elebrating history through the arts. Heartlands’ Okeechobee and Lake Wales are doing just that with a touring photo exhibit, La Florida: 500 Years in the Place of Flowers. This beautiful exhibit commemorates the natural history and culture of our state, which Juan Ponce de Leon named in 1513. Roughly translated, La Florida means place or land of flowers.
ShowcasingT he Arts
By Bridgette Waldau
What is Viva Florida 500? In 2013, Florida reached a momentous milestone, the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de León’s arrival on Florida’s east coast. What makes this anniversary so exceptional is that Ponce de León’s convoy of explorers was the first group of Europeans to document such a landing and give a name to Florida—La Florida. Viva Florida 500 is a statewide initiative led by the Florida Department of State, under the leadership of Gov. Rick Scott, to highlight the 500 years of historic people, places and events in present-day Florida since the arrival of Juan Ponce de León. The touring photography display, inspired by Florida’s diverse and beautiful wildflowers, features 15 of Florida photographer John Moran’s beautiful largeformat photos. These images illustrates the timeless beauty of Florida’s native wildflowers. Traveling the state of Florida, John Moran sought out his vision of natural Florida, as it must have looked to Ponce de Leon and other early visitors in 1513. A University of Florida graduate, Moran’s photography has appeared in numerous publications, including National Geographic, Life, Time, Newsweek, Smithsonian, The New York Times Magazine and on the cover of the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida. Visit his website at www.johnmoranphoto.com to see his work and a slide show of the exhibit. On photographing the nature of Florida, Moran says, “Truly a universal language, photography can help us better understand and appreciate the many gifts of nature bestowed upon this great state we call home.” “La Florida: 500 Years in the Place of Flowers” will be proudly on display here in the Heartlands at two Florida historical sites. Visit the beautiful historical Okeechobee County courthouse Dec. 30, 2013 - Feb. 14, 2014 to see the exhibit. The display was made possible through the efforts of Okeechobee Main Street. The courthouse is located at 304 NW 2nd Street in Okeechobee. Visit www.OkeechobeeMainStreet.org for more information. The exhibit will then travel to historical Bok Tower
62 | Holiday Issue 2013 Heartland
Top two photos: Images from the exhibit. All the photographs are 31.5 ” x 42.5” in size. Third down: The historical Okeechobee County Courthouse. Bottom left: Photographer John Moran. Bottom Right: Bok Towers Gardens.
Gardens in Lake Wales. The show can be seen from Feb. 24 - April 11, 2014. Located at 1151 Tower Blvd., the display will be shown in a setting known for stunning gardens. Go to www.boktowers.com for more information. The exhibit is free to the public. Funding for the display was provided by the Florida Wildflower Foundation and the State Wildflower license plate as part of the Florida Department of State’s 2013 Viva Florida 500 commemoration program. For all the Viva Florida 500 celebrations visit www.vivaflorida.org. ¢