You may have known that House of Blues at Downtown Disney West Side was one of the premier venues for live music. If you’ve eaten there you understand that the menu, designed by Chef Aaron Sanchez, is a culinary delight. But have you ever stopped to notice the Folk Art Collection? I never realized how truly impressive it was until I visited House of Blues earlier this week.
House of Blues boasts the largest private collection of American Folk Art on permanent display with roughly 7,000 articles exhibited throughout their venues. At the Orlando location alone, guests can see 637 pieces that represent more than 100 artists. I saw an eclectic mix of work from Howard Finster, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mose Tolliver, Leroy Almon and Archie Bryon, to name a few. I was dazzled by their bold talent.
Charles Spellman, Katy Boyd, and Jennifer Hinckle, all part of the House of Blues Team, shared their passion for the collection with me. Jennifer explained that her favorite piece is Mr. Imagination’s Archway, pictured below. You can find it outside at the back of the restaurant. (Definitely make a point to stop by and see it – I fell in love with the hidden trinkets scattered throughout the sculpture and became even more enamored when I learned that many of the artifacts came from employees and guests who happened to be walking by while “Mr. I” was creating it. It evokes such a sense of community and collaboration!).
When I asked Jennifer why art is so important to the House of Blues experience, she easily answered that “folk art is the visual blues.” After exploring the collection, I agree that it really is as simple as that.
Like a good blues song, art can evoke emotion and make you think about things differently. At House of Blues – in both the restaurant and the Music Hall – I invite you to seek out paintings, sculptures, statues, walls, chairs and even bars that inspire to you. You’ll be impressed by the museum quality pieces that literally make up the fabric of the venue. (It’s true: The House of Blues stage curtains are handmade quilts.)
Want more? Make plans to meet some of the artists November 8-10, 2013, at the House of Blues Folk Art Festival, which coincides with Festival of the Masters.
In the meantime, take a look at the gallery below featuring photos by Gene Duncan and captions by Jennifer Hinckle; I’d love to know which piece is your favorite in the comments!