Visiting Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg, SC

The Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is a wonderful place to experience the performing and visual arts, science, and history. It is owned and operated by The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg and is located at 200 E. St. John Street, just east of downtown. The complex consists of three buildings on a five acre campus. The Chapman Cultural Center opened in 2007, but was 17 years in the making.

The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg consists of several agencies. They include the Artists’ Guild of Spartanburg, Ballet Spartanburg, Carolina Foothills Artisan Center, The Music Foundation of Spartanburg, Spartanburg Art Museum, Spartanburg County Historical Association, Spartanburg Little Theatre and Spartanburg Youth Theatre, The Spartanburg Repertory Company, and Spartanburg Science Center.

There are several exhibit and museum areas in the complex. These include the Artists’ Guild Gallery, SAM Art Gallery, Spartanburg Regional History Museum, and the Spartanburg Science Center. A separate admission fee is charged for each museum or gallery.

Three buildings make up the Chapman Cultural Center complex. The Carlos Moseley Building contains the Regional History Museum, Artists’ Guild Gallery, SAM (Spartanburg Art Museum) Art Gallery, and the Ticket Office. The Theater Building in the center of the complex contains the David Reid Theater and the Black Box Theater. The Montgomery Building houses the Spartanburg Science Center and the Spartanburg Dance Center.

Special camps on the calendar for July include Musical Theatre Camp, July 5-9 for grades 4-12 and Advanced Acting Camp, July 12-16 for grades 8-12. On July 10 at 7:00PM the classic movie Jaws will be shown on the big screen. The Artists’ Guild Gallery will host wax and oil paintings by Carol Beth Icard from July 1-28. The Spartanburg Art Museum will be showing the nationally touring bronze wildlife sculptures of Swedish artist Kent Ullberg from July 13-31.

For tickets call (864)542-ARTS. For additional information visit the center’s website at http://www.chapmanculturalcenter.org

Exploring Orlando’s Loch Haven Park: A Center of Arts and Culture

On this overcast day we decided to explore other areas of Orlando in more detail. About 10 minutes north of downtown Orlando is Loch Haven Park, an area that holds a number of major attractions, including theOrlando Museum of Art, the Mennello Museum of American Art as well as the Orlando Repertory Theatre, the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Orlando Science Center.

We started our exploration off with a trip to the Leu Botanical Gardens. The centerpiece of the gardens is the Leu House Museum, a restored farmhouse dating back to 1888. It is located on Lake Rowena, one of the hundreds of lakes in Orlando, and surrounded by a 50 acre garden of roses, palms and camellias. The complex also features an orchid house with one of the best collections of orchids in the United States. The Leu Botanical Gardens also offer a new tropical stream garden, a kitchen garden complete with herbs and vegetables and a butterfly garden.

Just 10 minutes away is Loch Haven Park, one of Orlando’s centers of art, culture, and science. One of the main attractions is Orlando Museum of Art (OMA), one of Florida’s cultural gems and a popular destination for visitors from all over the world. The collection features American art from the 19th century to the present, African art and art of the ancient Americas. Outstanding temporary exhibitions are drawn from private collections and those of the world’s great museums.

The upcoming exhibition at the OMA is called the “The Art of the Motorcycle”. Based on the landmark Guggenheim Museum exhibition, it explores the motorcycle as both cultural icon and design achievement and offers a thought-provoking challenge to conventional assumptions about art and popular culture in the modern age. The exhibition will run from Jan. 22 – July 23, 2006 and feature more than 70 historic and contemporary motorcycles.

The Mennello Museum of American Art is centered around the Museum’s outstanding permanent collection of paintings by Earl Cunningham (1893-1977). It also houses special exhibitions, publications, and programs that celebrate outstanding traditional and contemporary Amercian artists. The Museum’s Cunningham collection was donated by collectors Marilyn and Michael Mennello of Winter Park, Florida, and was opened to the public on Nov. 22, 1998.

The Orlando Science Center includes ten themed exhibit halls with a large variety of interactive activities for children and adults. A CineDome Planetarium shows large format films and an Adventure Theater as well as five Discovery Laboratories can keep everyone busy for hours. In total the Science Center has four levels of hands-on exhibits, a 200-seat cafe, 7,000 square feet of exhibition space for national and international traveling exhibits. The Orlando Science Center is open Monday to Thursdays from 9 am to 5 pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 am to 9 pm, and Sundays from noon to 5 pm.

The Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival is a non-profit professional theater that produces professional productions of Shakespeare, classics and contemporary plays, as well as plays for young audiences. The group also develops new plays from readings through World Premieres and fosters innovative educational programs to serve the community.

As a professional theatre for family audiences in partnership with UCF, Orlando Repertory Theatre (The Rep) opened its doors on October 9, 2003. The theatre focusses on classic and contemporary children’s literature. It is a place where young audiences can come and experience the adventure and creative wonder of watching their favorite characters come to life.

Loch Haven’s cultural offerings continue with the annual Orlando International Fringe Festival of theatrical performances. The 10-day, world-renowned festival showcases original works; premiere performances; and first-class improvisational comedy, musicals, drama, mime and dance in 500 shows by more than 300 performers from around the world.

Sculptures outside the The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra is Central Florida’s resident orchestra, appearing in more than 105 performances each season. As a fully professional ensemble, the Orlando Philharmonic engages the talents of more than 80 professional musicians from around the globe. The Philharmonic’s mission is to foster and promote symphonic music through excellence in performance, education and cultural leadership.

For general information about Orlando please contact the Orlando Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Epcot Center – The Symbol Of A Failed Cultural Ideal

Epcot Center: Ever since the park’s inception, it has been a top name in advancement and technology. It is one of the most visited theme parks in the entire world and will continue to be just that: a theme park. Little do vacationers know of the crushed potential for the area that died together with Walt Disney.

The park’s name stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, a name that was given to the project by Disney in its early stages. His ambition with the park was to establish a utopian society that might have engulfed the entire property of Walt Disney World in Florida. He wished to make a city that was self-dependent and capable of growing its own food in a sustainable manner. It was aimed as a place where occupants could live separately from the surrounding communities.

The park is modeled after the ideals laid out by the original city plans, and has been called a perdurable Worlds Fair. At over 300 acres, EPCOT is a lot more than twice the size of the Magic Kingdom.

“EPCOT… will take its cue from the new ideas and new invention and technology that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and examining and displaying new materials and systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.” – Walt Disney

The persons mover ride, for example, which is a continuous transit system, relying on the movement of the track rather than motors in the vehicles, would have been the city’s main form of transportation and work together with the monorail system. No car or trucks would have been allowed downtown, avoiding accidents and promoting pedestrian well-being. Main roads for delivery trucks and autos entering and leaving the city would be located underground, preventing traffic congestion and preserving householders from seeing the behind the scenes work. No one in the city would be out of work, eliminating run-down neighborhoods and ghettos. The Worlds Showcase was also an original aspect of his concept. It was meant to be a shopping and recreation area where one could taste the cultures of various lands to promote learning, acceptance and diversity.

The project was a huge undertaking, and Disney was refused funding until he wrapped up building The Magic Kingdom. He died right before the park ever opened and with him, the dream of his city was extinguished. Those left behind to continue his work didn’t have the same vision for the area, and didn’t feel capable of running a city without him.

It makes one wonder; if Walt had prevailed, Disney World would be a huge community, excelling in science, innovation, and technology. Eco friendly living is now an important end goal the country is trying to reach, and Disney was ahead of his time with his ideas of making that dream come true. How would this project have changed the world? Would it have been a success?

The city was to be a model only; an experimentation that once prosperous could spread all over the country, and finally the world. Celebration, Florida is a community owned by the Disney Corporation that seemingly fulfills Walt’s dream. However, the city is based on new urbanism, a system that differs greatly from his ideas of futurism and modernism. New urbanism does have close ties to environmentalism, with the main focus being on walk able communities: areas with jobs, shopping and doctors close enough to walk, promoting a far healthier lifestyle not dependent on vehicular transport. This is a way to get back to what living neighborhoods were like a long time ago, fixing the problems that have led to the detrimental and energy consuming neighborhoods of contemporary society.

However, what Walt Disney wanted was a modern, futurist approach. Modernism rejects tradition and invents new ways of doing things. It does not revert back to the traditions that have gone wrong in the past. Strong lines, anti-historicism and a sense of urgency mark futurist architecture. The art of this movement proposes speed, motion, and a constant push into the future; in contrast to the slow paced neighborhoods that make up Celebration. Both Epcot Center and Celebration are a mere taste of what could have been had Disney’s genius been permitted to flourish among the commercialism of theme parks and gift shops. As the park reaches its 30th year, Disney World celebrates their accomplishments with guests, recognizing that what has been done, though impressive and successful, is only a fraction of what was possible.