Monday, January 26, 2015

Defined Enterprises redefines the creative workspace.

On January 13th I went to meet Brill Adium at Defined Enterprises Gallery. Brill had contacted me on Facebook. He said he like my work and he wanted me to see a new gallery-creative hub that he is planning to open on February 21st. Defined is located in a business park right next to I-4. A Cracker Barrel is right next door. As I approached the entry, I noticed that all the windows were blacked out. "How could a gallery survive this far north of Downtown Orlando?" I thought. I tried the door and it was locked. Maybe Brill hadn't arrived yet. I was maybe 10 minutes early. As I was pulling out my phone to text, the front door opened and Brill welcomed me.

The second I walked in, I felt excited about the place. The space is in the final stages of a build out. Brill gave me a tour of the place. The walls were a cheerful bright yellow.  A bar was halfway constructed with bright pink counter tops. Red shelving looked a bit like a skull. Wire fencing separated an elevated platform with 60's styled red lounge chairs and comfy couches. TV monitors were stacked vertically in a row. A huge mural by Dolla Short featured a hip hop singer and a twitter bird decorated the room. A mural by Dolla on the outside wall of Will's Pub, has created a bit of a stir. The mural depicts a drunk satyr farting a green venomous cloud along with a black skull. Some neighbors complained to code enforcement claiming it was crude and offensive. The city in response has created a Public Art Advisory Board that will "curate" or rather censor murals. As works of art murals are covered by first amendments freedom of speech. To get around this, the city plans to label all murals as signs which can be controlled by city ordinances.

The fact that Dolla's mural dominates the front room gives a taste of the mission of Defined Enterprises. As Honey Park said, “People will tell you DON’T, and we recommend that you DO”. Defined Enterprises wants to make YOUR ideas come to life! They are one of Central Florida’s top creative production teams. Established in late 2012 they have grown from just a “one man show”of independent videography to a full functioning multi-media design company. Defined Enterprises takes pride in its creative processes and final products with more than exceptional visuals. Their experience exceeds 5 plus years, and their work speaks for itself. No job is ever too small or too big! With a creative and innovate staff, they can assure you that each and every project will be executed to your liking.

Smaller rooms will become editing bays and sound studios.  The back room houses a large seamless photo stage which might become a green room. The men's and women's rooms had old colorized photos to mark the doors. Brill's enthusiasm for the space is contagious. The place has an exciting creative vibe. It reminds me of Miami's Wynwood District which welcomes international muralists to showcase their work. While Orlando tries to control and censor creativity, this place offers a vibrant creative outlet. On First Fridays, the studio will be open for adults to do their creative work. On second Fridays, kids aged 10-17 will be able to use the studio space. There are many plans in the works to make Defined a creative hub.

Mark your calendars. Defined Enterprises (279 Douglas Ave, Simon Medical Center Plaza, suite 1106 Altamonte Springs FL) will have its Grand Opening on February 21st 8pm to 11pm.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Art Wine Walk in Lake Mary combined an outdoor art bazaar with wine from local establishments.

On September 24th, I went to Colonial Town Park, (950 Market Promenade Ave #2200, Lake Mary, FL) to experience the Art Wine Walk. Eight artists were listed as vendors so I expected to see a sizable tent city. There were however only two artists tents set up. Earlier in the day it had rained a bit and the sky looked ominous, so I assume artist were scared off by the weather.

The event was $10, and the proceeds benefited Clean the World! Vaughn Belak was one of the two die hard artists with work on display. He does intriguing goth images with sinister but playful undertones. He explained that this used to be a regular event but it was shelved for a while by promoters. He would come out and set up a tent anyway because people that have been drinking and having a good time would be more likely to make an impulse buy.

The bar across from Vaughn's tent was Liam Fitzpatrick's and it was doing a lively business. Other bars in Colonial Town Park include, Graffiti Junction, and World of Beers. With such a concentration of bars, this place must get rowdy by midnight. The Art Wine walk went from 5pm to 8pm, so, just as the street lights flickered on, the two artists tents came down. The Art Wine Walk is listed as happening every 4th Wednesday of each month, but I'm not so sure the momentum is there to keep it going.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A quiet celebrity bartender night at the Savoy in Orlando.

On September 22nd there was a Celebrity Bartender Fundraising event at the Savoy (1913 N. Orange Avenue Orlando Fl). Funds raised went to the GLBT Center ( 946 North Mills Avenue, Orlando, FL), The evening featured surprise celebrity bartenders making you yummy drinks. I ordered a Pabst Blue Ribbon and sketched as the night unfolded. There were several small square stages that had illuminated floors. These were the stages for a fit male dancer. The celebrity bartenders included Adam Nickolson and Robert Carver.

The atmosphere was seedy but exotic. Cigarette smoke wafted through the bar and ultimately made me want to sketch faster. I had one shot which tasted a bit like watermelon.  I had sketched at the Savoy once before and got a ticket for parking on the wrong side of the street in the suburbs. This time I parked quite a distance away and walked. I'm a bit paranoid now that police target cars parked near popular venues. Nothing dramatic happened while I did this sketch, it just seemed like the quiet start to a typical evening at this Orlando waterhole.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Picks for January 24th and 25th.

Saturday January 24, 2015
 1pm to Midnight Grab a brew. The Art of Craft: Hopgasmic Release and Art Show. Orlando Brewing 1301 Atlanta Ave, Orlando, Fl. Hopgasmic IPA is cause for a special high alcohol / high hop extravaganza. Continually hopped for 90 minutes with Magnum, Centennial, and Cascade Hops.
1pm: Tapping Hopgasmic IPA & opening of our newest art show
3pm-5pm: Meet & greet with artist Nick Seyler
6pm: Free brewery tour
9pm: Live music performances
Saturday will mark Orlando Brewing's 6th Art Show and we're honored to be showcasing NIX Abstract.

1:30pm to 4:30pm 2015 Orlando Chowder Festival. At the Winter Park Village 17-92 South of Lee Road and North of Fairbanks. An afternoon of amazing fun. A variety of area food vendors will be competing for the 2015 Chowder Cup, previously awarded to Boston Lobster Feast Restaurant in 2014, and Fleming's Steakhouse in 2013.
Expected Businesses for 2015 -
1. 1st Place 2014 - Boston Lobster Feast Restaurants
2. 2nd Place 2014- John & Shirley's Catering
3. 3rd Place 2014 - Sea Dog Brewing Co.
4. The Alfond Inn
5. Sushi Pop
6. Lombardi's Seafood
8. Crisper's Restaurant
9. Winter Park Fish Co.
10. Kasa
11. Whole Foods Winter Park
12. Raleigh Design
13. Orlando Chili Cook-off
14. First Watch
15. Southeastern Solutions
16. Avenue Gastrobar Orlando
17. iCraveCatering
18. Kitchen Craft Cookware
19. Lone Sailor Navy Memorial
20. TJ's Seafood Shack
Specialty Vendors
Shake Shack
Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant
Rex Goliath

10pm to 2am Free, but get a drink or two. No One Knows I'm Disco. Spacebar 2428 E Robinson St, Orlando, Fl. Don't be afraid, DISCO IS NOT A DIRTY WORD.
Carlitos Corcho aka CHANG from Tampa,
Huggy Huggett aka HUGGY from Leeds
Tommy Mot aka MOT.
The music will be all things Disco. RARE, Electronic, Afrofunk, Boogie, Space and Classic Disco with a side of Acid House, Techno and surprises.
Masks are encouraged! Dance off a few of those Holiday pounds! HA...

Sunday January 25, 2015 
10am to Noon. Free. Super Joy Riders. Participants dress as superheroes and ride en masse around the city as they check off their scavenger hunt-like list of Do Gooder Duties; collecting litter, helping senior citizens cross the road, returning shopping carts, basically performing small acts of kindness for an hour and a half of hilarity and love.
The Super Joy Riders: Do Gooder Bike Ride is an exercise in community organizing and active engagement. We hope to use the ride as an opportunity to show how helping people can be simple, fun, and easy, especially while wearing a cape. You + Superhero Costume + Bike = Best Sunday Ever.

1pm to 3pm Free to the public! Bagel bar provided. Boris Fishman discusses A Replacement Life. Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida 851 N Maitland Ave, Maitland, Fl. Included in The New York Times‘ 100 Notable Books of 2014, Boris Fishman's A Replacement Life is a "bold, ambitious and wickedly smart first novel" in which "a Soviet √©migr√© writer in New York becomes disturbingly adept at forging applications for Holocaust reparations." Read the full article from The New York Times Book Review. Event is in partnership with the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida and sponsored by Greenberg Traurig.

9pm to 11pm Free. Comedy Open Mic. Austin's Coffee, 929 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL. Free comedy show! Come out and laugh, or give it a try yourself.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Orlando Shakespeare Theater presents "To Kill a Mockingbird".

I went to the dress rehearsal for "To Kill a Mockingbird" at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. I was surprised to find an audience waiting to get into the theater.  I decided to slip into the theater and start the sketch before the house was open. I paused for a long time, because the balconies had their metal railings removed. I realized they were now part of the stage set. Directed by Thomas Ouellette, Christopher Sergel's adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel came to life on the Margeson Theater stage.  The movie based adaptation is a classic and one of my favorite films, so this show had some big shoes to fill.

The audience was full of students from Columbia College and many were African American which made this particular performance quite compelling. I knew about the students and faculty because one man introduced himself to me saying we had met at an event a while back.  For some reason he thanked me and explained that many of the people from his campus would have never been to a play. I realized after he walked away that he must have mistook my for someone else. I guess when you are busy sketching, you look like you are in charge. Whoever invited the Columbia College group, you should know that they are thankful.

The story is told through the eyes of six year old Scout (Kennedy Joy Foristall ). As a tense tug of war between justice and racism heats up, Scout and her family must learn to temper violence and hatred with courage and compassion. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird continues to inspire hope in the face of inequality. The moral of the story as told by Atticus Finch (Warren Kelley) is "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." Scout held her own as a tom boy who always gets into fights and has no filter when speaking her mind.

The set, designed by Bert Scott gave a strong backdrop of the depression Era south. This really is an important show to see since there are always injustices that some accept. Sometimes a person is called on to shake off the dust of these backwards beliefs. The shows title relates to the idea that "Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Toward the end of the production, Sheriff Heck Tate (John Ahlin) explained to Atticus, "To my way of thinking, taking the one man who's done you and this town a big service and dragging him with his shy ways into the limelight - to me that's a sin." Sometimes a community isn't best served by following the letter of the law but rather the spirit of the law. "Let the dead berry the dead."

"To Kill a Mockingbird"
What: A drama written by Harper Lee and adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel
Where: Orlando Shakespeare Theater,  Margeson Theater 812 East Rollins Street, Orlando FL
When: Opens Friday, Jan. 21; 7:30 p.m. through March 8.
Cost: $10 to $45
Call: (407) 447-1700

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Explorer's Club sweeps into the Mad Cow with hilarity.

While walking downtown to go to The Explorer's Club dress rehearsal at the Mad Cow Theatre, I saw a fun run poster that announced, "We bring the hilarity to charity." This predicted the tone for the entire evening. Perhaps a dozen people sat in the audience for the dress rehearsal. Written by Nell Benjamin the show runs from January 22 through February 22.  The comedic farce debuted in NYC's off-Broadway in 2013.

It's a crisis in 1879 London when the members of the prestigious Explorers Club are threatened by the potential membership of...a woman! Eric Pinder as botanist Lucius Fertway is responsible for nominating the woman, who is the accomplished explorer, prim and proper Phyllida Spotte-Hume played by Heather Leonardi . She’s made an in-depth study, “NaKong Tribe of the Lost City of Pahatlabong,”.  “They have hunted nearly all the animals to extinction,” she reports, “and are forced to subsist on a jerky made of toad. The toad is poisonous. But most of the poison boils off when the toad is poached in urine.”she explained. The club members are all quite impressed, but Professor Sloane (Glenn Gover), a religious fanatic, sticks his nose in the air proclaiming her discoveries are fine but she is a woman and there has never been a woman in the Explorer's Club. When the men retire for cigars and sherry she is told she would have to wait outside.

Glen Glover, Simon Needham and Eric Pinder were all members of the cast at Walt Disney World's Adventurers Club. This was one of my favorite spots to visit when I used to work for Disney Feature Animation. The club was crowded with objects that were found from around the world. One huge mask on the wall used to make comments about patrons at the bar. Unfortunately, the Club was closed in 2008, along with all the other nightclubs in favor of retail stores and restaurants. When I saw the set in the Mad Cow by William Elliott, memories flooded back. The gazelles and masks in this club however remained sadly mute.

It turns out that Lucius has nominated the petite Phyllida because he has a crush on her. He went so far as to name an exotic flower after her. That attraction is mutual, but Club President Harry Percy (Simon Needham) decides that he is the brainless hulk of a man that Phyllida deserves. Although Phyllida confides in Lucius, Harry is sure that his swagger will win her over. She has brought back a member of the lost tribe who she has named Luigi (Ryan Gigliotti). He is covered in blue paint and has the annoying habit of slapping people in the face as a form of introduction. When he is brought before the queen of England, all hell breaks loose when he slaps her as well. Hilarity ensues as the intrepid explorers try to return God and country to normalcy. In their eyes, science will always win.

The director David Russell was seated a few rows behind me with his laptop. After the show he encouraged the cast to push the envelope in exploring the quirky lunacy of their parts. He seemed a bit disappointed that there wasn't more laughter from the audience. Since there were only a few people in the test audience, the sparse laughter was understandable. When there is a full house the story could be quite different. As a disguise, Luigi posed as the club's bartender. He mixed drinks using liquored of every imaginable color with no regard to a recipe. To serve the drink, he would shout, "Your drink sah!" and slide it quickly off the bar top. Club members had to dive to keep the drinks from crashing to the floor. David encouraged the players to avoid playing it safe. It a drink crashed to the floor it wouldn't be the end of the world. I was seated in the front row and there were moments when I thought I might be in the splash zone.

"The Explorers Club"
What: A comedy by Nell Benjamin
Where: Mad Cow Theatre, 54 W. Church St., Orlando
When: Opens Friday, Jan. 23; 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and two Mondays, Feb. 2 and 9; 2:30 p.m. Sundays; through Feb. 22
Cost: $24.25-$36.75; $17 on Mondays
Call: 407-297-8788

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Horns and Heros Project #2 raised funds to help save endangered rhinos.

On September 18th I went to The Abbey, (100 S Eola Dr, Orlando, Fl), to sketch some of the incredibly creative rhinos that artists were given to alter and decorate. The Horns and Heroes Project was an art show and art auction to benefit the International Rhino Foundation and others like it that focus on rhino conservation and the survival of rhinos throughout the world. The event not only celebrated rhinos, but brought awareness and educated the public about rhinos and the threats they face. The Horns and Heroes Project hopes to ensure the future of rhinos by bringing the world of art and conservation together.

A black rhino, sculpted by the talented SFX artist Barry S. Anderson was molded and cast in 70 individual sculptures. Each identical sculpture was given an artist to recreate in their own style and vision. Painters, illustrators, tattoo artists, sculptors, photographers and SFX make-up artists, just to name a few, were asked to participate in this year's event.

These works of art from top local and international artists were on display for one night only. Attendees were invited to place bids on the custom artworks through silent and live auctions to raise money for rhino conservation. The live music on stage was by Infinite Third. His music added a subtle new age vibe to the scene as the crowd grew thick. Captain America and Wonder Woman were mingling in the crowd of artists and patrons.

Thirty species of rhinos once roamed the earth. Now only five species remain. Poachers kill rhinos for their horns. Although they are made up mainly of keratin, the same material that makes up your hair and fingernails, many cultures believe that powdered rhino horn can cure everything from headaches to cancer. However, there has never been any clinical research to support any of these claims made by those who manufacture products made with rhino horn. Prices for rhino horn have skyrocketed in the past few years, making rhino horn now more expensive than the weight of gold.  "We thought [last year] was the worst year on record with I think over 600 rhinos slaughtered. This year - and the year’s not even over yet - we have over 820 that have been killed." said Horns and Heros founder Chad Harmon. The first Horns and Heroes project in 2012 raised $6000 to help save rhinos.  The September event raised $23,000 for the cause.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Round Building's brise-soleil was carefully preserved.

On September 18th, I went down to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts construction site to watch as the Round Buildings brise-soleil was removed. The round building was designed in 1963 by Orlando architects Bob Murphy and Frank Sheehy. The design was an exciting futuristic change from the usual cement and stucco monoliths that litter downtown. It sort of reminds me of Disney's Carousel of Progress which first appeared at the 1964 New York World's Fair.

The precast cement brise-soleil was designed to help shade the windows from the harsh Florida sun. The upper floors were added at a much later date. Commissioner Patty Sheehan was instrumental in the effort to have the unique brise-soleil preserved.  Each individual vertical section had to be reinforced by a steel structure to be sure it didn't break apart when being transported. They could then be clipped free of the connecting bolts. I sketched for two hours and only one section was carefully removed in that time. Each section was then loaded onto a truck and transported to a city storage yard. Ironically the round building looked like it belonged next to the modern design of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

As of January 5th while forty plus same-sex couples got married at City Hall across the street, the round building looked like it had been hit by multiple bunker busting bombs. The cement shell had been removed and the rest of the building was collapsing in on itself. Someone stopped to admire my sketch in progress. He was the son of Jack Jennings, the local contractor who first built the Round Building. He asked to take a photo of my sketch to remember his fathers legacy. Niles M. Schweitzer Fellows held a design competition to find creative ways to reuse the preserved brise-soleil. There were some incredibly creative designs, but there are no funds to make any of them a reality. It is harder to create than to destroy. Who knows how long these cement sentinels will remain hidden in the city's storage facility. I remains to be seen what the Next Round for these panels will be.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Orlando Soup helps fund creative ideas in Orlando.

Orlando SOUP was modeled after the successful Detroit SOUP, a micro-granting dinner celebrating and supporting creative projects in Orlando. For a donation of $10, attendees receive soup (made by Edible Orlando using fresh, local ingredients), salad and bread. Before dinner is served, attendees will listen to four short community project proposals covering a range of topics such as art, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurship, education, technology, and more. During dinner, attendees cast a vote for their favorite project and, at the end of the night, the project that receives the most votes is funded by $7 from each attendees’ donation. Winners appear at future SOUP dinners to report their project’s progress.

I went to the Soup crowd funding event on August 13th 2014at East End Market. (3201 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL). The walls were still covered with my framed sketches. It was great to see so many people in the community room sharing creative ideas. The room buzzed with excitement. I had been asked to work on a mural to cover the front facade of the Fringe offices in the Ivanhoe Village district. Scottie Campbell set up an online crowd source page to try and raise the money to pay me for the project. About $2000 had been raised for the proposed project, but that was less than half of what was needed. Scottie decided to pitch the idea at the Orlando Soup event to make more people aware of the project and raise more funds. His pitch was eloquent and exciting and it helped that my work was visible on every wall. Oddly, though I was in the room sketching, I was never called up to the mic since Scottie covered every base.

Another presentation this evening was by Cole Nesmith who was raising money for The Creative City Project which featured live performances throughout downtown Orlando by local and international arts groups. Cole wants to pay the artists involved but raising the funds needed is a full time job. I wanted to do life sized interactive portraits on the street as my contribution. Unfortunately I was in Australia when the Creative City Project became a reality, so I didn't get a chance to experience or sketch any aspect of it.  For this Orlando Soup presentation, Cole made a tactical error when he gave everyone in the room a tiny battery and light. The audience became so involved in trying to get the light to work, that they must have missed Cole's underlying message that it takes everyone's involvement to light up Orlando with creativity.

Pat Greene gave a presentation about his Transit Interpretation Project (TrIP) and exhibition. He had photographers ride the new Sun Rail trains to take photos of fellow commuters. He needed funds to help hang the exhibit which was at the Gallery at Avalon Island  (39 South Magnolia Avenue, Orlando, FL). This show happened while I was away as well. Patrick got the most votes to help fund the TrIP Project show.

Mark your calendar. The next Orlando Soup is January 20, 2015 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at East End Market. (3201 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL). The community room is upstairs. It is a great way to see what creative projects are brewing in Orlando.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Otronicon opens with a VIP reception at the Orlando Science Center.

The 10th Annual Otronicon opened at the Orlando Science Center (777 East Princeton Street Orlando FL) with a VIP reception on January 15th. Mayor Buddy Dyer Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell faced off in a video game throw down, playing “Super Smash Bros.,” “Dance Central 3” and “Madden 15” for bragging rights as they engaged in a rematch from Otronicon v.1 in 2006. Unfortunately I was teaching a life drawing class so I missed the video game action. By the time I got to the Science Center all the dignitaries had all ready left.

 Now in its 10th year, Otronicon is the premiere technology event in Orlando. Discover how we will live, learn, work and play in the years to come through video games, simulation and other technology — most of which is made here in Orlando. The four-day event features:
  • Larger-than-life video game experiences
  • State-of-the-art medical and military simulators
  • Workshops taught by industry pros
  • And so much more!
Since Otronicon is all about technology, I decided to use my digital tablet to sketch. From the walkway above, I was intrigued by the bright green tables that created a unique pattern in the perspective of the massive space. People gathered in lively groups and the room buzzed with conversations. There were a few arcade styled video games right behind me and I could hear the mayhem as I sketched. When the sketch was done, I went down to quickly look at all the displays.

EA Sports was strongly represented with football, basketball and soccer games. Bean bag chairs that looked like basketballs and soccer balls were you had to sit in order to play the games. A storm trooper wandered around the room to keep order and Darth Vader was there to handle anyone who became drunk and disorderly. My friends, Wendy Wallenberg, Michael McLeod and Denise Sudler were there so I stayed to get a chance to talk and laugh for a while. I had invited Terry, but she had to work late. I'll probably return to Otronicon which runs through January 19th to do some more sketches. It is an Urban Sketcher's paradise.