Shapely Ves­sels: Gourds From Around the World  

May 5 — August 9, 2015

Prized for their infi­nite uses and imme­di­ately rec­og­niz­able by their volup­tuous forms, gourds are one of mankind’s ear­li­est domes­ti­cated plants. Fem­i­nine and mas­cu­line at the same time, carved or left whole in the glory of their ele­gant sil­hou­ette; the vari­ety of shapes and sizes of the hum­ble gourd are sim­ply stag­ger­ing. Explore their ancient roots and fas­ci­nat­ing links to early civ­i­liza­tions. What were their many uses and how did ancient gourds tran­si­tion to become many of our mod­ern house­hold objects and musi­cal instru­ments of today? Likely one of the ear­li­est domes­ti­cated plants, gourds have been dis­cov­ered in archae­o­log­i­cal sites dat­ing from as early as 13,000 BC. Gourds also con­tain deep sym­bol­ism in many cul­tures, for exam­ple in Japan where the “Hyotan” gourd is a sym­bol for safety and good luck. Exhib­ited gourds will include art­works and stat­ues, musi­cal instru­ments, teas cups, snuff con­tain­ers, and the iconic Cal­abash gourd pipe used in the movies by lit­er­ary char­ac­ter Sher­lock Holmes. There will be gourds from Native Amer­i­cas, Europe, Africa, South Amer­ica, and Asia. This exten­sive col­lec­tion is on loan from Orlando res­i­dent and self-proclaimed “Gourd Guru” or “Cal­abashol­o­gist,” Mr. Ray­mond Konan. In con­junc­tion with this exhibit, The Albin Polasek Museum & Sculp­ture Gar­dens is proud to fea­ture live gourd spec­i­mens grow­ing in our gar­den for vis­i­tors to see these nat­ural won­ders grow­ing. Pro­gram­ming will include a spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tion by the col­lec­tor, and gar­den and artis­tic work­shops fea­tur­ing gourds. You’ll never look at a gourd in the same light again! So much more than a food source or a “crop,” be pre­pared to be enchanted by the sculp­tural and prac­ti­cal gourd!           

Exhibit Programming:

Pre­sen­ta­tion with the Collector:

Early Man’s Best Friends: Gourds

Thurs­day, August 6, 2015  (THIS IS A NEW DATE!!)

7:00 – 8:30 PM

Join us for a spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tion with Ray­mond Konan, our exhibit­ing col­lec­tor and world renowned “Cal­abashol­o­gist.” Konan shares insights about his col­lec­tion; how he became enchanted with gourds as a link to the ear­li­est tools and cul­ture of mankind while teach­ing in Africa. Mr. Konan will report on his research, on his trav­els to many coun­tries, his excit­ing career as a gourd col­lec­tor, and how he become a pub­lished “gourd guru.” Beyond his per­sonal col­lec­tion, Konan is a wealth of knowl­edge on the sub­ject from anthro­po­log­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tives. You’ll dis­cover why and how gourds became, “Early Man’s Best Friends.”  Learn how ancient man used the gourd for both prac­ti­cal, dec­o­ra­tive, and religious-cultural rea­sons. Walk with Konan through the cen­turies from the ear­li­est uses of gourds to the devel­op­ment of ceram­ics, and the tran­si­tion to drums as well as our mod­ern string instru­ments of today.The gourd has had a remark­able jour­ney through his­tory, hand-in-hand with man. After the evening’s pre­sen­ta­tion you will never see a gui­tar, a bowl, or a gourd in the same sim­ple way again! Directly fol­low­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion, Konan will lead an infor­mal walk-through tour of the Gourd Exhibit in the Polasek Gallery.  Admis­sion is $5 and includes lec­ture, walk-through tour, and light refresh­ments. Must pre­reg­is­ter at 407 – 647-6294 or, as seat­ing is limited. 

Gourd-geous Day at the Polasek Museum!

Gourds 101

Sun­day, July 26, 2015

9:00 am – 12:00 noon

This sum­mer we are pleased to offer a jam-packed, gourd-themed work­shop at the Polasek Museum. So much use­ful infor­ma­tion and hands-on fun packed into one morning!

Grow­ing Gourds 101: 9:30 –10:00 am

Join us Sun­day morn­ing, from 9:00 am –9:30 am, for gourd grow­ing 101. Every­thing a begin­ner needs to know to start grow­ing their own crop. Learn from Mas­ter Gar­dener and Polasek Museum Trustee, Pamela Pais­ley, and get the scoop directly from the horse’s mouth! See the Polasek’s plants grow­ing in the gar­den, learn about the plant’s needs, soil types, main­te­nance and grow­ing cycles. We’ll dis­cuss how to select the best plant­ing area how and to train and sup­port your vines. Then see dried exam­ples and tips on how to prop­erly dry the fruit after a suc­cess­ful har­vest. You’ll also get to take home with you seeds from Polasek gourds to kick-start your new ven­ture next season!

Gourd Prepa­ra­tion: 9:30– 10:15

Dur­ing this por­tion of the work­shop you’ll learn what to do next with your fully dried and sea­soned gourd, whether you are work­ing with a gourd you pur­chased or one you grew your­self. We will begin by clean­ing each gourd and prepar­ing them for use.  We walk you through the process of scrap­ing the inte­rior out, sav­ing seeds, and cut­ting and sand­ing gourds to make them the per­fect blank can­vas. The freshly washed gourd you work on will be yours to take home.

Gourd Art:  10:15 – 12:00 Noon

Using a pre-washed and pre­pared gourd, each par­tic­i­pant will dec­o­rate a gourd.  We’ll look at his­tor­i­cal exam­ples and walk through the Polasek Gallery and view the cur­rent exhibit, “Shapely Ves­sels: Gourds from Around the World” for inspi­ra­tion.  The work­shop price includes this spe­cial gallery walk­through tour.  Next, stu­dents will sketch and draw out design ideas on paper before trans­fer­ring their con­cept onto their gourd.  Stu­dents will see exam­ples of tra­di­tional tech­niques using sim­ple pat­terns easy enough for begin­ners to dupli­cate.  Every­one will cre­ate a beau­ti­ful and sculp­tural work of art suit­able for dis­play, or to give as a unique gift item. You’ll be amazed and how easy it is to make some­thing so cool; we’re cer­tain you’ll get “gourd fever” with all these dec­o­rat­ing ideas!

All art mate­ri­als and gourds will be pro­vided. Though it is sug­gested that each par­tic­i­pant brings with them a face cov­er­ing such as a ban­danna or paper face mask, as the dust from the gourd prepa­ra­tion and sand­ing may be an irri­tant. “Art friendly” cloth­ing that you don’t mind get­ting dirty or get­ting paint on is also sug­gested. Work­shop will be held rain or shine. Must pre­reg­is­ter at 407 – 647-6294 or, as class size is limited. 

$45 for Museum Members

$50 for Non-Members