Jim Abbott on Florida Travel
Postcards from Florida
June 1, 2013
A few of my friends are trying to be optimistic about it, but there's no doubt that hotter summer weather is just around the corner.
If you're not tubing along the peaceful Ichetucknee River near Gainesville or lounging in a swimming pool, then it's time to go inside. When I'm in beat-the-heat mode, a favorite option is an afternoon at one of Florida's many fine museums.
Although I don't profess any depth of artistic knowledge, I appreciate examining paintings, sculptures, photographs and artifacts. When that experience also happens to unfold in climate-controlled comfort, well, that's just good planning.
On a recent afternoon, I made the short hop to Lakeland — a reasonable 55 miles west of Orlando on Interstate 4 — to peruse exhibits at the Polk Museum of Art (polkmuseumofart.org). The museum is only a few miles from other interesting diversions in Lakeland's Munn Park Historic District and Florida Southern College, home to a walking tour of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.
At the museum, the main attraction is "C. Paul Jennewein: An Usher for a New American Style," works by a highly regarded American architectural sculptor of the mid-20th century. Jennewein is widely recognized for introducing the art deco style into American architecture and pieces in this exhibit, on loan from the Tampa Museum of Art, showcase his blending of modern and classical European influences.
Elsewhere, the museum's current offerings include the whimsical crayon drawings of elementary-school art students as well as works by Florida artists such as Tampa's David McKirdy. His "Cat's Cradle #3" is a captivating collage of spiraling lines done in enamel on canvas.
Not to be missed is the permanent exhibit, "Material World: A Global Family Portrait," a powerful photo display of families from different countries posing with all of their belongings.
The museum is only a few blocks from Florida Southern College (flsouthern.edu), where the sunlit interior of the Wright-designed Annie Pfeiffer Chapel is open daily for spiritual reflection — and a respite from the afternoon heat.
Follow a short campus walking tour with lunch in the pretty business district near Munn Park. Try the Knuckle Sandwich at Fresco's (frescoslakeland.com).
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