Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ace Cafe Orlando.

This was my first time going to Ace Cafe Orlando which opened in the former offices of the Orlando Weekly across from the main Lynx Bus Terminal. Pam Schwartz had been here before and she told me that the BLT sandwich was decadent. The menu cover had old historic photos with some of the history of the place. Ace slowly filled up until it was packed around the time the sun set. Ozzie Osborn and other heavy metal bands were shouting on the TVs that lined the dining area. With all the noise, I couldn't actually pick out any lyrics.

The Over the Top BLT was indeed a monster of a sandwich. The thickly cut Applewood Smoked Bacon was caramelized along with Iceberg lettuce and vine ripened tomatoes. The Texas Toast was super thick and covered in an extra layer of crispy Cheddar Crust with Herb Mayonnaise on the outside of the sandwich which made it particularly messy to eat. I ended up cutting it up and eating it with my fork. The bacon tasted like candy. The sandwich was served in a metal mesh bread basket which made it tough to cut the sandwich up. The solid crust of cheddar cheese on the bottom of the sandwich was particularly hard to cut through. Despite the eating logistics, it was quite delicious.

After sunset, trucks began to line up outside the restaurant. This was simply an opportunity for gear heads to check out other 4 X 4 rigs. Small jeeps were predominant, but there were several rigs with lifted suspensions and even lights underneath the chassis. I used to own a yellow 4 X 4 Xterra which I rigged up with an Australian deer guard and winch. The winch got me out of several tight spots. I dented up that truck when I was going over a log between two trees and the truck leaned over and hit a tree which smashed a tail light and dented the back chassis. I filled and sanded the dent with Bondo but had to pay to get a decent touch up paint job. Owning a 4 X 4 is expensive, especially if you go mudding often.

My little Toyota Prius got stuck in the mud several weeks ago when Pam and I went to the Thai Festival. She managed to rock the Prius free by pushing on the hood as I eased the accelerator. From my 4 X 4 experience in soft sand, I knew not to gun the accelerator and dig my tires deeper into the mud.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Imperial at Washburn Imports

The Imperial at Washburn Imports (1800 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801), is a neighborhood bar housed in a furniture store offers micro-brews and boutique wines, plus patio seating. I met staff from Dix.Hite and Partners here when they wanted advice on setting up a sketch outing at lake Eola. Greg Bryla in particular  is a very talented Urban Sketcher. The firm designs environmental landscape settings and is now designing a temporary improvement to the Pulse Nightclub setting.

The sketch walk they organized was very well organized. They even catered food after all the sketching was done, although Orlando bike police insisted they take down the table that was set up to serve the food.

An Orlando city ordinance prohibits sharing food with large groups in downtown parks more than twice a year. Members of Food not Bombs were arrested in Lake Eola Park in 2011 for feeding the homeless. A compromise was ultimately found in which they can share vegan food at Orlando City Hall every Monday morning and Wednesday night.

Our group was maybe 10 artists and landscape architects in all and not homeless but the ordinance still stands. So don't think you can have a large family picnic in the park, especially with a table, you will be shut down. The food that Dix.Hite served was home made Polynesian fare that was delicious.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hurricane Irma rips into the Orange County Regional History Center's Collection Facility

After weathering Hurricane Irma, a category 2 hurricane, I helped Pam Schwartz to clean up all the broken tree limbs in her yard. Her property is gorgeously landscaped but that meant she had tons of fallen branches. The pile we built curbside was, and still is, 10 feet wide and as high as my hips. We bagged the smaller branches and those were picked up, but the rest of the debris is still on her lawn killing the grass, but providing home to many snakes. She was without power for the week.

We were exhausted from moving so much debris but late that afternoon she said she had to stop by the Orange County Regional History Center off-site facility. She just wanted to see that everything was OK. The plan was to do a quick check and then pick up some food. We hadn't eaten all day, there was too much to do.

En route, my phone warned me that there was potential flooding. Within the next quarter mile, sure enough the road looked like a river. Her SUV made it through without a hitch. It was getting near sunset when we drove up to the facility. We were shocked by the view. The large parking lot in front of the building looked like a lake. We parked on the far side of the lake and took our shoes off to wade across. The water was up above my knees in the deepest section of the lot. In hind site we should have checked to be sure there were no downed power lines. Luckily we weren't electrocuted.

The warehouse is a bit above the parking lot level and the front entry of the facility was clear with no water. Then we entered the conservation room where most of the work to preserve Pulse memorial items had been done. The ceiling panels were soaked, and several waterlogged panels had fallen to the floor. The panels must burst on impact under their own weight because shards were scattered everywhere. Pam groaned.

Pam is the chief curator of the Orange County Regional History Center. This is a curator's worst nightmare, secondhand only to fire. With just two panels missing in the conservation room, the damage didn't look too bad. Boxes on the floor had soaked up the water. Pam asked me to salvage a box of Pulse related archives, cards and notes of remembrance. I lifted the waterlogged box and then took all the papers and laid them out to dry in the break room. So much work had gone into preserving the memorial items from Pulse. They had been saved from the afternoon rainstorms that are consistent on any summer day in Orlando at the memorial sites. Now they needed to be saved once again.

After cleaning up much of the mess in the conservation room, Pam called me outside. A giant double rainbow now arched above the newly formed parking lot lake. Maybe things were looking up. Then, back inside, Pam opened up the double doors that lead into the main area of the storage facility. She let out a gasp. I couldn't see around her. The damage wasn't limited to the conservation room we had been working on. Ceiling panels had collapsed throughout the storage facility. Pam went into triage mode and my first assignment was to save the art which was below a fallen soaked panel. I found large tarps to cover the art as a short term solution. The point of the off-site facility is to maintain a museum standard of temperature and humidity. With the ceilings compromised everything was at risk.

For the rest of the night, I picked up ceiling panels and soaked insulation and made a debris pile in the loading dock area. The small mountain I built was about 10 feet in diameter and about 5 feet high. I decided not to touch any artifacts, I would leave that to the pros. For some reason I paused as I lifted a panel off of this large industrial lamp behind an old citrus ladder. The lamp was on a wooden skid which protected it from the water. Ironically the lamp was in the History Center's Reflections magazine that just came out this week. The new acquisition was donated by Tom Bessa and is from McCoy Air Force Base. It dates back to the 1950s and a workman removing the item offered it to Bessa. Now it is part of Orlando's History. Every item in the storage facility has a similar personal story.

Pam called her entire collections staff that night to help get the facility under control. Thank goodness Joe Austin sent snacks for us with Jessica Domingo, by that time Pam and I were running on fumes. Anything on the floor was at risk of water damage. Water was still dripping from every open ceiling panel. I cleared a walkway so the staff could move items from the collection to dryer ground.

We later learned that a metal roof access hatch had blown off and the hurricane force winds had propelled it over the roof. Each time the hatch crashed down it ripped a hole in the roof's covering.  From there, the water dripped down into the insulation and ceiling panels which would crash down from the weight. Large puddles of water were everywhere. By the end of the night most of the museum artifacts had been moved away from collapsed panels. Much of the Pulse collection was in the worst affected areas, so the need to act with speed was critical with already compromised artifacts.

All of the water has now been removed from the floor and a small army of about a dozen humidifiers is working around the clock to remove moisture from the air. The interior walls that touch the floor all developed mold in their inner cavities. Simply put, black mold isn't good when you are hoping to preserve historic artifacts. The lower drywall panels were removed from all the affected walls. Plastic encapsulations now separate the spaces with zippers allowing access between rooms. The plastic is intended to protect the collection as workers reinstall drywall and to assist in regulation/stabilization of temperature and humidity. Work is now under way to repair the walls, the ceiling tiles and insulation have been replaced. Conservation is still ongoing to restore any artifacts that suffered from water damage, but every single item of the few thousand affected artifacts were saved. The incredibly fast response of the core collections staff of the History Center helped avert what could have been a much bigger tragedy. With the lessons learned from this disaster, they are offering advice to Leu Gardens Historic Home, which suffered damage after a tree fell on the roof of the home.

P.S. These sketches were created post-event from my photographs. This is an anomaly as that is not the way I tend to work. However, this wasn't the time to sit down and create art.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Costumes of the 30s and 40s at The Lake Mary Historical Museum.

The Lake Mary Historical Museum (158 North Country Club Road) has an exhibit of Halloween costumes from the 1930 to the 1940s. The exhibit runs through October 24th. Though some are thread bare, they often are accompanied by historic photos of children wearing the costumes. The little devil costume is truly creepy. There were demonic clown costumes and also assorted African Masks.

On the elevated platform I sketches, there were objects of  Victorian mourning. In the display case were gorgeous jewelry items woven from a dead loved one’s hair. There was also a small glass vile which was intended to hold the tears of mourning. Once the tears evaporated the period of mourning could be considered complete. A wicker coffin predominated the staging area. Such wicker baskets were used to hold the departed while they were still in the home. The black dress was to be worn by a widow. Queen Elizabeth set the standard for mourning when she wore a black dress every day of the rest of her life after her Prince Albert died.

Tonight, October 21 will feature a Magical Evening at The Enchanted Museum.
A new, fresh and contemporary Halloween Adventure for the whole family, featuring Orlando's Original Steampunk Storytelling Troupe, Phantasmagoria Orlando. Experience the mystery, fun, spooky moments and much more, all in one place. Call for ticket information: 407-585-1481

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Weekend Top 6 Picks for October 21st and 22nd.

Saturday, October 21, 2017
10 AM to 5 PM - Free. Winter Springs ARToberFEST. Saturday and Sunday. Winter Springs Festival of the Arts, Blumberg Blvd, Winter Springs, Florida 32708. Winter Springs ARToberFEST is celebrating 10 years of exceptional art, tasty German food and drink, rockin’ entertainment, kid's crafts and much more. Join us for this not-to-be-missed community event presented by Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute. Cool off with beer from Red Cypress Brewery, enjoy the sounds of Europa on the main stage, and let your kids explore their artistic talents at the student and senior art tent.

11 AM to Noon - Free. Soundwalk presented by the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Meet at Timucua, 2000 S. Summerlin Ave, Orlando, Florida 32806. (Rain or Shine) Join Eve Payor from the Atlantic Center for the Arts as she leads a sound walk through the Delaney Park neighborhood that Timucua calls home. Explore the sounds and rhythms of our urban and natural world. Each walk is beneficial for people of all ages to de-stress, focus, and develop a deeper understanding of how we fit into the ecosystem of our environment. Limited to 20 participants. Register to secure your spot.

As described by the event, "What is a soundwalk? 'A soundwalk is any excursion whose main purpose is listening to the environment. It is exposing our ears to every sound around us no matter where we are. We may be at home, we may be walking across a downtown street, through a park, along the beach; we may be sitting in a doctor’s office, in a hotel lobby, in a bank; we may be shopping in a supermarket, a department store, or a Chinese grocery store; we may be standing at the airport, the train station, the bus-stop. Wherever we go we will give our ears priority. They have been neglected by us for a long time and, as a result, we have done little to develop an acoustic environment of good quality.' – Hildegard Westerkamp (published in Sound Heritage, 1974)
How can a soundwalk improve health? Focused, silent walks can be a key to reducing stress levels, anxiety, distractions, and can improve breath control. Our sense of hearing is heightened, and awareness of our connection to nature is enhanced. Concentrating on the sound environment links us to the risk of noise pollution and solutions to create an ecologically balanced soundscape. Taking the time to listen to our surroundings gives us a deeper understanding of how our everyday actions affect both nature and our well-being.
How much walking will there be? Each soundwalk is designed to move through different sound environments. We will be walking at a slow pace to allow for time to fully hear each location. Over the duration of one hour, a distance of approximately ½ mile will be traveled.
Rain or shine? Yes. These walks are outdoors. Please check the weather before departing for the soundwalk, and prepare accordingly. Weather conditions affect the way sound travels. It is a wonderful experience to hear how the sound waves of a bird call in humid air travels differently than in dry air.
Are the soundwalks open to all ages? Anyone can participate in a soundwalk. On our walks, we do ask that talking and distraction (cellphone use) be kept to a minimum to allow for the enjoyment of the environmental sounds. Therefore, small children may not be engaged enough in this activity to avoid becoming restless.
About the Artist. The presenter of each Soundwalk is local musician, Lady Eve. She is a classical oboist and ambient music producer who has contributed to the sophisticated modern movement blending orchestral and electronic sound. She has performed at the Mutek Mexico Festival, 800 East Atlanta Art Collective, been a curator at Vancouver’s alternative performance festival: Signal and Noise, and produced her Pan Ambient event series with Seattle’s Decibel Festival. Last year, her exhibition called Watercolors in Sound (produced for Atlantic Center for the Arts) featured a sound and video installation of field recordings from the NSB Soundwalk series. As an active Zazen practitioner, Lady Eve incorporates mindfulness and awareness throughout her artistic endeavors."

5:30 PM to 9 PM - Free. Pumpkin Carving Exhibition! Loud Gallery 1907 N Orange Ave, Orlando, Florida 32804.  In honor of Halloween, Loud Gallery is in search of artists for our first ever Pumpkin Carving Exhibition! Painting of pumpkins in allowed too!

Sunday, October 22, 2017
Noon to 1 PM - Donation. Yoga. Lake Eola near red gazebo. Bring your own mat or sketchbook.

1 PM to 9 PM - Free. Festival Calle Orange Downtown Orlando. 425 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801. Central Florida's largest event held in the heart of Downtown Orlando. They close down 10 city blocks and erect 3 action packed stages with only the best in Hispanic entertainment. We even include a Domino tournament!

 10 PM to Midnight - Free, but get a coffee. Comedy Open Mic. Austin's Coffee, 929 W. Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL. Free comedy show! Come out and laugh, or give it a try yourself.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Pride Fireworks at Lake Eola.

On the day of Pride, traffic downtown was predicted to be a major cluster f@!ck. The Orlando Come out with Pride Parade was going on as I taught classes at Elite Animation Academy. That day roads would also be closed for a soccer game at the Amway Center and something at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. I thought that getting to Elite would be a challenge, but streets had not been blocked off yet.

That evening I scheduled the 8th Orlando Urban Sketch Workshop at Lake Eola. With the parade over, I figured some of the crowd would have dispersed. Getting home from work, I skirted downtown by driving around the congested streets. The last few blocks were a challenge but I made it back to the studio fairly easily.

Attendance for the workshop was down. I imagine people weren't up to the challenge and adventure of trying to park downtown. Pam Schwartz had walked in the parade with members and families involved in the onePULSE Foundation. Since she was downtown, we met and walked around Lake Eola together. I settled on this view of the fountain as my pride sketch for the year. A drone hovered above the lake.

Fireworks were slated to happen at 9 PM which gave me plenty of time to sketch the Orlando skyline. I started to put the tablet away, when the fireworks suddenly erupted with a huge series of blasts. It damn near made me jump out of my skin. The fireworks were large and beautiful and I put a few blasts on my sketch while others shot video and took cell phone photos. I often wonder what becomes of all those shots.

After the show, it was easy to walk back to my place and then slip out of downtown. Although many downtown streets were blocked off for the day, Orlando is still small enough so that I never experienced grid lock.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

9th Annual Zombietoberfest

The 9th Annual Zombietoberfest was just held in Audubon Gardern District. If fell on the same day as one of my Orlando Urban Sketch Workshops, so we used it as our location. With parking sparse, I parked several blocks away and walked to our meeting spot at Stardust Video and Coffee. We were two students short, so we waited for a while in front of Stardust and then decided to get rolling while the zombies were still shuffling about. The quick lesson and worksheets advised artists to do a sheet of zombie studies that focused on gesture and building the figures from simple shapes.

Since this was a very crowded event, the challenge was to find slow moving zombies. Fast energetic zombies would be impossible to sketch. For instance, a zombie taking a selfie would only take a few seconds before they turned and walked away. I decided to focus on Deviant Dollz, founded by artist Linda Janssen. This collection of miscreant dolls seem possessed or the victims of a horror movie.

Several grand parents picked out a doll for their grand daughter who made a magnificent bloody zombie. I didn't see their choice, but the grand daughter decided she would prefer a bloody and beaten Raggedy Ann doll that looked like she had been abused by Raggedy Andy. Pam Schwartz begrudgingly explained the teddy bears to me. They were tied together in such a way so that their snout was up another bear's butt. Apparently there is a film called the Human Centipede in which the people can only survive if they eat the excrement from another. The goal was to see how long the people could survive without being fed. I don't think i need to see that film.

There was perhaps one zombie for every 40 attendees. The most popular zombie costume seemed to be females in bloody prom dresses. I'm not sure a zombie film has been made yet in which zombies invaded a prom, but it cold make and interesting premise.  The Deviant Dollz booth was incredibly popular so I spent most of my time trying to look around the crowd to see some of the dolls. Keeping track of all the artists in the crowd was impossible, so I let them all wrestle with the sketches on their own. Afterwards, we all met near the bloody zombie snow cone food truck to compare drawings and take a group photo.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Orlando Tech Week at Church Street Marketplace.

I walked over to Church Street Marketplace (101 S Garland Ave Orlando FL 32801) for what I thought would be a tech demo. The place was deserted except for the caterer. I asked him what he knew about the event and he was pretty clueless. A large screen was set up, and when I arrived, it was projecting a computer desktop. I figured that had to be my center of interest.

Procreate, the digital sketch program on my iPad had updated several days ago and a new feature showed up called the perspective tool. It allows you to place several vanishing points on the sketch and the program automatically sets up a perspective grid to use as a drawing guide. I used that feature for the first time on this sketch, which is a pretty high tech leap for me. I was utilizing a bit more tech to cover Tech Week.

Only later that night did I learn that what I was sketching was the Black  Orlando Tech Hip Hop Happy Hour. DJ Nigel John shouted up a welcome to me, shouting "Thor!" I shouted back and then sketched him as he set up his DJ mix station. Janessa Gursky must have been an event organizer because she also greeted me. About six round high top tables were set up and slowly people started to arrive. This was slated to be the chillest, happy hour event of Orlando Tech Week 2017. It was a chance for everyone to unwind from the nonstop tech events of the week with a drink and conversation. I was a little disappointed not to walk away with some miraculous tech enlightenment but the music was pumping as I left for dinner.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The First onePULSE Foundation Town Hall Meeting.

The onePULSE Foundation's first Town Hall meeting was held at the Rep Theater (1001 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL 32803). 400 people reserved tickets to attend. The meeting was a panel discussion exploring why and how we create memorials and museums, and what is involved in the process. Experts from around the country came to share their experiences. Barbara Poma, the Pulse Nightclub owner and onePULSE Foundation executive director, said, "Building a permanent memorial and museum at the site is the most powerful way to pay respect for the lives taken, and to all those affected on that awful night." The moderator for the night, was journalist Indira Lakshmanan.

Kari Watkins, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial was the first panelist on the left. The event was being held just one week after the mass murder in Las Vegas. She explained that the community memorials had already begun. An empty lot was acquired from the city and 58 trees were planted, one tree for each victim. At the Oklahoma City Bombing site one tree had survived and saplings were being handed out. 168 people died. Initially, the Chamber of Commerce was not on board with the plans for a museum and memorial, they didn't want their city to be known as the city that had been bombed. The site is now the most visited tourist attraction in the state.

Ed Linenthal is a PhD and author of several books such as Sacred Ground, Preserving Memory, and The Unfinished Bombing: Oklahoma City in American Memory. He explained that the process of deciding what to put on a site is incredibly difficult because you are dealing with an open wound. We need to get rid of psycho babble words like "closure". People in Orlando will be living along side of the Pulse tragedy for a very long time and that is OK. There is a new "normal". The process involves many, many people who are very personally involved. Everything is a razor's edge issue. Should there be 49 hearts, trees, or points of light here?... on and on and on. How could it not be agonizing? Memorials are a protest of the anonymity of mass murder in our times.

Jan Ramirez, is the Executive Vice President of Collections and the Chief Curator of the National September 11th Memorial and Museum in NYC. She explained that the NYC site is an unplanned cemetery. 40% of the close to 3,000 people who died when the towers fell, have no remains. The families never had the comfort of a burial. Our work is never done. Only since the museum opened have many victim's families decided to share their stories and artifacts.

Anthony Gardner is the Senior Vice President of Government and Community Affairs at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. He became involved after his brother Harvey died in the tower collapse. The process of building a memorial is going to be painful. It needs to be. The reaction to people visiting the 9/11 memorial is universal, they pause and say to themselves, "I am there." They know it is a tragic story, they know it is painful, but they leave inspired, because this is a story in which the best of humanity responded to the worst of humanity.

Anthony's brother Harvey loved history. The night before he was killed, he was watching a documentary on WWII. He became a part of the history he cherished just several hours later. Harvey is one of the 40% who were never identified after the towers fell. The family didn't have anything of his that was recovered. He found himself trapped in that office. The one call that got through to Harvey allowed the family to overhear him comforting his colleagues, who were starting to panic. He was directing people and he was calm and brave in those acts, so the family holds on to that. Anthony values the authenticity of place and setting. He feels some authentic fabric of Pulse should be left behind. Authenticity of place helps people connect that didn't have that direct experience.

Pam Schwartz is the Chief Curator of the Orange County Regional History Center. "...Typically museums collect, "old stuff". We  have historical perspective on that... When doing rapid response or contemporary collecting, you have to rely 50% on your training and education, and 50% on intuition, or what we think might be an important historical story...That can change very rapidly. It took 9 years for Orlando to get the title of the worst mass shooting after Virginia Tech. It took just 16 months to give that title to Las Vegas. The history of our event is already changing based on what is happening in Vegas. The question goes from, "How could this happen to us", to "Is it ever going to stop?..."

Pam explained, a mass shooting is when four or more people, not including the shooter, are "shot and/or killed" at "the same general time and location." This year there have been at least 276 mass shootings in America. That is close to one mass shooting a day. We can't memorialize every single event, but each time there are people who lost their loved ones, there are emotional and mental scars. Everyone feels the most strongly about the event that affected them. You focus on the stories and try to make it a teachable moment. We are dealing with a lot of different demographics here in Orlando. Our event at Pulse is unique in that it speaks to a broader situation in our world today, in politics an in the fights we are still fighting.

She went on to say that the memorial items come from the community. They are outpourings from the heart. They are often items left because people don't know what else to do. One thing they collected was a cooler from Pulse. If you went to the Pulse site, you would have seen the big white cooler left by the police. The church down the street kept filling it every day because it is HOT in Orlando. So this artifact was one of support. 

Pam and the History Center staff were out there collecting every single day and  drank some of that water. One day, they showed up and it was just covered in signatures. There were all these signed banners full of love and support, and then people were like,  "What else can we sign?" So they collected this cooler, it is sort of a living history of the memorials. 

The History Center staff also went into the club after the site was released back to Barbara Poma. Pam approached and asked if things could be collected from inside. That might seem a bit macabre, but think of it as Abraham Lincoln's hat or the artifacts you might see at the 9/11 museum. These are very real artifacts that tell a story. Should they be displayed now or put them on exhibition, no, but in 200 years there will be people who were not here, did not experience it, and it is very real evidence that this event truly happened to people. The History Center also has items from Pulse before this event. Pulse has a very rich history before June 12, it was home to so many people.

In response to a question from the audience about ensuring the process is inclusive, Pam explained that this series of community conversations are the first link to inclusivity for everyone. Everyone should fill out the online Survey for the Memorial. The results of which will become the design brief that will go out to the potential designers for the memorial and museum. This is not a fast process. It takes time, so we have several years to figure this out together. This is at its heart a community event. It happened to us all in some way shape or form. It will be a community conversation and ultimately a community decision in how we move forward. That is why they are starting to have meetings with families of survivors and other community members. Talk to onePulse Foundation members. They want to know what everybody is thinking. They do not have all the right answers for what this can look like or what it should look like right now, but they are beginning the process and want everybody who feels attached to this to be involved.

In other Pulse related news, the City just approved a temporary memorial designed by Dix.Hite + Partners which will add landscaping to soften the area while replacing the fence with more aesthetically pleasing elements. A rainbow colored sidewalk crossing was also approved by the City and already painted into place.  I filled out the survey and it took no longer that 10 minutes. Be sure to fill out the survey as well. Your voice matters, your opinion matters. Help shape the future of the Pulse memorial site. Earl Crittenden offered a quote that pointed the way towards a solution, "The best way to predict the future is to create it." - Abe Lincoln

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Phantasmagoria VIII "The Chains of Fire" at the Shakes.

Phantasmagoria Orlando and DiDonna Productions is proud to present the eighth all new installment in their critically acclaimed “Whimsically Macabre” Halloween Celebration at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center (812 E. Rollins St, Orlando, Florida 32803). 

The brand new PHANTASMAGORIA VIII "Chains of Fire" thunders on to the Mandell Theater with all new stories of terror! Live performers, “Phantastical” dance, explosive stage combat, large scale puppetry, aerial performance, and haunting storytelling combine to create a tapestry of macabre and whimsical horror!

Phantasmagoria’s evocative troupe of storytellers, dancers, and chorus embark on their newest, and perhaps darkest journeys yet , through literary tales of terror, and horrific folk stories, legends, and myths. Enter with us into dark tales from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, Robert Browning, Lord Byron, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman among many others – all to set the tone for a truly Phantasmagorical Halloween season!

I went to a dress rehearsal which had a fairly clean run thru of the show. Using the iPad meant I could see what I was working on throughout the performance. I am really enjoying the ability to zoom in when sketching performers. The digital sketchbook is becoming my preferred medium when sketching in a dark theater. This was indeed a darker and more sinister show. Strangulation and death haunted the cast though most every story. Once they begin a tale it must be told to completion. The hitch is that they live the tale intimately to the point of near death. The cast seems immortal however having told the stories for centuries. 

One of my favorite moments came after the run thru. John DiDonna was giving a note on how to dramatically stage a strangulation. He said, "Here allow me to show you by strangling my wife." He grabbed Dion Leonhard DiDonna by the neck and arched her backwards as he leaned over her. Being a ballerina, she made even the gruesome moment look graceful.

After the run thru, the cast did a whimsical and comically relaxed rendition of the story, "Captain Murderer". The cast ran out into the audience often getting face to face with the audience as they told the tale with absolute delight. They are at their best when mixing the macabre with the whimsical.

Special VIP Experience - Arrive by 7:20 on Select Nights
New this year, the VIP show will occur BEFORE the main stage show on select nights only (Fri/Sat nights and Halloween) as they introduce their “Phantasticaly Phantabulous Sideshow Extravaganza!” Specialty acts, special guests, and appearances by members of the Phantasmagoria troupe weave together to start the evening off in the best and darkest of ways! This year all VIP seating can be RESERVED (for the first time) upon coming to the door to ensure prime seating for all our VIP guests. At the end of the show, the VIP audience member will also be treated to a final encore especially designed for them! VIP also includes a glass of wine or soft drink, a take home gift and more!

Information and Ticketing can be found beginning in September on the website or on their Facebook page.

Phantasmagoria/DiDonna Productions
Phantasmagoria VIII “The Chains of Fire”
Oct 13th – Nov 4th 2017
All evening performances at 8:00pm (Box opens at 7:00pm/
VIP Show experience at 7:20 / VIP Theater Entrance at 7:50 followed by General Admission seating)
Oct 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27. 28. 29. 30. 31, Nov 3, 4
Special MONDAY Performance on October 30th @ 9:00pm only
NOTE: VIP Show Experience only available Friday/Saturday nights and Halloween MUST arrive early for 7:20-ish start
General Admission and Student/Senior/Military available on all nights.
The Mandell Theatre, John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center - Loch Haven Park, Orlando, FL
Lot on site, additional lots and street parking in close proximity
Student/Senior/Military Admission - $15.00 / General admission - $25.00
Student/Senior/Military VIP Admission - $30.00 / General VIP Admission - $40.00
(VIP Admission includes Pre Reserved Seating, VIP SideShow performance, wine or soft drink, a take home surprise, and more! – Available only Friday/Saturday and Halloween nights)
WILL CALL/CASH ONLY AT DOOR reserve by calling our hotline at 407-476-5121
(Leave name/number/date of performance and number in party – you will be called back only if there is a problem with your reservation)

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.