Where to begin? In the here and now, of course; so mark those social calendars with a big star for the Apartment E 15th Anniversary Party, Saturday at the Moose Lodge Family Center in Pine Castle. Moose Lodge in Pine Castle? Yup, there is such a homey place tucked away on South Orange Avenue in unincorporated Orange County. It’s hard to believe that this is the chosen site for a megacelebration of Orlando’s creative bounty. And it’s even harder to believe that one person is the magnet drawing the energy together: Frankie Messina.
Messina is the unassuming man of mystery behind Apartment E, an arts network that’s best explained by a visit to www.apartmente.com. It’s not a place, though he really was living in an apartment E when he came up with the name in 1993. It’s not a business, because Messina makes his money as a waiter at Disney and has for years, since shortly after he moved to town in 1989 from New Orleans. Raised with seven brothers in Alexandria, La., his folksy style and down-home charm make him a genuine gentleman in a jean jacket and trucker hat.
After moving here, lonely and eager for fun, Messina started doing what comes naturally to him: meeting and befriending people, while stimulating, supporting and nurturing artistic expression and appreciation in any form. As he says, “I like looking in a room and seeing people who would never have been with each other; everyone has something to give.” He’s always reaching out to bring someone new into his seemingly infinite circle of friends. “Exclusive” isn’t in his vocabulary.
During a recent conversation with Messina, it was obvious that his countless threads of involvement are securely woven into the tapestry of the local arts and culture scene. For a back-in-the-day sampling, consider that he was partnered with Jason Neff during the mid-’90s heyday of the defunct Central Florida Film & Video Festival. Along with arts guru Victor Perez, Messina was in the thick of the underground stew stirred up into the original down-and-dirty Nude Nite, now grown into a sophisticated multiday affair. Messina’s other early collaborators/mentors: David “Wavy Davy” Jordan, Glenn Dobkins and Terri Binion.
But enough about the past. Messina may be marking the 15th year of his establishment of Apartment E, but his head continues to spin with excitement for his new ventures. In fact, he moved up the date for his anniversary party just so he could launch his new venture, Splatter, the following weekend (7 p.m.-9 p.m. Feb. 16 at Frankie’s Showroom in AKOS Rehearsal Studios in Longwood). As the invitation for Splatter on the website reads: “CALLING ALL ARTISTS AND LOVERS OF ART/ NO COVER /NO ENTRY FEE/ NO COMMISSION TAKEN FROM GALLERY/BRING ARTWORK READY TO HANG/FRESH, ROTATING ART/ REPEAT ART HUNG ONLY WITH SPECIAL PERMISSION / NO CENSORSHIP /NO THEME YES FUN /15 MINUTES OF FAME STAGE ANYTHING GOES/WELCOME ALL ARTISTS, ART LOVERS, AND ART BUYERS/ALL AGES (NO CHILDREN UNDER 10)/ NO BABIES OR DOGS ALLOWED/STUDENTS WELCOME/GREAT NIGHT TO DISCOVER NEW LOCAL TALENT FIRST FOR YOUR GALLERY.”
Messina humbly resists being called an arts “promoter” or an “organizer,” preferring instead to be called a “supporter,” even though “cheerleader,” “facilitator,” “coordinator” or “consultant” all fit the bill as well. Basically, he’s a behind-the-scenes enigma whose brain explodes with ideas.
He can’t wait to meet firstname.lastname@example.org
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