Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Curator of Exhibitions and Collections Pamela Schwartz.

I first met Pamela Schwartz, The Orange County Regional History Center Chief Curator three months after the horrific Pulse Nightclub shooting that took 49 lives. I had contacted artist, and History Center Collections manager Whitney Broadaway, about sketching interviews with survivors, family of victims and first responders. It just so happened that Pamela was beginning interviews, so the collaboration made perfect sense. Pamela is an artist herself, so she understood what I do.

Pamela had been working as the History Center museum curator for just four months when the Pulse shooting happened. as politicians and first responders scrambled for a course of action, Pam was making plans on how the History Center could play a roll in preserving the history that was unfolding. Multiple memorials were appearing with people leaving flowers candles and personal mementos. Rather than have all these items end up in a landfill, Pamela spearheaded an effort to collect, preserve and catalogue all of the thousands of items in the museum archives.

The collections work happened under grueling conditions in the height of the Florida summer heat. It was thankless work since not everyone understood or appreciated what the museum staff was doing. To date these thousands of items are still being preserved and catalogued. In this sketch Pamela is working late at night cataloguing the 49 crosses that were left at Lake Beauty next to the Orlando Regional Medical Center where people were treated after the shooting. After being collected, each cross was placed in a specially made archival box with a clear front. All of the memorial items left at each cross would fit in another box that slips behind the cross inside the box, keeping everything together. Preservation of the crosses was a challenge since they weren't built to last. Pamela took photos of each cross when they were at the hospital, showing them the first day and then sequentially with memorial items added over time. A large online database was created where memorial items can be seen. The crosses were supposed to go on public display 6 months after the shooting but Hurricane Mathew shut down those plans and canceled the Pride Parade. With one year fast approaching this June, the crosses are once again being considered as a symbolic centerpiece to honor each of the victims.

On Pam's desk are several EMS and fire department rainbow patches which were custom made to honor the senseless loss of life. It is just one example of the many small gestures that people continue to make in order to deal in some way with the tragedy. Such items are often sent straight to the museum since only the memorial at Pulse remains. Lake Eola and the memorial at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts have since been collected and are now being preserved.

On this night the subject for the interview didn't show up, so I sketched Pam at work. She entertained me with stories about her family in the mid-west. She has been working in museums since she was 14,  so she was immediately up to the challenge when the Pulse Tragedy occurred. Interviews are still being conducted and likely will continue for years to come. Not everyone is ready to talk about that night. Just locating people is a challenge. Some wounds may never heal. I feel fortunate to be using my art to help document this story.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Orlando Traveling Mural Meeting.

The Orlando Traveling Mural meeting was held on the second floor at Sam Flax. Colleen Ardaman moderated. I arrived a bit late and the meeting was well underway. Several news stations were there along with survivors, and family of victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Some of the painting s of victims were hung on the wall behind a panel of people involved in the project. The fact that this mural will help memorialize the people lost was stresses by Mayra, the mother of Amanda Alvear who was tragically shot that evening of June 12. Colleen mistook the portrait above Mayra's head for Amanda, but it was Amanda's best friend Mercedes who also died that night. Amanda may have been able to escape that evening but she went back for her friend according to Amanda's brother.

Much of the meeting was an opportunity to express the good will surrounding the project. People directly affected by the tragedy will be adding hand prints to the panels to allow everyone to contribute as a community. Coleen handed out sea shells to everyone in the room. She explained that the shell was a reminder of the living being that once inhabited it. The mural would act as a similar reminder.

The survivors sat in front of me at the meeting. A female newscaster crawled close to them so she could hear their names. I write the names down and hope to meet each someday. India Cedeno, a Pulse shooting survivor, said she also survived 9/11 in NYC. She began to recount how she and her son had escaped the club that night. As she spoke, she got choked up. Christopher Hanson another shooting survivor comforted her. As she recovered she explained that she was overwhelmed by the love in the room. I still don't know if art can heal, the talk rings shallow to me, but it is bringing people together which in itself opens doors and breaks down isolating barriers.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Swampy, The World's Largest Gator.

I spotted Swampy, the Worlds Largest Gator on a road trip heading West on 50 towards the space coast. I was driving out to sketch a rocket launch, so  I couldn't stop. After the launch, I had to stop and sketch Swampy. Swampy acts as the gateway to Jungle Adventures, A Real Florida Animal Park, (26205 E Colonial Dr, Christmas, FL 32709). The gator's 200 foot length guarantees the world record status. 

Jungle Adventure is home of rare Florida Panthers, Black Bears, Wolves, White-Tailed Deer, Tropical Birds, Reptiles, Mammals, and other critters. You enter this timeless old Florida Hidden Treasure into a lost world that time forgot. You can see, hear, smell (ewww) and feel, old, authentic Florida. Unfortunately the park was closed by the time I got back around sunset. I couldn't swell anything from the parking lot.

The park offers a gator jamboree feeding, and a cruise aboard the Serene Passage on Green Gator River, deep inside a natural Florida habitat teeming with alligators, flocks of birds and authentic old Florida replica, Spanish Fort Mees. Guests can cruise among 200 gators and survive.

Admission for Adults ages 12 to 59 is $23.95.
Seniors aged 60 and older cost $20.95
Children 3-11 cost $16.95
Children under 3 are free.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

West Art District faces a white wash by the city of Orlando.

The West Art District is located 1011 West Central Avenue near Westmoreland. Walking here was an adventure from downtown Orlando. Several blocks of Central are closed off due to construction of the new Orlando City Soccer Stadium. Fencing closed the street but the sidewalk remained open. The Homeless coalition had cardboard boxes and bundles possessions blocking part of the sidewalk. The sight of the colorful murals brightened the otherwise dingy neighborhood.

In May, the City of Orlando will be holding a public hearings to address code violations for this group of buildings known as The West Art District. According to city code, a building can not have murals on the front of the building. These buildings have all four walls covered in murals. A neighbor of West Art District put in the complaint. Harrison Rai, the manager of the property fears that the city wants to whitewash the front of the buildings. With the Orlando City Soccer Stadium gentrifying the neighborhood more people might have a chance to see the murals. In Miami's Wynwood District, every building is covered with murals created by artists from around the world. During Art Basel, an international artists exhibition, new art is added to the walls each year.

Several years ago I was asked to design a mural for the front of the Fringe offices. Money was raised to fund the project but before work began, the building was torn down to make room for a sky rise condo. Had I actually completed the mural, it might have faced a city whitewashing because of the ordinance.

In 2015, the City created a new, streamlined process to approve artistic murals and allow for this creative expression to expand in the City. Below is an overview of our current mural policy process. Any mural not meeting these requirements may still be allowed but would require a sign permit.

Location in the City: The artistic mural must be located in a non-residential area that is designated as an activity center or mixed-use corridor inside a Main Street or Market Street that isn’t a historic district or be adjacent to a LYMMO or SunRail station.

Location on the Building: The artistic mural must be on either the sides or rear of the building.

Height of the Mural: The artistic mural can only take up a certain percentage of the wall depending on the height. No mural can be more than 60 feet tall.

Commercial Message and Text: The artistic mural can have a sponsor (text or logo) but can not take up more than 5% of the mural. Any non-commercial text, separate from the sponsorship, can also not take up more than 5% of the mural

Maintenance Standards: Prior to painting, the area must be properly cleaned and primed. If the mural is defaced, peels, fades or is not maintained it will need to be repaired or painted over within 30 days.

Approval Process: Artistic murals require a joint application of the property owner and artist to the City. The application includes the concept for the mural, size and location. The application must be submitted in advance of the mural being installed. Murals inside the Downtown area will also require approval by Appearance Review Board staff. 

With so many rules regulations and reviews, artistic expression seems boxed in, much to the standards of the Orwellian 1984 society.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Weekend Top 6 Picks for April 22 and 23.

Saturday April 22, 2017
1:30pm to 4pm Free. Protest of St. Augustine's Anti-Artist Laws. Plaza de la Constitucion and on St. George Street. PleinAir artists from around the nation will converge on St. Augustine in protest of St. Augustine’s Anti-Artist Laws, and Historic City News local reporters will be there.
Currently PleinAir artists in St. Augustine are subject to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for “illegally” PleinAir painting or drawing in the City’s downtown parks and sidewalks. PleinAir painting is defined as painting in the open air or painting outdoors.
In support of St. Augustine’s PleinAir artists’ First Amendment rights to Freedom of Expression in public spaces, PleinAir artists will “illegally” paint and/or draw throughout the City’s “prohibited” parks and sidewalks.
In defiance of the City’s Anti-Artist laws, PleinAir artists will set up their easels in the Plaza de la Constitucion and on St. George Street starting at 1:30 p.m., in individual acts of civil disobedience. The “Paint In” will last approximately two-and-a-half hours.
Artists who do not wish to be arrested plan to set up a small easel and a blank canvas, symbolic of their support for the local artists, and in protest of the City’s restrictions on their First Amendment rights to paint and draw in public spaces. The city has laws that ban “painting,” “drawing,” “displaying,” and/or “selling” art in public spaces, but none against setting up an easel with a blank canvas. Laws against “intentionally” blocking or impeding pedestrian traffic still apply.
All of the artists who plan to paint or draw recognize that they are subject to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine if they “illegally” create art in the City’s “prohibited” public spaces, and are making provisions to make bail.
Starting at 1:00 p.m. we will begin meeting with people in the Plaza near the former “Slave Market” to answer any last-minute questions and hand out extra 8.5″x11″ signs.

6pm to 9pm $120 for members, $150 for non-members. Participation Dinner Affair. Art and History Center, Germaine Marvel Building 231 W. Packwood Avenue Maitland, FL 32751. One of Central Florida’s most intriguing fundraising events, Participation is a feast for your senses. Local artists transform dining tables into works of art, and guests enjoy dinner with the artist at these unique creations. The evening includes live performances and demonstrations, a silent art auction, elegant dining and more.
 2017 Artists: Bob Barnett, Victor Bokas, Whitney Broadway, Stephanie Cafcules, Nathalie Chikhi, Anthony Deal, Danielle DeGuglimo, Marla E, Jeri Eisenberg, Lauren Gilmore, Derek Gores, Dan Hess, Matt Larson, Rebecca Sexton Larson, Faren LeJeune, Richard Munster, Suzanne Oberholtzer, Danny Powell, Kelly Maier Rex, Rebecca Rose, Elizabeth St. Hilaire and Trent Tomengo.

8pm to 10pm $5. The First Annual Tribute To Morgan Steele. Will's Pub 1042 N Mills Ave, Orlando, Florida 32803. A Tribute to local artist, writer, eco-activist, and Legend Morgan Steele.
Dirt McCoy and Friends with:
Sabrina Ambra
Erik Grincewicz
And Mick McIuan
Love Destruction
Eugene Snowden
And Jim O'Rourke
Local Artists and Exhibits

Sunday April 23, 2017
10am to noon. Free. Painting Demo Light on water Michelle Held. Lake Lily Drive, Lake Lily Dr, Maitland, FL 32751. Part of the week long Winter Park Paint Out hosted by the Polasek Museum.

1pm to 3pm $40 Yoga Sketching Workshop. The Art of Fitness, 5154 Dr Phillips Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819.
Thomas Thorspecken (Thor) will offer instruction on how to draw the human form by sketching a Yoga Master in action. The class will cover the importance of finding a quick gesture before focusing on detail. Poses will be short to start 1 minute to 2 minutes) and get progressively longer as students loosen up. 10 minutes for the longest pose. We will focus on loose line work that stresses keeping the figure from being vertical or stiff. Get a drawing workout while drawing a yoga workout.
Art Of Fitness is a personal training and yoga studio in Dr. Phillips. The studio features an upscale design focused on inspiring clients to look and feel like a work of art. Golf fitness, meditation, tai chi, nutrition, personal training, yoga and yoga with pet therapy is all part of the atmosphere at this creative studio.
Elite Animation’s mission is to provide the highest quality education with top industry experts in the Art of Animation to students around the world from ages 8 and up (and Adults). We strive to offer a unique, engaging and innovative animation programs, bringing real life experiences to the classroom and providing students with the tools to maximize their marketability and increase their opportunities for college placement and advancement in various industries, not just Entertainment.

9pm to 11:55pm Free but get a coffee. Comedy Open Mic. Austin's Coffee, 929 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL.  Free comedy, or give it a try yourself.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pulse Stairway Mural.

Michael Pilato and Yoriy Karbash have been working on a large multi panel Pulse Mural in a second floor walk up studio above Anthony's Pizza on the corner of Mills Avenue and Colonial Drive. The mural will be on display at Pulse at 2am on June 12 and then Lake Eola near the band shell later that day.

Artist Susan Gromala Crary volunteered to help home schooled Kids paint the mural leading up the steps. The kids small sketches on the first day of possible ideas, and Susan all those ideas to build a cohesive concept. Strips blue painter's marked the upper reaches of the mural. Using ochre paint, Susan sketched in the biggest elements of the mural which consisted of flowers with heart shaped pedals. There were to be 49 shaped pedals in all. stood at the base of the staircase count and view The overall design. Once some students arrived, Susan assigned one the important task of double checking her numbers.

A single desk clipped to a board acted as the of illumination, along with the open door. Some pedestrians saw Susan staring up the staircase, and they had to look for themselves. I was impressed with how fast the design took shape. Once all the kids started adding color, the process really accelerated.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Homeschoolers learn about the Inspiration Project.

Michael Pilato came to Orlando shortly after the horrific shooting that killed 49 people who were celebrating life. Michael is a muralist and his murals colorfully show family of victims, survivors and first responders who were affected by the tragedy. This coming June 12th will mark one year since that fatal night. The mural panels are nearing completion and a second mural for UCF is about to begin.

The home schoolers visited The studio which is above Anthony's Pizza on the corner of Colonial Drive and Mills Avenue. The students lead by Susan Gromala Crary, were about to paint murals up the stairways to the studio. Michael showed samples of past murals to inspire the students and then they gathered in a group and sketched out possible concepts to the stairway. Hearts were a recurring theme and also many words of hope. The students text often and words are their primary means of expressing their feelings. Susan took the sketches ant thoughts back to her studio and helped tie them all together into a cohesive whole. The day was good for collaboration and seeing how individuals can come together and creative something that any one of them might not have conceived. It was inspiring to see Susan interact with the kids and they all pulled together to create something unexpected.

Susan has an opening coming up April 29th called  Pedestrian: Moments in Blue at The Gatlin Creative, 4940 Orange Ave S, Orlando, Florida 32806. Music Preformance by: Old School Misfits.

The show is a study of the artistic experience that can not be mass produced. The series celebrates the moments when an artist is in their element. The paintings are a tribute to the passion and creative drive of the artist that some might consider pedestrian; or art happenings that sometimes may be discarded or overlooked as art. Ms. Gromala journeyed throughout the central Florida region to paint live at each art event with usually two hours to capture moments as it occurred. The process of live painting creates the sketchy loose and energetic feel which allows the viewer to be a part of each event through Susan’s perspective of the artist. Her preference to utilize the color blue is a symbolic nod to the "blue collar" element. It also stems from her passion for monochromatic imagery and the color of Prussian Blue. A highlight of Susan’s style is the manner in which she celebrates each drip and errant brush stroke that can occur in a live painting. These marks are purposefully included as part of each piece to enable a connection to the action and energy present during the happening as it was being captured on canvas. Therefore, creating a painting style emoting a sense of honest reaction to each of these unique artist moment

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Central Florida Fingerstyle Guitar Circle

I used to live in Winter Park. The city used to mail out a community bulletin along with the water bill. In that bulletin I found the Winter Park Guitar Circle which meets at the Winter Park Public Library, (460 E New England Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789). I arrived pretty early to a room with a circle of chairs. Gradually, musicians arrived, and I placed them in the sketch as they sat down. The seats directly in front of me eventually did fill up, but I left the seats empty for the sake of opening up the staging.

Each guitarist in turn would perform and if the mood was right others would join in. One performer had a harmonica while another had a small head microphone since he felt his voice didn't carry. Others joked that he might electrocute himself as he got ready to perform. The folk songs and music was relaxing and heart felt. It was a great free concert. There were varying levels of talent and experience but anyone who came and performed found a supportive and safe place to play. Similar song circles sprout up all around Central Florida and they are always a great sketch opportunity.

The Central Florida Fingerstyle Guitar Group meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 6:00 P.M. til 8:30 P.M. in the community room of the Winter Park Public Library. It is open to the public and free. Any person interested in acoustic fingerstyle guitar is welcome and please do come if you wish to listen and bring any friends with you. This is always recommended to all levels of players because you will be exposed to many styles and levels of skills. Bring your guitar if you wish. The circle is very casual. We sit in a circle and share one at a time.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monthly Artist Critique

I always enjoy going to the Monthly Artist Critique at The Barefoot Spa (801 Virginia Dr, Orlando, Florida 32803). Artists get a chance to share their work in front of an audience of their peers. It is a chance to learn about other artists work and a chance to find out how the work was created and the artists goals in creating the piece.

It doesn't matter what kind of art you do, artists include oil painters, paper makers, glass artists, found object sculptors, video artists, watercolor painters, ceramicists, artists who draw and collage, jewelry artists, print makers, etc. It also doesn't matter how much experience you have. Some artists have never shown and others are nationally recognized competition winners. The point is to get people from many different styles, backgrounds, and experience levels together to talk about everyone's work!

The discussions have included pricing, finding materials, technique, framing, exhibition opportunities, and, yes, traditional critique. We are trying to mix different artists and get them talking about art! Everyone's art is shown individually, and talked about for about 10 minutes. The idea is not only to get other people to talk about your art, but to spend the evening talking about everyone's art!

The critique is about showing brand new art, the newest art that you have. And if more than one piece is shown, it should be part of a series. Or if they aren't part of a series, make sure that you are prepared to talk about the art as a group.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

49 Globes.

The City of Winter Park responded to the Pulse nightclub shooting but hanging 49 globes in Central Park around the Albin Polasek, "Emily Fountain." These illuminated globes usually are hunk up and down Park Avenue during the Christmas holidays. This mini memorial garnered plenty of attention. During the course of doing this sketch people kept dropping at the fountain to take cell phone photos. Every color of the rainbow was used. It was a small visual hint of hope in the face of tragedy. Despite the cities over controlling and unconstitutional ordinances that limit free speech, they do know how to honor and cherish the memory of lives lost.

When walking home from a quick sketch competition in Central Park, I saw a chalk outline of a human body on the sidewalk. On October 15, 2016  Roger Thomé Trindade a Brazilian transfer student at a Winter Park school was beaten to death by 3 youths. One of the three bragged about delivering the fatal knockout punch.  Two of the youths, Simon Hall, 15, and Jesse Sutherland, 15, were released on bail in February 2017 pending the trial. They were under house arrest. Authorities say Simon Hall threw the first punch and spit on Roger when he was down. The State attorney did report that Jaggar Guorda, 14, one of the three youths accused in the homicide, will receive his sentence on June 12, 2017. Gourda is accused of initiating the sequence of events that lead to the attack by spraying teens with spunk spray. He is also accused of threatening a middle school girl, saying if she mentioned the fight, she would pay. As of April 6th, 2017 there still was no sentencing in the trial of the three youths.