Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Veterans Day Ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery

On Veterans Day a small group of Orlando Urban Sketchers went to Evergreen Cemetery in Casselberry. The cemetery dates back to 1890 when 18 acres of land was donated for the establishment of a cemetery for black slaves. At the time blacks and white were not allowed to be buried together. The cemetery was surrounded by forest with oak trees, sand pines, evergreen, camphor and palm trees, along with wild fern growing though out. The first pioneer trustees of the cemetery worked in the fern industry and they went on to build their own grocery store and shotgun homes on the site of the cemetery.

A shotgun home was a narrow house without halls. If a bullet were to be fired through the front door, it would go right out the back door without hitting a wall. These homes were rent free and known as the Barnett and Casselberry quarters. Five churches helped maintain the cemetery. One common cemetery maintenance practice was to cut the sand pines as Christmas trees. The original name of Evergreen Cemetery was forgotten over the years. It came to be known as Altamonte Colored Cemetery and Fern Park Cemetery. In 2007 Alton Williams found the original name in his research it was restored.

Alton Willaims was the Master of Ceremonies for this Veteran's Day Ceremony. People crowded under a tent to stay out of the Florida sun. The Seminole County Sheriff Office Honor Guard performed a pre ceremony drill followed by a trumpet player performing taps in the distance. The sad notes resonated through the cemetery. Behind Alton was the framework for a shotgun house being built as a museum on the cemetery grounds. Volunteers are desperately needed to help finish the construction.

Cora Sneed called the names of all the fallen soldiers who were buried in Greenwood Cemetery. One woman in the audience seemed to know many of the family names being called and she picked up the certificates to be given to each family. Entire families went up to honor their relatives who had given their lives for our freedom. After the ceremony we all were given Bubbalou's BBQ.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Fusion Fest Open House

A FusionFest Open House was held at City Beautiful Church, (1220 Alden Rd, Orlando, FL 32803). The primary goal was to gather the interest of volunteers and to share with the community what this new cultural event which is a celebration of diversity.

Terry Olson explained that Orlando is a melting pot and as a city we have never shied away from celebrating our roots. He said he has been to 62 different cultural events in central Florida. "I know, because I have been to all of them." he explained. An international festival of this scope would have to be large and this meeting was the first step on spreading the word. Signs on each of the tables outlined ways that people can share their heritage.

100 booths are planned to be set up in Seneff Arts Plaza in front of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (Orange Ave and City Commons downtown). Outside City Hall and in front of the arts Center entrance there will be performance stages.

Food vendors were encouraged to serve small affordable dishes so that people attending the event can sample food from many different cultures. FusionFest is free, but you can purchase food tokens at the food and drink court. Fusion Fest is scheduled for November 24 and 25,  2018 the week following Thanksgiving. The festivities begin at noon each day.

Mark your calendar.
November 24 and 25, 2018
Noon to Sunset
Seneff Arts Plaza 445 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, FL 32801

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Monday, November 19, 2018

onePULSE Foundation Town Hall Forum – Changing Hate…A Conversation

The onePULSE Foundation Town Hall Forum - Changing Hate...A Conversation, was held at the Orlando Rep (1001 East Princeton Street Orlando FL). The set was for a production of Elf.

Hate crimes in our nation’s 10 largest cities increased by 12% in 2017 the highest level in more than a decade. This Town Hall Forum brought national key influencers to Orlando to discuss how they overcame a hateful belief system, are addressing hateful messages and reaching others to dispel the belief that hate is learned.

I sketched the Morgan Stanley banker who introduced the evening at the podium. Barbara Poma the Pulse night club owner and founder of the one Pulse Foundation also introduced the evening. The panel was moderated by Sally Kohn, author of The Opposite Of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity she is also a  CNN political commentator and columnist.

Panelist Daryl Davis, author of Klan-destine Relationships: A Black Man’s Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan spoke about his childhood growing up in Europe where white and black are not an issue. His family returned to America and he joined the boy scouts. His troupe was invited to walk in a parade. He gladly put on his uniform and joined his fellow scouts on the parade. However during the course of the parade several small boys and adults began to throw small rocks. He thought, "They must not like boy scouts." It wasn't until troupe leaders shielded him that he realized that the rocks were only meant for him. At home his parents had to patch his wounds and he asked why people had a problem with him. He had never heard of racism. He couldn't understand how someone could hate him if they didn't know him.

Thus began a life long mission to speak with members of the KKK who hated him. Many of these conversations resulted in friendships. Daryl collects KKK memorabilia from people he has talked to who gave up their life of hate. Over 200 Klansman have left the KKK after these conversations with Daryl.

Dylan Marron is a blogger and host of Conversations with People Who Hate Me. He experienced a rush of euphoria as his online persona took flight. However this success also resulted in hate directed towards him online. He become obsessed with finding out who these people were who hated him. He would look up their contact information on social media and call them. These recorded conversations are what he shares online now. He and Daryl bot agreed that giving someone the chance to express their opinions often resulted in them being willing to hear their opinion. Conversation is about acknowledging someones self worth. In the course of each conversation there is usually a moment when someone has a dog rush in the room, of they step on a Lego. The moment they laugh together gives him a glowing moment of hope. All the differences of opinion melt away.

Sally asked everyone in the audience to think of three issues that they hold dear, be it abortion, gun control etc. Then she asked us all how many of us had researched that issue with government reports, research, or read multiple books on the issue. No one raised a hand. This is how people who have an opposite opinion also came to their conclusions. They only read enough to justify how they feel.

At the end of the evening, Theresa Jacobs who is stepping down as Orange County's Mayor took to the podium. With one day left in office she seemed to want to clear the slate. She spoke of her childhood fear of black people but in school she befriended a black girl who had given her a pencil. Because she sat at the lunch table with this girl, she was ostracized by white students. She mentioned a gay boy who she dated and then a black boy she performed a trapeze act with. She expressed her support for transvestites but I think she meant to say transgender. This was the wrong forum to make that slip.  It was a strange litany and I stopped believing her sincerity.

In office she is best known as the woman who did all she could to block gay marriage, saying. "marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman." She confided that this is the issue that conflicted with her Catholic beliefs. At a wedding for her son, she realized how her family was so important to her and how the vows in any wedding mean so much for her families happiness. She broke down and cried and realized she had been wrong. Everyone should have the right to get married and share that happiness.

Though every panelist agreed that we are living in dark times and that hate speech is rampant, they choose to battle the ignorance and hate one conversation at a time. If you disagree with someone try and avoid expressing your disdain, instead stop and listen and share your thoughts. This Thanksgiving if you have a relative who supports today's atmosphere of intolerance and hate, try talking to them and plant a seed of light in the darkness. Change doesn't happen quickly. But some people can change.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Creative Momentum Gathering

This free Creative Momentum Gathering, hosted by LifeArt Studio founder, Lezlie Laws, and Writers Block Bookstore, was a chance to not only hear Charlene's story, but to hear tips and encouragement for all journalers, memoirists and writers. It was an opportunity to come together as a creative community to reflect on the power of words, and to explore the love, sacrifice and endurance that's needed to create our own unique life art. 

Charlene Edge read from her book, "Undertow: My Escape from the Fundamentalism and Cult Control of The Way International" in a back room at Cocina (214 151 E Welbourne Ave, Winter Park, Florida 32789). Charlene is a devout person and she loves the academic side of religion which eventually lead to Charlene being promoted to the inner circle of biblical researchers, where she discovered devastating secrets. The organization's founder, Wierwille, twisted texts of Scripture to serve his personal agenda, shamelessly plagiarized the work of others, and misrepresented the purpose of his organization. Worst of all, after Wierwille died in 1985, shocking reports surfaced of his secret sex ring. Undertow is not only a brilliant cautionary tale about misplaced faith but also an exposé of the hazards of fundamentalism and the destructive nature of cults. Through her personal story, Charlene Edge shows how a vulnerable person can be seduced into following an authoritarian leader and how difficult it can be to find a way out.

Lezlie Laws was conducting a workshop the day Charlene decided to start to tell her story. Writing the book took years to complete but she persevered thanks to a supportive artistic community. There was a warm feeling of love and support in the room for this local author who was sharing her work.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Saturday, November 17, 2018


This year's VegFest was held at Festival Bay Park. This festival has grown exponentially since I started sketching it back in 2010. Pam Schwartz and I did a full walk about and ordered some vegetarian food for lunch. I ordered a Dosa which was much larger than I expected. A dosa is an Indian version of a pancake but much thinner. Mine was filled with some mashed potatoes and spices. It was tasty, but honestly I couldn't eat the whole thing.

The food tents were set up on a narrow pathway through the center of the park. This arrangement created a major traffic funnel with line of people blocking traffic in every direction. Had they move the tends back off the pathway then strolling by could have been a more pleasant experience. Pam's  dog, Sprout came out too the festival with us and he and a great time. There were so many scents and things to see. He also got to meet so many other pups.

There was a cute little pig that people could pet but when I returned to do a possible sketch he was being taken for a walk. I settled instead on this tent full of people meditating. Pam warned me that they would stop meditating once I started sketching and she was right. Regardless I stayed committed and got some semblance of a sketch.

We walked around some more once my sketch was done. There were a few politicians since Mid Term elections were right around the corner. It seems Florida is the laughing stock of the country again since there is a major recount for three of those mid term election races. In the 2006 election there were hanging chads to contend with but today there seems to be inefficiency and an inability to count quickly. Hopefully every vote will count. We all need to take a moment and breath deeply. Ohmmmmmm........

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Friday, November 16, 2018

Weekend Top 6 Picks for November 17 and 18, 2018

Saturday November 17, 2018
 8am to 1pm Free. Parramore Farmers Market. The east side of the Orlando City Stadium, across from City View. Purchase quality, fresh and healthy food grown in your own neighborhood by local farmers, including Fleet Farming, Growing Orlando, and other community growers.

3pm to 8pm Buy food and drink. Lucky 7 Rock the Block Party / Maxine's 7th Anniversary Party. Maxine's on Shine 337 N Shine Ave, Orlando, Florida 32803. WOW... Has Time Flown By. Seven Years, We Says, We Says... Seven Years of Epicurean Cheer. Right Here. Because of You, Doing What You Do..We Have Thrived, And That Ain't No Jive!!! So let's have a massive celebration, an exclamation, a City Beautiful proclamation, of a good ole block partay staycation, where life is good in the neighborhood! FREE SHOW DON"T YOU KNOW! We will wage you will find no better musical sage on any stage, and vaudevillian performers too, round out the performing crew. The Shine Ave band shell will be a rocking with Eugene Snowden and Friends, Katie Burkess Band and Maygen Navarro street side, and Juno Smile does the lyrical mile on the inside. Vaudeville llc, will be flowing creativity. Win a holiday party for 10, while you have an opportunity, to help others in our Community. The restaurant will be open all day for food and tasty beverage purchases of your choosing, everyone's a winner.. no losing. All ages, and well behaved four legged friends welcome. We truly appreciate your embrace, of our sexy, comfortable and delicious space. - Cheers, Kirt and Maxine Earhart "Much Love to All of You"

5pm to 9pm Free. McRay Holiday Open House. 1000 Arlington St, Orlando, FL 32805. It’s time for Holiday Open House! Meet artists, tour studios, buy unique gifts! Creations by 23 Artists to Be Featured.
McRae Art Studios will kick off the holidays with their Holiday Open House on Saturday, Nov. 17. The annual event, open to the public, will be in the studio group’s new home in Orlando. Last year, the 23-member artist collective, the largest in Central Florida, returned to the city where it was founded 32 years ago.
The eagerly awaited annual Holiday Open House at McRae ( gives art collectors and gift-givers a unique opportunity to browse artist studios, visit with the artists and purchase original art. Hundreds of original art works will be available including paintings, pastels, photographs, mixed media, sculpture, jewelry and ceramics.
Secure on-site parking is available.
MCRAE ART STUDIOS, a collective of 23 independent artists founded in 1986, was established to allow member artists to work together and to attract community attention to the area’s outstanding talent. McRae maintains the highest level of artistic accomplishment by bringing artists into the group by a jury process. It has been home to many nationally recognized artists. Twice a year, McRae hosts Open Houses that attract thousands of visitors and collectors.

Sunday November 18, 2018
10am to Noon. Free. Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation Class. University, 5200 Vineland Rd, Orlando, FL 32811. The Method of Heartfulness A simple and practical way to experience the heart’s unlimited resources.

Noon to 1pm Free. Yoga. Near Lake Eola red gazebo. Bring your own mat.

Noon to 3pm Donation based. Music at the Casa. Vocalist Shirley Wang. Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, 656 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. Members of the public are invited to visit our historic home museum on a Sunday afternoon to listen to live music and take a tour of our historic home museum and the James Gamble Rogers II Studio by trained docents.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Thursday, November 15, 2018

ODD at Lake Eola Wine Company

ODD (Orlando Drink and Draw) is a monthly sketch event I host where I invite artists to go to a different bar each month. There is no model and no instruction, it is just a chance to get out and meet other artists while working on a sketch. I was living near Lake Eola and Eola Wine Company (430 E. Central Blvd Orlando, FL 32801) was just a block from my studio, so this was a convenient location to hang out and sketch.

I ordered a red wine and sketched the length of the bar. It was early in the evening so the place was just starting to fill up. There is a certain refined atmosphere to the place as patrons sip glasses of red wine rather than mugs of beer. Well, they do have beers, but wine is the usual drinks of choice. This was a rare evening where no other artists came out for the night. I think the prospect of downtown parking scares off artists. Regardless, I had fun blocking in my sketch and when done, I simply walked the block or so back to my studio.

The next night, I was interviewed by Pam Schwartz of the Orange County Regional History Center about my experiences in the weeks following the Pulse Nightclub Massacre. Since that night, she tends to join me on many of these types of sketch outings. I tend to keep my head in the sketch for the entire hour or two until it is done, so she can chat with artists or patrons while I work and when I am done, I join the conversations. For me this is the best of both worlds, I get absolute focus and then come up for air and enjoy the company of the artists around me.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


I went to sketch the opening night performance of Assassins at Breakthrough Theater (419 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789). Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics and he also wrote the music for one of my favorite shows, Sunday in the Park with George. I had never seen Assassins but since I love Sondheim, I had to go. The book was by John Weidman, and the show was directed by Angela Cotto.

Breakthrough theater is a tiny little gem in Winter Park. The  lobby was warm and welcoming with a concessions stand. The walls were covered floor to ceiling with framed posters from past shows. This show wasn't as crowded as I would have expected for a Sondheim musical.

The premise of the show was strange and unsettling. Assassins from throughout America's history assembled together to justify their second Amendment right to bear arms and kill presidents. In the opening act, Iris M. Johnson, acted as a gun dealer offering guns to each assassin in turn to bolster their self worth and ego. John Wilkes Booth, (Gabrial Garcia) sang a ballad,  about why he needed to kill Abraham Lincoln after the  Civil War had ended.

Every Assassin was always waving around a gun, and sitting in the front row, I felt uncomfortable having so many weapons pointed in my general direction. Granted they were clearly toy guns and the audio sound effects were faint caps popping any time a gun was fired.

In one scene, Rebecca McVeigh as “Squeaky” Fromme, the girlfriend of Charles Manson, and Carol Jaqueline Palumbo as Sara Jane Moore, started shooting at a bucket of Kentucky Fried chicken. Squeeky's manic laughter was truly terrifying, but what was more terrifying was the fact that so many people in the audience were laughing. Perhaps this is deeply ingrained in America, we are taught from an early age that violence is funny and entertaining.

Lee Harvey Oswald (Scott Gilbert) had a conscience. He went to work carrying a package of curtain rods. His minimum wage job left him with low self esteem. The entire cast of assassins, sang a song encouraging him to shoot John Kennedy. According to them his act of violence would help keep their memory alive. When he opened the package of curtain rods, he found a rifle. At one point they became a chorus line waving their guns in unison.

I find myself sketching people who are still deeply affected by the massacre at Pulse. I respected Anderson Cooper for never saying the gunman's name when reporting about the Pulse Nightclub massacre. The names of these assassins are better left unsaid. The very premise of the play seems to make light of the horror of such violent acts. I lost some respect for Sondheim for writing this musical that seems to glorify and justify the acts of these assassins. Perhaps the show might make audiences think twice about gun control, but the message is lost if they laugh instead. A mentally deranged person seeing this play might think that they might one day share the fame of these assassins. We are sitting on a powder keg. All that said, one song from the show keeps ringing in my head. (Why did You Do it Johnny?)

Performances of Assassins continue through November 26, 2018.
Tickets are $20 General Admission, $18 Seniors, $15 Students, and $12 on Mondays.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Story Corps at the Library

Alisa Petit and Diana Griffith, are two very dear friends who have seen other relationships come and go. They spoke to Story Corps about the strength and fluidity of their friendship. Diana founded Orlando Lady Boss which is an online podcast in which she helps value based businesses tell their unique brand story so they can attract their ideal customers. She offers news about women empowerment and feminism plus best tips about digital storytelling and online marketing so businesses can grow their brand based on their values. 

Carla and Sally Stanton Brown were a mother and daughter with old Florida roots. Carla recognized me form past events I had sketched. While Maria Gabriella Toledo and Vivi Valencia Serrano were employees of the Library. Unfortunately the time spent filling out forms in the green room wasn't always enough time to learn anything about the people participating in Story Corps. The final interviews in the Library of Congress are the final result.

Ross McCoy and Don Price were the final people I sketched for the project. They both like to blow things up which is a fair binder for any friendship. Ross is a comedian and Don was the caretaker at Greenwood Cemetery for years. I had sketched him before when the History Center did an oral history with him about the Cemetery's response to the Pulse Nightclub Massacre. He is a treasure trove for any Orlando History and lore. His nighttime Greenwood Cemetery tour has been a staple for years. During the Story Corps interview, I could hear them laughing from down the hall. That must have been a fun time.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Monday, November 12, 2018

Post Story Corps Interviews

A mom (Riley Roca) and daughter (Celeste Kuri) discussed how the library Children's Business Fair was a supportive environment for Super Soaps, an idea that won the $50 prize for the Highest business potential. Celeste started making soap as a hobby when she was about 9 years old. "I made them for fun and I didn’t think I would get anywhere with them. I gave them to my family. When I heard about the fair, I thought that I could make soaps because I love making soaps. One of my cousins is allergic to a lot of things. So I decided to color and scent them with natural products. I have colored my soaps with turmeric and beet root and scented them with essential oils. My parents helped me a lot along the way." She said in a Library post online. It was wonderful to see how supportive Riley was of her daughter who is home schooled. The library is a major resource for her home schooling needs.

Jessica Dawson and Sam Singhaus were close years ago but had a falling out. They came together to do the Story Corps interview. Sam is a local celebrity. I have seen him many times performing as Miss Sammy at events around town. He participated in Drag Queen Story Hour at the Orlando Public Library. Impulse  Group Orlando organized the event which was presented in the spirit of the City of Orlando and One Alliance’s “Acts of Love and Kindness” movement. I am proud of the library for sponsoring the program which must have been fun. Any time I have seen Sammy perform I know I will laugh out loud. Jessica's voice gave out so the interview had to be cut short, but it was heart warming to know that these friends realized that their differences weren't as important as what they have in common.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at