Monday, September 14, 2009

Artist or Anarchist?

It had been a great day. I had done two sketches one of which was at "A Gift for Teaching" learning all about this groups amazing charitable work from Audrey. My wife had invited me to another event called "The Art of Fashion" at Neiman Markus in the Millenia Mall. I really don't like going to the mall, the place makes me uncomfortable but I decided to be a good sport and go. Besides the word Art was in the title so it must have some artistic merit. Terry and I met outside and walked in together. She was all a flutter checking out the event Tee Shirts and jumping from rack to rack.
There were tables from local restaurants offering small food samples, all of which were delicious. We got some Blue Matini's made with Van Gogh Rum. I started to wonder if Van Gogh would have liked this event. We shared a cupcake and had a photographic flip book animation made which is quite humerus. Tall slender models strutted around among the racks of designer clothing. Other women looked like they had far to much plastic surgery.
Terry wanted to do some shopping so she left me to do a sketch. While I was sketching a woman named Kelly, who runs Nude Nite in Orlando and Tampa introduced herself. She described her event and I can't wait to go there to do a sketch for the blog. A mother asked if I could show her daughter the drawing. The little girl asked "Are you going to color the drawing?" I promised her "Yes, of course".
Then things got surreal. A woman dressed all in black walked up to me and said I really shouldn't sketch the lady having her make up done due to privacy issues. I pointed out that the woman I sketched had already left and I was drawing the make up artist. I pointed out how the blouse and hair style were different and continued to work. The woman left. I started to draw faster. Later Terry found me and wanted to see if I had finished. The line work was done and I just needed to add a few washes of color.
Then another woman in black showed up with a young security guard, and said I would have to stop sketching or I would be escorted out of the building. I asked why and she said it was store policy. I was sure the store policy didn't say anything about sketching. I was told I could not name the store or post the drawing I did because Neiman Markus needs to control how their store is portrayed. I do not feel I portrayed the store in a bad light with my sketch. You be the judge. The managers actions however are another story. Rather than make a scene, I put my sketchbook away knowing the sketch was already done. I found this display of authority funny and besides I have no real desire to return to do more drawings. Terry however was fuming. She had bought hundreds of dollars worth of perfume and other items and decided to take them all back. We went from register to register voiding out all the transactions and telling the stunned store employees about the policy.
On the drive home my anger started to build deep in my chest. I had never been stopped from sketching before and yet this week I was stopped twice, once at Lake Eola and now at a Mall of all places. Orlando is starting to feel like a different country. The next morning Terry showed me her Neiman Markus credit card and with a flourish she cut it in half.

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


Lost In Wonder said...

Wow, I think I would have named them in the blog anyhow. They have no authority to tell you not to put their name in a blog or telling a bazillion people in person when they act like turkeys.

If they want to control the perception of their store, perhaps they should start by not being idiots.

Ned said...

I hope you don't form an opinion of "Orlando" based on these incidents. I hope you come to see them as actions of individuals. Their actions were obviously unnecessary, of course. Please compare these to the dozens and dozens of good experiences you've had and keep up the wonderful work you're doing. I have learned an awful lot about the "art" scene in Orlando, and have thoroughly enjoyed following your adventures and wonderful sketches.

maddest (w)rung productions said...

I know you are frustrated, but I think it's kind of cool. How subversive your art is becoming! Kicked out twice! Who knew sketch art was so dangerous?

Logan Donahoo said...

If they are so concerned about controlling the store's "image", they should have not acted like an ass-hat to someone hoping to spread some good words about them.

That's okay, if you ever want to get some sketches of people doing hair and/or makeup (especially for theater), I'm sure I can get you in touch with some makeup artists, sans the fear of "image" control.

Anonymous said...

One could argue that when art causes controversy, it's doing something right. :)

Small world. Kelly will be at our Seven Challenges event this weekend! I look forward to seeing you there, too!

Speakeasy, that's who. said...

Well, I know where I'M not getting my hair did ... oh wait, I'm bald. Screw that place double, then. What vanity.

Isabel said...

hope you've recovered from the women in black great story and sketch

mariedees said...


I saw you sketching at Avalon's Faery ball. It's amazing that in Orlando you can be welcomed by anyone from the Baptist to the Wiccans, but not Needless Markup.

I'd offer to boycott them, but well, people who hang out at Avalon's Faery Ball seldom shop at Needless Markup to begin with.


Brad said...

I know you were just venting, because, of all people, you know that Orlando has more culture than most folks give us credit for (Why, we've even got this one guy who does a daily sketch blog. How cool is that!) Neiman Marcus--yes you can use their name without fear of retribution--is a big national chain store in a mall halfway to tourist town. Hard to argue that's typical of Orlando. You know where the fun is, why go where it isn't?

Thor said...

Brad thanks for the perspective. With your prompt I decided to go back and name the store since I am still in America and have freedom of speech if not the freedom to sketch.