OAKLAND — Nestled in western Orange County, the Town of Oakland is known for its rich history, small town charm, and natural beauty untouched by rapid development. Now the town may be known for its artwork as well.

The town recently opened a new art exhibition titled “Old Town Road” and “Land, Water, Air,” which combined history with the way artists have captured it.

Located at the Healthy West Orange Arts and Heritage Center, the exhibit recently hosted an open house on June 24, enabling visitors to stop by to meet the artists and buy some of the available works.

What is this New Art Exhibition About?

The exhibition, which runs through Aug. 26, features a host of local Florida artists, including Racheal Foley, Adrienne Lee, Jambvant Ramoutar, Julio Milanes, Joseph Warren, David Minichiello, Anne Fanelli, Heather Lorenz, Loulia Kachirskaia, Carissa Imel and more. Their works have a common theme, and that’s a celebration of movement and transportation on roads, waterways, trains, cars, bikes, boats, and planes in the “Land, Water, Air” display.

Local Florida artists, including Racheal Foley, Adrienne Lee, Jambvant Ramoutar, Julio Milanes, Joseph Warren, David Minichiello, Anne Fanelli, Heather Lorenz, Loulia Kachirskaia, Carissa Imel and more, will display artwork that celebrates movement and transportation on roads, waterways, trains, cars, bikes, boats, planes, and more in the vibrant  “Land, Water, Air” display.

At the same time, visitors have an opportunity to learn more about the stories behind Oakland’s historic street names through the “Old Town Road” history exhibit. These paintings enable visitors to explore Oakland’s rich history, which includes both citrus groves and an industrial center.

Established in 1887, Oakland is one of the oldest municipalities in Orange County and celebrated its 130th Anniversary in 2017. Their downtown once had an opera house, although a deadly fire decimated much of the downtown that never got rebuilt. Still, their historic City Hall dates back to 1911.

Oakland is also known for its parks and trails, which provide enormous recreational activities for area residents and visitors alike, who enjoy the beauty and natural wonder of parks such as Pollard Park, Speer Park, and VanderLey Park.

The new exhibit explores Oakland’s past through historic photographs and artifacts. Elisha Pappacoda, the town’s administrative services and communications director, noted in a release on the exhibit that “In 1886, over 136 years ago, the Town of Oakland was officially platted in a uniform square of roughly ten blocks. First Avenue through Eighth Avenue were the East/West roads, and First Street through Tenth Street were North/South. These simple street names remained the same for 86 years, until 1972, when town leaders decided to rename the streets to honor those who put the Town on the map: Oakland’s historic figures, early pioneers, and officials.”

What is Available at The Heritage Center?

The Heritage Center also has permanent exhibits, including the historic Oakland Presbyterian Church’s illuminated stained-glass window that dates back to the 1919 brick structure, and a video presentation on the continuing historic preservation of Oakland’s Historic African-American Cemetery.

The exhibition can be seen through Aug. 26 at the Center, located at 126 W. Petris Ave. The Center is open Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the 4th Fridays of the month during the summer and on select Saturdays. For more information, visit www.oaklandfl.gov/artsandheritage.

The mission of the Healthy West Orange Arts and Heritage Center is preserving Oakland’s past, present and future. The Center supports the mission of Healthy West Orange, a grassroots movement to inspire west Orange County to become the healthiest community in the nation.

Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book When I Woke Up, You Were All Dead. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.