With "multicultural" being this year's interior design buzzword, home decor elements suggestive of ancient lands are making inroads in the United States, as well as in Central Florida. A case in point: the mixed media " by Winter Park artist Don Howard. Bearing the influence of Howard's many visits to Mexico, his large wall plagues evoke the look of stone Aztec or Incan temple deities. Other pieces draw upon African imagery, with angular mask-like faces that invite viewers to create their own mythological context.

specifically recounts when a member of the local band Ghetto Blasters inquired if he could purchase one of Howard's more pricey plaques via installments. Impressed by the young man's enthusiasm for the piece, Howard made an exception to his pay-up-front policy.
Plaques range in price from $60 for an 11-inch work to $700 for one that's 4 to 5 feet tall. Says Howard in his typical modest, understated style: "It's something different." By appointment only; 2881 Carew Ave., Winter Park; (407) 647-6507.

Each papier-mâché plaque is mounted upon a pressed wood backing, then skillfully painted, varnished and antiqued to create a stone or wood look (other materials Howard utilizes include tile, sand, wire and plastic).

With an average size ranging in height from 20 inches to 3 feet, the dramatic, one-of-a-kind pieces make a definite statement.

So far, Howard has sold several of his large-scale plagues to a Los Angeles Mexican restaurant and The Mill restaurant in Atlanta. Local showings at downtown venues, including Harold and Maude's and The Blue Room, have garnered a following for his unique work among downtown's bohemian set.

His wife and public-relations agent, Joanne,