MOCA Jacksonville – Downtown for the Holidays

December 3, 2014
3 mins read

MOCA Jacksonville has been through many changes over the last few decades, and has been in its current (and seemingly permanent) location across from Hemming Park since 1999. The former Western Union Telegraph Building was built in the early 1930s, and its gorgeous Art Deco architecture was restored when the museum moved in. Together with the Main Library, the institution is a must-see downtown destination. There are still many in Jacksonville who haven’t made it to MOCA yet, and those on the other side of the spectrum who are frequent visitors, but there’s something for everyone this holiday season.

Angela Strassheim at exhibit installation photo: Fran Ruchalski
Angela Strassheim at exhibit installation
photo: Fran Ruchalski

The current controversy abuzz (see Post to Post Links II error: No post found with slug "art-not-porn") is almost reason enough to go and see Angela Strassheim’s exhibit in the Atrium. If that’s your only reason, however, you may find the exhibition disappointingly tame; MOCA’s hosted much grittier stuff before. Strassheim’s photos are classically inspired, placing art history references in a contemporary context, the subjects often tender and transitive. The artist’s detail-oriented compositions and use of light are masterful and impressive. As with all of the Project Atrium offerings, this is an exhibit intended to be viewed from many points in the museum, and you’ll want to return to it many times to take in each vantage point. This Wednesday December 3rd at Art Walk is an excellent opportunity to check it out for free.

Sharing the same theme of classically inspired contemporary art is the exhibit Get Real: New American Painting, which features works from Haley Hasler, Jason John, Andrea Kowch, Bryan LeBoeuf, Jenny Morgan, Kevin Muente, Frank Oriti, and Kevin Peterson. The exhibition runs through January 4, 2015, and has some notable events to accompany it. On Thursdays around 5pm and Fridays around 2pm for the duration of the exhibit, you can catch the Jason John Studio Experience on the third floor. John is a contemporary realist painter, as well as a professor at UNF, and the Experience provides a rare insight into a working artist’s method. On December 11th at 1pm and 7pm, the MOCA Jacksonville Book Club will meet to discuss Andrew Wyeth: A Secret Life and take a guided tour of Get Real. Wyeth’s inspiration can be found in many of the exhibit’s pieces.

Other key exhibitions in the museum showcase the talents of UNF, the institution which acquired the museum in 2009. The Art + Design Faculty Exhibition runs through January 18, 2015, and features a diverse body of work in painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, and ceramics. Starting December 14th, MOCA will host its first-ever UNF Student Residency, Erica Mendoza: Visual Love Letters. Sculpture student Erica Mendoza has been working in a studio space in MOCA and will be ready to reveal a series of pieces “focused on personal themes of love, loss, and healing.”

Of course, we can’t talk about the holidays at MOCA without talking about shopping and the notoriously glamorous New Year’s Eve. There are tons of unique gifts to be had, and a Carla Rose Jewelry By Design trunk show will be on December 11th. The jeweler herself will be demonstrating her delicate weaving technique. Moving onto NYE, this year’s theme is a Mad Hatter’s Ball. The city’s swankiest ball drop will also feature dancing, gambling, hors d’oeuvres, and an open bar.

That should be enough to cover your calendar this month! For information on all of these events and exhibits, visit

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