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FAVO kicks off holiday market season with artists open house

An artistic rendering of a Monthly Artists' Open House at FAVO - Faith Arts Village Orlando. Image: Park Lake Presbyterian Church
An artistic rendering of a Monthly Artists' Open House at FAVO - Faith Arts Village Orlando. Image: Park Lake Presbyterian Church

When it comes to the arts, people often say “it’s all in the timing”…and as it turns out, the timing’s great for FAVO – the Faith Arts Village Orlando collective.

It’s almost time for December’s monthly open house – sometimes still called First Fridays, even though they now stretch through Saturdays. That coincides neatly with the beginning of holiday market season and the end of FAVO’s collection of gift cards that’ll go to Grace Medical for the uninsured and underinsured.

It’s all happening December 2nd and 3rd.

But wait – what’s FAVO? So glad you asked. As executive director Will Benton explains in this 2019 interview, it’s a creative space with creative beginnings.

Will Benton:
FAVO is part of the ministry of the Park Lake Presbyterian Church, which is directly across the street in downtown Orlando. FAVO was originally the old Davis Park Motel, built in the 1950s. It ran as a hotel until about 2010. And then it was vacated. The church tore down several of the buildings, so that a parking lot could be built, but left several buildings. So it was from that, that we had many conversations about whether or not we'd use the hotel property for feeding the homeless... [those] types of things. But that didn't work out, according to city zoning and different things. So our pastors Dan and Helen DeBevoise said, "Can't we do something creative with that space," and I, being the organist of the church, and working with them for 15 years now, I said, "Let's do a creative village of working artists!" So that's kind of how it all started.

Nicole Darden Creston:
And that's in fact, what it is - a creative village of working artists. Tell me how that works. Do they rent the rooms?

Will Benton:
There are 36 rooms in the building and 22 of those are full-time rentable spaces. And we use those. I have a waiting list of people trying to get in, always. So when a vacancy comes available, then I fill it immediately.

Nicole Darden Creston:
So tell me about First Fridays (also known as Monthly Artists' Open House), what happens then?

Will Benton:
We open up all 36 rooms. So it's all local art - amazing, creative people, from sculptors, to jewelry makers, to painters, to mosaic artists, anything you can imagine, all open up their doors on First Fridays. We usually have food trucks, live music, a kids' art table, and it's a good-time, free event for everybody.

During Monthly Open House events at FAVO, all the doors of the motel room/studios are open. Image: Park Lake Presbyterian Church
Park Lake Presbyterian Church
During Monthly Open House events at FAVO, all the doors of the motel room/studios are open.

During Monthly Open House events at FAVO, all the doors of the motel room/studios are open. Image: Park Lake Presbyterian Church[/caption]

Nicole Darden Creston:
So you can stroll, you can browse, buy...talk to the artists?

Will Benton:
Absolutely. The artists love that. Some people are think artists are not approachable, or don't know questions to ask artists. But you can ask artists anything about a specific color or what motivated them to come up with that idea or that concept. So it's, it's a little less intimidating than it could be.

Nicole Darden Creston:
The whole place is lit up and all the curtains are thrown back. So you can see in through the windows into all of the artistic spaces?

Will Benton:
Correct. And you can enter the ones that you choose to.

Nicole Darden Creston:
Now, is there a requirement that the art or the artists be Presbyterian or Christian in nature?

Will Benton:
Absolutely not. Absolutely not. We welcome anybody and everybody that wants to come to the property. The art is kind of juried. So the artists that come in have to be of a certain level, we try to make it a fine arts village. So we try to make sure it's pretty good quality stuff. Again, there'll be 36 rooms, there are multiple artists and every room... why not get out with the family and come have a good time?

Nicole came to Central Florida to attend Rollins College and started working for Orlando’s ABC News Radio affiliate shortly after graduation. She joined WMFE in 2010. As a field reporter, news anchor and radio show host in the City Beautiful, she has covered everything from local arts to national elections, from extraordinary hurricanes to historic space flights, from the people and procedures of Florida’s justice system to the changing face of the state’s economy.