Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Inaugeral Kerouac Project Open Mic Channeled the Beat Generation.

On February 27th there was a Kerouac Project Open Mic at the Gallery at Avalon Island (39 South Magnolia Ave, Orlando, Florida). This was the inaugural Kerouac Project Open Mic, with featured poets Frank Messina and Caitlin Doyle, and guest jazz pianist Per Danielsson.

Naomi Butterfield was the host for the evening.  She had on a bright yellow scarf as she read from Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums.  "Happy. Just in my swim shorts, barefooted, wild-haired, in the red fire dark, singing, swigging wine, spitting, jumping, running—that's the way to live.”

Writers were invited to take that line and run with it! Then bring your best was shared share with the Kerouacians. Others, like me just came to listen to some fine auditory vibes. The open mic sign-up sheet was out by 7:30, and each author had five minutes at the mic.

The pianist improvised as a poet read which gave the reading an added cinematic feel.  If only we had a soundtrack for the everyday moments of our lives. Listening to pop music while driving doesn't count as an inspired sound track. The Kerouac Project crowd are creative people who aren't afraid to live out loud.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Writer's Block Bookstore features local talent in Winter Park.

The Writer's Block Bookstore, 124 Welbourne Avenue, Winter Park FL, was founded by Lauren Zimmerman. Lauren came to the opening of my exhibit at Winter Parks City Chambers, 401 South Park Avenue Winter Park, which  is still open to the public. At the opening she asked me to hang a piece in her bookstore. I had one framed print still in the studio, so I dropped that off at the bookstore. Lauren likes to sketch herself so she likes my quick sketches from life. I haven't been back to the bookstore since I dropped off the print. If anyone goes to the bookstore, let me know where the print is hung and how it looks in the space.

I was recently at a book signing and reading by Stacy Barton for her new novella, Lilly Harp at the Writer's Block Bookstore. Mark Your Calendar, on August 20th,  there will be Wine and Conversation with some of Central Florida's best authors from Borrow Press from 6pm to 8pm. Vanessa Blakeslee released Train Shots, released in 2014 by Borrow Press. The book won the IPPY Gold Metal in short fiction. In 2013 Vanessa won the Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature from the Florida Department of Cultural affairs.  Her debut novel Juventud is being released by Curbside Splendor Publishing in October of 2015. Other authors to meet that evening include Nathan Holic, author of the novel American Fraternity Man, and Pat Ruskin author of the feature length screenplay, The Zero Theorem which was directed by Terry Gilliam.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A power meeting at Panera's.

Kelly Medford, a plein air painter from Rome invited me to collaborate on an Orlando Sketch Tour. We decided to meet at Panera's which is on the North East corner of Lake Eola Park. We decided to hold the first Orlando Sketch Tour in Lake Eola. I got to Panera's early and decided to do a sketch of the business men meeting at the next table. The younger gentlemen were seeking funding for their start up company. They were discussing millions of dollars while Kelly and I discussed the most cost effective art supplies to purchase for anyone who came to our Orlando Sketch Tour workshops.

After meeting with Kelly, we both walked around Lake Eola to decide what sketch opportunities would work best for the weekend of the Sketch Tour. We considered places to go in case of rain as well.   About 10 people signed up for the Orlando Sketch Tour. Each person got their own supply kit with a sketchbook, pen and pencil, a watercolor kit and brush. These are all the supplies needed to create urban sketches. All the supplies came in a plastic zippered carrying bag that was water resistant.

On the day of the sketch tour, Kelly and I offered some fundamental drawing tips to get everyone warmed up. The participants then did a sketch of the Red Pagoda or Lake Eola. After that first sketch, it began to rain, so we moved into a sports bar on Lake Eola's South shore and then Panera's to continue working indoors. It was inside where we introduced everyone to their watercolor kit. Everyone made a color wheel and a chart showing a light wash and darker pigmented wash for each color. Then everyone created a complete sketch of the interior.

On the second day of the Orlando Sketch Tour, I invited my Elite Animation Academy students to join us. Once again, rain chased us inside and students recorded the atmosphere inside the restaurant. For those who attended, it was a great chance to sketch the drama that always unfolds in everyday events. The key is to look, listen and pay attention. In this digital age there are so many distractions that divert our attention from the amazing things happening all around us.

Monday, July 27, 2015

My Urban Sketching class gets students sketching everyday events.

I have been teaching an Urban Sketching course at Elite Animation Academy, 8933 Conroy Windermere Rd, Orlando, FL.  My goal is to get kids out of the classroom and sketching in the community. I start by teaching a few drawing fundamentals to see where my students stand. When l feel they are ready, we head out to find subjects in the neighborhood. In this case, we went to Jeremiah's Ice, 4750 The Grove Drive Windermere FL. The challenge with this scene was that the line is constantly moving. The advantage was that there was always a line. In class we had worked on a series of quick five minute poses which hopefully helped get them ready for sketching from life on location.

The student I put in the foreground of my sketch seemed very tentative in class, but once he started sketching on location he worked with a bold confident line. I missed the mark a bit in my sketch because the person at the front of the line looks like he is facing the wall rather than facing the woman taking his order. I am happy to have caught the mom's gesture as she guided her son up to the window.

Yesterday, Terry and I went to see Inside Out at the West Orange Theater, 1575 Maguire Rd #109, Ocoee, FL. There are always campy local ads running right until show time. An ad for Elite Animation appeared on the big screen. I was pleasantly surprised to see myself in a quick 2 second shot within the promo. I've seen my drawings appear many times on the big screen but this was the only time I had ever appeared on a big screen. Terry was getting popcorn so she didn't see my on screen debut. I can't let it go to my head. Just in case, I'll start writing an Oscar acceptance speech. Oh, and be sure to see Inside Out in theaters now. Pixar has hit another home run. I gave it 10 out of 10 Joys.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Cardboard Art Festival is bigger than ever.

The Daily City 3rd Annual Cardboard Art Festival moves from the Mills/50 Orange Studio to a retail storefront South of Downtown Orlando (SODO). It is in the Sodo Shopping Center, at 45 W. Crystal Lake Street, store #117, Orlando, FL on the same side as TJ Maxx, across from Gator's Dockside which just opened this past Wednesday. I went to sketch the media preview event and immediately decided to sit below Doug Rhodehamel's huge cardboard submarine. A blue wave animated bulb illuminated the $4,000 sub which was accompanied by a small school of $40 to $60 deep sea fish. One of the fish sold immediately and Doug asked me to help him get an orange (sold) sticker on the fish label. We both stretched diligently on tip toe to get the job done. Doug is about to start a series of cardboard sculptures of Star Wars space craft. He explained that the walker would be about 5 to 6 feet high so that it would be eye level. When I asked how big the cardboard Death Star would be, he said he would consider a collaboration with Planet Hollywood to re-make their globe.

Cardboard twin towers brought back memories of the horrific events of 9/11.  A crime scene created by Justin Skip was set up around a huge cardboard banana that had crushed Carmen Miranda with her fruit splattered across the floor. On the back wall, a huge cardboard mural by German Lemus showed a human heart surrounded by howling wolves, clenched fists, a ram and police in riot gear. I was sitting in front of paintings on cardboard of western landscapes by Timothy Thomas. He was born in Connecticut and raised in Maine where he studied film at Rockport College. He now lives in Orlando, FL with his wife Tina. Since I was painting, I kept being asked if I was the artist. First they would point at Timothy's work and when I said, "nope" they would assume I was Doug since I was sitting near his submarine. All of the cardboard props from this year's Fringe hit show, Robyn Da Hood: a Rap Musical were on display. You can pose in the golden carriage or on horse back. Artist Brendan O'Connor  who runs The Bungalower, struggled to lift the hammer of Thor.

I spoke with Banjo Bob who is best known for his hardboard T-Rex skulls.  He had some skulls on display, but even more impressive was a fully automated cardboard telescope he had created. He wrote a program for a cell phone that would allow a user to move the telescopes position. An image from the telescope was then visible on the phone. The program even allowed the telescope to automatically track a star. Since the earth is rotating the telescope would keep adjusting motors to keep the star in sight. He fabricated the cardboard parts at FACTURE  (520 Virginia Drive Orlando FL) a non-profit maker space here in Orlando. The collaborative space is part workshop, wood shop, metal working, crafts, and fabrication laboratory. I have to get over there to sketch. It sounds amazing.

Today, Sunday July 26 the daytime Cardboard Festival Gallery hours, with a suggested $5 donation, are from Noon-5pm. From 1-3pm Kids Fringe will host a Cardboard Matinee ($1 per kid). Kids aren't the only ones who get to play. There is an interactive cardboard creation corner where anyone can create a cardboard masterpiece.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Phantasmagoria gets even better with age.

Phantasmagoria Orlando and DiDonna Productions, present the first ever “Tour Version” of the Critically Acclaimed Victorian Horror Troupe, featuring the “BEST of” the Last Five Years of Phantasmagoria.

Phantasmagoria “Wicked Little Tales” will have a limited engagement weekend of only 3 performances at the Mandell Theater of the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center, July 24th, 25th, and 26th before leaving for its first ever Atlanta Performances. Performances are Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings at 8:00pm.

I went to a dress rehearsal in the Mandell Theater. John told me that the theater had sat quiet for several months with only the ghost light illuminating center stage. A popular theater superstition, every theater has a ghost, and a ghost light is meant to appease the ghosts. The theater had been struck by lightning and the theater was black when Phantasmagoria arrived. At that first rehearsal, the speakers died for no apparent reason. As the actors warmed up on stage, one said, "That ghost is a jerk." Another replied, "Yes, especially with the speakers."

At this dress rehearsal the ghosts gave the performers free reign. During the pre-show the entire cast stood on stage frozen while video of past performances was projected behind them. Each character was introduced in turn in mysterious oozing credits. Two macabre clowns performed among the frozen cast until one was stabbed by accident which animated the troupe as they moved towards the blood.. The ring master standing on a box shouted out with glorious aplomb that the show had begun.  In the opening tale, the cast moved towards the audience menacingly, even climbing over chairs to get face to face. The fourth wall was broken and I was unnerved as the beautiful Aurora (Kim Hough) almost touched my neck as if she were ready to take my life.

Edger Allen Poe's "The Raven" started off the tales of horror. A beautiful animation of black wings in flight made a perfect back drop for an actress whose out stretched arms and bird like mannerisms complimented the motion. Another tale from a far continent had haunting hints of voodoo and impending death. "Captain Murderer" was told with a fiendish sense of humor. John DiDonna, playing the Captain played the part over the top which offered much needed laughter. This delightful humor saturated the entire show. The actors are so seasoned that they understand that there is a tongue in cheek humor in even the darkest tale. Other tales included “Varney the Vampire" and "The Feast of Blood".

The young Pandora (Gina Markarova) naively asked to hear the tale of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky”. One a tale is begun it must be finished. Alice (Sara Costello) had to be protected from the beast and then she defended herself with a shield and sword. As in Jumangi, the fierce Jabberwocky burst to life threatening the lives of everyone in the cast. Puppetry brought the creature to life and everyone defended themselves with knives and swords. At this rehearsal the fight was run at a quarter speed and still the sharp blades seemed to fly far too close to flesh. This touring edition of Phantasmagoria combines humor and horror in a steampunk, goth production that shines.

Ticket prices are $15.00 for students and $20.00 for general admission with a $5.00 per ticket add on for VIP guests. Phantasmagoria "Wicked Little Tales" remaining shows are July 25-26 at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center (812 E Rollins St, Orlando, Florida) it then goes to Atlanta Georgia on July 31 to August 2.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Picks for July 25th and 26th.

Saturday July 25, 2015
8:30am to 4pm Free. National Dance Day. Cultural Park (lawn in front of the Loch Haven Neighborhood Center). This year’s event will encourage families and friends to begin the morning of July 25 at the NDDO Community Celebration, located at Cultural Park, to participate in exercises, dance routines, and performances by Central Florida dance professionals.  Within walking distance of the park is the Orlando Ballet Central Campus where 30 free specialized dance classes will be offered throughout the day to ages 3-100, including special needs movement classes.  Central Florida dance company directors, choreographers, and fitness instructors will share different styles of dance through body conditioning, dance technique, and choreography at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.  NDDO desires to bring educational, community-driven dance opportunities to non-dancers and dancers alike! All red items are dance sessions we can sketch.
8:30am - Holly Harris - NDDO Opening Address / Introduce Elisa
8:35am -  Elisa DeFoe - Stretch/Cardio Workout
NDD Routine #1
9:00am -  Holly Harris - Share NDDO Details, Pump Up Crowd for Filming / Introduce Myles
9:05am -  Myles Thoroughgood - Teach Beginner NDD Routine to the Community
9:25am -  Announcements from Center for Contemporary Dance
Stage Performances 
9:30am -  Red Bull BC One - breakdancing
9:35am -  Moore Dance Project - contemporary
9:40am -  Dr. Phillips Center - jazz
9:45am -  Emotions Dance - contemporary
9:50am -  Adam Boreland - contemporary ballet
NDD Routine #2
9:55am -  Holly Harris - Share details about Red Bull BC One, Pump Up Crowd for Filming / Introduce Ellie
10:00am -  Ellie Potts Barrett - Teach 2nd NDDO Routine to the Community
10:25am -  Announcements from Orlando Ballet
Stage Performances 
10:30am -  Clarissa Crox Turner and the Squad - hip-hop
10:35am -  Dawn Branch Works - modern
10:40am -  DG’s Afro-Latin Dance Project - latin
10:45am -  Orlando Ballet - ballet (piece #1)
10:45am -  Orlando Ballet - ballet (piece #2)
10:50am -  Holly Harris - Closing Remarks
NDDO Free Dance Classes at Orlando Ballet School Central Campus
July 25 - 8AM-4PM
2201 McRae Ave. 
Orlando, FL 32803
Beginning Ballet
Intermediate/Advanced Ballet
Beginning Modern (upstairs)

Beginning Hip Hop
Intermediate/Advanced Hip Hop
Intermediate/Advanced Modern (upstairs)

Beginning Contemporary
Intermediate/Advanced Contemporary
Beginning Breakdance/Street Dance (upstairs)

Modern Latin
Beginning Broadway Jazz
Intermediate/Advanced Broadway Jazz (upstairs)

Dance Fitness
Stretch and Recovery

8:30am to 4pm Free. World Wide SketchCrawl 48. Cultural Park (Lawn in front of the Neighborhood Center) 610 N. Lake Formosa Drive Orlando FL 32803. The Orlando SketchCrawl falls on National Dance Day. Artists should meet in Cultural Park in the morning. Text me (Thor) when you arrive so I can be sure you find the group. (407) 760-2813. See NDD above for the day's schedule of sketch opportunities.
6pm to 8pm Free. Brewery Tour. Orlando Brewing, 1301 Atlanta Ave, Orlando, FL.

8pm $20 Phantasmagoria "Wicked Little Tales". The John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center
Mandell Theater (Loch Haven Park – Orlando, Florida on the corner of 1792 and Princeton).
The critically acclaimed Victorian Horror Troupe PHANTASMAGORIA, in collaboration with DiDonna Productions, will premiere its new touring show, with a limited engagement July 24, 25 and 26.
General Admission $20.00 / Student $15.00 / $5.00 per ticket VIP add on
For will call/cash only at door please call 407.328.9005

Sunday July 26, 2015
Noon- 5:00pm Suggested $5 donation. Cardboard Art Festival. Inside the Sodo Shopping Center
at 45 W. Crystal Lake Street, store #117, Orlando, FL 32806 (same side as TJ Maxx, across from Gator's)

Cardboard is something we pack up, ship off or store away. But did you know it's one of the most-loved mediums to work in for artists all over the world? will celebrate cardboard art for the third year in a row with four days of parties, kids events, and open gallery hours inside an empty storefront in Orlando, Florida. Kids Fringe Cardboard Matinee  1:00pm- 3:00pm $1 per kid to participate.

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
1pm to 3pm Free. Yoga. Lake Eola Park, 195 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, FL. Weekly at the East end of the park near the Red Pagoda.

8pm $20 Phantasmagoria "Wicked Little Tales". The John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center
Mandell Theater (Loch Haven Park – Orlando, Florida on the corner of 1792 and Princeton).
The critically acclaimed Victorian Horror Troupe PHANTASMAGORIA, in collaboration with DiDonna Productions, will premiere its new touring show, with a limited engagement. Sunday night July 26th is the last show in Orlando.
General Admission $20.00 / Student $15.00 / $5.00 per ticket VIP add on
For will call/cash only at door please call 407.328.9005

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Renningers is always packed with visual surprises.

I spent one day on the weekend exploring Renningers with the antiquing crew. In February vendors come from all around the country to set up booths on the grassy hillsides around Mount Dora. As everyone was exploring the indoor booths, I set off on my own to sketch a giant swordfish I had seen earlier in the day. The fish was the focal point for Florida Victorian Architectural Salvage and Antiques from Deland Florida. As I was sketching I noticed a woman with long flowing hair having her picture taken with the giant alligator. I tried to get her in the sketch but she moved on to quickly. Later as she was taking cell phone pictures of the World of Oddities Side show banners, I managed to catch her.

As she and her friend exited the booth they approached me curious about why I would sit in the middle of a huge Flea Market. Donna Lee Gauntlet introduced herself. It turned out that she is an artist herself and she was in Mount Dora on a "Girls Art Weekend". Donna told me about how sketching every day in her art journal helped her get through a difficult time. In essence art saved her life. Both her parents were artists and she felt like she didn't live up to their standards as a child first learning art. Later in her life however the habit of sketching every day took hold. Her art studio is called The Dizzy Dandelion Studio. She offers a program called "Just Drawing It Out" which teaches people to connect to their creativity using art journals. She offers prompts that ask the students to draw specific objects together in a scene. Donna is working on a book right now that uses her sketches and copy to share her joy at having discovered an artists lifestyle. Her sketches are vibrant, playful and often full of joy. Donna runs art therapy workshops with retirement home residents. She uses art and laughter as healing tools. That lead me to tell her about my sketching collaboration where I sketched elderly residents as an an author interviewed them.

Later that evening as the sun set, Elaine took us all to Heron Cay bed and breakfast. We weren't staying here, but Elaine wanted to show us all the highwaymen paintings that were hanging in the old Victorian home. There were indeed paintings everywhere in the gorgeously ornate interior. Paintings lined the stairway, so I followed our crew upstairs. A bedroom door was open at the top of the stairs and I heard Terry inside saying "My husband is an artist too." I had to poke my head in, and there was Donna lounging on a four poster bed with several of her girl friends sketching in their art journals. They asked to see my sketch from earlier in the day, and for once I wasn't carrying my art bag. I ran down to the car to get it and then found the front door locked when I tried to get back in. Another guest on the porch eventually let me in. Back upstairs as they flipped through my sketchbook I thought about what a great sketch I could do in this ornate room. The wallpaper had blood red floral patterns and all the furniture was dark ornately carved wood. I wanted to linger (sketch) but downstairs Elaine told Terry that they would leave without me if I didn't hurry up. Upstairs, we took a couple of photos and then I rushed off to get dinner in Downtown Mount Dora. The moon was so bright that night as it shimmered above Lake Dora.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The annual Renningers antiquing outing.

Every year, Terry's friends Elaine Pasekoff and Bob Newlen come to Central Florida for a Renningers Antiques shopping extravaganza. Elaine drove up from Miami and Bob flew in from Washington DC. Bob has a very responsible job at the Library of Congress, but when he gets to Florida he is all fun. When I got home from work, I found Bob asleep on the couch. He must have had an exhausting flight.

Terry was busy preparing dinner for our guests and Elaine kept her company as they caught up. There is always plenty of laughter when this crew gets together. After dinner, Bob went down to Sand Lake Road to stay in a brand new hotel that opened just last year. We dropped him off and peeked at his suite. He was living like a sultan rather than slumming it on our couch or guest bedroom.

Terry, Elaine and Bob drove up to Renningers in Mount Dora the next day. The intended to shop until they dropped all weekend. I had a class to teach, so I had a pass the first day. I drove up that night and we all sat on the porch of the Mount Dora Inn for a show and tell session. Everyone had a pile of loot and I got to play judge deciding what was the most unique, quirky and beautiful in the lot.I would make up a new category if an item called for it. I particularly liked a travel booklet for Cuba from the 1950s. That Elaine had picked up. There was an ad inside for Cuba's only Jewish Deli.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

College Park's Arts Scene.

Frankie Messina organized an arts collaboration where artists could exhibit their work at a business in College Park each month. I placed the event on my sketch opportunity calendar and then set it to repeat each month. Many months went by and I wasn’t able to get out to sketch. Finally I made it out to do a sketch but I didn’t find any artists. I decided to just sketch the flamingo mural that was on the side of a bike store. I like the architecture of the stores on this corner. It turned out that the art event I was hoping to sketch had long since run its course and died away due to lack of interest. This seems true of most arts events in town, a spark becomes a flame and then dies out in isolated venues around Central Florida and then fades away. The trick for me is to sketch these events while they burn bright.I missed the sketch opportunity this time around, but got to enjoy sketching as the sun set behind the Edgewater Drive retail stores to the west.

There is an art gallery on Edgewater Drive that carries paintings by "Paint the Trail". I've never gone inside the gallery, but I always notice the portrait of Salvador Dali with the quote "Mad About Art" as I drive by. Once a month or so, Terry and I bring Zorro to a parrot gathering at Albert Park in College Park hosted by Parrot Adventures. These outings are when I enjoy street dining with plenty of parrots.