Two very different but significant events unfolded this past weekend in Mount Dora, the tiny Central Florida town I call home.
One, a powerful visual reminder of an inauspicious and troubling period in our country's history, the other a fond farewell to one of the most fun and Bohemian watering holes downtown Mount Dora has seen in recent years.
Parks (1912-2006) is not only one of America's most iconic photographers, he was also a gifted writer, musician, and film director. He originally became known for his journalism and film documentaries depicting racism and the civil rights movement in this country, starting in the 1940s and continuing throughout his life.
The show consists of a small but powerful selection of Parks' images taken in Southern black communities decades ago, all depicting various elements of the segregation that existed at the time.
There is also a nice group of local photos that fits in perfectly with the theme of the show. To quote the Center's press release:
Accompanying the Parks exhibit, is a collection of photographs on loan from the W.T. Bland Library of Mount Dora titled, "School Days at Milner Rosenwald Academy." Philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, President of Sears Roebuck, with the encouragement of his friend, Booker T. Washington helped fund schools in black communities. By the early 1930s, there were 5,000 "Rosenwald Schools," in the South. The Mount Dora school building still exists and was last used as a Head Start School.
If you have an interest in either the history of photography in this country or the American Civil Rights Movement, I urge you to follow up on the life and career of Parks, and learn a bit more about his unique perspective and place in history.
And of course, if you find yourself near the lovely town of Mount Dora, by all means stop in to the Center for the Arts (at 138 East Fifth Avenue) so you can see these remarkable photos up close and personal. The show runs through July 9th.
Btw, I almost forgot! Thank you to MDCA President Ozell Ward for taking the time to chat with me at the opening about Parks and the exhibit, giving me some interesting insights into the history behind the photos.
The other event I dropped in on over the weekend was a going-out-of-business party being held at Norm's Palette, the fun, eclectic Boho-chic bar and restaurant in downtown Mount Dora. It was also soon-to-be owner Norman Rinne's birthday!
Norm's Palette remains a very special place for me, as *Scene 1: Take 1* of my first live-action commercial video project for Photo Asylum Moving Pictures was filmed there. Ground zero. Client Andrew Roman scouted and choose the location, and Norm was very friendly and accommodating in letting us literally take over the space for an afternoon: setting up and shooting whatever we wanted for as long as we wanted.
Oh, and if you came to visit this site on a pc browser and watched the video loop on my landing page, you saw a scene from the shoot.
Unfortunately, my client backed out, and the project was never completed.
Aside from the great assortment of funky decorations strewn about the place, what I noticed my first time in Norm's was that nearly all of the available wall space was covered in art. Paintings in particular. And once I learned that Rinne is a talented painter as well as a businessman, the name and the decor made perfect sense.
Sadly, the festivities were bittersweet, as the gathering was planned because Norm had recently made the difficult decision to shut the doors for good.
Middle to late spring is often when Florida businesses, especially restaurants and bars, do a soul search and decide whether the just finished tourist season was successful enough to sustain them through the slower summer. Apparently, Norm's wasn't, and the overhead had simply become too difficult to maintain without the traffic.
Thing is, Norm told me he actually considered closing Norm's Palette at this time a year ago, but decided to stick it out with the hope that things would pick up.
Unfortunately, they didn't...
Have you ever been to Norm's? I'd love to hear any good stories about the fine folks that worked and played there. I'm sure there are many. Just leave your comments below...
Btw, you may be wondering: what's next for Norm Rinne? Well, he's already on to it. One of the signatures of Norm's Palette was painting classes and parties, where small groups could gather and create art.Norm has decided to continue with this concept and now runs Out Of The Norm - Traveling Painting Classes. Be sure to contact him for more information!
You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Vimeo, YouTube, and Pinterest! Social media icons are at the bottom of each page.
As always, your comments and suggestions are more than welcome!
All photos and original content ©Steven Paul Hlavac. All rights reserved.