Monday, September 25, 2017

The Ultimate Art Project

Tamera J. Rogers made me aware of The Ultimate Art Project which was slated to happen days after Hurricane Irma struck Florida. This program was planned for the Square in Downtown Tavares, America's Sea Plane City. It was an opportunity to catch artists in their moments of creative glory. There were to be actors, painters and singers and potters and poets and jewelers and dancers, sculptors, and weavers and crafters, musicians and magicians and libations and food.

I decided to make the event one of the locations for the 10 Urban Sketching Workshops I have been offering. This was the 5th workshop. Progressing from small stories to medium stories and ultimately big stories.  Pam Schwartz and I took the one hour drive to sketch the Ultimate Art Project. The sun was setting as we approached the town square. The event was easy to find because of all the white events tents.

The grassy area was about the size of half a football field surrounded by wrought iron fences. The first tend we saw had kids doing four inch square paintings. In a corner of the field was Karaoke which dominated sound scene. Mixed in was a pan flutist, in the center of the field. One lady stood listening and then chatted with him. I decided he wasn't a sketch option since she was keeping him from performing. A van was painted black like a chalkboard and people could do chalk drawings on the vehicle. This is a pretty awesome idea and I wouldn't mind setting up mu Prius as a chalk board. There was the option to take a selfie in “paintings” of the Mona Lisa, The Scream, American Gothic, and Girl with a Pearl Earring but we never got around to taking those selfies.

I stopped when I heard this father (James Whitehead) and daughter team singing in the artists tent. They referred to themselves as Southern Roots. She had an amazing voice. They were strictly acoustic so their music had to blend in with the karaoke and Pan pipes across the way. Dad explained to me that his daughter really had to stress her voice to be heard. He was afraid she might not perform her best at next weeks church service. The set abruptly ended when the free movie screening began of Woody Allen's
Midnight in Paris.

Conversations among the artists were mostly about the recent hurricane. The Tavares marina was destroyed by Irma and all the boats piled up by the high winds. Sections of the park were cordoned off due to hurricane damage. The Ultimate Art Project was a chance for the community to get out after the hurricane and have a relaxing evening on the town green.

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

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Man of La Mancha brings starry eyed ideals to the Shakes.

I had sketched the set being built for Man of La Mancha, at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater (812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL 32803) so I was curious to see the show. I knew that a large hole had been opened in the stage floor to allow for a rotating stage and trap door. For that reason, I was very curious to see the set in action. The stage is set in the round, meaning the play can be seen from all sides. Pam Schwartz and I sat in the Bard section which was a new section set up for this production. The orchestra was hidden behind prison bars on a platform behind us. Much of the staging had the actors facing the center section which was across from us but there were only a few times when it was uncomfortable to have the action facing away from us.

In the opening scene, Cervantes, (Davis Gaines) is exiled to a dungeon. Inmates of the prison go through his possessions and plan a trial so they can take everything. In his defense Cervantes stages a play and invited prisoners to take parts in the production. He opens a theatrical make up case and turns himself into Don Quixote who is an idealist, a dreamer who imagines himself living a virtuous and heroic life. Sancho Panza, his companion (Matt Zambrano) followed dutifully on his adventures as squire. Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from the plain. Don Quixote fights the windmills that he imagines are giants. "The scariest dragons and fiercest giants usually turn out to be no more than windmills."

The staging for this production was pretty amazing. A large drawbridge lowered down to the stage with loud and sinister sounding moving gears. The entire theater felt dank and foreboding. The sounds of water droplets falling echoed in the space as the audience took to its seats. The center stage area could turn like a record on a turntable allowing characters to march in place, or circle. The center area was a rising platform which Don Quixote stood on when he triumphantly proclaimed his ideals and love. The beautiful Aldoneza (Laura Hodos) was a dispassionate and callous woman. She considered all men to be the same, all wanting just one thing. When Quixote saw her he was smitten and imagined her to be the most virtuous woman he had ever seen. He called her Dulcinea. She was annoyed that he didn't see her as she was, but ultimately she let her defenses down, needing to understand his ideals despite the everyday horrors.

This was a fun night of stellar theater. I was very impressed with the production. Donkey's were portrayed with large paper mache heads. They pulled tiny carts that acted as the saddle for the heroic protagonist and his side kick. I have to confess that I had to wipe away tears as Aldoneza proclaimed herself to be Don Quixote's idealized Dulcinea when she sang to him in his darkest hour.

The signature song in this musical is "The Impossible Dream" and Davis Gaines singing at the end of the first act brought the audience to it's feet. I scratched away at the page in the dark, not sure of the result and hopeful anyway. As the lights came up, I saw the results and quickly strove to make sense of the madness.

Go see this show. For a magical moment escape from your everyday reality. “Too much sanity may be madness - and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”  -Don Quixote. 

The show runs through October 8.

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

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hurricane damage in Greenwood Cemetery.

I drive by Greenwood Cemetery almost daily and after Hurricane Irma I was amazed at the amount of tree damage there was in the cemetery. I decided to return to document some of the trees that had snapped like twigs. The first stop was to the four headstones for victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre. This area of the cemetery had been largely spared. As a matter of fact one stone had rainbow balloons, rainbow flowers, a pin wheel and a rainbow colored teddy bear. All the memorial items were pristine. The day before had been Leroy Valentín Fernández' birthday. Clearly the family had come out and colorfully decorated his headstone to mark the occasion. All of the Pulse victim headstones now had color photos that were laminated in plastic and cut into the headstones. The photo of Cory Connell was had outstretched arms as if he were ready to wrestle the world. All memorial items had been removed form his stone, probably in preparation for Hurricane Irma. All 4 stone sat quietly in the shade of a large tree that had weathered the storm fine.

Pam Schwartz and I searched the cemetery for the tree I had seen while driving by the cemetery. Blanche Crews headstone was knocked over by a fallen tree limb. It was wedged back up with fallen branches making it look like the fallen angels had crutches.  Dozens of trees had snapped and branches littered the entire cemetery making it appear wild and overgrown. I settled into a spot near the headstone of Edgar Earl Hitchcock. I of course wondered if he was related to the film maker. Pam quickly did research and found out that Edgar was an important figure in Orlando's medical history. He founded the Pediatric Associates of Orlando in 1939. He was shown in a photo giving the very first polio vaccine shot in Central Florida to a young boy. His wife Ruth died many years after him but her headstone was not in her family plot or perhaps there is just no headstone.

Across the lane from where I was sketching, a family arrived in several cars. Blue and white helium balloons bounced up out of the car behind them. They were visiting the headstone of Richard Marcano Trinidad who had died on August 19, 2016. He had died at the tender age of 36. His stone noted that he was a Stealers fan and the epitaph read..."For the best daddy in the world. We will never forget you...from your kids." An Orlando Sentinel article reported that police had been dispatched to a home near UCF, where they found Trinidad critically injured. His 36 year old girlfriend was on the scene. I could not find any further reports about how or why Richard had died. The family released the dozen or so blue and white balloons and they silently rose into the sky.

Near the fallen tree I was sketching was the headstone for Harry P. Leu (1884-1977) and his wife Mary (1903-1986) of Leu Gardens fame. Their two granite slabs lying side by side, were pristine except for a few leaves. The Harry P. Leu historic home however has suffered damage from a huge tree limb that crashed into the roof, exposing the Leu bedroom to rain and wind damage. The ceilings and floor boards are soaked. Leu Gardens has closed indefinitely. Pam Schwartz, the Orange County Regional History Center curator went to the historic home to offer advice on preservation societies who might be able to help as well as FEMA contacts. 

The History Center off site storage facility had suffered damage when a roof access panel was blown loose and it gouged holes in the roofing as the heavy metal lid was hurled by the high winds, causing leaks over the historic collection. I was with Pam when she found the soaked warehouse and helped in removing soaked ceiling panels and now useless archival cardboard boxes. It look hours of work and in the emergency the sketchbook was ignored. Even though the floor were dried and artifacts were lifted to be  dried out off the floor, it was then discovered that the walls of the warehouse are fulled with mold. Now an effort needs to be made to save the collection form that mold which is inside the walls up to 10 feet high. The History Center is replacing all the inner walls in an effort to  protect and preserve Orlando's History.

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

Friday, September 22, 2017

Weekend Top 6 Picks for September 23rd and 24th.

Saturday September 23, 2017,
9 am to 3 pm Free. Orlando Superkids Classic. Manheim Central Florida 9800 Bachman Road Orlando Fl. Soap Box Derby style race with special needs children. Non-special needs children will be drivers and special needs children are passengers.

7 pm to 2 am. Free but drinks cost. Pirate Pub Invasion. Starting at Little fish Huge Pond 401 S. Sanford Ave. Sanford FL, at 7pm and are going to try and invade all the ports in Sanford. Be part of the plundering and pillaging.  Just make sure ye don’t steer yur ship with too much grog in yur belly.  PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY. Local Bars
Avenue Lounge
Bitters and Brass
Buster's Bistro
Little Fish HUGE Pond (host bar)
Sanford Brewing Co.
Sanford Avenue Tavern
Standard Sailor
East End Trading Co.
Wops Hops Brewery 

7 pm to 9 pm Free. Functionally Literate presents: SJ Sindu and Kristen Arnett. Blue Bamboo Center For The Arts 1905 Kentucky Ave, Winter Park, Florida 32789. A reading, audience Q and A, book signing, and discussion of LGBTQ + issues in literature, featuring Lambda Literary Fellows: SJ SINDU (author of Marriage of a Thousand Lies) KRISTEN ARNETT (author of Felt in the Jaw) Beer, wine. Books for sale by Bookmark It. In partnership with Watermark Publishing Group, Inc.. Sponsored by Rollins College Master of Liberal Studies program.

Sunday September 24, 2017
5 pm to 7 pm Free. Blues Jam hosted by Doc WilliamsonThe Alley 114 S. Park Ave. Winter Park FL. Bring an instrument and join in the fun.

6:30 pm to 7:05 pm $10 Billy and Alan.  Short film screening as part of the Global Peace Film Festival. Cobb Plaza Cinema Café 12, South Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL. Director: Vicki Nantz USA, 2013, 35 minutes Website: When Billy Manes lost his partner, Alan, to suicide in 2012, he nearly lost everything he owned to homophobic “in-laws” who swept in to claim Alan’s possessions. Billy would later write about his devastating loss in the Orlando Weekly. In 2013 he agreed to share his story in this documentary to help change hearts and minds in the State of Florida which, at the time, did not recognize same-sex relationships, or provide them any legal protections. Billy Manes died unexpectedly in July. He was friend of the Global Peace Film Festival, and a beloved person in the Orlando community.

 8 pm to 10 pm Free. Harry's Honey Badger CaveLittle Fish Huge Pond 401 S. Sanford Ave. Sanford FL. I have no idea what this is about but it sounds like a good sketch opportunity.

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

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Making Conversations - Global Warming.

Founded by artist LeAnn Siefferman, Making Conversations is an ongoing dinner series in which participants sit together at a large dinner table eat drink and talk about issues that effect us today. In cooperation with The Dinner Party Project the topical dinnerware is transformed into an intimate, private dinner party experience... with 12 strangers.The dinner was held in a very unique space, 1010 West Church Street in Paramour near the new soccer stadium, it's an old airplane hangar that has been converted into a venue.

A large industrial wire spool was set up as a table and plates, all designed by LeAnn were on display. The topic for this evening's dinner was climate change. The pates themselves addressed the issue. For instance one plate had a graph on it that showed the CO2 levels in the atmosphere over thousands of years. Thought the levels rise and fall over the centuries, the recent spike is ominous and unlike any spike from the past.

Another plate set the tone for the evening, it said, "I will listen, I will be open to your ideas. I will hold space. I will ask thoughtful questions. I will reflect before I respond. I will examine my story. I will look at both sides. I will seek the source of my beliefs. I will come to the table to learn." The plates reflected LeAnn's thoughts and he interpretation of information she has gathered on the subject of global warming over the years. Some people at the table were professors who acted as moderators while most were curious open minded people. The moderators were there to answer questions and prompt new ones. The goal l was to learn, listen, share and grow.

LeAnn spoke about each plate before dinner was served. She explained that we see the world through lenses. We interpret the information and project it back out into the world. That process is effected by our experiences, boundaries, religion, society, family, culture, fear, and genetics. Instead of projecting outward, perhaps the conversation could illuminate inward as we seek the source of our stories and understand where they came from. Guests each picked a plate, carried over to the table and dinner was then served.

The catered dinner looked delicious, flowers were arranged as the centerpiece, and the wine flowed. by the time I finished the sketch, the conversations were still heating up. These type of conversations on specific complex issues, by people from different communities, will help us find sustainable solutions for a more sustainable future. The goal also was to understand other peoples belief systems, to listen understand and look for answers. If we are to survive as a human race, we need to start reaching out and connecting.

SEPT, 26
1010 Church St W, Orlando, FL 32805-2216, United States
OCT, 26
1010 Church St W, Orlando, FL 32805-2216, United States
NOV, 16
1010 Church St W, Orlando, FL 32805-2216, United States

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Live Oak International.

Live Oak International Grand Prix held at the pastoral Live Oak Plantation (2215 SW 110th Ave, Ocala, FL 34481), a 5,000-acre thoroughbred breeding farm located minutes from Ocala Florida,  celebrated it's 25th anniversary in 2016. The combined driving event has grown from humble beginnings as a sparsely attended affair held at a small venue near Ocala to one of the largest Combined Driving events in the country.

Today, the competition attracts some of the best drivers, trainers, coaches and owners from around the world. Over the years, tens of thousands have come to watch the driving and show jumping during the Live Oak International. The Show Jumping event draws top riders, including past Olympic gold medalists. Once again in 2017, the Grand Prix will be part of the Longines FEI World CupJumping North American League.

The combination of the two disciplines makes Live Oak International a one-of-a-kind event perfect for the seasoned equine enthusiast and the novice alike.  Was nerve wracking watching the horses jump the fences. Perfect rides with no fence posts down were rare. Of course there is only one horse and rider on the course at a time, but I couldn't resist putting more horses on the sketch as they jumped.
The winner of the $35,000 International Jump Competition (against the clock) was number 175 Vasco with rider Adam Prudent from France. He ran the course at 60.24 seconds with no penalties.
The next Live Oak International competition will be March 15-18, 2018. Tickets are available now.

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trash 2 Trends: An Evening of Recycled Fashion.

The third annual Trash 2 Trends held at Sea World's Ports of Call, is a fundraiser which  brings the fashion and art of local artists together with the environmental community to promote sustainability in an innovative way. The show features local designers who create runway looks from items headed to the landfill. Money raised went to Keep Orlando Beautiful, whose mission is to engage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community  environment through litter prevention, waste reduction and recycling and beautification  efforts.

There were complimentary appetizers during the cocktail hour, and a dessert and coffee bar was be provided during intermission for all guests. This is always a fun evening with some outlandish and quite beautiful designs created. Judges included City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, Maxine Earhart, Flora Maria Garcia and designer Nailuj Villarroel.

The most Avant Guard design was in black, white and silver with very pointy over the top sun glasses, by designer Brittany Mikell. The most wearable award went to Nancy Alanso for an elegant white gown. The best use of material, by Gail Warner had a skirt made from hundreds of soda 6 pack holders. The Top Design award went to Christina Woodman for a black blouse and white skirt combination that was offset with a sharp 45 degree angle at the waist.  The audience choice went to Helaine Schneider for a poofy Van Gogh starry night themed dress.

The next Trash 2 Trends:
Date: Saturday, February 3, 2018
Location: SeaWorld’s Ports of Call, 7007 Seaworld Drive, Orlando, Fl 32821
Time: 7 – 10 p.m.
Attire: Cocktail

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Story Club at the Abbey.

I went to The Abbey, (100 S Eola Dr #100, Orlando, FL 32801) to sketch Orlando Story Club which is an evening of stories based on the theme of “Can You Keep A Secret?” At this unique story telling series everyone can share their stories. Participants drop their names in a hat. The host pulls names from the hat to see who tells their story next. Three judges are picked from the audience. The only requirement to be a judge is that the person is new to Story Club.  The judges award prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.  A guest story teller headlines every show with its own theme, food, drinks and laughter are available in abundance.

Orlando Story Club was founded by storyteller and film maker Robin Cowie (“The Blair Witch Project”).  After participating in the national storytelling series The Moth, Central Florida based Cowie sought out to produce the same event here and so Orlando Story Club was born.

 The most memorable story for me was told by Banks Helfrich, a local filmmaker. He told a story about meeting a woman and really connecting with her. He described the warmth of her hugs when they parted. Each encounter seemed more intimate. One day she explained that she needed to tell him something. It turned out that she had a long term boyfriend. This bit of news came as a complete shock.

The May charity partner was Victim Service Center of Central Florida.  Since 1999, the Victim Service of Central Florida has been aiding victims of sexual assault, violent crime and traumatic circumstances.  The center is designed to provide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week support to victims.  They are the only certified rape crisis center for both Orange and Osceola County.  Their vision is to continue to transform victims’ lives and stop violence in the community.  Through their vision and mission, the Victim Service Center of Central Florida strives to keep assisting victims of these circumstances and provide a safe outlet for them to seek counseling and support.

Orlando Story Club will continue on the first Wednesday of every other month this year (November 1, 2017 and “Best Of” December 13, 2017).

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

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Parkin' Lot Pickin' behind Twistee Treat.

Each Friday for about the past 27 years,weather permitting Blue Grass musicians gather in the parking lot on the corner of Colonial Drive ad Maguire in Ocoee Florida for a Blue Grass jam. The parking lot lamp acts as a spotlight for this group of tailgate musicians. The one female musician grew up performing in this lot since her father started the tradition. This is a true old Florida past time. Banjos, fiddles, guitars, mandolins and upright basses all find their way to this gathering each week. Jack and Judy Lewis founded this jam session 22 years ago, making it Florida's longest running Blue Grass jam.

When the sessions first started out, Jack Lewis says, Moonlite Express acted as the core of the group, never missing a Friday night.The jam session has gained a reputation. It's received so much attention that people have traveled from different states, and even other countries, to pick along with the Moonlite Express and the crew of regulars. Lewis doesn't operate a website, and the jam isn't advertised, so people have to find out about it through word of mouth. This group refuses to go electric, they play all acoustic instruments. To amplify, they might play into a microphone.

The Blue Grass Jam is an inspiring sketch and great date night any time of the year. The most obvious landmark is the Twistee Treat on Maguire on the corner of Colonial Drive. Order some soft serve ice cream and then listen for the Blue Grass music. You will literally find the group on the far end of the parking lot. I got to share this session with Pam Schwartz and we met several musicians since they were interested in seeing what I was sketching.

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

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Broadway Brunch at Hamburger Mary's

I joined the staff of the Orange County Regional History Center when they went as a group to Hamburger Mary's for Broadway Brunch. Mimosas flowed and then we ordered some very juicy burgers and cheese fries. The Minx, and Nicky Monet, acted as the hosts who kept the show lively. The Broadway Brunch Bunch dancers and some stellar singers show up to this weekly showcase to belt out their favorite show tunes. No two shows are alike. Production numbers were from Mary Poppins, Hairspray, Grease, Les Miserables, and so much more.

I had seen Dream Girls on Broadway when the show opened so I couldn't resist singing along to those tunes. One act consisted of a singer slowly coming out of what might have been a sleeping bag or sheet w-Honda around her. She spread her arms and it became clear that she was a butterfly. It was an amazing act and I just sat back and enjoyed instead of stressing about trying to catch it all. Acts often circulated around the room collecting tips and singing up close and personal. One singer pressed between two men on the History Center staff and pressed them to her chest.

If you haven't been to the Sunday Broadway Brunch, you need to go. The hosts stressed that the fun shared here needs to flow out into the world so that hate has no reason to flourish. In Orlando we lost 49 joyous souls. By singing laughing and dancing, we honor their memory.

Guests will each pay a $2.99 entertainment fee and be required to purchase an entree or two alcoholic beverages.  Call 321-319-0600 to grab your seat!

 Upcoming show dates:

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