Culture 2 Go 

Bold reality
;Through July 3 at Bold Hype
;547 W. 27th St., Manhattan

It's old news that the Bold Hype contemporary art gallery, established in 2008, moved seemingly overnight to New York City, where it staged its June 3 debut show, Strangers. We're sorry to report that Bold Hype won't be coming back to Orlando. Without a doubt, fans of the subculture hub will miss the stylized lowbrow exhibitions, for which the space would be transformed via design schemes, music and murals. Most of all, scenesters will miss the well-attended receptions, which often moved to downtown clubs for late-night continuance. Though popular, the party atmosphere didn't bring many sales to the gallery, and that was a problem, writes Eric Althin in an e-mail. Althin is one of a trio that co-owns Bold Hype, which is now located on the fifth floor of a building in Chelsea that's dedicated entirely to galleries.

"I concluded that more art seems to sell at coffee shops, restaurants and bars than at galleries in Orlando, not sure why," Althin writes. "Maybe people are so worried about what to wear, act, and do at a gallery opening that they forget the point ... Then they forget to come back since they were there for the opening."

The Juxtapoz Art and Culture Magazine–style art that Althin and co-owners – his wife, Shannon Althin and James Kellogg -– believed in did strike a note with the young professionals in the local scene, as well as artists, musicians and other creative types, but not with monied collectors. Though the gallery did build an alliance with local artists, and had a reputation for passion and professionalism, Althin says it was time to go:

"We moved both for personal reasons (we love NYC and weren't all that happy in Orlando) and for business," he writes. "Most of our big sales were out of state, and it was a waste of time and money to be sitting at a desk in a gallery that very few locals supported. So we decided to make our physical presence somewhere where there was more potential of walk-in collectors."

Althin says that Bold Hype fills a void in New York City by bringing pop surrealism by emerging artists to the market (Althin is Swedish and has traveled extensively), but still he's pragmatic: "The economy needs to turn around, and people need to get on their feet and have a little more room for things like art purchases," he says.

The new hype?
;Welcome to the Forest
;Opening 7 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, June 19, through July 10
;Neon Forest Gallery & Project Space
;1741 W. Orange Ave.

Call it anything but not the new Bold Hype, requests Dustin Orlando of the Neon Forest Gallery & Project Space, which opens with Welcome to the Forest Saturday, June 19, south of downtown Orlando on Orange Avenue. But the comparisons are inevitable. Like Bold Hype when it first opened, Neon Forest is part contemporary art gallery, part retail store, part project space. The sweat equity and promo YouTube videos have been plentiful in the last couple of weeks in preparation for the debut.

Artist/curator Orlando partnered with Scott Donald, Sean Hartman and Jason Dwarzski for this new cooperative venture. "We're a gallery and project space," Orlando says. "A lot of the stuff that we are going to do is more than art shows – like art bazaars, open-mic nights and film screenings. We're not going to pigeonhole ourselves into doing one art show a month."

Orlando says the goal is to have "creative services and art shows" folded into the business – graphic design, website construction and artist representation all will be available.

The art itself will be "an extension of the same thing I have been doing around town," says Orlando, who focuses on pop surrealism, particularly graffiti, neo-graffiti, graphic design and new media, including video installations. Orlando came here from Miami and still pulls talent from the Dirty South, like he did for the Believe the Hype show, which he curated last September for Bold Hype. Some of his favored local, regional and national artists from that show appear in Welcome to the Forest – Mat Curran, Parail, Brandon Dunlap and Adriaan Mol, among them. As always, DJ sets are part of the mix.

Orlando's name was most recently attached to the short-lived Latitude Zero Fine Arts Gallery in Thornton Park, where he curated a group show in February that closed early when the business owner went under. (He then resurrected the show in Miami.) He's also curated a number of shows in alternative spaces around town (Covert Skate Shop, the Orange Studio) that have splashy openings but suffer from lack of sales. Many artists, galleries and promoters will be watching Neon Forest for signs of financial sustainability – the new cry on the local arts scene.



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