Monday, October 11, 2010

The Albin Polasek Museum

Saturday I took a day trip over to Winter Park just northeast of Orlando to visit the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens. Albin Polasek (1879 - 1965) was a Czech-American sculptor, heralded as one of the foremost American sculptors of the twentieth century. He worked in a classical style similar to Rodin or Michelangelo. In 1950 at the age of 70 he retired from the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was head of the sculpture department, to Winter Park Florida where he built the home that became the Museum that now houses and displays 200 of his more than 400 works.

A guided tour takes you through the home and private chapel. There is also a gallery with exhibitions by other well-known local and international artists. On display while I was there was the modernist woodcuts and paintings of Charles Turzak. Turzak was the son of Czechoslovakian immigrants, and also retired from Chicago to subtropical Winter Park. I don't think you have to be of Czechoslovakian ancestry to be represented at the Albin Polasek Museum, but it obviously doesn't hurt. Plus the two men, Albin and Charles, knew each other in life.

Anyway, the best part of the museum and gardens for me was the three acre sculpture and botanical garden overlooking Lake Osceola.

Most of the sculptures in the gardens have either a Christian or mythological theme. Albin Polasek was a devout Roman-Catholic, but he obviously still had affection for the Slavic folklore he grew up with as a boy in Moravia. The mythological sculptures were my favorites.

Svantovit, the Slavic god of war, fertility and abundance.
He is represented here with his four faces facing each direction of the compass.

Triglav has three heads representing the unity of three gods,
or the sky, earth and underworld.

Perun is the Zeus of Slavic mythology

A vesna representing youth and springtime.

And then there are a couple of non-Slavic mythological figures:

The Greek god Pan

And the Wasserman from German folklore

There are also metal plaques along the garden path that commemorate Polasek's famous quotes.

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