Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Story Club

“Orlando Story Club at The Abbey, (100 South Eola Drive, Orlando, FL 32801) returned this year giving anyone who wishes to tell a personal story a chance to put their name in a hat, to be selected at random to showcase their story telling for the enrichment of the local community.  The January event theme was “Life’s Lessons” and the benefiting charity was Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida.  This month’s event featured special guest storyteller and host Daniel Pacchioni and a performance by AdLib Theater.

Jack Graham told his life lesson story that involved stories told around a camp fire. People from all walks of life came together and connected on a special moonlit evening. I was convinced his story would hold first place but it eventually was usurped by a woman's story about her father who drank heavily and her step father who she never truly appreciated until it was too late. Her emotional story awakened a desire to always appreciate those that are important in life. Never take for granted a single moment. Mark your calendar, the next Story Club is Wednesday March 1st from 7pm to 9pm at the Abbey, 100 Suoth Eola Drive 3100 Orlando Florida. This month's theme is " I just had to have it."

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Apartment hunting.

It has been 10 months since I have been separated from my wife. The sketchbooks were the first thing to leave the house. The first apartment I looked at was one block from Sam Flax. The place had new tile and looked nice. It was only an 800 foot studio space however. With all my art, the place would be cramped. The day I looked at the place I sat on the front porch an waited for the realtor. The tiles on the front porch were being bashed up by a workman.

I was amazed that I was accepted almost immediately. I was also amazed when friend in Winter Park who is a snow bird, offered me a sublet when she moved back up north. I sweetened the deal by offering to replace all the living room carpet, and the tile kitchen and dining area with new Mediterranean tile. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Knocking up old tile using a chisel and hammer was way more work than I imagined. I spent six months living in a construction zone. All that blood sweat and tears saved me $200 a month on rent.

The lease was for 8 months, but the friend decided to return two months early. I explained all the work that remained to be done and the response was, "Just get it the fuck done!" So I rushed the job, completing the floor before the new deadline. There was plenty of touch up and cleaning up that needed to be done but I got it the fuck done. The floor looked amazing. Long story short, for reasons I don't understand, unrelated to the job, I was told to leave and sighed a lease termination document. I considered that document a friendship termination document. Not my circus, not my monkeys. Within two days I had moved to a gorgeous Thornton Park apartment for a short term stay while I looked for a new place. Several friends offered me roommate situations. My Orlando friends helped me land back on my feet.

Monday, February 27, 2017

903 Mills Market Cafe

I met Andy Matchett at 903 Mills Market Cafe (903 S Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32806). We sat outside and had a long conversation. The food was fresh and delicious so we lingered over lunch. My life was in transition, and he was glad to offer advice. We traded war stories and compared wounds. Being able to share me experiences with a friend, helped me set my resolve as my life changed and unfolded moving forward. 

Is Mills Market a Cafe, or a Deli? Now that I'm working on a book about Cafe drawings, I plan to return and sketch in side, to find out. The place has an Earthy vibe with large fresh wraps.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Returning from New York City.

After teaching an Urban Sketching Workshop in NYC I returned to Orlando via JFK airport.  Any time I am in an airport, I can't resist sketching fellow passengers as they wait to board the plane. March in New York was crisp, so passengers we re bundled up. I'm sure I had on heavier jackets than the gentlemen in my sketch. Once the sketch was done, I ordered a Mountain Dew and a muffin to tide me over.

Back in Orlando the weather was warm and beautiful, so my jacket got tied brown my waist as I searched to my car in long term parking. Once I got home, my nose stuffed up. I'm convinced I was allergic to my home.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

New York City Urban Sketching Workshop.

I went to NYC to give an Urban Sketching workshop for the New York City Urban Sketchers. My premises was to show how to populate a sketch by placing figures in perspective. The workshop was held in a midtown building on the West side near Grand Central Station. The studios are usually used to rehears and workshop Broadway plays. As a matter of face we could heard dancers working in the studio next door. Our studio room had mirrored walls for the dancers to see themselves. One thing I always tell students when I am teaching students to imagine a vanishing point is to imagine the room has mirrored walls. The vanishing point would be right between the students eyes in the reflection. With this room, They didn't have to imagine.

Mark Leibovitz the NYC go to guy acted as a model and students had to draw him as well as other students and the reflections. I did very quick sample drawings to demonstrate the concepts I had shared. I think some light bulbs lit up that day. Some students brought in copies of my book, Urban Sketching: the Complete Guide to Techniques for me to sign. After class we all went out to lunch and then we met again at Grand Central Station for another series of sketches in which we places crowds of people in perspective. The second level of a grand Central Station is now a huge Apple Store. We gathered at the edges of the balcony in the store to draw the crowds of commuters below.

The last sketch of the day was done outside Grand Central Station of the facade. The goal was to demonstrate three point perspective. In three point perspective there is a vanishing point in the clouds and the lines of buildings all converge up towards that third point. I cut my sketch short so I could walk around and share the love by giving one on one advice to students based on the sketch they had started.

After the last Grand Central sketch, we all went to a German beer hall to share sketches and war stories from the day. There I could look at students entire sketchbooks and offer advice. It was a fabulous day. I hope to arrange similar workshops in the future. I love sharing what I have learned from doing a sketch every day for the past 7 years.

Friday, February 24, 2017

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

Saturday February 25, 2017
2:30pm to 4:30pm Free but try the beer. Sanford Brewing Company's Grand Opening Party. 400 Sanford Ave, Sanford, FL 32771.

6pm to 9pm Free. Opulence Art Show Reception. The Barefoot Spa 801 Virginia Dr, Orlando, Florida 32803. "Opulence" features the work of 25 Central Florida artists. The connecting theme of this show is the use "rooms of spectacular opulence" in art. Included are paintings, sculptures, photography and multi media pieces. The collection is diverse vibrant and interesting.
This show will be up for the months of Feb. & March.
Hours; 10 to 5 daily (closed Sundays)

Most of the artists will be available at the reception to speak to you about their art. Please make time in your schedule to support the Central Florida art community!

8pm to 11pm Free but get food and drink. Jazz Saturdays.  Cork and Fork American Grill 5180 S. Conway Road, Belle Isle, FL 32812.  Jazz Saturdays will feature live entertainment by Jazzanova musicians.

Sunday February 26, 2017
Noon to 1pm Free. Yoga. Lake Eola near red gazebo. 

Noon to 2pm Free but get food and drink. Florida Gospel Jam. Fish on Fire 7937 Daetwyler Drive Belle Isle FL. Every 2nd and 4th Sunday. 

2pm to 4pm Free but get food and drink. Irish Music. Olivia's Coffee House, 108 N Bay St, Eustis, FL

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Timucua Arts white house.

Nora Lee Garcia, performed on flute and Rene Izquierdo, performed on guitar at the Timucua Arts white house (2000 S Summerlin Ave, Orlando, Florida 32806) on Sunday January 8th, 2017.  The featured visual artist live painting was Elizabeth St. Hilaire.

The program included: 
Suite Buenos Aires by Maximo Diego Pujol (1957- )
I- Pompeya II-Palermo III-San Telmo IV-Micro Centro Musiques Populaires Brésiliennes by Celso Machado (1953- )
Sambosa Algodao Doce Pe De Moleque Piazza Vittorio Ave Maria by Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) Hasta Alicia Baila by Eduardo Martin (1956- )
and History of Tango by Astor Piazzolla

It was fun watching Elizabeth paint to the music in her bright pink socks and shoes. Her work was spot lit around the room. The canvas was prepped with a faint collage of hand written letters, and she painted a 1920's era bathing beauty. After the concert people crowded around the entry table to sip wine and the potluck snacks. The White House is one place in Orlando that truly fosters a sense of artist: community. The number of concerts keeps growing now that Benoit Glazer has retired from his musical director position at Cirque du Soleil. There is now member ship options that can be bought. Members get to enter the venue first and there are other perks around town.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The 58th Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival.

Mark your calendar, the 58th Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival will be in Central Park and along Park Avenue in Winter Park, FL on March 17, 18 and 19th between 9am and 5pm. It offers a wide variety of fine art from 225 artists from across the country, a Children's Workshop Village, Leon Theodore Schools Exhibit, and live entertainment throughout the weekend. 

This sketch was done at last year's festival. There is a new law in Winter Park that makes it illegal to create art on Park Avenue and Hannibal Square. Anyone found guilty must face 30 days in jail, and a $500 fine. Central Park is considered exempt from the law, allowing for freedom of expression. Artists can create in the Park but only in the Park. Because of that law, I decided to sketch the police who were serving and protecting at the Art Festival. It was a fairly relaxing day for them and none of them flinched because I was sketching. Hopefully this means this absurd law will go unenforced forever. Perhaps it will never be enforced like the Florida state constitution that allows for freedom of speech, a trial by jury, and pregnant pigs to not be confined in cages. Pregnant pigs roam free, but artists are banished.

I did this sketch while waiting for a Winter Park friend who wanted to see the festival. The friend never showed. When the sketch was done, I reached for my cell phone to text and find out what was wrong. My darn phone was dead. Should I stick around or go back to my car and charge the phone? I decided to walk to the car which was parked about 1 mile away since parking is a nightmare during the art festival. When I got back to my car, I discovered that the charging chord which was wrapped in multiple layers of black electrical tape had finally decided it's charging days were over. Wires must have severed and it was dead. Rather than hike back, I decided to call it a day. I didn't feel like returning to a stretch of road that outlaws the creation of art. Winter Park is no longer home and the Winter Park friend is no longer a friend.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Louis at Atria Senior Living: Assisted Living and Retirement Community.

Louis is retired, has Alzheimer's, and now resides at the Atria retirement home. In the evenings, his floor is on lock down.  In the home he was in before this, he walked out of the facility and wandered the neighborhood, not sure where he was. His daughter ultimately had to drive through the neighborhood until she found him. Two other daughters, one out of state, want nothing to do with him.

Only the youngest daughter visits him about once a week, and she is spending her own hard earned money to assist her father in his later years. She is spending her own retirement money to keep him safe. When one of he checks was lost in y mail, she was interested like she was a criminal. I visited when she went to see him one time. He has been getting bruises on his arms and she suspects that he gets into fights with his room mate. He didn't remember that she was his daughter. He might have thought she was his former wife or another relative. She took him outside to sit in front of the facility to sketch. As we walked past the recreation room he began to shout, and his daughter calmed him down.

As he put the shape of a tree on the page, he seemed perfectly lucid. I sketched the suburban neighborhood and caught furtive glances at him as he sketched. He began talking about the beautiful French women he met in World War II. Those women were crystal clear memories he could have danced with them yesterday. Being an artist, he was fascinated by what I was doing. Though he doesn't know me, he has asked his daughter several times about "that tall fellow who likes to draw."A $12,000 deposit was paid to get Louis into Atria. Like the deposit o an apartment it was assumed that the money would b paid back if the resident moved. Not so. The home kept the money. When a lawyer as consulted he in formed the family that it would cost about $12,000 to win the case. Catch 22. Retirement homes are big business that will bleed you dry. Stay clear of Atria.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Pimp Daddy Orlando

Pimp Daddy moved to Orlando in 1988 after Thanksgiving. He formally worked in law enforcement. On the table in front of him was an envelope that contained his damaged cell phone from the evening of June 12th. On the week of June 12, 2016 his air conditioner broke. He went to Pulse with Bobby who was going to the club for the first time. He wanted to show her a good time. He didn't go as Pimp Daddy Orlando. His usual uniform would be a large Pink wide brim fedora and Pink Jacket. Had be been in that outfit he felt he most certainly would have been shot. He heard the gunman had been at the club early that night.

Pimp Daddy was in the women's room when he first heard shots. There is a DJ that incorporated gunshots into his mix, but that mix included a loud air horn after the shots. There was no horn.  People rushed into the bathroom. The bathroom door wouldn't lock. He quickly texted both Pulse managers, "We are in the Adonis bathroom." Those texts didn't go through. Then he texted 911. He and Bobby were cornered in the bathroom. If they ran into the club to get to an exit, they most certainly would have been shot. To survive Pimp Daddy and Bobby crouched on top of a toilet seat so the gunman couldn't see their feet under the closed stall door. Bobby called he mother. He said to Bobby, "Shhhh keep quiet." The only way to survive was absolute silence. People ran into the bathroom. In the larger stall, people were moaning and breathing hard.

During the siege with police, the gunman followed people into the women's restroom. Pimp Daddy didn't hear the gunman negotiate for hostages. For the time being he and Bobby were still undetected. There were loud ringing shots in the bathroom. People screamed an moaned. The gunman left and then returned ten minutes later. When he re-entered, he said, "Please do not text." This was strangely polite. Pimp Daddy set his phone to record all the audio. He only saw I gunman's feet on occasion. In the large stall people were dying. When the gunman mention ISIS as he spoke to police, every one knew ho bad it was. "Why us?" Pimp Daddy thought. His legs were getting tired from crouching. The gunman the shouted, "Didn't I say no more texting! Ever one pass over their phones!" Phones slide under the closed stall doors. Pimp Daddy held on to his phone. He didn't want to give away his location.

The gunman claimed to have on a bomb vest. He started messing with his gun. It might have been jammed. "Should we bum rush him?" he thought. His legs were numb. No one did. The gunman said, "I fixed it, I have plenty of Ammo." Then he asked, "Is anybody black? I don't have no problems with black people." People begged for their lives. As a Hispanic, Pimp Daddy thought, "well I'm black" He thought better and stayed silent. A young man, desperate to escape the large crowded stall crawled under the divider and pulled himself up, knocking Bobby and Pimp Daddy off the toilet seat perch. Pimp daddy's butt was exposed under the stall door. The gunman reached down and touched his rear pocket. Pimp Daddy was certain he was about to be shot in the back. He grimaced waiting for the shot.  He didn't move, hoping to be taken for dead. The gunman washed his hands in the sink. Pimp Daddy's phone rang, but thankfully the gunman ignored the ringing. That call of concern could have killed him. He never saw the face of the young man who knocked him of the toilet seat.

Then there as a loud explosion. The gunman got nervous and started shooting. His bullets ricocheted everywhere. Pimp Daddy put his phone to his head hoping to deflect bullets. The wall of the bathroom collapsed. Large rubble fell on the toilet seat. Had he and Bobby still been crouching, they would have been killed. Water started gushing from burst pipes. The gunman was shot in the hole of the hallway. There were rumors that the gunman's partner had a bomb vest, Pimp Daddy's stomach heaved and he began regurgitating saliva. A first responder said to Pimp Daddy, "Soldier get up!" He was wedged between the toilet seat and rubble. Everyone evacuated as fast as possible. It was all a blur. Pimp Daddy stumbled through the hole in the wall. He was grateful he didn't have to walk through a room full of dead bodies. His phone was covered in blood but the blood wasn't his own.

Pimp Daddy has an Angel Wing tattoo on his right forearm from long before the shooting. Bobby called him after surviving the shooting and she called him her guardian angel. She doesn't want to go in to any public bathroom without him there. Right before the interview, his car had been badly keyed. "my own people, my own community, is angry" People morn in different ways. Some people can't understand his being so outspoken. He went to a church service the day after the attack, the pink hospital band still on his wrist. At the service, people found out he was a survivor and they asked him up front. He said a few words. He lost many friends, they were like family. He feels his job now is to support and console his kids.

He feels that social media is to blame for the carnage at Pulse. We live in a world of to much exposure. Weak minded people feed off of the Internet's false news and hoax conspiracy theories fueling bitter hatred that can and will fuel more mass shootings. The hospital had given him a prescription for the pain. In the blur of vigils, funerals and fundraisers that followed, he never filled that prescription. He would rather feel the pain as a reminder that he had survived.