The Ocala art scene is growing and becoming a major factor in the evolution and growth our city, a great reason for calling Ocala home. But the story began many decades ago. In 1939, the Coca Cola Company built a bottling plant(photo above) in what was to become downtown Ocala. It featured a magnificent architectural design that established the building as a work of art. Therefore, it became a community centerpiece to be enjoyed and admired. For decades, Ocala proudly hosted the Coca Cola bottling plant and became famous for doing so. Then on May 4, 1979, long after the Coca Cola Company had moved on to greener pastures, the building was added to the U.S. National Registry of Historic Places.
Of course, the city’s romance with the arts continued and took another major step over fifty years ago. It was then that a group of community leaders began to meet privately. Their mission was to bring the arts to Ocala and make them an integral part of North Central Florida life. As a result of these meetings, Fine Arts For Ocala was born and the organization was incorporated in 1972. Since then, F.A.F.O has hosted more than fifty art festivals. It has also brought us the Symphony Under The Stars, an annual Mother’s Day concert, and so much more.
Arthur Appleton Builds His Museum
The next great leap came when Arthur Appleton, an industrialist and a lover of horses, settled here with his family. Mr. Appleton was an avid art lover with a collection which rivaled the best in the world. In 1982 he built the Appleton Museum of Art on 44 wooded acres and installed his collection within its galleries. Then Mr. Appleton gifted the real estate and the art treasures it houses to the City of Ocala. This was the grand gesture that launched our city on a path to greater things.
Over the years, other amazing facilities joined our art scene. Each offered another reason for calling Ocala home. The Webber Gallery was built to conform with the requirements of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services. Today it offers several exhibits per year, including the occasional traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian, and admission is free. Additionally, last year Michelle St. Laurent, a Disney fine artist for over two decades, open her Art Studio on Pine Street. I was honored to be present at her grand opening and excited about the talent she brings to our community.
However, another amazing twist of fate brought us full circle. In 2019 Lisa and David Midgett acquired the old Coca Cola bottling plant. They proceeded to reinvent it as a hub where the most talented artists in our community could hone their skills. The gallery displays amazing local works of art as well.
Our community has an exciting art scene, a wondrous reason for calling Ocala home. Please read the stories bellow to gain more insights into what’s happening in our town.
When Lisa and David Midgett bought the historic Coca-Cola bottling plant building in Ocala last year, they weren’t sure what they wanted to do with it. “The first plan was we were going to put a distillery here. We sort of played around with that,” Lisa Midgett said, adding they had pretty much settled on opening an art gallery when COVID-19 hit. Read the article on gainesville.com >
Located at the Ocala Campus of CF, the Webber Center Gallery provides a nucleus of arts and cultural programs for students, faculty and the community. Read this on ocalamarion.com >
The Appleton Museum of Art
The Appleton Museum of Art is a leading cultural center that enriches the quality of life for the people of Central Florida and beyond. It brings art and people together to inspire, challenge and engage present and future generations through our wide range of collections, exhibitions, programs and educational opportunities.Read the article on appletonmuseum.org >
It says a lot about a community and its appreciation of arts and culture when new art galleries open their doors. Marion County has become home and host to numerous artists, art organizations and foundations, galleries, art installations, art centric cultural events and so much more. Read the article on ocalastyle.com >
Our burgeoning art scene, another reason for calling Ocala home.
Andrew Kruglanski, Broker
Ocala Home Guide Realty, LLC
Website: Ocala Home Guide Realty