OVAL casts out lofty artists

The city-subsidized Orlando Visual Artists' League has decided not to renew the lease for the loft atop its downtown gallery-studios at 29 S. Orange Ave. to the young artists who call themselves the Fourth Floor Studios. Some of the artist tenants, all students at the University of Central Florida, had expressed criticisms of OVAL in interviews published by Orlando Weekly [State of the Arts, Aug. 23].

Was it tit for tat? "They claim that it is not because of the article, but to us it's obvious that it is," says collective member Chris Davison. "The majority of people in OVAL used the article as an 'I told you so, they're up to no good' type of deal."

Davison says he was told "OVAL needs to utilize every bit of its space to the fullest capacity. ... They held a meeting and voted, and we were not allowed to renew. That's all I know."

None of the student artists, whose six-month lease expires this month, had applied to join OVAL, another sore spot with some of its artist members. OVAL's original president, Terry Hummel (who has since resigned), had recruited the students for the space while they were organizing last spring's SOIL exhibition for new artists at the Orlando Museum of Art.

"Terry is cool about everything and doesn't have a problem with us at all," Davison says. "However he is no longer our landlord." OVAL's new president, Odette Niebergall, did not return Orlando Weekly's calls by press time.

The Fourth Floor group vows to keep its name, although the artists doubt they'll easily find another fourth-floor location. They're also keeping their spirits high, going out with a "grande-finale" exhibit and party they call The Fugitive Show from 7 p.m. to midnight Friday, Oct. 19, at the loft. (Take the elevator in the lobby at 11 E. Pine Street) The public is invited to view works and commiserate.

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