Image Credit: Artegon Facebook Page
Orlando’s art lovers flocked to the Artegon Marketplace grand opening Thursday, November 20. The optimally-located Festival Bay Mall was closed recently, but reopened as an indoor daily arts festival for grassroots artists to sell their quirkier pieces.
In lieu of stores and kiosks, the marketplace hosts booths of alternative art. Some items sold include underwater photo prints, balloon sculptures, football fan posters, hammocks and designer handbags. The booths are structured by metal “curtains” that resemble cages, adding to the underground feel of the hipster-esque shopping center.
Artegon will surely provide jobs and stir up business for local artists, and while the turnout was not enormous, the locals seemed to enjoy the artsy ambiance of the reclaimed mall. Oddly, the marketplace still shows shades of Festival Bay, as the Ron Jon’s Surf Shop, Shepler’s, Cinemark theater and Bass Pro Shop are still intact. These franchises, while popular, may detract from the new cultural vibe of the marketplace, and limit its ability to shake off the fruitless image of the unsuccessful mall.
The grand opening consisted of several events throughout the day, from the ribbon cutting by Mayor Dyer to stilt walker performances to live music (unabashedly country, which again, seemed dichotomous to the artsy theme).
Tickets were handed out to incoming arts mavens with little explanation, and until I got in a large line near one of Festival Bay’s closed stores, I realized presenting the ticket granted you an Artegon “swag bag” containing a shirt, free mini-golf game and various other items.
The message of Artegon is loud and clear: to provide a space for undiscovered and locally-known artists to sell their pieces year round. However, there are drawbacks to placing a marketplace within a bankrupt, gutted out mall – the most popular and highly unrelated franchises (selling warehouse books and cowboy boots galore) are inappropriate beacons among the underground artistry. Further, the mall boasts an overly open floor plan and is still under crowded in critical areas such as the Cinemark theater and food court entrance.
Despite Artegon’s efforts, the marketplace still has to shake off the Festival Bay aura. While Artegon may be the best thing that has ever happened to the Orlando arts sector next to the opening of the new Dr. Phillips Center, it still has plenty of marketing and development to undergo to be a convincing arts hub.
Did you check out Artegon? Let me know what you think. Keep up with Miss Musings on Facebook.