Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Bo Diddley and countless other legends rocked the South Street Casino in its day, but they wouldn’t have been welcomed at any of the hotels in town – so when Dr. William Wells built the nightclub, he went ahead and built a hotel right next door. Now his hotel is a museum of astounding treasures tracing the African-American history of Orlando. Tour the museum – including the re-created hip 1930s-era hotel guest room – and imagine Dr. Wells bringing Ray Charles a drink while he was getting down on the piano in the lobby.
2. Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, wpsaf.org
3. Florida Film Festival, floridafilmfestival.com
1. Thornton 2nd Thursday Wine & Art Walk, thorntonparkdistrict.com
2. 1st Thursdays at Orlando Museum of Art, omart.org
3. Third Thursday Gallery Hop – Downtown Arts District, orlandoslice.com
If you’re an animal lover who just doesn’t cotton to cats, skip to the next entry. Now, to all the cat devotees still reading: If you didn’t see the Acrocats’ first-ever Orlando appearance at the Venue in March, you missed the greatest stage performance in the whole history of everything. Samantha Martin’s troupe of rescued felines can walk tightropes, balance on balls and play musical instruments – and occasionally they even do so on command! Did we mention the percussion-playing chicken named Cluck Norris? ’Nuff said.
2. Pat Greene
3. Terry Olson
Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College, 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park, 407-646-2526, cfam.rollins.edu
In April, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum opened Women and Abstraction, a major survey of abstract and minimalist art made by female artists from the late 1940s to the present. For CFAM curator Amy Galpin, it was a passion project long in the making; for the rest of the community, it was simply jaw-dropping. Works by giants like Louise Nevelson, Georgia O’Keeffe and Helen Frankenthaler joined lesser-knowns like Hayal Pozanti and Shinique Smith – 80 years’ worth of abstract art so powerful it gave viewers chills. Under the leadership of Galpin and director Ena Heller, and with this show coming on the heels of CFAM’s formidable Kara Walker exhibition, Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated), it definitely felt like the Year of the Woman at CFAM.
2. VarieTease, thevenueorlando.com
3. Polylust Burlesque, polylust.tumblr.com
2. Improv Orlando, 9101 International Drive, 407-480-5233, theimprovorlando.com
3. Shit Sandwich at Bull & Bush, 2408 E. Robinson St., shit-sandwich.com
2. Uncomfortable Brunch, uncomfortablebrunch.com
3. Love Your Shorts, loveyourshorts.com