Filed under: Art
Charlie Keila laughed at me. I had just commented on how hot his studio gets, and he couldn't contain the amusement of a man who deals with it every day. Artists who work in glass spend a lot of time around 1,900 degree ovens – it's just part of the job. When you look at the work produced, though, you can see why it's worth becoming acclimated to the sweltering conditions. Keila can only be described as a master.
Keila's studio sits at the corner of Orange and Pine in Orlando, FL – just across the street from Corona Cigar Co. – in the City Arts Factory. In fact, the artist was in large part responsible for the location. After having learned the glass art trade elsewhere, he returned to the town of his teenage years, bringing with him a commitment to arts and culture for which Orlando had been desperate.
This is the Orlando that's obscured by "The Mouse" ... but it exists. If you look past the theme parks and set your sights on downtown Orlando, you can find a vibrant culture that deserves far more recognition than it receives.
For years, Keila says, Orlando has effectively exported its talent. Artists and business professionals alike grow up in Orlando and take their talent elsewhere. The community is deprived of the talent it creates, resulting in a cultural and professional vacuum. This is exactly the problem that the glass-blower sought to solve when he decided to return.