Right to Left: Leslie Salas, Nicole Oquendo, Wilson Santos, and Amy Watkins
If you ask Wilson Santos what he does, be prepared to hang around for a while to get the full answer. In addition to serving as an Associate Course Director in Full Sail’s English department, Wilson is a poet, a filmmaker, a musician and producer, a DJ, and, with the opening of a new creative arts space last month, a small business owner.
“I designed and built a lot of the furniture in the space, so I guess you can add furniture maker to the list,” laughs Wilson.
Like its founder, Vinyl Arts Bar defies easy categorization. Situated between downtown Orlando and the vibrant Mills-50 district, the space is at once hip and familiar—one might even call it cozy. Vintage furnishings lend an air of nostalgia to the place, while the low lighting, ambient music, and vinyl records incorporated into the decor harken back to the bar’s namesake.
“It was important to me that the space play into a sense of discovery,” says Wilson. “We carry original artwork by local artists, and we plan on bringing in new exhibits every month. As the artwork changes, the vibe of the space will change.”
The venue offers a variety of entertainment options, including dance nights, open mics, and interactive demonstrations. On the night we wandered in to check it out, Wilson and his business partner Will were hosting a reading by three female poets: Leslie Salas, Amy Watkins, and Nicole Oquendo. In addition to their creative work, the women have another thing in common—they’re all members of the Full Sail faculty.
“The best part of this event was getting to read with my Full Sail family,” said Nicole. “Walking in and seeing so many of my colleagues and friends made me feel really at home, which was wonderful, because I tend to get nervous before events.”
The night’s readings explored a wide scope of perspectives on what it means to be an identifying female.
“We all ended up reading pieces about relationships,” said Amy. “Leslie’s poems have this ambivalence about domesticity, which is real and beautiful. And Nicole’s are about the complications of identity and how that fits into a relationship, which is complex and beautiful. And mine end with marriage and a child, which is sort of a complication to love in and of itself.”
“We did not plan that,” added Leslie. “I had no idea what everyone else was going to read, and I just hoped for the best. A natural theme emerged, and I think it turned out really well.”
Wilson says he hopes to tap into the Full Sail community for future events. “We have a lot of talented people at Full Sail. I would love to provide a place for students to hold film screenings or showcase their music. Hopefully I can use my position to open those doors for students.”
Vinyl Arts Bar is located at 75 E. Colonial Drive in Orlando. They’re open from 7 p.m.- 12 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Check out their Facebook page for a full listing of events.