Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Maitland Art Center

The Maitland Art Center was built in 1937 by J. Andre Smith. Smith was born in Hong Kong, majored in architecture at Cornell University, became one of the most prolific artists of World War I, then settled in Maitland to build his research studio. The building is one of the greatest examples of "Mayan Revival" artwork and during his life the studios were homes to a flourishing art community. Today it is a hidden treasure just outside of Orlando and is home to many of his works.

A crucifix on one of the outside garden walls waits patiently to catch the sun.

This design was lining the roof above the courtyard. The sun was just about to appear behind the center circle. The initials A.R. represent a loved one. 

The elaborate carvings of the chapel entrance leading out into the courtyard.

This carving of St. Frances was on the side of the chapel. The beaming sunlight perfectly accentuated the loving nature that was depicted by the statue. 

I almost didn't notice this little guy because he blended in so well. He stayed still long enough for me to capture this shot.

At the time I visited the Maitland Art Center they were undergoing some renovations. It appeared that someone from the construction crew removed this brick, tied a bow around it, and put it back in its place.

This carving was located high up on one of the walls. It reminded me of a Mayan temple with a priest performing a ceremony at the top, elevated in attempts to reach the gods. 

A lamp post and the view into the garden are framed within the entry way and its shadow. 

Standing in the garden looking back at the main courtyard. 

Another carving on the outside wall. The palm tree growing in the background seemed to complete the plumage of his crown.

To learn more about J. Andre Smith please visit:

Curious about the Maitland Art Center? Please visit their website:


  1. Nice place, that, Melissa! I've always loved the look of the buildings there, they have a nice Art Deco-ish feel to them, though they came along at the end of that period, more or less.

    When Scott & his lady decide to marry, they want to use a particular garden from the grounds there, the walled part across the street from the main door, to the south. They too, have always loved that place, & isn't that a bit of synchronicity, eh? Never even met the boy for 35 years, and his love of that place is yet another of the many instances of both of us liking the same things, or disliking, such as all things Canadian.

    Lastly, there was one item on the grounds, and I thought that surely you'd find it on the north (rear) wall of one of the west buildings. There's a large piece, I'm not sure if you could call it a mural, or what, but it's about 6'X 3', a framed representation of an ancient sailing boat, a large open decked boat with 1 mast, I think. If constructed to scale, I think it would have been at least 90' long, and 15-18' across the beam. (My memory's bad, and I cannot find the camera phone pic I took years ago, right now).
    Anyway, the perspective from which we're viewing this boat is unique. As you stand there flat footed on the ground, imagine that you're flying lazily along like a superman, about 100 feet over the water. You're approaching the boat, but have yet to cross over it, being about 30' off the starboard side, amidships.

    It's done in bas-relief, the materials used stand out from the base it was built upon in a 3-D manner, but not excessively so. Perhaps an inch or two for the aft steering deck and the fore-deck, just enough separation to give you a very good idea of depth.

    The real shame about this one piece, is that they didn't take the trouble to weatherproof it, or encase it under some sort of plexiglass box, or even give it an overhanging bit of roof to shield it from the worst of the rain. As a result, when I saw it last, 5 years ago, it was rotting away pretty badly.

  2. You know I don't remember seeing anything like that when I was there. They were remodeling some parts so it may have been off limits or taken down. It sounds really cool, I wish I had seen it. If you find the picture please let me know :)