Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Artegon Grand Opening opened my eyes to the creative potential of this new market.

I went to the grand opening of Artegon at the north end of International Drive across from the Outlet Stores. Retail spaces are being made available to artists and artisans to sell their wares for as little as $6 a day. As an artist, this prospect of getting my work to be viewed by tourists is an exciting option. All the market spaces are surrounded by wire fencing. When I toured the empty space, with little light it reminded me of an asylum. The grand opening however changed my perspective.

165 artist booths and stores offer an amazing variety of art and crafts. I was surprised to see The Daily City had rented a prime space near the cinema. I talked to Mark Baratelli who is using the space as his office and a permanent Pop Up Shop.  He had art by local artist Boy Kong and he pointed out some metal elephants that he had an artist make. The woman next to me remarked that they would make nice stocking holders for Christmas. Mark loved the idea. The elephant's trunk made a nice hook and the sculptures were heavy enough to support a stocking stuffed with gifts.

What has kept me from renting a space is the fact that I don't want to commit so much time to staying in a retail space. I might be called to do a sketch at any time of the day and since I work on location, I'd have to leave shop. I told Mark about my idea of buying a used vending machine to dispense post card sketches. The problem with the vending machine is that I would still have to open shop in the morning and close shop at night. We also spoke about the possibility of my setting up a card display in the Daily City Shop. This might be a good way for me to at least dip my toe in.

I was enthralled by the place. A large rope, sky maze was set up in the central hub of the market. Occasionally people could be heard screaming as they zip lined across the divide. Better still an enterprising vendor was renting out motorized plush puppies which an adult or child could ride around the market. Two puppies pretended to crash into each other at their very tame speed, and the two riders spilled off in slow motion to the floor. A stilt walker walked over and inquired if they were OK. They laughed and got back on. A balloon artist had life sized balloon sculptures scattered among several vendors. A soap shop had a balloon woman taking a balloon bubble bath. Stilt walkers stood behind me and watched the sketch evolve. I found it funny that they were trying to see from that great height.

Houck Talent had brought in the stilt walkers and African Acrobats for the grand opening. I sketched the acrobats as they did their routine. They  created a human pyramid with a flourish and then one acrobat stacked chairs until he could almost touch the ceiling with his toes when he did a handstand. A sizable crowd clapped and whooped. It is almost impossible to see every artists booth. I got lost finding myself distracted by unexpected wares and bright colors at every turn. Not every booth was occupied, so it seems that there are still opportunities for local artists to make this space their own. I decided not to look at every artist booth. I decided I wanted to share this shopping experience with my wife. If the Artegon Market maintains this level of excitement moving forward it will certainly prove to be a required shopping destination this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lawyer Dennis O'Connor presents his case.

I had a second opportunity to sketch lawyer Dennis O’Connor in action at the Orange County Courthouse. Getting through security into the building was an adventure. Pockets had to be emptied and everything went through the scanner while I walked through the metal detector. My bag had to be searched a second time and my brushes were to blame. I had to explain what the brushes were for and then I was sent on my way. I had been assigned to sketch Dennis by his family. They wanted to surprise him with a courtroom sketch for his birthday. The first time I sketched him in a Sanford Courthouse and he had no idea what I was up to. Those sketches unfortunately showed Dennis rather small on the far side of the courtroom.

Dennis was in the elevator as I went up to the courtroom. This time he knew why I was sketching. He briefly explained the case to me. He was defending Dale Steele. Dale was a friend of an elderly woman named Loretta Viles. She had signed a document naming him as her caretaker. Sylvia’s family was suing Dale claiming that he took advantage of the old woman’s trust. He had purchased a boat, and car using funds from her account. Sylvia, Lorita’s daughter was on the stand being cross examined. All afternoon, documents were projected that showed expenses and legal documents. The bottom line however was that Loretta had signed over the power of attorney to Dale. Dales son took the stand and a photo was shown of him riding the NYC subways to visit Loretta who also had an apartment there. His testimony implied that the Steele family had been close to Loretta for years. Loretta, who wasn’t in the court room was painted as a generous woman rather than a victim. She had also financed the home that her daughter lived in. Dennis’s cross examination implied that the Steele family had been closer to Loretta than her own family.

Unfortunately courtrooms are not staged like a theater, with lawyers facing the audience. I had to draw Dennis from the back and was worried that once again the family would not approve the sketch. After a solid day of cross examinations it was finally time for closing arguments. When the jury left for a break, the judge, told the lawyers that they had to wrap up the case that night. They each only had 15 minutes to make their closing arguments. Dennis joked that they wanted to wrap things up so that the juror in the Green Bay Packers jersey could get to see the game that night. Both court officers checked in to see my progress on the sketch. They had never seen a courtroom artist in action. One officer looked just like Hank, the brother in law detective on Breaking Bad. He acknowledged that everyone tells him that. With final arguments complete, the jury was sent home and told to return the next day to deliberate. I left the courtroom feeling unsure of the outcome. Was the elderly Loretta, a victim or a generous person who lavished gifts on the people around her? Dennis’s closing argument was warm and heartfelt. He admitted that he didn’t know why the cash was spent on items that Dale used. However, Loretta trusted him enough to grant him power of attorney over her finances. When I dropped off the sketch, I was told that Dale was acquitted.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Orlando Amtrack Station

Patrick Greene has been having photographers ride the Sun Rail Trains to take photos of passengers. He arranged for a group to meet and then take the train to the Orlando Amtrak Station near the Florida Hospital South of Downtown. I was running late but wanted to catch the photographers at work, so I went to the final destination. I sketched the station while waiting for the train to arrive. Several trains came and went. Taxis picked up passengers and drove off.

Photos were gathered together for an exhibit at Avalon Gallery as part of the Transit Interpretation Project (TRiP). TRiP is an ongoing project where artists, writers and photographers ride the Orlando transit system and then write blog posts about the experience. I took the Lynx bus downtown from my suburban studio to Avalon for a literary evening based on writers experiences. I didn't notice my work on the TRiP site, but then a gain I don't check the site that often.

With the sketch done I was surprised that I hadn't noticed any photographers around the station. I finally left, a little disappointed that I had missed the creative filed trip. Later Patrick let me know that he wasn't able to get tickets to the destination I sketched. The group ended up going south away from the Amtrak Station. When I first began Urban Sketching in NYC, it was for a class assignment where I returned to Grand Central Station again and again, doing a sketch each time to document life in the historic station. Train stations therefor are always have a warm place in my heart a great place to sketch.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Bay Street Players presented Legally Blonde The Musical.

Amanda Warren the director of Legally Blonde The Musical invited me to the historic State Theater to sketch the show. I've seen the movie, "Legally Blonde", but never the musical. The theater is located in Eustis which turned out to be quite an adventurous drive north. The lobby was quite crowded when I arrived. It turned out that the computer system was down and so staff was shuffling through stacks of tickets while patrons waited. Amanda got on stage to introduce the show. I was surprised by the high cost to purchase the rights to stage the show. Thankfully the house was sold out.

The musical was fun and light hearted. Elle played by Meredith Pughe pursued her man, but in the end realized it was more important to pursue her dreams.  The multi level set designed by Tom Mangieri and Scott Fattizzi was quite impressive with an entire wall that could rotate to morph the stage into a courtroom. The upbeat musical direction was by Andy Matchett off stage. Bruiser, Katie Scarlett Baker, the tiny chihuahua seemed like a dear in the headlights while Rufus, Zoe Carpenter, the basset hound stole his scenes by exploring the stage to comic effect.

It is surprisingly easy to be swept away in this valley girl's rise to self awareness. The music was fun and the show moved along at a fast pace. It was an incredibly ambitious production with over forty actors involved. The show proves that small community theaters are already thriving as the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center opens its doors in downtown Orlando for the first time.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Corsets and Cuties add some spice to the holiday season.

I went to a dress rehearsal or should I say, an undress rehearsal for Corsets and Cuties at Danceworks on Curry Ford Road. Snow was blanketing most of the country while the cast gathered outside the dance studio waiting for an aerobics dance class to end. Each dancer clutched her costumes for the night. Exhaling, I could faintly see my breath. One dancer was really under the weather trying to recover from a cold or flu. Three new dancers had joined the cast. One lamented that all her co-workers were planning to go to the show to see her in her birthday suit.

When the class let out, the Cuties stormed the dressing room. Producer and performer Jaimz Dillman acted as the announcer. She explained that the show consisted of some well rehearsed favorites and some new acts that stayed with the holiday season theme. Blue tarps were duck taped over the front windows as the cast changed. A large group number opened the show and then there were a series of solo performances. Many performers sang as well as danced, confirming that there is some major talent in this show. Feathers and baubles flew to the floor along with clothing.

Some acts were laugh out loud funny, like the Junk in a Box routine. Two cuties sat in their 60s styled negligee and they were seduced by two male admirers holding gift boxes at their hips.  When the girls finally got a look inside, their shocked expressions were priceless. Two huge dildos sat nestled inside. Marisa Ashley Quijano acting as one of the men, thrust her box braced hips so hard that the top popped off to hilarious effect. She also later did a "Blue Christmas" number where she shed her white polar fleece jacket to show off her sexy blue lace outfit.

The Corsets and Cuties show on Saturday November 22nd at The Venue (511 Virginia Drive Orlando FL) is SOLD OUT.  Having experienced the fun and craziness of their rehearsals, I can understand why.

Friday, November 21, 2014

AADW Weekend Top 6 Picks for November 22 & 23.

Saturday November 22 2014
10am to 4pm Free. Harvest Festival. Winter Park Central Park West Meadow 150 N New York Avenue Winter Park FL. A one-day event focused on connecting the grass-roots with the deep-roots of our local food-shed by celebrating our local farmers, gardeners, entrepreneurs and non-profits. (321) 236-3316

5pm to 7pm Free. FORMENTO + FORMENTO Artist Talk & Book Signing. Snap! Orlando 1013 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, Fl. an evening artist talk, projection and book signing at Snap! Space with FORMENTO + FORMENTO. Please RSVP (No cover / LIMITED CAPACITY).
Bj Formento is the light. Richeille Formento is the pigment. Weaving cinematic worlds drenched in sensuality, FORMENTO + FORMENTO produce genre-bending photography that is as conceptually rich as it is precisely crafted. Currently on exhibit at Snap! Space, are works from The Japan Diaries. For this series, the Formentos drew their inspiration from 1950’s Japanese cinema, Akira Kurosawa, Araki and Moriyama, as well as Edo woodblock prints and erotic imagery of Ero Guro paintings.

6pm to 11pm Free. Jingle Eve. Ivanhoe Village 1605 Alden Rd, Orlando, Fl. Jingle Eve is a neighborhood-wide holiday celebration that always occurs the weekend before Thanksgiving. It’s the start of the holiday season here in Orlando and you don’t want to miss it!
Here is a sneak-peak of the night's events:
Santa's workshop
Happy Holiday sign lighting
Christmas tree lighting in Gaston Edwards Park
Holidays specials and samples from local merchants
Wine Stroll
The Food Truck Bazaar
Great local vendors
And more!

Sunday November 23, 2014
10am to 12:30pm $10. Sketch Class. Crealdé School of Art, 600 Saint Andrews Boulevard, Winter Park, FL. Life drawing from a nude model.

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

9pm to 11pm Free. 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, November 20, 2014

Bastille Day in Audubon Park was a grey day for a beheading.

Bastille Day is a celebration of the victorious French Revolution. On July 12th the Audubon Park Garden District hosted a Bastille Day Festival at 1603 Winter Park Road, which turned out to be a church. As Terry and I arrived, it was starting to drizzle. The weather didn't stop Marie Antoinette from posing for photos and signing autographs. Another photo opportunity was a well oiled guillotine. Anyone could stick their neck out for a photo if they dared. I stood in the entry vestibule of the church to keep my sketch out of the rain.

A small outdoor market  featured Bamapana Vintage, Lady Day Vintage, Whisk and Bowl, The Crepe Company, La Femme du Fromage, The Yum Yum Truck, OhLaLa Petanque Club, and Olde Hearth Bread Company. Inside the church courtyard there was a wine and cheese tasting going on but this was a ticketed event that Terry and I hadn't signed up for. I pressed my nose up to the window to see that the tasting room was packed. The courtyard also had some french themed art and a game of pin the hat on Napoleon. No one was playing the game, so I wasn't tempted to sketch. The guillotine was moved out of the rain into the covered courtyard and I followed it to complete my sketch. Who would have the nerve to move a guillotine during a public execution?  It turned out that a photographer was in charge and he snapped photos of anyone willing to kneel down. I'm still convinced that those picture boxes are a passing fad. There was supposed to be baguette fencing but I never witnessed it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fiddler's Green was a great spot for Geof Benge's Birthday Celebration.

Geoff Benge celebrated his birthday with family and friends at Fiddler's Green (544 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL). Geoff and his wife Janet, both from New Zealand,  are co-authors of 68 biographies of famous historical figures, with over 3 million copies sold worldwide. Their latest book, Triumph- the Extraordinary Life of Louis Zamparini, is timed perfectly to engage young readers prior to the Christmas Day release of Unbroken, a movie of his life directed by Angelina Jolie.

Before the party, I sketched the regular patrons at the bar. The heated discussion was all about soccer. Once Geoff and Janet arrived, I joined them in the back room. Guinness flowed and conversations turned to literature.  Friends got up to toast Geoff. He is apparently known for being able to hold his liquor. On a trip with friends he had a liquor bottle. The group went on an exhausting hike and Geoff kept sipping from his bottle to every one's amazement. He not only kept up with all the other hikers, but he was sure footed the whole way. It wasn't until later, around the camp fire that everyone learned that his bottle was actually full of water.

The only time I drink Guinness is when there is chocolate cake to go with it. The sweet chocolate is fantastic to wash down with the thick dark beer. I was in bliss.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Audubon Market has produce and a sense of community.

Mondays in Orlando offer few event options. If I’m unable to find a sketchable event, I always go to the Audubon Garden District Community Market at Stardust Video and Coffee (1842 Winter Park Rd, Orlando, FL). Tents start to go up in the Stardust parking lot as the sun sets. I like to order a drink at Stardust and sit back to watch all the activity.

On this Monday, I sketched the Stardust patrons who were soaking in the atmosphere. The market always has a live performer which also makes it the perfect spot to sketch. Produce and products are locally grown and crafted which make the market a healthy shopping option. When I order something to eat, I know that at least I ate one healthy meal for the week. With East End Market just a few blocks away there is no reason not to eat a healthy balanced diet all week, but as an artist on the run, I tend to only eat processed fast food before doing most sketches. Maybe a better diet could result in better sketches.

I’ve sketched a number of vegetarian and Vegan themed events and have seen and heard the merits of not eating meat, yet I haven’t yet followed up with a commitment to change my eating habits. It is hard to teach this old dog how to improve his diet. Eating is a quick necessity that I don’t think much about. I function primarily on caffeine and sugar. Perhaps that is why my sketches pen Iines are so shaky and nervous. Healthy living courses seem like such a luxury, yet im probably not functioning at 100%. Aching bones tend to be a distraction when getting lost in the creative process. Perhaps someday I’ll change.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Parrot Adventures grants a girls wish.

 About once a month, Parrot Adventures meets at Albert Park in College Park. This particular meeting was special because the Make a Wish Foundation was granting a young girls wish to be surrounded by parrots. It turned out to be a rainy day but that didn't stop the birds and their owners from coming out. Everyone crowded under a small gazebo to stay out of the rain. I huddled under an umbrella sitting on a picnic table to get the sketch done. Some rain blew in, exploding the pigments already on the sketch.

Someone had made bird shaped cookies, and the little girl got to meet every single bird. I was afraid that Zorro, Terry and my Cockatoo, might bite the girl, but even he was on his best behavior.  Since it was raining, we all went across the street to Graffiti Junktion for lunch. The front patio was covered, so the girl continued to meet birds all through lunch. Terry and I like to take Zorro out once a month to help him be more sociable around other people. On a number of occasions, blood was spilled, but parrot owners are rather forgiving.

Mark Your Calendar! The next "Parrot Adventures" club event is scheduled for 11am to 2pm on December 14, 2014 at Albert Park. The address is 2400 Edgewater Drive, Orlando, FL.