“Everything that’s on this wall is all his stuff,” said Suzy Andrews. “He’s actually done art for Hard Rock Café.”
Dion’s exhibit, “Raw Nerve,” is on display now through Sept. 8 at the Extra Large Gallery, where Andrew works serving drinks to the customers. Located at 431 E. Central Boulevard, in-between Thornton Park and Lake Eola Park, the gallery has a lounge, a bar, and walls covered with the artwork of Dion – who has followed in the tradition of what Todd Ulmer, who runs Extra Large Gallery, calls “street art.”
“Street art is people who started tagging on walls and doing graffiti,” Ulmer said, adding that Extra Large has put a focus on highlighting the creative works of street artists like Dion.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” he said. “I’m hoping to keep bringing this art to Orlando.”
Extra Large Gallery just hit its one-year anniversary in July. Ulmer also owns and runs the Stardust Lounge, which is right next to the gallery in the same building. He said the location, with its pedestrian foot traffic and close proximity to downtown Orlando, is ideal for a place that offers a combination of art gallery and lounge.
“We just celebrated our one-year anniversary,” Ulmer said. “They were running a dog shop, with high end toys and leashes, here before we moved in. We were able to do this because we own the Stardust Lounge next door.”
The gallery is open from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m. Wednesdays through Thursdays, and has done well in its first year, Ulmer said.
“For a small art gallery in Orlando, you wouldn’t believe it,” he said. “We’ve had so many art sales here.”
So many, in fact, that Extra Large Gallery is about to launch an eBay store that will allow collectors to purchase the gallery’s featured paintings online.
“We have quite a collection of artwork and we are working with a lot of local artists,” Ulmer said. “That’s been our success in selling out. We have people sitting in here all night. We’ve sold pieces at 1 o’clock in the morning.”
And, glancing at the equally diverse collection of bottled liquor available at the bar for the customers to enjoy while they check out the paintings, he added, “I tell you, the alcohol doesn’t hurt. It loosens people up a bit.”
Coming up next for Extra Large Gallery is an exhibit in November by Orlando artist Dolla, who creates his own characters.
“We’re giving a solo show to him here, and we’re really excited about that,” Ulmer said. “His sculptures are unbelieveable, and so are the boards he paints with his characters.”
Having art galleries readily available can definitely help a city’s economy, according to a new report by the nonprofit agency Americans for the Arts. The agency examined 182 communities across the nation, and found that the nonprofit arts community has been particularly critical for Orlando, helping to generate about $94 million worth of spending by tourists, residents and nonprofit organizations, while also leading to the support of nearly 3,487 local jobs.
“Besides the obvious direct impact — ticket sales, etc. — one has to count in restaurants, drinks at bars, transportation, and parking,” said John DiDonna, who runs the Empty Spaces Theatre Company in Orlando. “It’s a huge impact in collateral business and economic benefits.”
To learn more about the Extra Large Gallery and its exhibits, call 407-839-0080 or log on to www.extralargegallery.com.
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.