Thursday, June 30, 2016

Little Shop of Horrors on the Fringe Outdoor Stage.

One of my favorite musicals is Little Shop of Horrors. I used to blast the songs a I painted in my dark ramshackle apartment in NYC and dreamed of living in a greener more magical place. Disney Feature Animation fulfilled that dream bringing me to Orlando, but all dreams come to an end.

A lanky tall actor and sexy actress sang "Suddenly Seymour". That song gave me hope that anyone can find love given the right circumstances. I was, and perhaps still am the innocent nerd dreaming of a better life full of love and mutual respect. I should be jaded in a world without trust, but I keep hoping regardless. Just as I fell, with broken wings, someone stood beside me to listen and share. Long honest conversations offered hope that someone can understand. Others have walked this path alone.

The karaoke DJ raised his iPhone which showed a lighter flame flickering. Had there been a crowd, they would have went wild. Little Shop of Horror was followed by Rent and then Jesus Christ Superstar. It was a great afternoon of music.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Karaoke at the Fringe Outdoor Stage.

With so much raw talent on the Fringe's green lawn of fabulousness, it wasn't hard to keep the music going at Fringeoke. Heather, was dressed as Lady Liberty with a black cape. The painted on black eye mask made her look like a superhero whose power was the ability to sing.

My favorite performance of the afternoon was by TJ Dawe. He is a master storyteller who h a show at this year's Fringe about how his first acid trip changed his life. At first he sang the lyric off the computer screen, but then he switched gears and started making up his own lyrics. He sang with some inspired gusto raising his fist in the air. It was an amazing performance and about five people crowded the stage, shooting iPhone videos of the performance. That was a once in a lifetime performance. That is why live theater is g exciting. Anything can happen.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Stephanie and Arias on the Fringe Outdoor Stage.

Stephanie and Arias performed on the outdoor stage at this year's Fringe Festival. They harmonize beautifully.  I imagine they are a young couple very much in love. Their original music resonated with me. Love in my life however has become confusing with no solid bedrock. My past haunts me and forgiveness is something I will never be granted. The music was sweet and sincere but my heart was in a different place. I chased imagined ideals and ignore the reality of what is in front of me. Perhaps sketching is a distraction to keep me from facing who I am or what I have become.

One friend forced me to face mistakes I have made. Were morals lost along the way? I am rootless, a tumbleweed. I realize now that grief must be faced alone. Grief can and probably should last for years. Perhaps turning to my sketching will help me find my roots again. I always claimed that writing these posts would help me put down roots in Orlando. I need to put down roots of devotion. I have no solid floor. Some tiles shift and fly up with no mortar. Others cling tightly refusing to let go. There is no sure footing. I lost trust in love, and then I thought I found joy and affection again by opening up to a friend. There was a level of intimacy in some of these conversations that I had never experienced before. I then discovered that this friend had no trust in me. Trust needs to be earned. This stung worse than the even larger losses I am going though right now. I am transparent and easily judged. Perhaps I need to turn to meditation. I have no clear, open, sane, relaxed point of view about how to live a fulfilling life. I have no home. Isn't sketching a form of meditation? It makes me fully present, and it drowns out the noise. This one simple action of doing one sketch a day is the one strength I fall back on. I need to find other sources of strength. I realize that I am lost... How did all this come from listening to this couple sing. They seem so happy. They seem to be living on love alone. Ideals get dashed. Time is short.

On the tent wall behind the performers, Carl Knickerbocker, a local artist was projecting a short film memorializing the life of artist, Morgan Steele. I met Morgan at an Eco Action lake cleanup this past February. He was curious about my art and we talked for some time. He remained on shore with me as volunteers in canoes explored Lake Virginia cleaning up it's shores of garbage. I sketched him as he leaned up against a cross in the shade of a live oak. Shortly after that day, he lost control his car, which careened into some cement construction barricades as as he returned home from Stardust Video and Coffee. Some claimed that my sketch of Morgan prophesied his early death. Life is short and love fleeting. Art crumbles.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Angel Action Wings for Orlando

Experienced volunteer seamstresses were needed on Friday, June 24th at Orlando Shakespeare Theater (812 East Rollins St. Orlando, FL), to build "Angel Action Wings" for the upcoming Pulse Benefit at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday evening, June 28th. After the concert, 49 angels (one for each of the fallen) will be standing in tribute on the lawn of the Dr. Phillips Plaza. The Orlando Shakespeare costume shop coordinated the effort. Volunteers brought their own scissors, seam rippers, rulers, etc. Sewing machines, sergers and materials were provided by the costume shop. 

 Jeannie Marie Haskett coordinated the effort while also getting children setup for the first day of theater summer.I arrived straight from work and Jeannie gave me a warm welcome. The scenic shop was ablaze with activity. Several dozen Disney Voluntears were busy ironing, folding and putting final touches o the wings. 49 PVC structures were built to hold the wings on people's shoulders. the completed wing span is about six feet. H will be an impressive sight when these 49 angels stand in front of the performing arts center.

On June 28, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando will host a special “Beautiful Together” event to benefit the OneOrlando fund for the victims of the Pulse shooting. Over 50 local arts organizations have signed on to perform or present, including the Orlando Gay Chorus and the UCF Choir. The event will start at 8 p.m. in the Walt Disney Theater. Tickets start at $15.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Latin Night, Pulse Fundraiser.

Wild Side BBQ (700 E Washington St, Orlando, FL) hosted a Pulse fundraiser. Like the night of the horrific event that left 49 dead and 53 injured, this event will have a Latin theme. The funds will benefit employees, and many of them are expected to be at the event. Performers and DJs from the bar will also be on hand, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

I arrived fairly early. Rainbow table cloths covered folding tables that had raffle items in the center of Washington Street. Rainbow flags also adorned every flag pole. The Wild Side slogan is, Peace, Love, BBQ. The crowd slowly got thicker as the sun set. Roxy, a real estate broker, really wanted to get into the sketch. Since the lire word was inked, there wasn't a spot to place her. My scene was fully populated. She wore a bright pin flower on her shirt and had a matching pink flower  in her hair. People with dog were quite popular, and a photographs staged a photo of children petting 2 dog.

With my first sketch done, I went back to the large stage set up behind Wild Side in the parking lot. The Rico Monico Band was playing. They were playing covers of rock and roll standards. Their set was almost done so I had to rush to get them in the sketch.  I ordered a Bud light to loosen up the lines.

There was a presentation to the owner of Pulse, Barbara Poma, by two openly gay men, Erwynn Umali and Will Behrens, who were the first men to get married while serving in the military.  They had a “color run” at McGuire Air Force Base which they dedicated to the victims. They brought a rainbow-colored wreath from the run to Orlando, and a copy of President Obama’s pride month proclamation signed by all the runners.

More urban Latin acts followed and the sub woofers in front of the stage caused any bones to rattle. Though I didn't understand the lyrics, the beat was catchy. People were just start: to dance. I walked down the street to Falcon Bar to pick up some art from a show I exhibit in last month. I was pleased to discover that my piece which was a print of an illegal sketch done in Winter Park, had sold. To celebrate, I ordered a lemon infused Shanty beer.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Orlando Strong: A SAK Benefit Show.

SAK Comedy Lab (29 S Orange Ave, Orlando, Florida) offered a free comedy benefit in the wake of recent events in Orlando. The core values at SAK have always been "Truth, Excellence and Joy", so wanted to use their strengths as a comedy venue to share those values in support of the community (especially the LGBT and Latino communities) who could really use some joy. This show will featured SAK performers in a variety of fun acts. Admission was free, but donations were encouraged at the door. 100% of proceeds from the door will go to the "OneOrlando" campaign helping the victims and families of victims of the Pulse attack.

The Fringe superstar and fashion diva Pepe acted at the MC to open the show. He wore a gorgeous rainbow feathered boa that looked like, could inspire love, the most hate for person. As he said it was a sexy sold out house. All the mammies and poppies held each other dose as Pepe announced the first acts. Every seat in the venue had a sheet of colored paper. Bob Kodzis invited every member of the audience to write down a message for families of the decided survivors and first responders. There was an artist sketch! in the row in front of me. He held two fingers to his neck like he was checking his pulse. I believe he was sketching one of the 49 who were killed using a photo on his phone as reference.

A video set to the song, "Carry on" opened the evening. It showcased what people used to imagine about Orlando, with photos of Disney theme parks,and I-4 traffic. Then shots taken outside Pulse of the evening of the attack were replaced with photos of crowds coming together in grief an love culminating in the huge 50,000 strong Lake Eola vigil. The point of course is that we must carry on and let the work see that we are more than a tourists cliche. It was an inspiring vision of we could be without ever forgetting.

We were all ready for some laughs and the huge crew of comedians delivered. What the show real I delivered besides laughs, was joy. The comedy lab only held two other benefits in it's 25 year history. The first was after 9/11 and the second after hurricane Charlie and his two other companions. The founder of SAK told us about his visit to the memorial outside the Dr, Phillips Center for performing arts. He was seated at one of the tables and there was another woman seated at the same table. He didn't know her. She reached out her hand, and he took it.  They sat holding hands for 5 minutes an then she left. They never spoke a word. What if this was our everyday Standard behavior? What if we all loved more then we have ever loved before? The world would certainly be a better place.

During the auction, Pepe and another performer said they would match whatever was bid on a dinner for two. The item went for $100 after heated bidding. The event raised $4384.00, SAK matched that amount bringing the total to $8,768.00. After the show, all the performers got on stage for a spontaneous dance party. "I wanna dance with somebody"of course we all got up and joined in. Laughter and Joy bring healing.

Friday, June 24, 2016

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

Saturday June 25, 2016
2pm to 8pm Free. Love By Design. 2424 E. Robinson Street, Orlando, FL. (also known as the Tasty Tuesdays food truck location behind the Milk District bars).  In response to the tragedy at Pulse, AIGA Orlando is inviting our entire city to Love by Design, an event that will inspire and empower us all to stand against discrimination.
Love By Design is for civic leaders, creative professionals and anyone else who cares about the future of our city. Representatives from the LGBTQ and Muslim communities will share their stories as we begin the process of healing from our collective heartbreak. Together, we will determine how to move forward as a city that lives with more love every day.
Even more than a reflection on this tragic event, Love by Design will be an all-day celebration of The City Beautiful's talent, diversity and resilience. Local artists and designers will donate original work for sale and auction. Food and entertainment will be provided by local musicians and food trucks. Proceeds will benefit OneOrlando, the fund formed by the mayor’s office to respond to the needs of our community in the wake of the Pulse Tragedy.
AIGA Orlando is a professional association for design and creative professionals. Formed in 2000, the association currently has about 250 members, and grew 68% in 2015 alone. Their mission is to nurture a thriving creative community and serve as a hub for creatives in the area.

7pm to 9pm $5 Drums and Lyrics: A Summer Solstice Celebration. True Serenity 1100 Montana St, Orlando, Florida. Connect to the primal energies of Creation as spoken word artists deliver soul-moving poetry to the sounds of a live tribal drumming circle. Bring your drums, instruments and words. Let’s celebrate the Summer Solstice, life, commUnity and Mother Earth with our gifts. All ages event. Beverages and light bites will be available. You are also welcome to bring food and drinks to share. Invite your friends and family. At True Serenity, we know that pets are family too. Pets must be on a leash and are allowed at all outside areas.

7pm to 9pm $3 IWPS2016 SAFE! Words! Finals! Henao Contemporary Center 5601 Edgewater Dr, Orlando, Florida.

Sunday June 26, 2016.
10am to 1pm Free to $10. Sketch Orlando Eola. Lake Eola - Outside Eola House - 512 E. Washington St, Orlando, FL. Sketch Workshop. Join ASLA in our second Sketch Orlando series, this time exploring Lake Eola's dynamic spaces with artist Thomas Thorspecken and landscape architect Greg Bryla. This series will focus on VALUE and COLOR with a pencil, a pen and watercolor.

2pm to 4pm Free Yoga. Free Yoga. Lake Eola Park, near the red pagoda. Weekly.

10pm to midnight. Free but get an iced coffee. Comedy Open Mic. Austin's Coffee, 929 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL. Free comedy show! Come out & laugh, or give it a try yourself.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Remnants of the Lake Eola vigil.

After the 50,000 strong Lake Eola Pulse Terrorist Attack Vigil altars of remembrance where everywhere. This statue is the "Muse of Discovery" sculpted by Meg White, of Stephenport Kentucky.  Dead flowers and melted candles lines all the shores of Lake Eola. The wilted flowers didn't last long in the Florida heat. It seems such a waste of precious life. We in America seem to be trained from birth to be mass consumers. When there is a tragedy, our response is to consume more and leave trash as a reminder. Why don't people bring live flowering plants to a vigil and then take the plants home where they can be appreciated as they continue to grow? A live plant seems more a symbol of love than a dead bloom.

A school bus can be seen in the distance in the sketch. It was being used by military cadets who began a run in New York City on June 3rd and they will finish their run in Miami on June 24th. The run is called, "Reviresco" which means "Renewal" in Latin. They run about 15 miles a day and are using the run to help improve communication between servicemen and civilians. Hopefully Orlando can experience it's own renewal. We haven't healed and we will never forget but there has to be some hope for the future.

Signs left behind on the muse, included...
Love is strong.
One World, One Pulse.
For Love, for Hope, for Pulse.
Orlando won't loose its Pulse.
We had the choice to keep you, or keep our assault rifles, I'm sorry you lost.
Powerful voices for joy in times of powerful darkness.

The summer solstice occurred yesterday and it brought with it the once in a generation, strawberry moon. These two astronomical occurrences haven't occurred at the same time since 1967. The strawberry moon was used by Native Americans as a sign that is was time to pick the fruit. Like the rainbow that appeared over Lake Eola on the evening of the vigil, it hopefully signifies a future filled with hope and light.

While discussing the Pulse tragedy with a friend, she mentioned the Buddhist concept of  Meta, or loving kindness. This concept engages the the highest qualities of the mind. It begins with applying loving kindness to yourself. You wish for your own happiness, peacefulness, and ease of mind. Then you extent the concept to a loved one. Then you extent the concept to a benefactor. Then you extent the concept to everyone. A truly enlightened person can then extend the concept of loving kindness to include a difficult person or a person who has done harm to others. This is something I haven't heard among all the vigils I have attended. Had the shooter been in a happier more peaceful place, he wouldn't have imagined causing anyone else harm. His was an act of suicide and his hate made him want to take others with him. What in Orlando, the United States, or the World, would drive someone to be filled with that much hate? What can we do about it? I've noticed people compliment my sketches more than ever this week. The level of gratitude is overwhelming sometimes. I'm unprepared, and end up having to clear my eyes. At this make shift shrine people seemed kinder and gentler with each other. Why does it take a tragedy of this magnitude to bring out the loving kindness in us all? Can loving kindness be sustained? I go to bed exhausted every evening, because all I have are questions.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Belly Dance Spirit Healing South of Pulse.

A Magi Temple Belly Dance School (3589 S Orange Ave, Orlando FL). Held a free healing through belly dance class in light of the Pulse Nightclub Tragedy in their neighborhood. Modalities included, healing belly CHI: Transcendental warm-up and stretches, Taksim Chi, Tribal Chi, Joyful Shimmies and Spiritual Chakra Hand and arm Mudras by A Magi Temple Belly Dance School Teachers: Melanie La Joie, Linda Allegro, Cat Bruce and, Rokaya Mikhailenko. The Magi Temple Belly Dance School is located 1 mile south of Pulse Nightclub tragedy and supports healing through belly dance!

It was only as I drove to the event that I realized how close it was to ground Zero of the tragic Terrorist attack at Pulse. Traffic backed up heading south out of Downtown Orlando. I decided to drive down side streets and it looked like about 5 blocks were shut down around the nightclub. Glancing down the side streets I could see all the blinking lights of the emergency vehicles at the crime scene.  It must be difficult to piece together exactly what happened based on the forensics of so many gun shots.

At the Magi Temple, about a dozen women were ready to begin their belly dance healing. Melanie, the Magi owner said that after a week of vigils, we might be ready for some healing. What better way to heal than through the joy of movement. She lives only a few blocks from the Pulse night club, and she remembered being awakened by the sound of gun shots, the sounds of emergency vehicles and the the ongoing sounds of hovering helicopters. Her voice broke as she told us this. Clearly healing takes time.

The stretches got everyone loosened up and then the dancing began. Every woman was a beautiful goddess each in  their own proportions. One woman is expecting a baby girl and she isolated her hip movements with the best of them. After the workshop, several Magi dancers performed with elegant wings and then with fire. Candles lined the front and back baseboards of the studio.

Afterwards we all went outside to project positive loving energy towards the Pulse nightclub. The flickering blue and red lights of emergency vehicles could be seen in the distance. We all joined hands in a large circle.  Melanie began the chant," Peace, Love, Pulse." I joined the chant and immediately started to tear up. The setting sun was so bright I thought. I rubbed my eyes and they stung more. Since the shooting, attendance at the Magi Temple has been way down. People must feel intimidated driving around the crime scene. If you want to heal in a unique way, you should stop by Magi. You will certainly find yourself looser and perhaps feeling more peaceful. I left with a heart full of love yet still saddened inconsolably.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Vigil at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel.

On Sunday morning around 2am a terrorist shot and murdered 49 men and women, and injured over 50, at Pulse nightclub south of Downtown Orlando. Being trapped in that club must have been a nightmare. This is the worst single gunman attack in the United States history. Vigils have begun around the world. People are rising up to comfort and share. I read that the terrorist had been staking out venues prior to the attack. He had considered Disney World among the possible places to attack. When I saw the there was a vigil on Disney property at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel, I had to go.

There was a Methodist Convention going on in the small convention hall next to the hotel. I arrived half an hour early and thought my information might be wrong, since there was no one in sight. I went inside and asked around. People were simply waiting inside, enjoying the air conditioning until the vigil began.

The vigil began with a gorgeous choir rendition of Dona Nobis Pacem. The title is Latin, for "Grant us Peace." The overlapping voices make the canon absolutely heavenly. There was a short sermon. The pastor recounted how he loved the Christmas Eve candle light service which would inspire families to come out who didn't regularly attend church. He then pointed out how we all must be more loving and accepting of all people regardless of their sexual orientation, nationality, religion or gender. I was raised Methodist, so all the choral music was familiar, and I sang along. 

Everyone raised their blue glow sticks in the air as the names of the 49 who died were read. There was a warm feeling of community among the parishioners who had come from all over the country. I'm emotionally drained and focused on the sketch rather than my feelings. I focused on capturing the light. I decided to host an event in which artists will gather to do 49 portraits of the fallen. It is a small gesture in the face of unimaginable horror. 

I began to wonder on the drive home, would it be possible for one artist to do a portrait of each person who dies from gun violence in America? On an average day, 91 people die from gun violence. No artist could possibly execute portraits every day.  That is impossible. The numbers are staggering.