BART (Photo: Rafael Tongol)
Thanks to its 17 theme parks — and the infinite professional opportunities that come with them— Orlando’s vibrant artistic community is massive for a city of its size. Art lovers can check out inspiring work by local creators all over town — but if you’re looking to enjoy some of the best original pieces Orlando has to offer, sidestep the tourist destinations in favor of an evening jaunt through some of the city’s coolest galleries and bars.
Cozy and welcoming NV Art Bar has remained a steadfast champion of local art (and good wine) since 2005, and it’s positioned squarely in the center of Orlando’s rapidly evolving downtown entertainment district.
The vibe is chic and stylish, but the staff is incredibly friendly and the art is always the real deal, showcasing undiscovered works by young local artists with an urbane and modern sensibility.
Located in Orlando’s Thornton Park neighborhood, The Falcon Bar & Gallery is an offshoot of a custom T-shirt printing business.
Here, you’ll always find a compelling selection of innovative art hanging on the walls, but Falcon really shines when it comes to its curated shows, for which local artists contribute works based around a central theme (a recent one was dedicated to Tim Burton).
There’s sometimes a tendency for the art (and the music) to edge toward dark themes — the long-running “Uberbahn” night is Orlando’s best darkwave DJ set.
But fret not; the bar staff is welcoming, the craft beer is reasonably priced and there’s surprisingly little pretentiousness on display here.
Save the Date
BART and Lil Indie’s, in the Mills 50 District, should be essential stops on any “art after dark” expedition. Both bars offer dedicated monthly rotations of excellent local artwork and photography exhibitions.
BART also offers delectable craft beers and free vintage arcade games, while Lil Indie’s is one of Orlando’s finest — and friendliest — craft cocktail bars.
OMA’s event justifiably holds the crown as “Orlando’s original art party,” and the museum has done a fantastic job of not sitting on its laurels; every month is themed and well-curated, focused exclusively on local artists and featuring beer, wine and food from local restaurants.
Downtown’s third Thursdays event is newer, but it’s become almost as established, attracting throngs of art-lovers and casual fans to Orlando’s central business district for a lively evening of fresh exhibits, drink specials and conviviality.