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Arts & Culture
West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 10 months ago

Creative City Project introduces 'Immerse' art experience to Winter Garden

Creative City Project representatives brought a sneak peek of ‘Immerse,’ an interactive art experience coming to downtown Orlando, to Winter Garden.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

There is always something to see and do at the Winter Garden Farmers Market. Last weekend, bubbles and a pastel-colored wall caught people’s attention.

As part of a sneak peek for Creative City Project’s upcoming “Immerse” event, CCP representatives were on hand at the market Saturday, Oct. 6, to spread the word and introduce people to immersive art.

“Immerse is a performing- and interactive-arts event in the streets and public spaces of downtown Orlando,” said Cole NeSmith, executive director of CCP. “This year, we’ll have more than 1,000 artists and performers over two days — Oct. 19 and 20 — and we try to create experiences people can’t have anywhere else.”

Immerse is heading into its seventh year, and the annual interactive-arts experience continues to grow. For two days, it will take over the streets and public spaces in downtown Orlando, and attendees will get to see more than 1,000 artists from 100 arts organizations along Orange Avenue, Church Street and Pine Street.

It started in 2012, when NeSmith — an actor and musician — and two friends saw a need for showcasing artists in the community. 

“I looked around and I saw a ton of my creative friends in Central Florida, and I thought our city would be better off if people knew that these artists were here creating and got to experience their art,” NeSmith said. “So by kind of inviting those artists out to the streets and public spaces of the city, it gives people a new opportunity to encounter what they’re making. … We were just calling other friends who were musicians and dancers and saying, ‘Hey, come do something on the street corner.’ We didn’t really have any sound or lights or permission; we just kind of started doing stuff.”

NeSmith and others at the CCP recognize that Central Florida is large and diverse — and they want to reach out and bring art to more pieces of the community. This year, Winter Garden is the only city with which CCP has partnered for an Immerse sneak peek.

“(At) the Winter Garden Farmers Market, a lot of people come out here and have a good time, and we thought this would be a great place to bring a little bit of what we’re doing in downtown Orlando to Winter Garden,” NeSmith said. “We have lots of friends in the arts community, including the friends here at the Garden Theatre. They do a lot of really wonderful work, and Winter Garden has done a lot to really cultivate a good food scene and a good arts scene. There’s a lot of good culture that’s unique to Winter Garden.”

As part of their sneak peek, NeSmith and Chris Albanese — CCP COO — brought a colored wall for people to take photos in front of, along with a bubble machine and a truck with an immersive light-show experience inside.

“What we brought today is some colored walls that people could stand in front of and take photos — that is a part of a three-story art installation we’re creating called ‘The Worlds of Corkcicle,’ and it will be 12 built environments that people can walk through and explore and, of course, take photos in front of,” NeSmith said. “That’s in a three-story building on Jackson Street, and everything else is outside. What we have in the truck today also is a projection installation, so people can walk in the truck and experience the projection. It’s kind of a light show. We have a lot of large-scale projection that’s part of our event, art that deals with technology or uses projection as part of the art.”

NeSmith watched as couples, families, Instagrammers and even people along with their four-legged friends wandered up to the wall and started taking selfies in front of it. It was a perfect taste of the event to come.

“It’s an embodiment of what we’re all about: It’s creating things where people and audiences have unique experiences with artists and with the art that they’re making,” he said. “People are curious and excited to discover something, which is really what we’re about.”

Danielle Hendrix is the Associate Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Central Florida, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in world comparative studies. ...

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