Monday, August 3, 2009

Floridiana in Mt. Dora

My wife and I headed to Mt. Dora this weekend to look for antiques at Renninger's Antique Market. I also had a hidden agenda: to shoot a couple of roadside items along the way. Despite the heat and humidity, we've been trying to do little day trips this summer, but I still haven't gotten to shoot much roadside architecture. My favorite roadside icon in Mt. Dora is the round orange building on 441 just north of SR 46. Agilitynut's website says this about it: "The Mount Dora Orange was built in 1973. It is 14' in diameter and made of concrete. The Orange was originally used a fruit stand but has been vacant since 1984. It stands pretty far back from the road next to McNamara's Antiques."

The little building is one of the very few surviving examples of novelty architecture in Central Florida and it is a monument to the days when citrus was king in the area. The distressed building faces west, so the best time to photograph it is really in the afternoon hours. Unfortunately we were there in the morning, but there's less of it every time I see it and I don't want to miss an opportunity to get a few shots before it becomes completely engulfed in the wilderness forever.

Just up the road is Renningers Twin Markets, Nirvana for anyone who likes looking at old stuff. Their "extravaganzas" cover the hillside with antique dealers from around the country and there are more cool old things to ogle than you can possibly see in one day. Fortunately those are only 3 times a year. The regular market has enough vintage eye-candy for regular fix of visual ephemera.

After looking at some vintage cameras and old postcards, a booth featuring pottery with colorful Florida imagery caught my eye. The beautiful ceramics have matte glazes similar to Roseville Pottery but the subject matter goes beyond floral to show sunshine state favorites like alligators, manatees, Seminole Indians and wading birds. The potter behind "Florida Art Pottery Studio" is Martin Cushman and he throws the pots right in his Renningers booth. A former Eustis restaurant owner, Cushman honed his pottery skills at Winter Park's Creadle School of Art. After a successful one-man show, he was approached by a pottery dealer from Renningers and the rest is history.

"Being a Floridian, my pots have always been decorated with the beauty of the nature of Florida," says Cushman, "be it spanish moss hanging from old oak trees or alligators lounging in the swamps." His booth echoes that theme and he's knowledgeable of some of Central Florida's obscure wildlife artists, (and this blog's favorites), Joy Postle and Sam Stoltz. My pictures don't do his work justice, go by and see them for yourself!


  1. Yes but not recently. I was in Gainesville a couple weeks ago and almost went. It's on my list to revisit.

  2. Rick... Thanks for photographing the orange! It has been a part of my life since I was born in 1976! Once I developed a bit more cognitive ability my imagination ran wild and I had a goal of moving it by helicopter to the back yard of my home when I "grew up".

    Sfene skip to 2013 (Happy New Year!) and I find myself lamenting the great feelings that orange brought up in me as a child growing up. I went back to the area for thanksgiving 2012 and I could find no trace of it. Immediately I was crushed to not see it any longer. So again, I just want to thank you for immortalizing it befoee it was swallowed by tbe wooded area it sat in front of or was removed.