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Ekphrastic Floridas at the Gallery at Avalon Island

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Image: photograph from "Roadsides and Skylines" by Jenn Allen, orlandoweekly.com

A great thing about writing for a living is that you learn new things all the time. This week I learned the word “ekphrasis,” which is a rhetorical term for vividly detailed written description. Plato first defined the form in 380 BC, but the most widely known ekphrastic poem is Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn” – a work of art about a work of art so illuminating that the reader actually “sees” the Greek vase.

I stumbled over the word in an invitation to an event happening next week at the Gallery at Avalon Island. Local publisher Burrow Press is teaming up with Avalon for something called “Ekphrastic Floridas,” an evening of writers reading works directly inspired by the art hanging in the gallery right now.

The current exhibition is “Roadsides and Skylines,” a look by seven local artists at the sides of Florida that you don’t see in tourism ads – vine-carpeted landscapes and dark stormy skies, broken branches and bleached bones. Seven local writers will bravely meet the challenge of evoking these works in words, extracting hidden meaning from the photographs, paintings and dioramas. For the audience, it will be a many-layered multisensory experience.

“Ekphrastic Floridas” happens at 7:30PM Tuesday, August 8th, at the Gallery at Avalon Island. “Roadsides and Skylines” hangs there through Saturday, August 12th.

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