Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A panel discussion helped students learn about Theater.

John DiDonna, who is the Program Chair/Artistic Director of the Theater Department at Valencia College's East Campus, organized a panel discussion with some of Orlando's biggest talents. The event was held in the community area right next to the campus Black Box Theater in front of the gallery which had a show of black and white photos documenting racism in Central Florida.

Beth Marshal started off the discussion, Mike Deaven and Anastasia Stacy are integral to her production company, Beth Marshall Presents. Beth basically stressed that students should have realistic expectations if they want to get into the theater business. When I sketch at Beth's auditions, Mike is always there to play opposite someone in scenes. He is Beth's assistant. Anastasia is Beth's son's girlfriend and she has become indispensable as Beth's Stage manager. Students who go into theater tend to think they will start making over $30,000 a year, but realistically most actors, directors and stage hands all need to have a day job to pay the bills. The only way to work your way into theater is through patience, perseverance and endless determination.

Alana McMillan Friskes is the Executive Director of the Garden Theatre. I love that historic Theater with its star studded indoor ceiling. Built in 1935, it was the first movie theater built for "talkies." The theater underwent several renovations before closing in 1963. It was then converted into a farm supply store. The Winter Garden Heritage Foundation, restored the Garden Theatre which  reopened in February of 2008. With over 200 events per season, has quickly become a shining star on Plant Street. Alana has been integral in bringing live theater to the stage in Winter Garden.

James Brendlinger, who is the Chairman of the Department of Arts & Communications at Lake Howell High, School, is also the founder of Penguin Point Productions. James helped build and organize a huge expanded Costume Room which is an incredible resource for the theater community. I know that he collaborated with Beth Marshall Productions on Hoodies which was a powerful production at this year's Orlando International Fringe Festival. The Central Florida Theater community is small and very interconnected. A strong reputation takes time to build, but a bad reputation is quickly discovered by everyone in this tight knit community.

Aradhana Tiwari spoke about how she admired the work of a director at Mad Cow Theatre. She had never done this before, but she asked to shadow the director to find out how he worked. He then left the theatre and Aradhana was promoted to the position of being Mad Cow's resident director. John DiDonna shouted out "She is essentially the Artistic Director." This is a fine parable about how curiosity and drive can lead to unexpected breaks in this business. I learned things about the Central Florida Theater Community, and I've been sketching from the sidelines for years. This must have been an eye opening experience for students just starting out in theater.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bikini Ad Space turned heads at Fringe.

Katie Thayer, an attractive local actress and comedian, came up with the idea of Bikini Ad Space at the Orlando International Fringe Festival several years ago. The idea is pure genius and simple. She wears a sexy bikini and you can body paint your message on any of her prime body parts. Her lower shins, and her upper or lower arms, front and back go for $5 each. $10 gets prime exposure on her upper calves, front and back, and her belly. You can "get cheeky" by purchasing ad space on both butt cheeks for $15. Of course the most expensive ad space is the $20 chest ad which can nestle in her cleavage.

We bumped into Katie on the first day of the Fringe Sketch Tour and arranged to sketch her the next day. She works inside the Shakespeare Theater lobby which is always crowded with people buying tickets and waiting for shows. She had her leg propped up on a table covered with show flyer's. The layer of flyer's was an inch thick which meant you often had to dig down to find a flyer for the show you were interested in. Usually clients had the opportunity to paint their ad on Katy's flesh. In this rare instance Katy was painting her own ad to get people to vote for Bikini Ad Space as the best "Bring Your Own Venue" in The Daily City Audience Choice Awards. I don't know if she won that honor.

Cootie Catcher in the red venue had purchased the prime cleavage ad space while Valence had invested in belly ad space. I saw valance, an introspective dance performance that inspected touch in human interactions, but I never saw Cootie Catcher. My sketch protege sketched me sketching Katy and I'm sure photos were shot which made it a very "Meta" performance. The day before, Katy had left her kit of brushed behind and it vanished. Luckily she found a loose brush in the bottom of her bag, but it was a rather blunt brush which meant she couldn't add any refined touches. I offered her one of my brushes but she was too proud to take it. I hope that the ads she sold will help pay for a new set of brushes because quality brushes are expensive. Her palette was a clear plastic plate. Friends stopped to ask her advice on the best shows to see. Katy had seen tons of shows, so she was a great resource.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sterio Type performed at the Fringe Outdoor Stage.

Stereo Type which hails from Daytona Beach, Florida performed at the Fringe Outdoor Stage. Band members include, Vincent Victor Oath on Guitar and Lead Vocals, Brian Topp on Drums. Their genre is Punk and Hard Rock. We came across the band performing during the Fringe Sketch Tour. Music sets on the outdoor stage are seldom over an hour long and usually much less, so I rushed to get something on the page. My Sketch Tour protege was a bit tired, having already done about 5 drawings that day. She decided to listen to the music and just watch me work. In a sense this sketch became a demonstration on how to work fast and furious. Hopefully it helped.

The music was also fast and furious as band members banged their heads to the beat. When sketching live performances, the beat and rhythm often work their way into every line and wash on the sketch. After the initial frustrations subside, I often reach a point where I'm no longer drawing things, but a feeling or flow through the scene. It is magic when it happens but I'm to harsh a critic to decide if it worked. I put the sketch aside and start hunting for my next scene to capture.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tears of a Tyrant performed on the outdoor stage at Fringe.

On the Fringe Sketch Tour we stopped to sketch Tears of a Tyrant on the outdoor stage. They had a colorful tie-die banner as a backdrop. Danielle Dart was the lead singer with a purple floral garland in her hair. She had a dreamy way of closing her eyes as she sang that was quite endearing. Jester Cordell accompanied her on acoustic guitar. There are usually two other members in the band, but I guess they couldn't make it out to this pro bono gig. They classify their music as Groovy  Classic Rock and Southern Rock.

To me this adorable couple personified the young Central Florida hipster           . ideal with their flip flops and ultra casual attire.  This casual attire is something I love about Orlando. No matter what event you go to in O-town there will be people in tee shirts and flip flops. If you went to a similar event in NYC, everyone would be dressed in black and wearing designer names in an effort to impress. Orlando has plenty of raw care free talent.

Well perhaps not care free. It is hard to make a living as an artist in Orlando. There is a constant exodus out of this town to other cities that are more supportive of the arts. As the 2015 Tallahassee Legislative Special Session came to a close, the film, TV and digital media industry was excluded from the budget again this year. This marks 3 straight years this program has gone without funding. Additionally the proposed budget includes a staff and budget reduction to the State Office of Film and Entertainment. This is why many actors and film makers go out of state to create films.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Picks for June 27th and 28th.

Saturday June 27, 2015
10am to 4pm Free. LibCon. Orlando Public Library 101 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL. A day-long celebration of books at the Orlando Public Library. Come and check it out for book signings, panel discussion, and writing workshops!
The Author’s Fair in Library Central will feature 26 authors of all genres from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. NYT Bestselling Author and Printz Honor recipient Rick Yancey will give the keynote address at 11 a.m. and sign immediately after his talk. Yancey’s book The 5th Wave is now a major motion picture, releasing 2016. From 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., there will be panel discussions for both readers and aspiring authors.
Attending authors are: R.L. Austin, Kait Ballenger, Vivi Barnes, Stacy Barton, Richard Lee Byers, E.M. Caines, Doug Dillon, Lucienne Diver, James Driggers, Christina Farley, Maria Geraci, Lori Goldstein, Shane Hinton, Nathan Holic, Trisha Leaver, Ethan Long, Tawdra Kandle, Marianne Kirby, David Lapham, Lynne Matson, Amy Christine Parker, H.D. Smith, J.A. Souders, Jeff Strand, Nancy Robards Thompson, Lynne Waddell. (Subject to change.)

11am to 4pm Free. Snap! Orlando presents : 'Snap! Book Day' 1013 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, Florida. Enjoy a quiet afternoon mimosa and coffee with art and photo books, Limited Edition European periodicals, magazines and art guides. This is the kick-off to a recurring event held on select Saturdays at Snap! Space.
Collectors are willing to pay steep prices for the world’s finest art and photography books. We’ll be showcasing signed rare editions from the likes of Duane Michals, Gottfried Helnwein, Irwin Olaf, Mei Xian Qiu, Sebastiao Salgado, Tom Chambers, Zun Lee, Viviane Sassen and many more. Sometimes these books have captured an era or a location, sometimes they have helped to coin an artistic trend, most often they are simply the finest work of a particular artist or photographer.
Along with art and photography books, we will showcase the best periodicals in fashion, European magazines, photo magazines and architectural guides. Post and current editions will be on view for your perusing pleasure! Also on view is our current exhibition, ‘LIFE IN REAL TIME.’
Free parking in Snap! Space’s lot on Thornton Ave. behind the building. Snap! Space is the 5,000 sq. ft. indoor/outdoor gallery home of Snap! Orlando, a 501(c) 3 charitable foundation with the mission to celebrate master photographers, and artists, discover and cultivate emerging talent and promote the appreciation of photography and art worldwide. www.snaporlando.com

2pm to 4pm Free. The Warriors Party and Charity Event. Rogue Pub 3076 Curry Ford Rd, Orlando, Florida. Come out and play Saturday, June 27th starting at 2p for a Warriors themed charity event benefiting the Pug Rescue of Florida. Enjoy a Warrior themed draft line-up, costume contest, purchase some Warrior inspired art from local artists and get a chance to meet some of the awesome pups from the Pug Rescue! http://warriorsparty.com/hello-world/

Sunday June 28, 2015
10am to Noon Free. Super Joy Riders. Eastern entrance of the Lake Eola Farmers’ Market. Participants dress as superheroes and ride en masse around the city as they check off their scavenger hunt-like list of Do Gooder Duties; collecting litter, helping senior citizens cross the road, returning shopping carts, basically performing small acts of kindness for an hour and a half of hilarity and love.
The Super Joy Riders: Do Gooder Bike Ride is an exercise in community organizing and active engagement. We hope to use the ride as an opportunity to show how helping people can be simple, fun, and easy, especially while wearing a cape.

You + Superhero Costume + Bike = Best Sunday Ever
We are inviting Orlando to come with us on a fun filled bike ride of awesomeness on the last Sunday of the month. Dress like a superhero, hop on a bike, and follow our scavenger hunt list of Good Deeds as we all try to save the world with small acts of kindness.
Look for the capes!

Noon to 2pm Free but get some food. Florida Gospel Jam. Fish on Fire 7937 Daetwyler Drive Belle Isle FL. Every 2nd and 4th Sunday. 

1pm to 3pm Free but get a coffee. Irish Music. Olivia's Coffee House, 108 N Bay St, Eustis, FL. http://www.oliviascoffeehouse.com/

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Grim and Fisher was part mime, part puppetry and pure magic.

Grim and Fisher produced by Wonderheads from Portland Oregon was in the Silver Venue at this years Orlando International Fringe Festival. They were the creators of last years Fringe hit Loon, so my expectations were high.

Grim and Fisher was an epic showdown between a dour faced Grim Reaper and a lively and determined granny. The set consisted of a simple rocking chair and a side table with a tiny box on top of it. Much of the first act consisted of the Granny messing with a repairman who came to her apartment to repair her TV. When he needed to use the bathroom, he was surprised because every time he touched the door, loud farts would emanate from inside. I guess this established the granny as an "old fart" but when she came out holding a whoopee cushion is also established her as having a sense of humor.

When Grim comes for the old lady, she doesn't go willingly. When she gives him the tiny box, he is won over when he discovers it is a music box. He forgets his job and shows his more human side for a moment. It reminded me of the food critic's scene when he tastes the rats sumptuous food for the first time. The granny puts her former husband's coat on Grim and they dance.

When Grim realizes he has a job to do, the old lady battles for her life. In the end she does walk towards the light perhaps finally reunited with her long lost husband. The show for me wasn't as magical as Loon. I knew from the start that death always wins. It made the battle to live a little sad.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Serafina's belly dance at Fringe.

Although Phantasmagoria didn't have a stage show, they were listed in the Fringe program as Bring Your Own Venue. On the first day of my Sketch Tour they seemed to be everywhere at once. While we were waiting in line for Grim and Fisher at the Rep Theater, Phantasmagoria swept into the lobby to entertain everyone waiting in line. For those who don't know, (where have you been) Phantasmagoria is a Gothic Steampunk storytelling group that blends dance, aerial work, fire performance and combat into the mix as they weave their horrific tales.

Serafina Schiano began an exotic belly dance. I agonized about how much time I might need to catch the dance. The line started to inch forward and I kept adding watercolor washes to the sketch as we moved towards the entrance. When Serafina was done, I followed her with my eyes to try and catch details of her costume. This is why some sketches can seem rushed and unfinished, because life and performance rushes by. It is a challenge to catch the flash of a moment. That is what makes sketching on location fun, exciting and challenging. Even if unfinished in my mind, I have to accept what I can accomplish in the time that I have and move on. That is a fair analogy to life in general.

The lobby of the Rep is always full of art by school children during Fringe. Most of the work is tight and struggling towards realism. None of the art seems rushed or hurried. This is the problem I have when painting digitally. Since it is all new to me I'm far to cautious and what results has too much polish. I've started carrying my tablet out on location with me but it is seldom used. In a dark theater, its glow would distract others and outside in the Florida sun the screen isn't bright enough.  I wish the screen were larger but the market trend it towards smaller tablets. It is like carrying a hot brick.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Of course the Kids Fringe had a Unicorn Bounce House.

On each morning of the Fringe Sketch Tour, we would start at Kids Fringe, warming up by sketching the kids stretching under the supervision of a Voci Dancer. After that, we would start the hunt for another subject. This Unicorn Bounce House was in the shade of a huge Live Oak Tree. There was always a line of parents escorting their children to the entrance. Oddly the Unicorn had a sand bag on her head. At first I thought it might be an icepack since the Unicorn might have partied too hard the night before. If that was the case, then having those children bouncing inside couldn't have helped her unsettled stomach.

I did this sketch to demonstrate the idea of covering the sketch with as few large washes as possible. The Unicorn and all of the foreground was covered with a blue wash for shadows and the local color of the bounce house.  I encouraged Gay to leave the lightest areas at the window where you see a child bouncing and around the Unicorn's head. The eye is attracted to the areas where there is the most contrast. I put a yellow band across the middle of the sketch to symbolize bright sunlight. Distant trees were treated with the lightest blue-green wash to imply aerial perspective. I also taught Gay to remove objects that over complicated the scene. For instance there were branches and moss directly behind the unicorn's head, but I removed those in the sketch to give the Unicorn head a clean silhouette.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mr. Harley entertained at Kids Fringe.

On May 23rd, Mr. Harley was the first act at the Kid's Fringe tent at the Mennello Museum. My mural, "Whose line is it anyway?" was at my back as I sketched. It offered a colorful backdrop and it was nice to see it with so much vibrant activity around it.

Mr. Harley played light hearted music for the kids. This sketch was a quick demo for my student on how to use a few quick blocks of color to cover the whole sketch. The Kids Fringe tent was the perfect spot to start each day's Sketch Tour since the kids would do early morning stretches to start their morning. While they were stretching it made sense to get sketching. The green lawn of fabulousness in Lock Haven park is very quiet in the morning. This is probably because it rocked so hard the night before.

 Since I was hosting the Sketch Tour, I was able to do far more Fringe Sketches than I usually would. I've trained myself to just get one sketch a day at any event I go to so that I can have some kind of home life as well. There are so many free acts at the outdoor stages so you could spend a whole day at the Fringe without paying to go to a theatrical production. The Shakes, Rep,Orlando Museum of Art and the Venue all have air conditioning however, so the temptation to sit inside a cool theater eventually takes hold.

As part of the Sketch Tour package, I offered Fringe buttons so it made sense to eventually introduce the idea of sketching the shows themselves. Sketching in a theater has it's challenges and I pointed out my tips and tricks to get a sketch even when the house lights go black.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The 11 O'Clock Number presented an Improvised Musical at this year's Fringe.

Grindstone Theater from Edmonton Canada presented The 11 O'clock Number at this year's Orlando International Fringe Festival. They managed to stage a fully improvised musical built around a prompt from the audience. From our audience they decided to use an entertainment lawyer who liked working from the beach. What made it even more funny is that the actress playing the part of the entertainment lawyer really had no idea what an entertainment lawyer actually did. It became an ongoing joke as she guessed about her role.

The plot centered around a spoiled child star and her sister who felt she could be a star as well if she were only given a chance. The villain was a scheming producer who wanted to have the kid sign her life away.  Every song was heart felt and yet hilarious. There is some major talent involved in making up lyrics on the fly. The music must have been established in rehearsals with the piano accompaniment, but the new lyrics were amazing. The result was a solid hour of laughter. This was entertaining improv at it's best.