So what happens when you are asked to do a non-traditional Senior portrait session? Well...you quickly come up with a plan to combine your love of photography with your love of art, and maybe a little bit of your past life doing graffiti. That was a very long time ago, and we're not going to go into that because my kids read this blog, LOL!
I was on a mission to come up with something that was just right for a guy who loves fashion and is not really your typical teen. Since this was one of my dearest friends Son, I pitched her the idea of graffiti, then I showed her my Wynwood Walls Blog, go ahead...check it out, it's awesome! However, because of extremely busy schedules we were not taking a road trip to Miami, bummer. I had to find someplace in Orlando, that was like Wynwood. Now, this was quite a task, graffiti in Orlando is not easily found, after all...we're called the City Beautiful. After hours of searching I found the Mills/50 corridor.
This area of Orlando is sandwiched between the suburbs and Downtown Orlando. While back in the early 90's this area was a happenin' place to be, mainly because it housed the only mall in Central FL, in recent years it has become forgotten and rundown. Strip malls, restaurants and businesses have come and gone, and overall the area is tired and unappealing. With most of Mills and Colonial/Hwy50 showing the signs of recession from a few years ago, and "taggers" using the area as a personal place to display hate, it's about time the city steps in to breath new life into the area.
Now unlike Wynwood, we are not talking about a few city blocks, where we can park and walk the streets to see the artwork. Instead, we are talking about an entire zip code in need of new life. Unforntley the graffiti is not concentrated to just one or two blocks it's spread thoughout the area, and finding it, is a little bit of a challenge. However, here is a map so you can take a driving tour of the area.
Graffiti artist from around the area are coming together to combat "taggers" who essentially use the public and private walls around the area to promote hate with symbols of gang activity or profanity. The community has decided to take back the streets and offer commissioned areas for graffiti artist to express true art that inspires people to see graffiti as "art" not as taboo tagging. The city started the "Dumpster Art Project", "Art Drain Project" and "Art Box Project", then moved on to commission full wall murals throughout the district. You can find more information about these project right here, Mills/50 Art Projects.
What I love most about these two pieces from Andrew Spear is that they both depict the diversity and urban culture found in Orlando. Most people only see Central FL as a place where the "Big Mouse" lives, and that's true but Central Florida has so much more to offer tourist than just theme parks. The opportunity to drive around and look beyond the obvious is what I love most about Orlando.
Artist: Andrew Spear
One Location Covered in Graffiti
Technically this location is not within the Mills/50 district it's within steps of the district just off of Colonial Drive, and it is well worth the short detour. This is one location with several pieces of art. The art at this location is always changing and you can find everything from cultural pieces to fantasy art, along with traditional tagging. All 3 sides of this restaurant are covered with the exception of the front, and the walls in the parking lot are covered as well. If you are looking for the "Orlando Strong" piece at the top of the blog, this is where that mural is located.
The Art that is Sam Flax
If we head back to the Mills/50 district you will find Sam Flax an art and design supply store, there you will find several murals in one space. The parking lot is a kaleidoscope of colors and everything from an Indian to a massive FL panther can be found there.
Next time you're driving around Orlando, take a moment to visit the Mills/50 district and see what new art pops up. This is a great way to see the "not so touristy" side of Orlando, and don't forget to grab your map, so you know exactly where to go and how to get back.