative idea or two.
A View from Within by Paul Goodnight is on the wall near gate 112. In his tropical display of elements that are truly Florida—alligators, fish, seashells, palm trees, even bongo drums—Goodnight mixes sizes of tiles, uses a range of color shades, and pairs textures—matte with sheen and mother-of-pearl tiles for details. He gives his flowers more depth by turning the stones on their sides to create relief.
Since wall space is scarce in most airport terminals, you’ll have to look down to see more. Three floor mosaics created by Florida artists dazzle the eye. R. Grady Kimsey spreads sunflowers across his 88-foot-long mosaic, framing it with a repeat pattern of leaves to create Flora- scape, which is near gate 123. In Victor Bokas’ Florida Vacation, near gate 103, abstract fish dominate the 1,320-square-foot artwork. His colors are bold, and his fish are whimsical. At the entrance to the people mover, Henry Sinn’s Field of Ferns is exactly that, 94 feet of foliage. Together, green and blue tiles create the green leaves; spiral-shaped ferns are mixed into the design and a border of red flowers ties it all together.
If there’s a place to get inspired about creating your own edible—and drinkable—landscape or garden, it’s at Grande Lakes Orlando, where resort chefs have been harvesting everything from white eggplant and okra to pomegranate and bananas, along with baskets of fresh herbs. The idea started with a raised-bed garden to supply the chefs at Melissa Kelly’s Primo restaurant in the JW Marriott with just-picked basil, sage, peppers and greens. After dinner at Primo you can visit the nearby herb garden, which has expanded to include sweet potatoes, celery, lots of tomato plants and various peppers from cayenne to Scotch bonnet.
Taking the farm-to-table concept to the next level, Grande Lakes created Whisper Creek Farm, a 7,000-square-foot garden, tucked away in a park-like environment where special events, including a chef’s table, are held. On Saturday mornings, Chef Chris Brown takes hotel guests on tours of the farm, which is an incredible medley of densely planted fruits and vegetables. Among the surprises are the hop plants that climb the trellis at the garden gate. Brown uses them to brew beer. Pineapples grow here, too, which the chef turns into black pepper pineapple jam. Tomatoes and cucumbers are pickled and served later at restaurants in both the Ritz-Carlton and the JW Marriott hotels (you can find Chef Brown’s pickle recipes on our website at orlandohomeandgarden.com). Underneath pine trees are blueberry bushes, and more unexpected finds include yucca, plantains and mangos.
If after a visit you want to create your own culinary garden, the company My Yard Farm, which maintains the resorts’ gardens, also designs and installs residential gardens. Best part is that these gardeners specialize in strategically placing plants to avoid problems with pests, as well as finding the best location that allows a tropical plant to flourish in Central Florida’s cooler climate.
What's Old is New
Anyone who is into restoring old houses or trying to give their new home vintage appeal will enjoy a visit to Winter Park’s Casa Feliz. The Andalusian-style masonry farmhouse may look old to us in the 21st century, but when it was constructed in 1932, architect James Gamble Rogers II wanted it to look several hundred years older. He actually created crumbling arches to resemble ruins; they’re still there today. The red bricks used on the exterior of the house were part of Orlando’s National Guard Armory, which was razed, and then they were whitewashed. Even the barrel tile roof was created to look old; the handmade clay tiles were shaped over the knees of Spanish peasants.
A walk around the outside of the house turns up some interesting details that are easier to re-create, like the balcony balustrades painted with pastel stripes or the trio of brick arches over the windows to add intrigue. Even the bottle-bottom glass window design used in small windows instead of clear panes is a nice touch that would work equally well in today’s homes. But one of Casa Feliz’s most colorful spots is the courtyard, where Mallorca tiles in traditional colors with floral and bird designs adorn the fountain. The tiles are also used to create a half wall, pairing beautifully with the worn red brick exterior. casafeliz.us
Decorative doors and gates have always had a place in Florida homes, with wrought-iron designs featuring everything from Art Deco motifs to tropical birds and flowers. At the Maitland Art Center, part of the Art & History Museums Maitland, a peaceful stroll will turn up some intriguing door treatments inspired by the Art Deco/Mayan Revival style. If you’re looking for ideas to give your home door or gate its own personality, the fantasy architecture popular back in the 1930s when artist/architect J. Andre Smith founded the art center is sure to kindle your creative side.
As you meander this 2.84-acre property surrounded by perimeter walls and connected by a series of loggias, courtyards and pathways, you can’t help but notice the doors. The wrought-iron door to the main building is designed to resemble the head of a Mayan chief complete with a feathered headdress and art-deco lines. One of the gates incorporates an iconic Mayan figure into its square shape, as well as blue flowers arranged in a pattern. Smith often used flowers and birds to represent the regeneration of spirit that he found in Florida.