Episode 108: Ken Austin

Watercolor Master Ken Austin, joined us to discuss the highlights of his career, and his pathway in arts for the past 60 years.



Artistic Spot – Special Edition: Will Benton

In today’s world, there is a significant amount of people that are constantly striving to do what they feel most passionate about. Visual artists are among those people. 

Orange County, Florida is one of the most important travel destinations for local, and international tourists. The theme park industry put Central Florida on the map and in the bucket list for people around the world after the opening of The Walt Disney World Resort on October 1, 1971, with their first theme park in the area, The Magic Kingdom.

The Walt Disney World Resort has grown in the past 50 years, as well as other companies decided to create more options for visitors and locals. Universal Orlando Resort and Sea World Parks and Entertainment are other options for those who visit the County. 

The theme park industry in Orange County, has made Central Florida have talented people that have dedicated their professional lives to entertain others as well as being able to bring entertainment for audiences worldwide. Visual arts play an important role in the world of storytelling.

The world of Visual Arts is a fantastic way of telling stories with the use of colors and paintbrushes. Orange County in Florida offers the world of Visual Arts and its artists a variety of events where they can showcase their artwork. 

The County’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Office led by its Director of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Mr. Terry Olson has an Advisory Council. The Council is in charge of recommending the office of Tourism and Tax Revenue where to spend their budget that the county has for the arts and culture. At the same time, the Council has different committees that oversee promoting new ideas. One of these committees is the Sustainability Committee which mission is “to pursue and implement the long-term sustainability and resiliency of the arts community, and its place in the natural, built and human environment of Orange County,” said Theo Webster, Chair of the Sustainability Committee and Member of the Advisory Council

Orange County, Florida – Arts Cultural Affairs Advisory Council

“One of our goals is to increase tourist awareness by promoting art and cultural offerings to hospitality industry and transit providers. We are also working on creating a unified, centralized marketing campaign for arts organizations,” said Theo.

While Orange County, Florida and the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs make great efforts to ensure that the community has access to new opportunities, visual artists around the County share their experiences.

For local artist JJ Gonzalez Acosta “Orange County has done a great job offering us the opportunities to showcase our talents. Activities such as Fusion Fest, and platforms such as City Arts Gallery, offer great opportunities to have our art out there. However, being an artist requires not only time and dedication, but also requires money for materials and the constant expectations to have our art sold. We must rely on having full time jobs to make our ends meet. Unfortunately, art itself does not pay our bills.”

Ilia Torres and JJ Gonzalez Acosta during the Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration at the Orange County Administration Building

The County does offer grant opportunities for the arts and culture. United Arts of Central Florida is a Non-profit Organization in charge of reviewing and approving applications from local non-profit organizations. Their main goal is to distribute the money the County has to the organizations who qualify. However, these grants are only accessible by those who have a Non-Profit Organization.

For some artists, registering a non-profit not only takes time, but it also requires a certain level of knowledge of the process that most of them do not know. For some, this information is new, and they did not even know that the County does offer opportunities and resources. “I did not know that there were those options. I would love to have more information. I will certainly investigate more information on it. It is always good to feel that we are supported as a community by the local government,” said Sarahy Boraure local artist.

Sarahy Boraure at the Opening of the ‘Arte Mundial’ Gallery in Orlando, FL

The arts and the entertainment industry was the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Greater Orlando Performing Arts Relief Fund, or ‘GOPAR’ was organized in 2020 to provide relief grants to individual arts workers of Central Florida affected by the pandemic.

“To date GOPAR has raised over $100,000 and assisted artists and arts workers covering mortgages, car payments, and medical bills, and perhaps just as critical, providing hope, reassurance and needed connectivity in the midst of debilitating isolation,” said RK Kelley, entertainment business executive, an advocate and board member in the community.

“We have an enormously talented arts community here in Central Florida and statewide. With stabilization and insightful support, we can help these artists and arts workers reach their potential, retain these talents in Orlando, and continue to enrich all our lives,” said RK.

Three reasons to support local visual artists

Orange County, Florida, is constantly growing. The growth provides opportunities to our talented community.  COVID-19 cases significantly decreased. The County’s state of emergency expires this November. More activities are coming back to life. Fusion Fest, Art in the Chambers, and other important calls to artists are being sent to a database of approximately 2500 local visual artists. Allowing them to showcase their artwork to a bigger audience.

For Byron Walker, Director of Facilities at the Polasek Museum, “the county does a great job offering us visual artists opportunities to showcase our artwork. The opportunities are out there. Part of our job as visual artists is to apply, apply, and apply. It is our responsibility to put our name out there.” 

It seems that the most difficult part for a visual artist is treating their talent, and the passion for storytelling, colors, and paintbrushes as a business.

Local Visual Artist and Director of Facilities of the Polasek Museum Byron Walker in Studio 153 at the Faith Arts Village Orlando

For visual artist Cheri Riechers, “I studied art in college. Art Festivals were not a thing. I decided to go into the computer industry. There came a time when I made some hand-painted fabrics, that lead to murals, and one day a local art dealer in Orange County said she wanted to see my artwork. I went to a gallery on Park Ave. in Winter Park and brought all my artwork with me. They loved it. They sold everything within two weeks. That was my first art lesson. I stayed with them for 18 years. I started painting in Café Tu Tu Tango on International Drive. The experience was amazing. I was invited out to Disney’s Festival of the Arts. After having a consulting company, I learned to treat my art as a business. It is a passion. It is storytelling but, it is a business.”

Local Visual Artist Cheri Riechers in her Studio at the Faith Arts Village Orlando.
Artistic Spot – Episode 106: Cheri Riechers

During the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, Mexican visual artist and architect Patricia Cavazos said, “the most important thing for me is knowing all the talents of my fellow artists. I am happy that the city does these types of events. More than the economic part, it is just a platform to let my art be shown in different places, knowing me. It’s more like being supporting each other and showing the people around. For me is more to show that the Hispanic culture and what we have to offer. The economy part of it is good but is more about showing what we have and who we are.”

Local Visual Artist from Mexico, Patricia Cavazos, posing with her textile work and ‘Tree of Life’ at the Casselberry Art House

Visual arts can become a main source of income. Opportunities are out there. Visual Artists are encouraged to continue telling colorful stories while taking advantage of the outstanding job that Orange County, Florida is doing through the Arts and Cultural Affairs office to provide platforms to showcase art and stories.

For more information on the Orange County Arts and Cultural Affairs office visit:


Episode 107: Jason Hunt

Local Artist Jason Hunt shares his wonderful stories as a visual artist in Orlando for almost 60 years. Join us in discovering his collection ‘Moments in Time’ made with graphite pencils.

For more information visit:


The Healing Power of Art

Art therapy can replace the action of self-harm by having the individual engage in sensory art forms such as sculpting, clay formation and collage.

For more information visit the American Art Therapy Association at


Episode 106: Cheri Riechers


The Art of Coca-Cola Zero’s Deliciousness

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar – Now More Delicious decorating an art sculpture outside Byron Walker’s Studio at The Faith Arts Village Orlando.
Photo Credit: Jose Rodriguez Marmol

For some visual artists at the Faith Arts Village, Coca-Cola is not only a thirst quencher. It is also a medium in the process of storytelling through the world of painting. 

For the Director of Facilities at the Polasek MuseumByron Walker, “everything is a medium when telling stories. From the cans to that small amount of liquid that is left after opening and drinking a Coke.”

A can of Coca-Cola before being used by Artist Byron Walker
Photo Credit: Jose Rodriguez Marmol

For the Director of Facilities at the Polasek MuseumByron Walker, “everything is a medium when telling stories. From the cans to that small amount of liquid that is left after opening and drinking a Coke.”

Coca-Cola is more than a drink. There is a story. There is a brand that is recognized worldwide. As artists, we are responsible for telling new stories. I have used Coca-Cola to paint, especially to recreate landscapes. It all started one day that I ran out of brown. I could have mixed colors and created it on my own. Instead, I decided to use some of the Coca-Cola Zero that I was having at that specific moment. To my surprise, it added a beautiful color scheme to my canvas,” said Byron.

Jose Rodriguez Marmol and Byron Walker having a conversation about upcoming art pieces

Byron is currently working on his version of Vincent Van Gogh’sStarry Night.’ “I am using approximately 100 cans of Coca-Cola that I have in my studio here at FAVO. I have cut them open and shaped them as stars. My version of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ will feature cans of Coca-Cola as stars. I am so excited to finish my mixed media masterpiece and share it with you all,” said Walker.

In the world of visual arts, everything is possible. Art is subjective, and it is in the eye of the beholder.  The artist is free to use the media he feels most comfortable with using.

Fellow artists, now it is your turn to discover the new and ‘more delicious’ flavor that Coca-Cola Zero Sugar has. Its design and how you can use your favorite drink in your next masterpiece.

Coca – Cola Zero Sugar under the spotlight
Photo Credit: Jose Rodriguez Marmol

For more information on Byron Walker’s upcoming Art with Coca-Cola visit his website Stay tuned for more information and the release of his upcoming artwork.  


Episode 105: Chris M. Gray


Episode 104: Marilyn Cortes-Lovato


Discovering the Artist within during JJ Art and Design Productions Studio Opening

The dream of local visual artist JJ Gonzalez Acosta became a reality with the opening of his studio on a colorful opening night on Friday, October 1st, during FAVO’s first Friday of every month Art Show. Studio 253 at FAVO – Faith Arts Village Orlando will now be the home to art classes and workshops for students of all ages.

‘JJ Art and Design Productions’ was founded by Gonzalez Acosta in 2018. “I am a visual artist. I was born in Valencia, Venezuela. Since the age of five, I have been playing with colors and paintbrushes. One of my goals coming to the U.S. five years ago was to teach art techniques and help others discover their artist within. I am very happy to have a space where people can come and enjoy the beauty of art,” said JJ.

It was a night of color, music, and dance. The opening of the Studio was full of happiness. Ilia Torres, assistant to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings was among the special guests that were present in the event, “I am honored to be here tonight. JJ is a wonderful visual artist. We are honored to have him as part of our community. It is a pleasure to be here tonight and support him during this important milestone for his career and his small business.”

JJ Gonzalez Acosta during his opening speech on Friday, October 1st.

Before the ribbon cutting ceremony took place, Ilia Torres, gave JJ Art and Design Productions a ‘Congratulations Certificate’ signed by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

Since the beginning, ‘JJ Art and Design Productions’ has hosted art classes and workshops for kids and adults.

The goal of the company is to help others discover their artist within. “We are all artists. In my career as a visual artist, I have seen people heal through art. I have seen students who never painted come out with beautiful masterpieces that tell their life stories. Art heals. Since the 19th century, art has helped people heal. I want this space to help others heal. I want my studio to make others feel they are real artists and that their stories can be told,” said Gonzalez Acosta.

Ilia Torres, JJ Gonzalez Acosta, Jose Rodriguez Marmol and Will Benton during the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Will Benton, Executive Director of FAVO, is happy to have JJ Art and Design Productions as part of this creative village. “We are proud to have JJ with us. He is very talented. We are blessed to have him as part of our creative community,” said Benton.

“I am so happy for the opening of my studio at FAVO. I am inviting you to come, and discover this amazing creative village,” said JJ.

The opening ceremony ended with a beautiful Venezuelan dance called ‘Merengue de Antaño’ by Antonieta Armas from ‘IslaDanza – Venezuela, Arte y Cultura’.

The Studio is officially open. Information on upcoming classes and workshops will be announced soon. For updated information on upcoming art classes that will help you heal and discover the artist within, follow JJ Art and Design Productions on Instagram, visit the company’s website, and sign up for the weekly newsletter.


Special Edition Episode (Español): IslaDanza Venezuela, Arte y Cultura

Join us in discovering as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Les unfold the story behind Isladanza, Venezuela, Arte y Cultura with Antonieta Armas and Enmanuel Flores.

Lets celebrate our Heritage. Celebremos el orgullo de ser Latinos. Celebremos el orgullo de ser Venezolanos.