ROCOCOLAB by the De La Torre Brothers

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My first experience with blown glass was at the Renaissance Fair. The men (always men) would pull a molten glowing glob of orange out of a fire and turn it into a thing. Moving the hot glass around using metal hammers and pinchers and various tools. Sweat beading up on brows as we kids waited to see what shape would appear. (I don’t want to ruin the mystery for you, but it was almost always a rose or vase.)

My latest experience with blown glass is at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Einar and Jamex de la Torre, collaborating artists and brothers, have their first solo museum exhibition in Florida. You have to check this show out. And because CFAM is a teaching museum, there’s plenty to think about. While at California State University, the brothers started sculpting in hot glass and fell in love with its “intrinsic spontaneity.” Now they bring drawings and ideas to their workshop but essentially allow the mood and the moment to direct the outcome.

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The brothers have created lenticular pieces. Lenticular printing is a technology in which lenses are used to produce printed images with an illusion of depth, or the ability to change or move as the image is viewed from different angles. I used to have lenticular bookmarks with jumping unicorns and kittens in baskets of flowers. I loved how their heads and legs moved or their eyes followed me as I flipped the bookmark back and forth.

The lenticulars that the brothers have created are completely different, addressing transnational identity and immigration incorporating Aztec iconography and themes of European art along with pop culture. I know that sounds super heavy, but I think one of the comments on the video was that the show reminded someone of The Simpsons. So do what you will with that comment and go see the show.

Watch this unique live interview at the opening of the CFAM show with Einar and Jamex de la Torre:

Cornell Fine Arts Museum

Monday closed
Tuesday 10 a.m - 7 p.m.
Wednesday-Friday 10 a.m - 4 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday Noon - 5 p.m.

Phone: 407-646-2526
1000 Holt Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789

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Because I love lenticular kittens!!

Because I love lenticular kittens!!

Welcome to SIDNEY BRUCE

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Anna Marie Christmas and I finally met in person at Florida Blog Con a couple years ago. We had already been following each other on social media for months. And when we connected it was like we’d been friends for years. I can’t get enough of her inspired style and professional drive. Read on to get to know more about Anna, her process, and her latest venture, SIDNEY BRUCE.

“I am a business owner, artist and advocate of women to build authentic and intentional relationships. After growing up in the panhandle of Florida, in a beautifully intense and loving family, I worked in the fashion industry for over sixteen years in New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Miami and London. My first passion is creating beauty in various mediums, such as fashion design, the fine arts and creative direction for special events. I now own and operate a creative agency that focuses on content production, wardrobe styling, branding and social media marketing. I am currently expanding my company to the UK and Europe and launching Sidney Bruce, an online shopping platform featuring emerging designers, selective brands and artists from around the world.

My second passion is women connecting, leading and loving each other well. I have worked for years to create events in which women from different walks of life can have a moment to meet each other where they are and to be encouraged to keep growing towards vulnerability, truth and hope.

In addition, I enjoy adventures around the world, painting, yoga and hosting fabulous parties for my close friends and family.
My hope for every woman is to be unashamedly themselves and to live in a fierce strength out of grace and love.”

"You are loved. You are free. You are ready now.” - Anna Marie Christmas

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What time of day do you like to start work? 7am

Do you want to be liked or respected? Respected

What does your support team or network look like? 
I have strategically surrounded myself with like minded, ambitious, creative, kind, smart, authentic and driven people. Everything is a choice especially when it comes to relationships. People are the most important part of life and business. I currently am blessed to have a massive support team in more locations than one that embodies the above mentioned characteristics and values. In the next five years, my goal is to build a team of talent that would work out of an Orlando and London office. 

Do you do yoga the morning? Have wine with lunch? Socialize with your team after work? How do you connect and also unplug to do your best work? 
I love hot yoga and spin classes. I need to cry a lot so I go there to do that, sweat my stress out and to simply feel like a Wonder Woman-Beyonce-Warrior whenever possible. Getting into nature is a must for me. I need green, mountains, oceans and sky. It is imperative for me to reenergize in these places. Being at my family’s cabin in North Carolina or my Grandparent’s farm resets my perspective. It makes me appreciate the littlest of things and makes me stop. We are wonderfully and beautifully made and when I see the plants and birds I am reminded of how much I am loved and how my value and identity does not lie in how much I accomplish or fail at. I also adore hosting people in my home. I enjoy giving back to that powerful network that surrounds me by cooking and throwing fabulous garden parties under the stars. 

What would your key management advice be? 
Managing people is like parenting. It is the hardest yet the most rewarding work out yet. Your identity and value has nothing to do with the people you manage. Always do what is right, with no attachment to the fruit. If you make mistakes at managing others, you learn. If you successful at managing others, you learn. That is all. It isn’t about you… so get over yourself so you can lead well. If you do this, then you will not lead out of a place of fear which is the most destructive thing you could do as a manager. 

What do you find the most difficult part of your job? 
Learning to work out of a place of peace but still have drive, focus and ambition. It is a balancing act that I frankly have no idea how to do well. I also struggle with tedious and mundane tasks. #nopatience 

How has rejection in the space you’re passionate about fueled it? 
The minute someone tells me no… I get fire in my soul. I have been told before that I wasn’t a creative director, good enough, educated enough, fast enough, tough enough, dumb enough, pretty enough, small enough, rich enough, poor enough… the list goes on. I haven’t been taken seriously by family members, friends and bosses because of my ambitious goals, dreams and age. With this very project I have had people talk down to me on conference calls because the potential vendor was unprepared and they said no. I have been told no and have had to change plans, visions, goals and focus last minute. Being told no is imperative for growth, creativity and character building. Be thankful for the “no”.

What does ‘style' mean to you? 
Style means one being unashamedly one’s self and that translating into their choice in appearance and presence.

Have you ever made a mistake you wish you could take back? 
100%. I have lost my temper and lost a friend because of it. Nothing is ever worth proving. 

If you could fix one thing about your company today, what would it be? 
MONEY.  I have an ongoing list of the incredible people who are way better at running certain parts of this company than I am. I am looking forward to the day that Sidney Bruce can employ and house these people to do what they do best. 

Describe yourself using only emojis. 🔥🥂👑🌺🐅🗡

What are your favorite art galleries and/or museums in the world? 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art for their fashion exhibits their location by Central Park and Park Ave. 

What do you miss most about home when you travel?
My cats, Sheriff Kitty and Pip Squeak. 

Where do you go online to get inspired? 
Pinterest, Spotify ( I LOVE MUSIC) and podcasts.

Predicting trends is tough, how much does research play into what you do? 
Research doesn’t play into it. If you have to research it… it’s too late and the trend is upon us or already happened. Predicting trends is more about intuition and a little history more than anything. 

Three books, blogs, podcasts, or Instagrams you think we need to read, listen to, or see?
Podcast: How I Built This (all episodes) - It will comfort, inspire and grow you in business.  
Book: Art of War by SUN TZU - It will teach you how to do business.
Show: Game of Thrones - It will make you want to go after, stand up and fight for something. Also the costumes are bad ass.
All three of these bring you back to your humanness. It is important to understand the reality of who and where you are so you have the chance to be and go where you want to. Live in reality, fight for a dream.


 

SIDNEY BRUCE is an online shopping platform featuring a curated collection of emerging designers, selective brands and artists. SIDNEY BRUCE is all about shopping local without being local. Guests are able to shop a world of makers, creatives and artists. They can have special one-of-a-kind garments, accessories, and art delivered to their doorstep. 

Instagram: @anna.marie.christmas @shop.sidney.bruce
Website: www.sidneybruce.com

Schlumberger Jewels Bedazzle

I gave myself an early Christmas present of seeing the Jean Schlumberger show at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida. I got to experience one of the Gulf Coast’s best museums, was able to stand inches away from Guerrilla Girls, Monet, and Kara Walker and a wander through a divine little sculpture garden after tucking into yummy butter toast and a cup of hearty tomato basil bisque. There’s so much more to this museum than I ever imagined.

Here’s why you need to go to the St. Pete Museum of Fine Arts before March 31, 2019.

The Cafe. Do NOT skip going to the cafe. It’s probably one of the best kept brunch secrets in the entire city. A lovely menu with seasonal favorites and generous portions. Excellent coffee. Fantastic view of the water. Sit on the veranda if it’s nice. If not, the seats by the windows are fantastic people watching.

Super cool that you can buy a ticket online and have a year to use it. Buy one for friends. Grab a couple for visiting parents. I love that low pressure purchase.

GUERRILLA GIRLS

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Dreamy lounge area in case it all just gets to be too much. I imagine slinking into this lounge wearing a silk dress and furs and needing someone to provide smelling salts. It’s stepping into the feeling of Tiffany & Company in New York City. It’s like sitting in a velvet lined box. People were silent or whispering. The jewels demanded it. The Schlumberger show is only on until March 31, 2019.

It may seem like you have a bit of time to check it out, but we both know you’ll put it off. Don’t. You’ll regret it.

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Bunny Mellon must have had one heck of a jewelry vault. The woman knew how to inspire. Her friendship with Jean “Johnny” Schlumberger produced jewelry that is so much more than jewelry, it’s the story of the natural world told through precious stones and metal. Her all time favorite piece was the Pisces brooch with red enamel. Look at those little golden fish lips!

I’ve always been fascinated by haute couture of the 50s and 60s. The fashion houses that were inspired by brilliant muses like Slim Keith and defined or destroyed by Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland. They, along with other women like philanthropist Bunny Mellon had style. The kind of unique style that would stop conversations when they entered a room. Not narcissistic, but incredibly vain. And they all wore Schlumberger jewelry. Jackie Kennedy is famous for wearing his enamel bangle bracelets. Slim Keith had a cross made of gold and amethysts.

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Inches away from DV’s favorite piece. Dianna Vreeland, former editor-in-chief of Vogue, had a piece commissioned by Schlumberger in 1941 and it stayed on her bedside table until she died. The ‘Trophée de Vaillance’ brooch is out of the Tiffany archives and on display. And it is magnificent. It seems to glow from within. Like a military trophy, the platinum and gold breast plate and tunic is set with diamonds.  Behind that is an oval shield encrusted with faceted amethysts and rubies, with a blue and gold enamel border. Blue and grey enamel longbow, arrows, spear, pike and axe project from behind the shield, while a ruby-set star pommel projects from within the armor.

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KARA WALKER

Oh how I love her. The use of shadow and light and images of past placed on past. Brilliant.

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Then head outside and walk along the water, or grab an ice cream cone and stroll along the avenue. Looking for a posh place to stay after being inspired by those Mellon jewels? Visit the Vinoy Renaissance Resort just a block or two away. It’s pink! And pure luxury.

Museum of Fine Arts St. Pete

C255 Beach Dr NE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 896-2667

MUSEUM HOURS

Monday–Saturday: 10:00 am–5:00 pm
Thursday: 10:00 am–8:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm–5:00 pm

CAFE HOURS

Tuesday–Sunday: 11:00 am–3:00 pm

Email: info@mfastpete.org
Tickets: HERE

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Timucua Arts is an Orlando Gem

Timucua Arts Foundation is a home. A real home where people live. It’s also an event space for musicians and music performances that is unlike any other. A three story space that has every instrument imaginable and which has featured international musicians, Grammy award winners, and countless others. This tour of the space with founder Benoit Glazer is something you have to see to believe. Watch it below.

The mission says it all:

This, we believe:

Art and music belong to everyone.

Art and music are the highest manifestation of our humanity.

Art and music should be enjoyed in the most intimate venue: the living room.

Every community is better when art and music are performed and nurtured within it.

The mission of the Timucua Arts Foundation is to present and inspire great music and art in Central Florida through performance and education.

This FAQ page will answer all your questions.

Timucua White House

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Event Space Address:
2000 South Summerlin
Orlando, FL
32806

Meet the Maker: Reina Castellanos

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My name is Reina and I am a Venezuelan illustrator living in Orlando. My work is influenced by my culture and experiences as an immigrant—seeking balance between absurdity and moments of quiet contemplation within the organized chaos of layered color and pattern. Currently I am exploring different applications of my illustrations on small, personal wares like coin pouches and embroideries. 

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1. What did you want to be when you were a child and why?

Performer. Artist. Philosopher. Homemaker. Comedian. Architect. Writer. Hacker. Singer. Astronaut. Poet. I am convinced to have grown into an amalgamation of all those things. Little Reina would be proud!

2. What is your favorite thing about your workspace?

My studio window faces the next door neighbor’s backyard and sometimes I am able to hear their band practice. In a weird way it has become very comforting listening to them while drawing or designing. When I notice they are rehearsing, I turn off any kind of distraction I may have around me and continue working alongside them into the evening.

3. What is a scent that defines your childhood and why?

The scent I remember most vividly from my childhood is jasmine. We had a huge shrub at the entrance of our house and, when it was blooming, you could smell it all around the neighborhood. 

4. Name a fear or professional challenge that keeps you up at night?

Prematurely telling myself why and how something will fail before taking a risk. No matter how hard I’ve worked to trust my intuition and respect my process, I still catch myself doing it regularly. I think it is the creative professional equivalent of the falling teeth nightmare.

5. What is your personal or professional motto?

DO. THE. THING.

6. What is something you tell yourself to build yourself up when you face adversity or criticism?

Tough love tends to get through me better than being kind to myself (I know, yikes!), so I imagine Kara Thrace from Battlestar Galactica sizing me up and saying, “Girl, you’ve been through worse!” It usually works and the negativity can roll off my back pretty easily with such a badass—albeit, fictional—person on my side.

7. Current fave junk food, restaurant, or treat?

I see an iced tea latte, I drink an iced tea latte. No exceptions.

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Contact Reina Castellanos

Instagram
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Meet the Maker behind Lou Jewels

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I've always been an art kid. For as long as I can remember I've been in an art class of some kind. As a kid, math was kind of my refuge from art class. While I loved art class, it was so subjective, SO opinion based, sometimes that was draining and tiring. Math class was the place where you were right, or wrong, end of story. In my late teens I met a mathematician who told me that there are places you can get to in the mathematical field where that was no longer the case, and my brain just exploded with wonder and curiosity. I've been inspired by math ever since. I love taking a concept or idea, or maybe a theory that fascinates me, and creating a visual representation of that idea. 

Once I've got a concept I like, I sit down at my bench to create it, all the while staying open to other ideas. I will play around with materials. Sometimes things turn out exactly how I imagined them, and sometimes what I end up with is far from where I started, but I love it even more.

 
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1. What did you want to be when you were a child and why?

When  I was little I wanted to be a screen play writer. I loved Home Alone so much, and I wanted to make people feel the way that movie made me feel...all warm and fuzzy. 

2. What is your favorite thing about your workspace?

The thing I love most about my workspace is my jewelers bench. When I decided to really go for it with jewelry, I went out and splurged on a professional bench. Its set up exactly how I want it. Every jeweler I've apprenticed under has their bench set up differently. Now, this is a space that gets to be 100% tailored to me and how I like to work. Hanging up around my workspace I have lots of unique pieces I've gotten from other makers I've met over the years. Its a nice to be reminded I'm a part of a wonderful community of creators.

3. What is a scent that defines your childhood and why?

Hmmm....Well I grew up in NYC, so the smell of the subway makes me think of my childhood. A more pleasant answer is honeysuckle. We used to spend our summers at my grandmother’s house in Mississippi, and my mom would point out the different wildflowers. Honeysuckle was my fave because you could pull out the little blossom and it would taste like honey. I remember thinking that was so cool.  

4. Name a fear or professional challenge that keeps you up at night.

I always feel behind schedule in some way.  I'm in a perpetual state of catching up. Rarely does a day end and I feel like I did enough work for that day. I take it as a feeling that comes with any start up or new business. What I've learned from other more established business owners is that that feeling never really goes away, its more about managing it. My fear is that I will never learn to manage it. That I will always feel stressed and overwhelmed.

5. What is your personal or professional motto?

Be kind! Treat others how you want to be treated, and be respectful of others. You'd be surprised how far that will get you. 

6. What is something you tell yourself to build yourself up when you face criticism?

Whenever I am feeling down, I remind myself- All is well, all will be well. Everything in my life, mistakes included, have lead me to where I am now, pursuing something I truly love. Who am I to decide if something is bad or good? Its all about perspective. Something that seems bad now may turn out to be a major turning point in your favor. 

7. Current fave junk food, restaurant, or treat?

I am currently OBSESSED with frozen bananas covered in dark chocolate. I've been eating one almost everyday for weeks and I am waiting to get sick of them, but that just hasn't happened yet! Fave breakfast cereal is Reeses. I rarely buy it because I usually eat the whole box way too fast. 

Lou Jewels

 info@myloujewels.com

http://www.myloujewels.com/
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Discover a Secret Island in Grant, Florida

The Indian River Lagoon is the most bio-diverse lagoon in the Northern Hemisphere and an indispensable refuge to the nearly one million neighboring Central Florida residents. Today, we're going to explore the lagoon in a couple of kayaks.

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If you don't have your own kayak, I recommend checking out Island Paddle in Grant, FL. They're a Florida nonprofit Citizen Support Organization dedicated to the preservation, restoration and enhancement of the Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserve spoil islands and education of the importance of the spoil islands as valuable educational, recreational and conservation resources.

Island Paddle is located in Grant Station, which is right across the street from the main boat ramp in town. You can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards or try out one of their tours: Sunrise Paddle, Paddle Board Yoga, or Mullet Creek Paddle Tour.

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Once you're out on the water, you can paddle at your own pace to reach one of the many sandbars and islands on the lagoon. Be careful when you're swimming too far out from shore because the lagoon contains brackish water. That means it's a mix of both salt and freshwater, so you may find some bigger fish and alligators. Always watch out for boaters when you're in the channel.

The island we explored had so much plant life! I encourage you to download a plant identification app on your phone and see how many different types you can find. You're sure to encounter animal life as well. Frequently, there will be porpoises that swim right up to your kayak but we weren't so lucky today.

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Rule one of being out in nature: leave no trace! Explore as many islands as you wish, as long as you help preserve their natural beauty. I like to bring a trash bag with me to clean up any litter that I find.

Happy exploring!

 

 Tina Fleming is a partner at Townie Tourist and an Orlando-based travel and lifestyle blogger at Tina In The Sun. She's a cat mom, self-proclaimed foodie, and moonlight singer in an a cappella group called Geekapella.

Explore Historic 'Green Gables' and Melbourne, Florida

If you haven't ventured south to Melbourne, Florida you need to put it on your day-trip list.  It's about an hour and a half south of Orlando on the Atlantic Coast and I was amazed by what I found there.  First, let's talk about a visit to Green Gables

Green Gables was the winter home of William T. Wells and his family.  Wells was a metallurgist who was known for his patent on the manufacturing of rustless iron.  In 1894 Wells and his wife Nora, sons Stanford and Prescott, and daughter Gladys traveled from New York to find a healthier climate for Nora's health issues. 

Melbourne was the perfect mix of friendly neighbors, great fishing, and outdoor activities.  In 1896 Green Gables was completed on the high bluff facing the river just north of town. 

This Queen Anne style house was the first of its kind and unique to a property like this, the house has remained family-owned to this day.  However, after the 2004 hurricane season it was deemed uninhabitable. 

The house is now used for events and parties but needs extensive repairs and restoration. You'll see some damage in the photos. 

The Wells family contributed to the expansion of Melbourne both architecturally and culturally.  Mrs. Wells built the first auditorium in the region and stage boasted perfect acoustics.  She arranged the Chautauqua of the Tropics and had musicians, actors, poets, and lecturers come to visit and perform.  The Wells' dedicated a portion of their land to the public which became Wells Park and the main branch of the Melbourne Public Library.  They also provided the means for the first pubic high school.  They were generous and progressive and left a legacy that remains today.

This 122 year old structure is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has an unparalleled view of the Indian River.  What a spot to experience the beauty and history of Brevard County.

Green Gables 

To arrange a tour or visit, reach out by email at the address below.

Mail: P.O. Box 1086, Melbourne, FL 32902

Address: 1501 South Harbor City Blvd, Melbourne, FL
info@GreenGables.com
http://SaveGreenGables.org

 

Click below to watch the Townie Tourist walk through Green Gables. 👇👇

Big Cat Habitat in Sarasota, Florida

Have you been to the Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary in Sarasota, Florida? This large animal rescue organization provides a home for tigers, lions, monkeys and other exotic animals in need. I got a chance to visit this amazing organization with Clayton Rosaire. His mom, Kay, founded the place in 1987 and has been a cat-mom for years, educating the public on conservation and animal care. Now Clayton is leading the charge and it's truly impressive.

Please note that there's a real liger. This animal is rare and probably one of the largest animals I've ever actually seen up close. HOLY HECK he's big. His mom was a tiger and his dad was a lion. They generally are born in captivity because hey, roommates get real close.

We get up close with some of the residents ourselves and really far away from other ones. Watch to see what happens. Also, if you feel like contributing to this amazing organization. Click here. 

Morikami Japanese Garden and Museum

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This weekend I finally got to visit a place I have been wanting to visit since I heard of it four months ago, the Morikami Japanese Garden and Museum in Del Ray Beach.

Opened in 1977, the historical park is dedicated to a small group Japanese farmers, known as the Yamato Colony, who came to Palm Beach County in the early 1900s. Initially the group grew pineapples, but when Cuban imports of the fruit became more popular they turned to winter vegetables. The Yamato Colony did not find much success, with only 30- 35 farmers in the group, by the beginning of WWII few remained. 

In the the mid-1970s one of the last remaining Yamato settlers, George Sukeji Morikami donated his land to Palm Beach County to be used as a park to preserve his people's culture.

Since then Morikami has been a center for Japanese culture and arts with it's rotating exhibits, tea ceremonies, outreach programs to local schools and traditional festivals throughout the year. 

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The garden is about a mile long walk with flowers, waterfalls, a zen rock garden, special memorial statues, giant Buddha and a section dedicated to the many different types of bonsai trees. From small grey lizards to huge bright green iguanas, look out for reptiles along your walk. For the most part, the animals seemed completely unbothered by anyone's presence and stayed still for plenty of photos. 

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The Yamato-kan is Morikami's original museum and home to two permanent exhibits.  One space details theYamato Colony in Florida, while the rest of the building shows what Japan is like through the eyes of a child through mock a train station, classroom, main street and home. In the middle of the entire building is a beautiful rock garden with copper rain chains, which the Japanese have been using for hundreds of years as a more pleasing water feature to closed gutters. 

I really enjoyed my visit here and would definitely say it's worth the three hour drive. If I lived in the area I would become a member and visit all the time. There's a traditional Japanese restaurant in the park, which I was unable to eat at since they stop seating people at 3 p.m., that would probably serve as even more incentive for reoccurring visit.

There's also one of the best museum gift shops I've ever seen here. Pricier items include traditional kimonos for $150+, but you can also find origami paper, Asian candies and other trinkets from $1.50 - $20.

I left with a Chinese Wishing Pot for $18. According to tradition, wishes were believed to come true if they were written on a slip of paper, stored in ceramic pot and kept in a lucky place.  

The park is closed Mondays and major holidays, but you can stop in Tuesday - Sundays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Adult tickets are $15, seniors $13 and children $9. For info go here: https://morikami.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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