Artists in Florida have a well-earned advantage in finding “work” at the theme parks that employ hundreds of fine artists to create sets, costumes, floats and larger-than-life environments for the millions of guests who visit Central Florida every year. Our artists, illustrators, costume designers, FX creators and make-up artists collaborate with one goal: to entertain. Now the Orange County History Center presents “The Serious Art of Make-Believe” through April 29. The exhibit goes behind the scenes at Universal Orlando to show more than 200 original drawings and models among the 1,000 pieces of artwork and artifacts from the resort’s events, including Halloween Horror Nights and Mardi Gras. This collaboration between the museum and Universal is the first of its kind, providing a never-before-seen glimpse into Universal’s archives and warehouses. The History Center is at 65 E. Central Blvd. Visit thehistorycenter.org or call 407-836-8500.
Artists get to be winners!
For months I’ve been telling you that Third Thursday is the time to join the “Gallery Crawl” through the art galleries of downtown Orlando. Lately, the Thornton Park area has joined in this tradition of changing exhibits and introducing new artists on that date. The excitement of December’s Third Thursday will come from downtown’s “anchor gallery,” the Gallery at Avalon Island. The reception there from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 15, is based around the “Members Juried Exhibit” in which the artwork is judged by an outside expert for monetary prizes. It’s always fun to see which of our artists are recognized, because the tastes of the judges vary as much as we do, and it’s always wonderful to see artists being recognized for their talent. The Gallery at Avalon Island is at 39 S. Magnolia Ave. Visit galleryatavalonisland.com.
Scrooge by candlelight
My favorite re-telling of the classic Dickens’ ghost story of Christmas is the Robin Olson production in which three actors portray dozens of characters as they perform among the audience. Audience members are seated at tables enjoying homemade Christmas cookies and a pot of tea while the actors perform around us, coming just “this close” to touching us. This year’s production of “Dickens by Candlelight: A Christmas Carol” will be staged in the main hall of the Dr. Phillips Center from Friday, Dec. 16, to Friday, Dec. 23. The audience feels like part of the production, especially as an actor suddenly speaks from beside you. The cast is made up of John DiDonna, Morgan Russell and Monica Tamborello, who have each acted before in this beloved story of Scrooge and his awakening. Performances are at the Dr. Phillips Center on Lake Ivanhoe at 1111 N. Orange Ave. Caroling and wassail begin an hour before the show. Call 407-491-4663 or visit DickensByCandlelight.com.
Holidays (and more) at the Morse Museum
Every Friday evening through Dec. 30 we are invited to the Morse Museum for free from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. In addition, those evenings will feature live music and live curator tours of the magnificent new Tiffany wing. Admission will also be free all day on Christmas Eve, with a program of live music set for the afternoon. The holiday music includes: Friday, Dec. 16: Lynn Peghiny, pianist; Friday, Dec. 23: Three Flutes Only; Saturday, Dec. 24: open house, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. with Raintree Chamber Players; Friday, Dec. 30: Beautiful Music — Sweet Sounds Jazz Trio. The Museum houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Visit morsemuseum.org.
Laser light holidays
Building on the success of their Rock ‘n’ Roll Laser Light Shows, the Orlando Science Center introduces Holiday Laser Light Shows. Bright lasers, holiday music and fun graphics provide a sensory experience that is a whole new way to enjoy traditional classics from Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” The light shows play through December in the Science Center’s Dr. Phillips CineDome. Call 407-514-2000 or visit osc.org.
Josh Garrick is a writer, photographer, educator and fine art curator. He is a member of the Curatorial Council for the Museum of Florida Art. Garrick can be reached at email@example.com or 407-522-3906.