Saturday, November 28, 2015

Kicked out of Sam Flax. The story of an Otter and the Gun.

When I got back from NYC several weeks ago, I checked on Facebook to see what sketch opportunities I should pursue in Orlando. One of the first images I saw was a photo of a person posing in front of a Sam Flax event poster that had a low resolution harshly cropped version of a sketch I did at the art store's grand opening celebration. The original article promoted the store and the artists. The image had been lifted off the internet without my consent or knowledge. Later I learned that the sketch ran as an animated banner on the art store commercial website, as fliers, ads in newspapers, call to artist forms and the list goes on. This has happened many times before, with the The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, The Galley at Avalon Island, the Downtown Arts District, others like who Ivanhoe Village District and the Orlando Weekly  ultimately went on to do the right thing, by paying for the reproduction rights. I aired my frustration and annoyance on Facebook at this copyright infringement from a store I had shopped at for years.

What followed was a long thread of comments about similar cases and advice on the best course of action to take. It also however,  opened a dog eat dog divisiveness in Orlando's tiny arts community. Because of that, I regret making this issue public until it was resolved. Then a troll entered the fray. He was furious that I had expressed my frustration and annoyance publicly before I spoke with Sam Flax.  He used the thread to promote a recent mural he did and then cursed, and berated everyone who tried to reason with him. I thought he was joking so I toyed with him a bit, but he didn't have a sense of humor. His stance was basically shut up and draw, although he seemed to feel I was too old to draw. Such an angry, bitter person is fascinating for a moment, but then I got bored with his tirades and stopped reading. My apologies to anyone who tried to reason with him.

The troll is a member of the B-side Artists. Asaan 'Swamburger' Brooks who helped found the group asked me to call him since he didn't understand my frustration. We both discussed our viewpoints and although we didn't agree on all points, we both shared a mutual respect. I gained insights that will help me redirect my energies with future infringements. We all make mistakes, but what a person does when they realize their mistake tends to define them. Sam Flax and I ultimately talked on the phone. We negotiated some form of compensation for the reproduction rights and he told me the check was in the mail. A sketchbook manufacturer also wants me to do a demonstration at the store, so I respected Sam for putting the incident behind him, and moving forward. I was invited to a workshop on using stencils at the art store, so I couldn't resist the urge to go in and sketch now that the air was clearing. Danny Rock had given a similar workshop at Blast Studios and I learned quite a bit.

That morning I put on a black T shirt with a sea otter on it. Sea otters are constantly active, very curious, and rather playful. They were hunted to near extinction, and they were decimated by huge oil spills, but their population is making a slow recovery. Sea Otters have been known to playfully climb on tourists kayaks just to see the reactions. At Living Room Theater, actors start off each show by saying to each other, "Can l call you Otter?" with the response, "Sure, can I call you Bear?" I was Otter for the day.

The workshop was at 5pm which meant I had to drive through hellish rush hour traffic on Colonial Drive to get to the store. I arrived about 15 minutes late. I wasn't concerned though, since I mostly wanted to sketch the students at work. When I entered, an employee shouted, "aren't you Thorspecken?!" That was an odd welcome. "Yes." I replied. "Where is the workshop?" I asked. "Have you met?" he asked, gesturing to a man at the far end of the check out counter. I approached the man warily until I realized it must be Sam Flax, who I had never met. We shook hands, but I was distracted since I was late to start the sketch. He asked if I got his email that the check was in the mail. "Yes, thank you." The only person who understands my distraction as I hunt down a sketch is my wife who has had to live with it for years.

The workshop was upstairs. There were four students and a store employee with plenty of empty chairs to choose from. The instructor was wearing a T shirt with a handgun pointed towards the students. The total number of gun related deaths in the US in 2014 was 12,569 the death toll in 2015 is already 11,811. The US leads the world  in guns per capita with 270 million guns in the hands of citizens according to a 2007 survey. The gun explained that he prefers to paint on walls rather than show his work in galleries. He offered me supplies, but I didn't want to be a bother, I was already concerned since I had arrived late. "I have my own supplies." I told him. Then he froze and his eyes darkened.  "I'm alright." he said. I sat down. "No, I'm allllright." He said again. "Me too." I said pulling the smallest sketchbook out of my bag. "No, I have to ask you to leave." Great, here we go again, I thought. I needed to buy a little time to block in the sketch. "I thought that this was a free artist workshop. I don't have to sketch you if that is an issue." In New Mexico in an outdoor public market, an Indian woman got upset when she saw me sketching. She was concerned I would steal her soul if I sketched her. I put a large basket in her place, and sketched everyone else. I don't think that was the issue here."Is this my workshop?" he asked the employee.

The staff woman went downstairs to get "the manager." I threw quick pencil lines on the page. I had only minutes to work. The gun's face was etched with deep lines of anger. His hands were fists in his lap. "He is here for a reason." he said. Then he sat mute. Sam Flax came upstairs and escorted me to the store exit. "You have to be kidding me." I said to Sam. I get it however, Sam was stuck between a rock and a hard place. It was the guns workshop and if he wanted fewer students, he was entitled. Sam explained the the gun doesn't want me promoting his events. Best to leave him in his cage of anger, although I've admired and discussed his work in three separate articles in the past on AADW.  As I left, the female employee said to me," Thanks for bringing 'that' in here to a safe place." All I had brought in was my curiosity and I sketchbook. "You're welcome?" I asked. I posted the incomplete sketch just to let you see what I put on the page in the panic of the moment.

The next day, I returned to the art store to complete the sketch. All the empty seats remained. I figured that with the instructor gone, I could relax and study the room. My rough sketch had already established  where I should place the figures. Even before I had my sketchbook out of the bag, an employee came up the stairs and asked me what I was doing. "Oh, I'm just finishing up a sketch." I replied. "You can't be up here unsupervised." he replied. Ugh, he's just following orders, I thought. "All right, I'll just shoot a few photos and I'll get out of your hair." This is a rare case where the sketch had to be finished back in the studio. 

Did I have to walk into the lions den? Perhaps not, but at this point in my life I would prefer to try and understand someone who has a different opinion than my own, rather than avoid them. I want to listen and learn and of course sketch. Hatred needs to be stared in the face. When the KKK demonstrated in Maitland, I stood face to face with a grand poo-bah or dragon as he aimed his large mace can at my face. If he sprayed the mace he would be arrested. I've seen the look before. I don't get it. After I got kicked out of Sam Flax, there was an ocean of possibilities. I went to a Base Orlando, Body Painting Circus event where I was welcomed with open arms. Time to play and enjoy the uninterrupted sketching process again. Creativity among the chaos, I was back in my happy place. "Hey, I love you're otter shirt." a model shouted.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Weekend top 6 picks for November 28 and 29.

Saturday November 28, 2015
9am to 3pm Free. Orlando Elks Vintage Faire. Elk Lodge 1079 12 N Primrose Drive Orlando FL.

6pm to 8pm Free. Brewery Tour. Orlando Brewing, 1301 Atlanta Ave, Orlando, FL.

7:30pm to 9:30pm Free. The Geeek Easy with Amy Watkins and Open Mic. The Geek Easy
114 S. Semoran Blvd Winter Park Fl 32792, 407 332 9636. Amy Watkins and Superhero Poetry Open Mic. Open to all: Musicians-Lyricists-Artists-and Poets of all kinds. Bring out the cape and have some fun.

Sunday November 29, 2015 
1pm to 3pm Free. Yoga. Lake Eola Park, 195 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, FL. Every week.

7pm to 9pm Donation. Living Room Screening - The Donut, the Balloon and the Lifesaver. 736 Boardman St, Orlando, FL. Jack Graham, Banks Helfrich and Tisse Mallon present independent local films in your living room. Living Room Screening events go beyond movie night and into a shared experience which includes the film, the creator and the reflections and thoughts of the audience.
This intimate experience consists of a number of previews, one short film, a feature and a conversation.
A few things for you to know:
- Due to the nature of this performance space, no late arrivals can be accommodated.
- While not lewd or vulgar, these films are recommended for ages 18 and up.
- The films lasts approx. 80 minutes.
NOTE: Due to limited space, we can only accommodate a certain number of people. If you have a plus one, we welcome them with open arms but please let your host know so that we have space for everybody!

9pm to 11pm Free, but get a coffee. Solo Acoustic Spoken Word. Natura Coffee & Tea, 12078 Collegiate Way, Orlando, FL. 407 482-5000

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Legend bloodies up the Regal Winter Park movie screens.

I went to a free screening of Legend at the Regal Winter Park 20, 510 N Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL. Gladys West from Elite Animation Academy somehow always gets me hooked up with these advanced screenings. I got there several  hours early so I could complete a sketch before standing in line. Terry didn't want to see a gangster movie. She was going to see a co-worker's baby. The ticket taker didn't want to let me in the theater, since the line for the movie would form outside. I had to talk to the manager to let him know that I needed to finish a sketch for my report. Inside I sat at one of fire empty tables to sketch the concessions stand. 

Star Wars, The Legend Returns banners announced that movie's opening in December. Recent Star Wars films have been rich in digital effects and short on story. With Harrison Ford back in the franchise, I'm hoping some of the original magic might return. A dark robotic villain is barely visible behind his high saber. I hope the film lives up to the hype.

A huge candy machine kept coming alive, belting out its sickly sweet song. It's hard to ignore concessions when they keep shouting for your attention. Terry showed up since she was denied access to the baby. The mom had simply forgot. She still didn't want to see the movie, so I was confused as to why she came. She spent some time on her phone as I finished up the sketch. Then she announced that she was leaving. She realized that she was in a fowl mood after not getting to see the baby, and she didn't want project it on me. Maybe ten minutes after she left, the sketch was done. I went outside to see how long the line was for Legend. There was no line. With time to kill, I decided to get Mexican food at Lime next door. As I ordered my surfer tacos, Terry said hello. She had also stopped for a taco salad, so we got to have dinner together. we talked about trolls, Nazis and gun control. My tacos were fantastic. I will definitely be returning to Lime.

After dinner,  I went back to the movie theater and went straight inside. The theater was 3/4 full. Perhaps because of Thanksgiving most people were home. The security lady told us all to turn off our phones. The lady two seats from me kept texting, clueless. The security lady shouted that is is very easy to spot an illumined phone in a dark theater. She marched over to the texter and stood in from of her saying that if she needed to text she could text in the lobby. When the texter stopped the audience clapped and hooted its approval. 

So, the movie, Legend had the Suave, charming and volatile, Reggie Kray (Tom Hardy) and his unstable twin brother Ronnie (also played by Tom Hardy) leaving their mark on the London underworld in the 1960s. Using violence to get what they want, the siblings orchestrate robberies and murders while running nightclubs and protection rackets. With police Detective Leonard "Nipper" Read hot on their heels, the brothers continue their rapid rise to power and achieve tabloid notoriety. The film was better than I expected. It was narrated by Reggie Kray's girlfriend an then wife, played by Emily Browning. Just like in the Godfather, Reggie dreams of going straight as a club owner, but he can't give up his East End London criminal past, he is just too good at it. The violence is graphic and insane, so don't bring your kids. It is a story of brotherly love and the pain that comes from loving a gangster. I gave the film 7 out of 10 hammers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Benoit Glazer at Avalon Island

On the third Monday of each month, The Gallery at Avalon Island (39 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando Florida), hosts the In Between Series, a music series before the art goes on the wall for Third Thursday. June was a bit different because the nude photos by Yuri Maiorov  stayed on the walls until a fee the concert. Benoit Glazer usually hosts concerts in his custom built acoustic living room in the White House, he works at Cirque Du Soleil in Downtown Disney as the composer. He was on the trumpet along with Dan Jordan, Doug Matthews and Bobby Koelble some of the greatest jazz musicians from Central Florida.

There were lofty sounds from flutes and clarinets, African flavors, and funky odd meters, with a touch of sad ballads and angry mobs. The music related the story of a storyteller. It was about 2 boy named Abu, and his muse Lela. The music ebbed and flowed with intensity. The event was catered by Maxine’s on Shine.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Robots and Rainbows at BART.

Wednesday November 18th was the opening for Robots and Rainbows at BART, (1205 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL).  This show is a joint effort of the husband and wife team of Evan an Christie Miga  These are the artists who brought the blockbuster Fringe show, Dog Powered Robot to life. When I arrived, Evan was closest to the front door. He explained that he created all the robots, and that Christie art directed his paintings of laughing sun and puckering moon. He also made rocket ships out of simple plastic cups and slinkies. When the slinkies were jostled, they made a sound much like Star Wars sound effects. Later, Christie informed me that this was actually the first time Even had shown his work other than on the stage.

I figured it made sense to sketch robots digitally. Working on a tablet kind of blows my cover. People looked over my shoulder more than usual and I kept having to explain what kind of tablet I was working on. People must be attracted to the glowing screen, or perhaps the ghost in the machine lures them in. I had several pleasant conversations that put the sketch on hold, but in the back of my mind, I was concerned that the tablet battery would die before the sketch was complete. I also experienced several technical issues That I will not go into. But I resolved the problem by saving the sketch and working on it in another program. Pencil and paper never has these types of technical glitches.

Terry arrived and sighed in disgust when s saw the tablet in my lap. She prefers my watercolor sketches and feels I'm going to the dark side ever time I do a digital sketch. She took a look a the show and the shouted to me, "Should I get one!" "Sure Dear." I yelled back. Christie shouted to me, "Tell her to get a big one!" "Get a big one!' I shouted to Terry. Terry picked the big pink robot that looks a bit like Lollybot. Its head is a cylinder shaped hat box and its body a simple box. Its eyes have cute round lenses and there are three yellow buttons on her chest. I should really stop calling her "it", she deserves a name. I'll name her when she gets home.

The show is up for one month, right up until the week before Christmas. If you want to buy something truly unique for Christmas how about getting your loved one a robot or perhaps a genuine unicorn shoe. You will find one of a kind gifts, perfect for the holidays or just to keep for yourself. Both of the soft donut pillows sold immediately, but Christie says she will consider taking orders. She also has a line of hand made ornaments that will add sparkle to any tree.  Make this a Robots and Rainbows Christmas.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Phantasmagoria at the Gods and Monsters Grand Opening Celebration.

On June 13th Gods and Monsters, (inside Artegon, 5250 International Drive; Suite E8, Orlando, Florida) the second largest comics, toys, collectibles and gaming venue in the U.S. celebrated its grand opening. Inside the cavernous venue were comics games and collectibles making it a geek paradise, as well there was the Transmetropolitan Gallery and Offworld L.O.U.N.G.E. making it a comfortable haven to relax and linger. The Grand Opening consisted of 12 hours of entertainment, activities, art demos, contests and give-a-ways, all while raising money for the Hero Initiative!

The Official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was at 10am. The re was a free arcade sponsored by Free Play Florida and BART.  Throughout the day, there were special appearances by renowned cosplay models, Callie Cosplay, Heather1337 and Jenifer Ann. [ don't claim to know who they are, or even who they were dressed as, but it upped the events celebrity status.

Florida's critically acclaimed Victorian Horror Troupe Phantasmagoria performed in the back of the cavernous space. The acoustics weren't ideal to say the least so it was near impossible y hear The actors over the din of conversation from excited fan in the store. They are consume professionals however and they shouted their lines to the rafters.

 the re were artist demos all day long and i said hello to Toni Taylor who was work in on a large canvas that will wrap around a pillar. Other artists included Bianca Roman-Stumpff, Kevin Wood, Mark Pacich, Robo Ohno, Shawn Surface, Derrick Fish, Jenni Gregory, and Michael “Locoduck” Duron . Photo opportunities with costumed characters, including Starlite Princess, Iron Man and Spider-Man.

After Phantasmagoria's performance there was a Costume Contest with prizes. The entire audience seemed to consist of comic book characters. Both adults and children got on stage to sport their costumes. One of the cutest costumes was a young girl dressed as a bumble bee. One of the goriest was z zombie Betty Boop.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Maxine's on Shine

I had an exhibit at Maxine's on Shine, 337 Shine Ave, Orlando, FL. After the exhibit came down, I returned to tie up some loose ends. Kirt Earhart and I met at the bar and the I stayed for dinner, drinks and a sketch. As I recall, Maxine was at some Gala. A young lady at the bar had her laptop perched open on two books, and her friend spent more time on her iPhone than she did eating or conversing. Since a sketch takes two hours, there were several shifts of couples that came an went. People in America don't linger in a restaurant the way they do in France. of course not as many people will be going out considering the terrorist attacks. My heart goes out to all the people who were out to enjoy an evening's entertainment, only to be gunned down.

Nudes were hung on all the walls with care. If you ever nee advice on picking a goo bottle of wine, Yo u need to go to Maxine's and talk to Kirt. He is an expert sommelier. His "Jedi Master Approved' wine case is a goo place to pick up a bottle to take home. If you are looking for fine food and entertainment today, Sunday November 22,  Alex Cole is performing for the Rejuicination Brunch, 11am to 2pm. Then, Peyote Moon will perform for the Sunday Serendipity Supper Club, from 7pm to 9pm. Sunday Serendipity Supper Club at Maxine’s provides an ever changing weekly eclectic mix of Orlando’s best from the live music scene. From indie to classic rock to folk to everything tasteful in between, enjoy the laid back sounds and intimate staging while savoring Maxine’s tasty offerings. It’s the perfect way to christen the end of your weekend.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Master Class at the Dr. Phillips gave insights into the mind of a Diva.

Terrence McNally's Master Class presented by Florida Opera Theater showcased insights into the mind of the world renowned singer Maria Callas. Susan Neves was original cast as Callas but she got sick just days before the show's opening. Seva Anthony stepped in to fill the lead roll having recently performed the roll this past summer at the Players Theater in Sarasota. of course, hearing this I lowered my expectations reverting back to the days I withheld respect for substitute teachers. However, the moment Seva walked on stage, she demanded respect, and she got it. She confronted several ladies in the front row, letting them know that they lacked a "look". She shouted to stage hands that the lighting was all wrong, and the audience was plunged into darkness.

She explained that this wasn't an evening about her. She would not be performing, and she expected no applause. She couldn't be bothered to remember the pianist's name, Manny, played by Austin McElwain, although she did recall that he wore a red shirt at a past workshop. Her stool was to tall so she demanded a foot stool. An elder stage hand, Larry Stallings,  humbly delivered the stool. Finally Callas was ready and the first student (victim) was called out on the stage. Soprano Eileen Vanessa Rodriguez entered wearing a short skirt and black stockings. Callas demanded that the singer block her ears. Stunned, she clasped her hands over her ears. Callas turned to the audience and said something like, "See this is what I'm talking about, she has no look." Once she was done shredding the young singer, she shouted repeatedly for her to open her ears. As an audience member, I was rooting for the singer to impress the diva. When she sang her first luscious note, Callas shouted "Stop ! Stop! STOP!!!" confused the singer turned to her master. "What was that?!" Callas shouted. "I was just singing." the girl responded. " Exactly, don't just sing!" The young singer never got to perform. She left the stage bewildered, in tears. "Tears will never get you anywhere my dear, trust me, I know."

The next singer, soprano Janette Zillioli entered in a gorgeous purple gown. There could be no denying that she had a look! However Callas chided that she should never wear such a gown to a master class. "A gown like that should only be worn after midnight." She demanded that the singer should enter the stage in character and she personally demonstrated how to perform the entrance. The girl rushed off stage and didn't return. Tony, a lyric tenor, Brandon Evans, followed with some confidence. After a battle of wills, Callas demanded that he leave the stage. He stood firm and replied loudly, "No!" "Well." Callas replied that is the first interesting thing to have said, continue." His performance swept over Callas and she clutched her chest completely enthralled. Emotionally over whelmed she had no insights but wished him good fortune with his career. When he pressed her for advice, she said simply, "Remember the spring."

The beautiful soprano in the purple gown returned, She had been vomiting in the bathroom. When she finally sang, Callas thought back to her own crowning achievement singing the same roll. She had married a much older man named Ari, and his fortune helped skyrocket her career. She loved him a little, but never completely. On stage however she gave herself completely to the audience. "Applause is what we live on, sometimes it is a we have." Her husband came to resent her callous partial love. She got pregnant and wanted to have the child. It was too little, too late. He demanded that she have an abortion. She followed through, crushed. All this rushed through her as she listened to the young soprano's performance. She hadn't really been listening. Once again her ego managed to hurt the singers feelings. This time the singer struck back, "You want to make the world dangerous for everyone, just because it was dangerous for you!" She stormed off the stage, a stronger, more confident performer.

Calla's best insight was, "It is hard to care about rivals when no one else can do what you do." and, "I have to think that art makes a difference." The performers got a well deserved standing ovation. The painting of Callas, projected above the stage was by artist Colleen Ardman from Winter Park.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Picks for November 21 and 22.

Saturday November 21, 2015
1pm to 4pm . Free. Orlando Fringe Open House. Orlando Fringe 812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL.  See the new space and rehearsal hall on the second floor of the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, Suite 300. Light bites and champagne will be served.

7:30pm to 10:30pm Free. JC Sevcik's Farewell Reading. Kerouac House 1418 Clouser Ave, Orlando, Florida.  Doors will open at 7:30, and light refreshments will be available. You are welcome to bring something you'd like to drink.

7:30pm to 9:30pm $15 FIASCO: A Night Of True Stories, Entertaining Disasters. East End Market 3201 Corrine Dr, Orlando, Florida. Storytellers of Central Florida present Tellebration—A Global Event. Join us for a great night of crafted, personal stories, as cities around the world celebrate the art of storytelling through Live Performance. All centered around comic disaster.
Tickets: $12 in advance / $15 at the door.
Questions? 407-721-1999

Sunday November 22, 2015 
Noon to 2pm. Free, but grab some food. Florida Gospel Jam. Fish on Fire 7937 Daetwyler Drive Belle Isle FL. Every 2nd and 4th Sunday.

1pm to 3p m. Free but get some coffee. Irish Music. Olivia's Coffee House, 108 N Bay St, Eustis, FL.

1pm to 3pm Free Yoga. Lake Eola Park, 195 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, FL near the red pagoda. Every week.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cigarz on the Avenue attracts regulars.

Cigarz on the Avenue, 333 S Park Ave, Winter Park, FL, seems to always have customers outside smoking a thick one. Sometimes I go to Winter Park just to enjoy a stroll down Park Avenue. Terry might crinkle her nose and complain any time we walk near smokers. I on the other hand seem to have lost all of my sense of smell. Anytime I return from a vacation, I notice a smell of mold when I get to Orlando. I'm likely allergic to Orlando. Having lost the sense of smell however can be a blessing however since it allowed me to relax outside the Cigar Store and sketch the regular patrons who likely relax every afternoon at this spot. I can say this because a woman stopped to admire my drawing and she named the two gentlemen and told me they could be found at this spot everyday.

The Cigar store wooden Indian seemed to have lost the spear or stogie he once held. He must search for it every night, but his feet are strapped to a dolly which might inhibit his movement. Then again he might get around better by kneeling down and using his hands to roll himself around the shop. I thought that a wooden Indian wasn't exactly a politically correct way to attract customers. But what do I know, 

Because of the general illiteracy of the populace, early store owners used descriptive emblems or figures to advertise their shops' wares; for example, barber poles advertise barber shops. American Indians and tobacco had always been associated because American Indians introduced tobacco to Europeans, and the depiction of native people on smoke-shop signs was almost inevitable. As early as the 17th century, European tobacconists used figures of American Indians to advertise their shops.

Because European carvers had never seen a Native American, these early cigar-store "Indians" looked more like black slaves with feathered headdresses and other fanciful, exotic features. These carvings were called "Black Boys" or "Virginians" in the trade. Eventually, the European cigar-store figure began to take on a more "authentic" yet highly stylized native visage, and by the time the smoke-shop figure arrived in the Americas in the late 18th century, it had become thoroughly "Indian." People within the Native American community often view such likenesses as a caricature or as depictions that perpetuate stereotypes, drawing an analogy to the African-American lawn jockey, which I've heard is quite popular in Winter Park as well.