Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Terry likes to go out to see the Playoffs.


Craig Miller's Field House (7958 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando FL) is where Terry likes to go to watch football playoff games. We sat at the bar to watch her San Diego Chargers play the Raiders. I used the outing as a sketch opportunity. Miller's has so many large screen TVs, it is hard to know where to look. Each TV was showing a different game and they had small team banners under each set identifying the teams. Since every one's eyes were glued to the games, it made for some easy clandestine sketching.

The Raiders were eliminated from the playoffs with their 13 to 6 loss to the Chargers. Terry was rooting for the Chargers since San Diego California is where she was raised.  The fun in seeing a game in a bar is all the cheering and jeering that goes with every play. The Chargers later lost the final game of the season when a win would have secured a playoff berth. They missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. Terry likes to say that her hometown team always breaks your heart right at the final moment.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Snap offered an Artist Panel Discussion.


On March 28th I went to an Artist Panel Discussion at Snap! Orlando (1013 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL). The exhibit at the time was called Structure and PerspectiveStructure and Perspective examined the intersection of organic and man made forms such as those found in the distinction of body forms and building forms.The artists were Christoph Morlinghaus in the black shirt, Ryan Buyssens in the green stripes, Dan L. Hess in a military shirt and Juan Travieso in the white tee shirt.

Amazingly Dan went to the School of Visual Arts in NYC around the same time I did. He pointed out that the school stressed the importance and rich history of drawing. Children today aren't taught to draw. If they want to make something, they assume there is an application that can do it for them. When Dan starts a drawing, he has no idea where it will go. He has no set final destination. For a long time he has been avoiding painting, so all his works are on paper. Dan and I have much in common.

The large format photos behind the artists were by Christoph. All of his photos are analog taken with a large format camera. He joked, "I wouldn't be a good German if I didn't look for order and structure." The photos were of computer circuitry and the resembled cityscapes. He has been using x-ray film the last 2 years which results in bleak intimate images. He mentioned that social media is resulting in the death of photography. Art has become disposable. He feels that there is an existential crisis due to the overload of images. There is so much to assimilate at the large art fairs like Art Basel in Miami. Art Basel is all about consumption.

Ryan creates animated organic flapping birds wings, crafted from 3D printed, machined and laser-cut parts; “Resistance” is time-based, interactive, mechatronic sculpture that emulates the articulated flapping of bird’s wings. Several sets of these mechanical birds are mounted to a wall and, through various intensities of flapping, respond to the viewer’s movements within the space.

Juan related his childhood memory of fleeing Cuba. Seventy or more people were killed at sea. He watched a man cut in half when he got caught between boats. Because of these memories, Juan paints endangered species. He feels that art is a language and we as artists have a responsibility to carry on the conversation. Art is about how you relate to another human being. The person viewing the art has to want that relationship. Juan taught teachers how to teach art. Line work is the framework for everything. Many students lack an ability to be present in the moment. They don't have the ability to trust the beauty in front of them. To compensate they might take a picture with their phone and work from that. Juan likes to create a body of work over the course of a year without showing anyone. Creating art is like raising dysfunctional children, you want to get them strong enough to kick them out of the house. A piece isn't finished until it goes out into the world.

Smaller cities are where artists can flourish today. NYC isn't the mecca it used to be except for the blue chip artists. You can produce art anywhere and find alternate venues to show it in like Art in Empty Spaces and Pop Up Shops. This artist panel discussion was one of the most enlightening experiences I've had. Snap continues to give the city beautiful a much needed pulse.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Everest packs an emotional punch.


I went to an advance screening of Everest at the Regal Cinemas Pointe Orlando 20 and IMAX at Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Dr, Orlando, FL. When I got in line and started sketching, there were about 30 people ahead of me. I went into the screening with no expectations thinking that it might be like other IMAX films I had scene at the Science Center with lots of scenery and little plot. The line started to move, but Terry still hadn't arrived. If I went in she would not be able to get in the theater. I stepped out of line to wait for her.  Gladys West who had given me my ticket had another to spare, so I got two seats in the third row and then went back out to wait for Terry. When she arrived, we were the last to enter the theater. Thankfully the theater was huge and there were some seats left.

We had both read "Into Thin Air" by John Krakauer so we knew what would happen on this dangerous expedition in May of 1996. The immense five story high movie screen showed a climber dangling from a series of interconnected ladders above a deep crevasse. The film was shot in IMAX 3D and we all had glasses. The films emotional center revolved around Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) who was leading a group of climber up Everest each of whom had paid 50 to 90 thousand dollars for the experience.  His company was called Adventure Consultants. Rob's wife Jan (Keira Knightley) was at home pregnant and he planned to be back in time for the birth of their first child. Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin) confided that in his everyday life, a dark cloud of depression followed him, but when he climbs mountains that cloud is gone.

The film was a gripping cliff hanger. At times the camera moved with ease looking down at the dangerous drops. The climbers had to acclimatize to the altitude over a month's period doing a series of smaller hikes up to the ice field. I actually braced myself several times, feeling vertigo from the heights. Climbing Everest has become a big business with hundreds of people at the base camp. Although some guides tried cooperating, there was also contentious competition among the climbers to get to the top.

There was a small window of opportunity to get to the top of the mountain on May 10, 1996. At midnight the stars sparked in a clear sky and Rob decided to bring his group to the top with a 2pm turn around time. John Krakaur asked each of the climbers why the took the risk to climb Everest. Kasuko Namba (Naoko Mori) from Japan explained that she had climbed 6 of the 7 summits. If she reached the summit of Everest she would be the oldest woman to reach the top. Doug Hansen (John Hawkes) had tried to reach the summit the previous year and had been tuned back by Rob. Every climber had their own reason to reach the top and Rob was tasked with getting them there safely. There were unexpected delays. The climbing Sherpas and guides had not set the fixed ropes by the time the team reached the Balcony (27,395 ft), and this cost the team almost an hour.

Doug once again got close to the summit, but since it was past the turn around time, Rob told him to turn back. Doug could see the top and insisted that Rob let him make the final ascent. When Rob agreed, I knew it was a fatal mistake. A blizzard blew in taking all the climbers by surprise. Snow blindness, hypothermia and lack of oxygen left them vulnerable to the elements.Some made it to camp while others collapsed from the cold. 34 climbers tried for the summit that day but 8 bodies remain on the unforgiving mountain. One in four climbers die trying to reach the summit and yet guided tours continue to bring people up to the death zone in record numbers. This is an incredible film that has to be experienced in IMAX 3D.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Mozart's Cosi Fan Tuti appeared at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.


Florida Opera Theater hired me to create a poster image for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti. The title roughly translated means, thus do they all or more commonly, all women are like that. Two sisters are engaged to two soldiers. The soldiers meet an old philosopher in a pub and when the soldiers brag of their fiance's faithfulness, the philosopher wagers a bet that the women aren't as faithful as the soldiers claim.

The philosopher proclaims that the soldiers have been called away to battle. The sisters are devastated and proclaim their steadfast love.  The soldiers however return dressed as exotic Albanian bachelors and each woos the others fiance. One sister succumbs rather quickly while the other slowly falls in love. This thematic device of fiance swapping was commonly used in Mozart's day.

This stage inside the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts was surprisingly small. The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra had supplied a hand full of musicians who performed in the wings at stage left. Having seen several productions as I researched the poster, I was quite familiar with the story which allowed me the freedom to ignore the subtitle translations projected above the stage. Being in a crowded audience made sketching a challenge since it would be distracting to illuminate the sketch. When I squeezed one of my water brushes, it broke and became a water cannon. It shot at Terry by mistake.

Cosi was a lighthearted comic opera that is easy to digest even for a novice opera fan.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Picks for August 29th and 30th.

Saturday August 29, 2015
11am to 4pm Free. Print Day Sale! Snap! Space, 1013 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL. Limited editions, and or open edition prints from local and international artists selected by Snap! Tables will be set up throughout the space for artists to set up.  Analog Artist Digital World prints will be available.

8pm to 11pm $30 early, $40 at the door. 9th Annual Prom. Orchid Garden at Church Street Station, 126 West Church Street, Orlando, FL.  Mel’s Bad Girls Club Charity Organization has celebrated Prom for the last 8 years benefiting B.A.S.E Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation. It is a chance for adults to experience PROM just like in high school but with no curfew and spiked cocktails! PROM is an excuse for adults to get dressed up, dance, and have a great time and all for a good cause! With each PROM ticket attendees will get to experience handmade decorations, over 1000 balloons, an amazing venue, free desserts, photographs,  The MBGC Band, Live DJ, Entertainment, Chance Drawings and a Silent Auction.

9:30pm to 11:30pm Free with an order of food and or drinks. Son Flamenco. Ceviche Tapas Orlando, 125 W Church St, Orlando, FL.

Sunday August 30, 2015
10am to 12:30pm $10 Crealde Sketch Class. Crealdé School of Art, 600 St Andrews Blvd, Winter Park, FL. Life drawing from  a nude model.

1pm to 3pm Free. Yoga. BYOM (Bring your own mat). Lake Eola Park, 195 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, FL. East end of the park between the red Pagoda and the playground. Every week.

9pm to 11pm Free, but get a coffee. Comedy Open Mic. Austin's Coffee, 929 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL. Free comedy show! Come out & laugh, or give it a try yourself.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa was where The Dutch Book Premiered.


On March 25th I drove to Tampa to see the World Premiere screening of The Dutch Book at the Gasparilla International Film Festival. I did some early storyboards for the director James Repici. I had also just finished painting the movie poster, so I was quite invested in the film. I got to Tampa quite early to do this sketch and get a bite to eat before the film screening.

The story is about Will (Adam Lopez), whose father Billy (Richard Edison), who was once an all star shortstop,  becomes indebted to a dangerous bookie (Keith David). Will launches a scheme to pay off the dept. When a rival bookie, Mel, (Frederico Castelluccio) gets suspicious and an unstable salesman Cal, (Christian Monzon) grows desperate, the whole con is exposed. With everyone jockeying for the loot, Will has to con them all resulting in an explosive conclusion of betrayal and a new beginning.

I had watched the film multiple times to get familiar with the cast as I painted the movie poster. In the movie theater, I recognized the actors who were dressed in their Sunday best for the World Premiere screening. Most of them played desperate thugs in the film but here they looked like movie stars. I sat in the row behind them.  It was fun to see how excited the actors were to see the final edit. The film was being tweaked and refined right up until the screening.

A Dutch Book is a bet that can't go wrong. Knowing that a jockey (J. Benedict Larmore) would have to throw the race, Will bet on every other horse in the field to win. One of those horses would result in a winning bet. Will resisted the urge to bet on the long shot for an even bigger payout but his long time friend couldn't resist. Will is presented as a level headed thinker who gets away with the perfect crime but I suspect that ultimately he isn't escaping his criminal past. He will want to seek the big payout of a sure bet wherever he goes.

After the screening, there was a brief question and answer session with the director and cast. James Repici wrote the screenplay four years ago. On the day that they finished shooting, he got into the Columbia undergrad program. The film is mostly about wanting to leave current circumstances. Adam Lopez and Kristen May, who played Nikki, came from the same circle of actors. They both moved to LA after the film was shot. The next film James plans to direct will take place in Tampa Florida. I recognized many Orlando locations in The Dutch Book, like the Jai Alai Fronton and the Jack Kerouac house. Adam who is the film's lead character was raised in Orlando. Richard Edson was brought in on the film because James met his agent in an airport. Once one big name actor gets on board it gets easier to land other actors. All of Richards scenes were shot first before he had a chance to have second thoughts. Two other big name actors backed out ten days before shooting resulting in a last minute scramble to fill the rolls.

For me, it was exciting to see my name in the credits as a storyboard artist and now my poster is on IMDB to promote the film. The Dutch Book was the winner of the Grand Jury Selection at the Gasperilla International Film Festival,  it was accepted in the San Antonio Film Festival, and  it is an official selection of the Central Florida Film Festival. Mark Your Calendar! The film will screen on Saturday September 5th from 4:10pm to 5:30pm in theater 3 in the West Orange Theater, 1575 Maguire Road Ocoee FL. There are tickets for the entire festival and one day passes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A heated Critique and Conversaiton at the Maitland Art Center.

Gilbert Vicario was the Guest Panelistat the Artist Critique and Conversation at the Maitland Art Center on March 24th. Gilbert is  the Senior Curator at Des Moines Art Center. Natalie Chikhi who came to 0rlado from France was the first artist to show her work. She had a projector to show us digital images of her work. She creates environmental installations using simple materials. The one piece of hers that I have seen in person involved string converging to a point inside a storage container behind Snap Space. The title of the piece was "Nothingness".  Another piece used colorful sheets of paper to create a wave like pattern on a gallery floor. She spoke for a while about the challenges in her life, and concluded that the difficult and challenging moment in life are often the most creative.

Martha Lent is the artist who I decided to include in the sketch. She came from a graphic design background and has started producing very large paintings. Gilbert's comments were rather insipid but he did feel that her smaller works were more refined and complete. I rather admire Martha's bold large work. It must be liberating to use the whole arm and wrist motion to put down a large stroke rather than the hand and finger movements I use to get color on a sketch.

The one critique that got me the most upset was when Daniella Degulimo showed her work. Danielle went to UCF where she got a BFA in painting. She used to do large paintings of things like the BP oil spill, industry versus the environment and urban sprawl. Recently however she has started a series of smaller works on paper that tackle the same themes. These studies use mixed media and have a bold fresh approach. She showed 15 at the critique and wants to complete at least a hundred to show then all together. Gilbert cut her off and said that she was falling into an art trap by wanting to show a large number of pieces together. I completely disagree. I feel she should do 100 then 200 and keep going. She uses photos she takes of the Orlando sprawl she finds and Gilbert basically felt that the photos might be all she needs. He said, "The materials don't make it art." In those few words, he dismissed all of her efforts. I was more than a bit annoyed. I was fuming. I feel she should continue the series but perhaps do more studies on location. Daniella has also done sculptures using straws that replicate the Buckminster Fuller dome. Some of the studies had segmented patterns of the dome incorporated into the sketch. Gilbert dismissed these patterns as being over used and representative of a long lost ideal. I don't think he is enough of an authority to make that assessment. The entire night he seemed detached and even bored. He never once got out of his chair to inspect the art from a closer vantage point.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Forgery, Piracy, or Artistic Licence?


This is a sketch of the opening of Danny Rock's show "The Urban Art Forgers" that was hung in March. I did a drawing of Danny working in his garage studio on one of the pieces for this show. In response to that article, I got an e-mail from a Tampa artist named John LaFree. This is part of that e-mail...

"On February 23, a Facebook follower of mine messaged me with the discovery that another artist (Danny Rock) had not only forged an illustration of mine, the "Arrogant Airedale" and signed it as his own original idea.... and proudly proclaimed on Facebook that he had SOLD IT. And not only sold it... But had the audacity to state in his post "Support Local Art Always." Now, first and foremost, I am flattered that Mr. Danny Rock thought so highly of my illustration that he felt compelled to replicate it. That's what he does. I get that. The issue that I want to point out to you is that your article quotes him as saying that "All the reproductions are open domain." However, the artist that you featured forged MY artwork - the work of a local artist - placed his signature on it and sold the piece.... Without giving any indication that he recreated an original idea from an artist an hour and a half away... Without consent. The artwork is absolutely NOT open domain. I own the copyright and intellectual property. Yet, he forged it and gladly accepted payment AS IF it was his own original idea. In fact, the piece that I drew was one of over 50 different illustrations that I created as a commission for a children's dog-themed card game produced by Greymalkin Designs. My commission and involvement ended with the final illustration. But because of the recent events, I have reached out to them. Looks like the game is "coming soon" and has been renamed as "Pooched".
Once we learned of the forgery, we immediately contacted Danny Rock via his Facebook page and voiced our displeasure. Within hours, the post was deleted. And as a "Thank You" to the Facebook follower who alerted us to the issue (who is a volunteer with the National Airedale Rescue), we created a week long sale on our site to benefit the NAR. I encourage you to view my website as well as Facebook and Instagram to get a full understanding of how hard My wife and I work to market myself as an artist."

The irony is that this show at  Loft 55 Gallery and Boutique, (55 West Church Street, Suite 114 Orlando FL) was a show about forgery. All the paintings were replicas painted by Danny Rock. Ashley Small is a partner and director of marketing for this small storefront gallery. These types of boutique galleries are becoming increasingly popular. Ashley has an amazingly kind heart. She spoke to several disadvantaged individuals who stopped by the opening, and she took the time to listen to their stories, which is in itself a gift.

I asked Danny about the issue of the Airedale. He explained that the client had insisted that he use a very specific reference to do the painting. This client could have probably purchased a print from John in Tampa for less than the commission paid to Danny. Danny admitted that he made a mistake in copying the art and he is willing to head to Tampa with me if or when I sketch John's studio. John has moved on from this incident deciding it isn't a large enough issue to stay upset about. Danny said it was an isolated incident and he learned from this mistake.

There have been quite a few incidents where people have lifted my sketches offline to promote their events or neighborhoods. The Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival used one of my sketches without asking me to promote this event which features Artists from around the country, so I understand John's frustration. My work, done at art openings often has small postage stamp sized reproductions of others artists paintings in the context of the sketch. These sketches are meant to promote that artists work. Part of me wonders if I am infringing on that artists copyright. Is a sketch of another artists work always a theft?  Since these drawings done at openings seldom sell, I might be safe. My work is so loose, rough and simplified that there must be plausible deniability. So many artists in town work from reference from photographers they have never met. Pop culture seems up for grabs. Is every image online considered public domain? Movies proclaim that piracy isn't a victim less crime. Are all artists in this digital age pirates? Pablo Picasso said, "Good artists copy, great artists steal." Perhaps copying means a direct forgery but when we steal, we make it our own.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Orlando's best chefs were at Taste of the Nation.


Taste of the Nation was held at Orlando World Center Marriott on August 8th. Money raised at the 26th annual gala went to Share our Strength, Coalition for the Homeless and Second Harvest Food Bank. Taste of the Nation is the nation's premier culinary benefit dedicated to making sure no kids go hungry. Each spring and summer, the nations hottest chefs and mixologists donate their time, talent and passion at nearly 40 Taste of the Nation events across the United States and Canada with one goal in mind, to raise critical funds.needed to end childhood hunger.

I have sketched and reported on this gala for the past few years. In the past, Disney's Artist Point was lavishly decorated but this year there was no decoration, it was strictly about the food. Orlando World Marriott Center however never fails to amaze with the way they present their food. This year's display was almost circus like with changing lights and tall  lighting supports acting as towers. It was a quick and easy decision to sketch this display. The deserts being offered were even more impressive in their artistry and taste.

Several times I was offered food and drink, but I always resist the temptation until the sketch is complete. By the time I get to try some of the samples, there are no longer any lines at the tables. My first bite was a light mac and cheese from Old Hickory Steakhouse at Gaylord Palms. I washed it down with a tiny bottle of "Smoked Bourbon Blackberry Tea" from Orlando Airport Marriott Lakesite, which had a flavorful kick.  The Tea which included smoked Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Darjeeling tea, hibiscus, lemon peel and strawberry.The tiny bottle was genius because I could tuck it away in my suit pocket and leave my hands for the plate and utensils. I heard that some patrons were hoarding the brew in every imaginable pocket. When I went back to try a second bottle, they were gone.

My second taste was at Yak and Yeti from Disney's Wild Kingdom. They served a pork cheek spicy taco. The tasty taco danced on the edge of my spicy hot tolerance levels. I ate it but wasn't tempted to try another. Cassa Bella served Sausage Capella which was quite delicious. I then ended my tasting spree back at the Orlando World Center Marriott to try their creative deserts. These gorgeous deserts were the perfect taste to complete the night.

In the hall outside the Ballroom, a Japanese sugar artist, Sugimori "Candy" Miyukiwas, busy sculpting candy creations for patrons. The candy was hot with a consistency of taffy. She would sculpt a horse, dragonfly, or any creature imaginable in a matter of minutes. Her hands moved with nimble dexterity. The line for the free candy creations was long. Last year $301,317 was raised at the Orlando Taste of the Nation to fight hunger, I have no doubt that just as much, if not more, was raised this year.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Visit offers redemption laced with fear.


Gladys West from Elite Animation Academy gave me tickets to see a free test screening of M. Night Shamalan's "The Visit" at Cinemark Movie Theater in Artegon Marketplace 5150 International Drive Orlando FL. The free ticket warned that attendees should arrive early since the screening was on a first come basis. I decided to arrive early and sketch the line as it formed. 20 people were already in line. I asked the couple who were last in line, if I could squeeze in behind them after I finished my sketch.

People at the front of the line talked about the latest roll playing game. It made me wonder if there was a Comic Con in town. One guy in line sort of looked like Jesus, and his friends joked that he should audition for the roll of Jesus at Holy Land. Since he is an atheist, he wasn't the right man for the job.  A security officer from Burbank California looked over my shoulder to check out the sketch. Her job was to make sure everyone turned off their cell phones before the movie started.

With the sketch done, I got back in line. The guys behind me were talking about an incident of road rage on an I-4 off ramp. The guy said that if his family wasn't in the car then he would have killed the other driver. Jesus! I assume that every other driver on the road is as impatient as this guy. Even so you can't escape everyone's rage. The line started to move and Terry, my wife hadn't arrived yet. I had to hope that she would be able to force her way in without a ticket. I put my art supplies in the seat next to me to hold her seat, but as the theater grew more crowded, I got uncomfortable turning people away. Luckily the theater didn't fill up completely.

"The Visit" wasn't what I expected. Everyone in the theater was braced for a scare. The film was set up like a documentary shot by a young brother and sister. Their mom had left her parents home twenty years earlier and never spoke to her parents again. Her parents looked her up on the Internet and they wanted to meet their grand children. The two children were sent off on their own by train to visit their grand parents whom they had never met in an isolated farm house upstate. The grand parents turn out to be more than a little strange, if not insane. What gives the film heart is that the young daughter is shooting a documentary in the hopes of finding an elixir for her mother's guilt. Rather than horror, most scenes were laced with laugh out loud humor. As scenes grew darker and more sinister, laughter offered relief. Like in the "Sixth Sense" there was one unexpected twist that truly had the audience on the edge of their seats. The grandpa turned out to be scarier than Freddy Kruger and the grandma was as creepy as a Japanese ghost. Sun downers was the clinical explanation but she went way beyond that diagnosis. Terry grabbed my sleeve every time the tension built.

The Visit turned out to be a film with true heart. I give the film eight Yatzys. You really need to see the film to believe it. The fact that many people in the test audience had waited hours to get in the theater, meant that we had a very lively audience. The film is scheduled to open nation wide on September 11th.