My neighbor, known as A, and I share a fence at home and a wall at work. It’s a long story as to how we became both work and residence neighbors. Suffice it to say that this past Thursday we agreed we would walk the 2 1/2 miles to work, all so that the two husbands could drive one car downtown to meet us for the Art in Odd Places event – and, since it was Friday, happy hour.
It was a grey day, as they nearly all have been this summer, but at least the humidity didn’t coalesce and rain all over us. By now urban hiking in downtown involves a lot of looking at cranes and bulldozers that form the backdrop for the Ultimate I4 construction project – which the developers already admit will never solve Central Florida’s traffic problems.
But those cranes are second only to the cranes from the multitude of apartments springing up throughout the city like mushrooms. Nearly every vacant lot in the downtown area has now been filled with 3 to 5 story buildings, usually with retail on the bottom and residences in top. Where the heck are the people going to come from to live in them? It’s a mystery. We’ve in-filled practically the whole city – it has swelled up so much that one good prick and the entire bubble will burst. We’ll see.
An urban hike, of course, can’t be complete without an adventure on the stairs with a backpack in an office building. Although A was eager to accompany me on a walk to work, strangely enough I’ve never succeeded in getting anyone to join me in the stair climbing/backpack toting portion of urban hiking. But I dutifully did my 108 flights up and 108 down (according to my FitBit, of course).
By now I’d managed to wear three different outfits at work – the morning walk to work clothes, the Friday casual ensemble, and the stair climbing gear. People in my office were presumably wondering if I’d done anything all day besides get ready for the next work out event.
As the end of the day rolled around it was time for outfit number 4 – the going out Friday night look. The two husbands successfully navigated their way through downtown to our building with one car and we embarked on the next stage of our urban hike – Art in Odd Places.
This was a curated collection of interactive visual, performance and sound pieces by artists from around the world, along several blocks of Magnolia Avenue. Although we’d expected a cluster of events and installations, the works were scattered throughout the area – and some of them were indeed lurking behind walls or on fences. You did have to look, and just occasionally, would catch a glimpse of art in some everyday object that was not part of the show but that suddenly had taken on new meaning. Orlando’s large homeless population, many of whom spend time at the History Center park where there were a number of installations, seemed to be enjoying the event as much as the expected hipster crowd.
A series of hands emerged from drain pipes at various odd points on the city streets. A field of paper bag mushrooms dotted the grounds of the performing arts center. A collage of silk flowers from cemeteries was designed to raise awareness of policing in America (yes, I also wondered how the artist came to have other people’s memorial flowers). A bed of nails, also covered in pages from the Bible with all the text covered in gold paint except the parts about women. Live status updates from silent human mannequins. And those are only snippets.
Where else could you go from such an erudite event but to the TexMex restaurant on Wall Street. Half price appetizers and $3 margaritas. After that, The Celt, an Irish pub, was the only natural next stop. Steak and mushroom pie for the husband (the whole night did seem to have a mushroom theme) and mussels for me.
As we departed The Celt, we were greeted by a human cat in a cage – with a small black and white kitten on a leash standing guard nearby.
To top the evening off, I had given daughter #1 carte blanche to book a place in Portland, Maine for our upcoming trip. Next thing I knew we had rented an AirBnB that seems to include chickens. It was one of those nights.