February Top Picks
Florida’s Dixie Days
An exhibit at the History Center will showcase the Sunshine State’s contribution to the Confederacy during the Civil War. By Jay Boyar
When you think about the Civil War, you tend to focus on sites like Gettysburg, Appomattox, Antietam and Shiloh. Among the places that do not immediately spring to mind are Tampa, Jacksonville and Orlando.
But Florida was a member of the Confederacy and, as such, it did play a key role in The War Between the States. That’s the point of Florida in the Civil War, an exhibit that opens this month at the Orange County Regional History Center.
No, there weren’t many battles here. But an army marches on its stomach, and that’s where Florida came in.
“We provided salt and beef to the Confederacy,” explains Cynthia Cardona Meléndez, the center’s curator of collections. “That was big. We fed the Confederacy for quite some time.”
Which is not to say that the exhibition is comprised of vintage steak knives and saltshakers. Its two-dozen artifacts include period swords and pistols from Florida, as well as items from the Maple Leaf, the Union ship that was sunk in the St. Johns River. There will also be a doll called Nina that was used by Confederate forces to smuggle medical supplies past the wartime Union blockade.
The Civil War exhibit is part of the History Center’s 10th anniversary celebration, which features the return of some of the center’s most successful shows from its first decade. Meléndez says that when a version of the exhibit was presented in 2007, some people wondered why the center would choose to focus on a war in which Florida was on the losing—and, many would insist, wrong—side.
“I think what we’re hoping to say is: Hey, this topic is popular amongst the population here in the South and in Florida, and it’s important,” Meléndez explains. “It is part of American history, which in turn is part of Florida’s history, which in turn is part of Central Florida’s history.”
Orange County Regional History Center. Feb. 5-June 12. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m. $6-$9. 65 E. Central Blvd. 407-836-8500. thehistorycenter.org
Call It Nudism
FEBRUARY 10-12 Some people like Impressionism. Others prefer Cubism or Abstract Expressionism. And then there are those who don’t care which “ism” it is, as long as somebody in it is naked. If you tend to fall into that last category of art lovers, Nude Nite may be for you. In this adults-only art exhibit, all the works celebrate the unclothed human form. Nude Nite (which really takes place over three nights) has been presented since the mid-1990s and typically features painting, sculpture and photography, as well as theater, music, dance and burlesque presentations. Take a chance and don’t be shy: In this case, it’s perfectly fine to stare. 6 p.m.-midnight. $20. 503 W. Grant St. nudeniteorlando.com
Sounds of Paisley
FEBRUARY 24 Singer-songwriter Brad Paisley—whose hits include “When I Get Where I’m Going,” “American Saturday Night,” “Mud on the Tires” and the ever-popular “Alcohol”—is bringing his country-fried act to town this month, with guest artists Darius Rucker and Jerrod Niemann. The stop is part of Paisley’s H2O World Tour, the last leg of which he’s calling, for obvious meteorological reasons, the H20 Frozen Over Tour. Paisley has said that his wide-ranging repertoire contains the sounds of “love and loss and heartbreak and triumphs and everything in between.” And his songs are meant to be listened to carefully. “I’m not one of these guys,” he’s cautioned, “that wants my record to be background music for somebody.” 7:30 p.m. $29.75-$89. Amway Center, 400 W. Church St. 407-440-7900. amwaycenter.com
FEBRUARY 4-13 If you’re on a limited budget—and these days, let’s face it, who isn’t?—this may be the best time of year to experience theater, music and dance. Presented by United Arts of Central Florida, the 9th annual edition of ArtsFest will offer more than 100 arts productions without charge, throughout Greater Orlando. And, hey, you can’t do much better than free. 407-363-5816. artsfestfl.com
Magicians Penn & Teller will bring their smoke and mirrors to Hard Rock Live at Universal’s CityWalk. hardrock.com
FEBRUARY 4-MARCH 13
Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, Menopause The Musical will return to Orlando, specifically to The Plaza Live Theatre. theplazatheatre.com
Singing “Idol” Clay Aiken is coming to Hard Rock Live at Universal’s CityWalk. hardrock.com
Orlando Ballet will perform Battle of the Sexes II, its sequel to last year’s hit, at Bob Carr. orlandoballet.org
The new, much-awaited 12,000-square-foot wing of the Morse Museum will open to the public. morsemuseum.org