A photography exhibit documenting Winter Garden’s historical black community opens this week in celebration of Black History Month.
A photographic documentary that originally debuted as a four-town project of Orange County Government and the Crealdé School of Art is getting new life as a photo exhibit in Winter Garden City Hall.
Peter Schreyer, executive director of Crealdé, in Winter Park, was tasked with photographing four underserved areas for the book “Small Town Orange County: The Central Florida Communities of South Apopka, Bithlo, East Winter Garden and Taft” in 1996.
A portion of the original documentary highlighted the east side of Winter Garden, a community that since has been the focus of a redevelopment initiative. Schreyer photographed the people and the community and provided information about each one.
The book coincided with the county’s reopening of four community centers. Schreyer called the photos a gift to the community.
In the recent months, the city and Schreyer have been working to touch up and expand the exhibit for Black History Month.
Schreyer said the original photos have been on display at the Maxey Community Center for 23 years. He has reframed the images and updated the accompanying information. Five images have been added “to show new players in the community and highlight the city’s plan in east Winter Garden,” he said.
Also featured will be two large, collaborative paintings created by students in Crealdé instructor Patricia Byron’s Wednesday afternoon art class at the Maxey Community Center. Crealdé has offered free art lessons in east Winter Garden for more than two decades.
Schreyer’s favorite is a photo of Carolyn Anderson sitting on her porch with two of her grandchildren.
“That has been shown all over the country and all over the world,” he said. “It’s a beautiful photograph.”
Schreyer said he was grateful for the chance to return to the community for new photos.
“I think it’s high time we go back,” he said. “There’s so much there that’s not going to last forever.”
“This exhibit is an example of the hard work of the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation and city staff,” said City Commissioner Mark A. Maciel, whose district is the east side of the city. “It goes hand in hand with the city's efforts to improve east Winter Garden while keeping the African-American culture and history in the forefront. This will be the first of many events honoring that proud history.”