Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Interview at Infusion Tea

Monday, I met Elizabeth Maupin the theater critic for the Orlando Sentinel, at Infusion Tea. Elizabeth wanted to interview me for the print edition of the paper, and I am always happy to talk about this blog and how it is changing my life.
As is my habit I showed up early and ordered some lunch and an iced tea. I decided I would try and get a sketch done before she showed up. But like a true professional, she had the same idea of showing up early so she ordered and we ended up having lunch together. I did not sketch her since I wanted to focus on our conversation and getting the facts right. Yes even I know when to put the pen down.
I admired her analog approach to the interview, she took notes with a pencil and paper and she came up with questions as we talked. I hope to learn from her example and improve my own interviewing skills for the blog. I might not have related all the joys and heartaches that have come about on this journey but I think she understands the pleasure to be found from taking the time to listen and sketch in a world that is moving way to fast.
When she left I sat back and continued this sketch. The guy working on his laptop was there when I arrived and he remained when I left. Several others sat staring at laptop screens and working in this relaxing setting. Perhaps it is a sign of the times that people are now truly mobile and work where they feel most comfortable. I feel like I have joined those ranks, minus the laptop.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ignite Orlando

I went to Slingapour's on Wall Street Plaza downtown to find out what Ignite Orlando was all about. In the first part of the event speakers were invited to give creative presentations with the limitation being that they had to give the presentation in 5 minutes and the slides would be on a timer and would change automatically. Some of these presentations were quite entertaining and the fast pace kept the evening lively. One presentation I particularly liked was about toys and play. He pointed out that people do not find enough time in their adult lives for play. This may be true for artists as well. I may start a sketch with the most serious of intentions, but it is only when I let loose and just relax and play with the lines and values that things fall into place.

The last speaker was the woman in this sketch named Jessica Mariko. Being the last speaker I realized I had to catch her and fast. She stood before the microphone and I waited for her to start to talk. Instead as music began to play, she slowly rose up on her toes and then broke into dance. The music had a voice over by her describing her creative process, her thoughts about art, thoughts about the need for artistic collaborations, and a lament that many artists do not know how to market their talents. All the while she danced. I sketched her at the beginning of her routine and towards the end. All of her commentary resonated with me and her playful presentation left her and many in the audience breathless at the end.

After the Ignite Orlando event was over, the MP3 Experiment began. Everyone in the bar had an MP3 player and had downloaded an MP3 from the Internet. I had also figured out how to use my wife's MP3 player and had downloaded the file, but I suddenly realized that I had left the MP3 player on my kitchen table next to the users manual. I was forced to observe the experiment as an outsider. In the bar everyone stretched and then began pointing at different places in the bar. All at once they silently walked out into the street toward the park in front of the History Center. When in the park they all hid behind trees. A man ran around dropping packages on the ground and all the while people tried to keep him from seeing them behind the trees. People then opened the packages and handed the items to each other. They began blowing up balloons. On one side of the park they all had red balloons and on the other side blue balloons. Then as in opening scenes of 2001 a Space Odyssey they began violently waving the balloons around and making threatening growls at each other. Suddenly the groups charged at one another and a game of tag began. Those who were tagged fell to the grass. At one point they wandered the field in slow motion acting like zombies or monsters. At the end they all shook hands laughing and exhausted. To tell you the truth I have no idea what it all meant since I still haven't listened to the MP3. The homeless that usually sleep in the park must have been equally baffled.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lot 1433 Opening

I followed a facebook lead and went to a gallery opening in a private residence on Lake Minnehaha. Yes the is the actual name of the lake, would I make that up? On display were 30 or so paintings from artists Brigan Gresh and Andrew White. These two artists had totally different approaches and looks to their art. Brigan painted very light paintings with multiple layers of paint. Sometimes thick textural brush strokes would show through thin layers of white paint. On top of this were thin spidery impressions which almost would form a discernible shape but remained abstract and elusive. Andrews art on the other hand was dark and brooding. There were stormy clouds looming over dark landscapes and images of screaming monkeys on large dark canvases. The two artists couldn't be more dissimilar yet later that evening I heard Megan talking about how she and Andrew are considering collaborating on a show in which they would both work on the same pieces of art. It is a fascinating idea and I really want to find out how that works out.
At this opening I spoke with another artist named Louise Bova who is a figurative painter from Brooklyn who moved to Orlando 4 years ago. She lamented the fact that Orlando doesn't have as much culture as NYC. Last year I might have agreed with her but I found myself arguing the point, trying to point out all the culture that I discover each time I head out to sketch. Orlando certainly isn't perfect, but it does buzz with activity. After I finished this sketch, I wandered down to the lake to watch the sun set on the opposite shore and then I drove back home.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Brian Feldman Reads The Orlando Weekly in its Entirety

I arrived at Frames Forever & Art Gallery 941 Orange Avenue Winter Park, to find a small crowd seated in front of a glass storefront window watching as Brian Feldman read the Orlando Weekly in its entirety. He not only read the body copy but also the ads, captions and he would even describe any pictures and art. Three of the people were from the Orlando Weekly Newspaper and they sat and watched for over an hour. Brian spoke into a microphone and the sound mixer Tommy Wingo (in the yellow shirt) supervised as Brian's voice was amplified crisply on two speakers outside.
The performance commemorates WMFE's canceling of their newspaper-reading service for the blind on its station due to funding issues.
The store window was masterfully decorated with the current issue of the Orlando Weekly taped up behind Brian and even strewn about on the floor. A classy Greek column was on hand where Brian perched a cup of water for his parched voice. One audience member tapped furiously on his laptop computer and others occasionally texted friends on iPhones. Some people had the newspaper and read along tracking Brian's progress. The owner of Frames Forever & Art Gallery, Katie Windish, was tweeting about the event to about a thousand people on Brian's behalf. Katie was also the one who tailored the classy vest Brian was wearing which was also made of newspaper. She confessed that the vest was made from another local rag called the Orlando Sentinel.
The drive home from this event was quite eventful, While driving through Parramore, I was pulled over by a patrol car. "Can I see your License and Registration", blinking lights, and a flood light in my rear view mirror, the whole deal. After waiting 15 minutes while he looked up my long criminal record he came back and informed me my left brake light was out. He asked if I knew about that, and I did, but I said "no officer". He said he could give me a $96 ticket for that but he would let me go with a warning this time...

Friday, June 26, 2009

United Arts Board Meeting

Yesterday the United Arts Board of Trustees voted to decide if United Arts would help in an attempt to keep Opera alive in Orlando. The Orlando Opera company filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy on April 24th, and the Orlando Philharmonic has offered to help produce limited staged productions where opera singers could perform before the Philharmonic. This endeavor would cost an additional $200,000 and United Arts is offering to help. Over a thousand people had subscribed for Opera season tickets and they were shocked that they could not get their money back when the Opera went bankrupt. Of the $200,000, being invested by United Arts, $50,000 will be used for vouchers to allow the subscribers to attend the Enzian Theater's "Opera on Film Series", and OPO's semi-staged concert Operas.
I had heard that this meeting might get heated since some board members feel that United Arts should only support existing organizations and since the Opera is bankrupt it no longer exists. It was pointed out that all arts organizations are struggling in the present financial climate and the money might be better put to use if it helped keep existing organizations afloat.
The board meeting was actually quite civil. Both sides stated their causes and then a vote was taken by a raise of hands. In the midst of the heated discussion, trumpeting Elephant calls could be heard emanating from the next room in the Shakespeare Theater. This rather surreal moment tended to lighten the mood among the board members. In a final plea, Mark Hagel summed up all the arguments with a simple question, "Do we want Opera in Orlando?" The votes tallied were 20 votes for helping produce limited stage Opera productions, and 3 votes against. With this vote an executive committee will further look into the particulars of the plan and by August 15th the plan will either be a go or no-go. Orlando was once able to boast that it was the only city in Florida with the "big 3" professional companies for Opera, Ballet and a Symphony. Today a crippled Opera continues to tread water.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cigarbox Newsstands

Jeff Kunerth loves the thrill of the hunt. He has rummaged through antique shops model railroad stores miniature shops and ebay to find many of the items in his News collection. He compared finding a new item to the feeling a 49er might have felt when he discovers a rare golden nugget.
The collection used to reside throughout the house but when his sons moved away to college his wife insisted that he consolidate the collection so he moved everything into his sons room. Every square inch of every shelf and wall is covered with newspaper memorabilia.
In the sketch you can see some of his news paperboy figures. He even has a GI Joe war corespondent complete with a typewriter. Some of his hand crafted newsstands can also be seen. There is the "Seuss News" with the Cat in the Hat selling papers, Goofy is selling papers in the "Toon News". In the "Bear Country News" newsstand a bear sell honey along with the news. Each stand has an amazing level of detail that can only be appreciated when you hold the box and truly peer inside. He has a magnifying glass on the shelf with the newsstands in case you want to read all the headlines. And trust me all the headlines tie in to the given newsstand theme.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Orlando Newseum

I went to the home of Jeff Kunerth who has a sizable collection of all things news related. Jeff has worked for the Orlando Sentinel for 35 years and his life's work has always been journalism. His father taught journalism for 30 years at Iowa State University and at an early age Jeff was hitting the streets before sunrise to deliver the local paper. Since he didn't like having to collect paper money door to door, he recruited his brother who enjoyed the work. His brother now runs a small paper in Idaho, of course handling all the finances.
Jeff collected press passes and desk name plates from employees as they left the Orlando Sentinel. He has about 30 press passes and 50 name plates. He finally stopped collecting as reporters were being layed off 30 to 40 at a time. Instead he has the long lists of names that appeared in the paper the week of the layoffs.
Jeff builds miniature newsstands with humorous themes out of cigar boxes. Here he is making an Obama election day themed newsstand. In the box in his lap are hundreds of newspaper front pages which were reduced multiple times on his laser printer. He carefully cut and trimmed these until they fit into the overall newsstand layout. The newsstand he is building is sitting on the card table. You can see the small shelves he has built on which the newspapers will be stacked. A small TV set is on and a black and white Film Noir movie is playing. Jeff never glances at the TV but the period music perfectly compliments the nostalgic feel of the news related miniatures.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Downey Park

On Saturday I drove to Downey Park on the East side of town. I went with the hope of seeing Capoeira Martial arts as they relaxed for a picnic and an afternoon of practicing this Brazilian martial art. I had no idea where in the park to find them but I ended up parking in a space right next to where their picnic table was set up. I walked up and 5 people were playing long bow shaped instruments, called Berimbaus, and a drum while others whirled dodged and did somersaults and handstands. As I sat down to draw...you guessed it, the music stopped and everyone packed up to go home. That was my fault I had arrived late, having come from another sketch location.
Rather than consider this a wasted trip, I wandered down to the lake where children and adults were splashing in the water. I sat in the shade of a beautiful old tree and vicariously enjoyed the company of a Hispanic family on siesta. A small Hispanic boy became infatuated with my haversack and he boldly walked up to me and started yanking on it. His father had to rush over and pull him away. Several other times kids wandered up to me and would put their hands on my knee like I was placed there to keep them steady on their feet.
This relaxing day in the park reminded me so much of old sepia colored photos I have of my mom in her youth. In every image she is seen smiling in a bathing suit and always close to water. Her father was a second generation Irishman who managed to buy a boat with his plumbers wages and the family was always near a beach or lake. I am left wondering how I lost that heritage.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Orlando City Artworks

On Thursday night Mayor Buddy Dyer and the Orlando City Commissioners hosted an art show of works by City Employees and their families. I met Terry in the City Hall Rotunda and she told me an award ceremony was going on upstairs on the second floor. She had just bumped into the Mayor who looked a bit lost and she was asking him if he had seem my painting which was supposed to be hanging in City Hall somewhere. The mayor became uncomfortable and his handlers ushered him away.
Terry had seen enough so we said good by and I headed toward the ceremonies. I had to go through a metal detector in order to get upstairs and I was given an orange visitors badge. When I walked in the last award was being presented and everyone headed back downstairs. I decided to stay upstairs and watch the reception from a balcony overlooking the Rotunda. There was wine and cheese, beers and sodas. Children were encouraged to paint patterns on the insides of ceramic hearts at craft tables that had been set up. On poor fellow knocked over a whole bottle of beer that shattered on the granite floor and caused the whole room to go silent. The art show itself is pretty much what you would expect to see if you went to a county fair and entered the 4H art pavilion.
I left City Hall and wandered up Orange Avenue to two other shows that were opening in galleys that night. The first was at the City Arts Factory and was called B-Side. It was a show if hip urban artists many of whom incorporated graffiti into their art. I then wandered to Avalon Island Gallery. This space had a nice staging area where a guitarist was performing. It would have made a great sketch but I had to get off to an evening class at Full Sail. It turns out that every third Thursday these gallery's have openings and this is the first time I wandered into this ongoing art scene. Every gallery I entered, I bumped into friends. The Orlando Art scene is starting to feel like home.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chateau Vintage

I decided to get a sketch at an event called Good Looke at the Beacon Lounge in Thornton Park. If I got there before 10 PM admission was free, so I hopped in my truck and headed downtown. Good Looke is a monthly party which brings together Orlando's fashion, art, music, and design communities, for a network event that revolves around DJ culture, live music and live art.
Based on this description I was excited at the prospects. When I arrived at 9:30PM the place was very quiet but after 10 the crowds started to file in. At first I figured I would be drawing the bar or the DJ's Queso and Youngheartz. But when these young lady's from Chateau Vintage walked in with a pink suitcase full of vintage clothes, I knew I had found my subject. I sketched as they set up the table and put out their wares. The table had a constant crowd. One girl tried on a vintage hat and danced around in a burlesque style that would make Bob Flossie proud. Some of the dancers must have come from the Ballet.
I am not sure if all the arts were represented. I tried to figure out if any other visual artists were in the room and perhaps they could be recognized by their grungy tee shirts, shorts and tattoos. I didn't see any other sketchpads. I don't see how people were networking with the music so loud. But I did my part representing for the visual arts.
As I finished up this sketch the DJ really started to pump up the volume and the dancing heated up. I wanted to get back home to Terry so I tried to make it to the door, but right in front of the door there was a tight pack of gyrating bodies and it became necessary to push people aside in order to get through. Outside the club tables were set up and another crowd had formed. The party was just getting started.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Stilt Walkers World Record Set

The folks at La Nouba set a new world record for the largest number of people standing on stilts. The event was held simultaneously in Las Vega, New York, Montreal (Canada), Fortaleza (Brazil), Lisbon (Portugal), Macau (China), Nagoys (Japan) and Tokio (Japan). In Orlando 119 people gathered for this short yet festive occasion. People from all over Orlando gathered in order to help set this new Guinness World Record. The stilt walkers paraded around the Disney Marketplace and then they gathered in the square in front of the La Nouba tent. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer stood before the crowd and declared the day "Cirque du Soleil Day" in Orlando".
119 stilt walkers seems to represent Orlando's culture at its best. It is ironic that Cirque got its start with small street performances, because in downtown Orlando street performance artists are outlawed. Probably with the way the law is written, I am breaking the law every time I sketch in public. From Disney I drove straight to a Friends of the Philharmonic meeting. When I arrived David Shillhammer, the Philharmonic's Executive Director, was lamenting the death of the Orlando Opera to the crowd that had gathered. The Opera declared bankruptcy last month. He then outlined ways that the Philharmonic is working towards helping bring a limited staged Opera Production back to Orlando.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Maitland Art Center

The Maitland Art Center held an open house. I was told there would be an opportunity to sketch from a model, so I jumped at the chance. I had not been to a figure drawing class in ages. The drawing workshop was held in this small outdoor courtyard. It was a beautiful day and the mocking birds were chirping up a storm in the trees. In all there were about 10 artists including myself sketching from the model.
I stood by a small green wooden gate just outside the courtyard so I could see everyone. The moderator asked me if I could tell any passers by to pick up a flier if they were curious about the class. Sure enough quite a few people walked up to me to ask about the class and I was happy to talk and give them a flier.
Besides this class there were also many tents set up with artists showing their work. A sculptor was working in wax and the patron who had won the sculpture in an auction was there to see the work in progress. After the sketch workshop was over I wandered the event and wished I had more time to sketch but I had to get to another sketching location.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Crealde Sculpting

I avoided looking directly at the welding arc as I did this sketch. Several finished pieces can be seen to the left. Crealde is right on a lake and I could hear some Moore Hens as they swam by. As usual, I tucked myself into one of the few shady spots when I sat down to sketch. When it was lunch time I walked to the Publix which is next door with one of the artists named Heather. She explained to me why she became a representational artist. Her mother was schizophrenic and she would sometimes tell Heather it was time for bed even though it was far to early for bedtime. This caused her to question many things from a very early age, the most important being, "What is reality?" I thought this was one of the more interesting reasons for becoming an artist.
The activity in the workshop was loud and constant. Artists were grinding, filing, welding, burnishing and hammering. I could have stayed all afternoon but I decided two sketches was enough for a hot day in the Florida sun.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Crealde Welding Workshop

I got a tip from a friend of Mary Ann de Stefano, named Lynn Warnicke that I might find a Crealde Welding Workshop and interesting subject for sketching. Lynn was right on the money, the workshop was a feast for the eyes.The instructor, David Cumbie, welcomed me and said I could sketch anywhere with one warning, "do not look directly at the welders arcs". Well that gave me a bit of a fright so this first sketch involves no welding. Here an artist is fitting metal pieces together trying to discover the shape they are meant to form. Metal bits and pieces are lying everywhere, resembling a junkyard. One mans junk is an artists palette. In the foreground a horses ears are formed by railroad spikes.
While doing this sketch a photographer set up an old accordion camera in the entry to the workshop. You can just barley see the camera in the upper left corner of the sketch. Later the photographer showed me a Daguerreotype he had taken of me while I was sketching. It was a beautiful image in rusty browns and my head was slightly blurred from my glancing my subject then the page. It is one of the best images I have ever seem of myself at work. It gave me a ghostly appearance like I had materialized from another time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Screaming Eagle

I went back to Zembower's when my truck started making throaty noises like a Harley Davidson makes when it had no muffler. The guys in the shop had the work finished before I had this sketch complete. It turns out some small clamp was loose and it was in an area the mechanics had been working the previous time I had taken the truck in for repairs. Would you believe they did not charge me a dime! I was also given a card for a free oil change next time I stop in. This is a top notch shop and I will never be bringing my car in to the dealership again for work. I know the mechanics at Zembower's will do a much better job and they will admit to a mistake, if it is made.
The bike belongs to the boss and is named the Screaming Eagle. The slick blue metalic paint and chrome glitter in the sunlight.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Magic against the Lakers

Last night I went down to the Amway Arena to see what kind of crowd gathered for the big game between the Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers. Fans couldn't seem to resist playing the cheesy radio promotional games. All the games seemed to be run by women who looked like they had just come off a shift of working at Hooters. I feel fans like these should be required to pay higher taxes to help pay for the 480 million dollar Orlando Events Center.
I sat down on a grassy knoll to do this sketch. As I was working I heard the sound of a horse exhaling loudly behind me, sure enough when I turned around, there stood four police horses. I had just sketched at the Mounted Unit Barn a few weeks ago and I started to wonder if the horses remembered me. I heard one office say "Woo back up." I am certain those horses watched every line as I put it down on the page.
Twice groups of fans arrived chanting at the top of their lungs, "Lets Go Magic!" Others would join the chant and it would gradually quiet down as the fans filtered into the stadium. Some fans wore huge Afro wigs and blue and white capes. Across the street someone was standing on a soap box and preaching. Trucks drove by with huge images of aborted fetuses running down the side of the truck. Another protest was against the Russell Corporation which produces Spalding Basketballs and Huffy Sports Backboards and has factories in Honduras that function as sweatshops. This group was banging on buckets and waving a photo of David Stern the NBA commissioner .
I returned home to watch the game on TV and as I am writing this the Magic are trailing by 10 points and it looks pretty hopeless. So much for the Finals. I don't think I need to watch the end of this game.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lake Eola Farmers Market

The Lake Eola Farmers Market is open every Sunday from 10 Am to 4PM. There were perhaps 30 or so tents set up with fresh produce and and assortment of holistic goods. One vendor had chilled coconuts which he would slice open and then insert a straw. After walking up and down the line of tents I decided my best bet for a sketch was to sit in this circular area which is shaded by large magnificent live oaks. In front of me was a whole table of women who seemed to get together every weekend. "I think I always tell you this but I love your hand bag." There were toy sized dogs to be found everywhere. Orlando Brewing Company had a tent and many people were sipping beer as they relaxed.
I was inspired by the massive diagonals the tree trunks created as they sliced up toward then sky. Out of the bark sprouted ferns. Lazy Spanish Moss hung down from the thick branches. On the horizon dark clouds rolled in and thunder could be heard. However where we were it remained sunny. A guitar player in front of me was playing "Let the sun shine in" along with other Beetles songs. Children were seated in small green chairs watching him. Someone mentioned that he plays every weekend. Behind me I could hear a parrot's shrill scream.
When I was done with the sketch, I walked around the lake scouting out restaurants and cafes for the up coming 23rd International Sketch Crawl. I am mapping a route so artists can join the crawl at any point during the day.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Letters to God

I got a tip that a feature length film is being shot in Winter Garden. I drove through the downtown district and didn't notice anything. I figured I had missed the action. I parked and walked around and decided to head down a side street figuring I would get more shade. Within a block I ran into this Methodist church. It is here that the film crew was set up. There were spot lights for each of the stained glass windows and a large camera lift parked out back.
The film is called "Letters to God"and is directed by David Nixon. It is the story of a little boy who gets cancer and from his bed he writes letters each night asking god to help other sick people he has met. The mailman who collects the letters doesn't have the heart to throw them out so he researches and finds the people mentioned in the letters and delivers the letters to them. In the end the boy dies, but his letters inspire all who read them. The film is based on a true story, and was written by Patrick Dowdey who's son had cancer. Filming is also being done at Arnold Palmer Hospital.
While working on this sketch, the parking lot gradually filled up. It seems filming is being done at night perhaps because it is easier to control the lighting on the stained glass windows. I wish I had the time to stay and do a second sketch inside but I had to get to the night shift at work. One fellow drove in front of me rolled down his window and asked if I was that religious calender artist. I explained that I wasn't and asked what the calender artists name is. He didn't know.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The End of Analog

We interrupt today's blog post to bring an important announcement: Analog TV is ending TODAY. At 3 AM in the morning I sat with Brian Feldman waiting for the end of Analog TV as we know it. There are an estimated 20 million TVs that use rabbit ears to pick up analog TV via the airwaves. Brian joked that the best place to watch this conversion to digital would be in the retirement villages of South Florida. I can imagine the panic caused as hundreds of TVs flicker to static, people are screaming in the streets and TVs being thrown out windows. The Digital conversion is not happening all at once but each station is switching over sometime today. You have been warned. Every station seemed to have a banner scrolling warning viewers about the conversion.
Brian sat eating some tomato soup straight out of the can and texting or tweeting on his iPhone. A police car drove by and a block later turned around to pass by a second time. He stopped rolled down the window and stared. I tensed up waiting for what might happen next. He just watched the TVs for a few minutes and then rolled up beside me to see what I was up to and then drove off without saying a word.
If you wish to watch in horror as TV signals are lost go to Frames Forever and Art Gallery 941 Orange Avenue in Winter Park 407 622-6358. The installation remains in place till midnight tonight.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Live and Let Live

The next day I went to Black Chapel Tattoo to see if I could sketch inside. Quite honestly it is difficult to find as it sits on top of a sandwich shop and the only access is by an unmarked wooden staircase. I went in the early afternoon but business was slow and the receptionist suggested I come back at night. I returned later that night and walked in. I introduced myself and both the artist, Ric DaSilva, and the patron didn't mind me sitting down and sketching.
This young girl remained calm and motionless for the duration of the work. She tended to stare apathetically at a point in space. I was told by Ric that he would be finished within the hour so I started putting lines down fast. The girls boyfriend was seated just off the page to the right. I guess he was there for moral support. Once and a while he and the girl would talk and laugh. When the tattoo was finished Ric wiped it down and showed it to the girl for the first time. It read: "Live and Let Live" in a decorative banner. She loved it. Then came the bandaging and an explanation of how to take care of it for the next few days. I kept applying watercolor washes to the sketch after the girl and her boyfriend left.
I asked Fish, one of the artists why they did not have the Hearse parked up front of the new shop and I was told that the city of Orlando wanted to charge them extra taxes in order to park the car up front. The city claimed the car was a billboard and thus must be taxed accordingly. Fish said he usually doesn't mind greasing some palms in order to do business, but these taxes were just to steep. So for now the Hearse sits guard in front of a deserted building in Winter Park.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Hearse

Anytime I drive down Fairbanks this Funeral Hearse covered with graffiti always catches my eye. I finally decided to stop and do a sketch. The Hearse acts as a sort of billboard for Black Chapel Tattoo in Winter Park.
It was painted by Ken Deft from Pittsburg in about 4 hours. I found out that Black Chapel had moved however to downtown Orlando. The owner of Black Chapel Tattoo, Eli Tobias, accused Winter Park officials of running him out of town. After harassment for nearly a year from Winter Park Police, Tobias decided to move the shop to downtown Orlando.
As I sat doing this sketch a few people wandered by on the sidewalk that I was sitting on. Everyone seemed a bit down and out yet they seemed to appreciate what I was doing. One couple asked "Hey, are you a tattoo artist?" I shouted, "No"over the roar of traffic. A rather disheveled man in a red shirt and a beard who looked homeless, placed his hand on my shoulder, then subtly patted several times and smiled down at me. Without saying a word, he quietly walked away.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gateway to Hell

I have been to hell and it is a theme park. I had the brilliant plan to spend an day at Disney For Gay Days on Saturday to do some sketching. Terry wanted to come along because she said she could go shopping. When we got to the entrance to Disney's Hollywood Studios. We found out after a cell phone call that we would have to wait an extra hour to get into the park. Terry got annoyed and I took it as an opportunity to sketch.
The line at the guest relations window was always long. Children cried and parents yelled at the kids and each other. "Why are you giving the kids grapes? I told you they were thirsty and all you keep carrying on about is those damn grapes!" "It always has to be about you doesn't it?" The few that got past guest relations then had to face the turnstiles. Above them storm troopers repeated the same tinny recorded dialogue over and over. The troopers made fun of the parents calling them the children's servants and questioning their taste in clothes. They brandished their plastic weapons and threatened to shoot if people didn't move along.
Terry went to Epcot and I followed after I finished this sketch. We were to meet at France. As soon as I got to France it began to pour. I took shelter under the awning to a perfume shop. I sat on my stool and watched an amazing lightning display for the next half hour. I only saw one female couple holding hands and wearing red tee shirts. That was the only hint that it might be gay days at Disney. All the people I saw were anything but gay, they were annoyed, short tempered and wet. That mood quickly soaked into me as well. When Terry met me we decided to get out. As we quickly walked back toward the parking lot, a woman asked me "Would you mind taking our picture?" I shouted out "Yes!" and stormed off. The woman was perplexed.

Monday, June 8, 2009

23rd International Sketch Crawl Orlando






Orlando Police Department Mounted Unit

Karen Cali is a volunteer for the OPD mounted unit. Volunteers have to pass a horse riding test, a lie detector test, and a background check before being allowed to train the horses. She allowed me to sketch her as she got ready to take Peanut out for a training ride. Security at the barn is tight. Peanut came to Orlando from the police horse breeding program at Angola Prison Farm in Louisiana. Peanut has a brand that reads L267. The police horses are huge. When KC rode out to the dressage area, she showed me an obstacle course which is used to get the horses used to objects in the urban environment. She rode Peanut around newspaper boxes, tires, garbage cans, over mattresses, a narrow foot bridge, and near a 4 foot alligator from a parade float. KC rode him up and over a seesaw, then just like a football lineman Peanut pushed a huge sled forward with his powerful chest. The horses also receive training in tolerating fireworks and gunfire at close proximity.
I sat on a park bench beside the riding area and watched as Karen effortlessly cantered Peanut around the dirt field. I took the time to apply more washes to this sketch and I was surprised when all the horses who had been eating grass became curious and wandered over to look at what I was doing. A small crowd of horses surrounded me. Karen said this was very odd since the horses typically ignore people when working and might be slightly more curious when loose, but they were very interested in me. Even Denise an old time veteran and the units groom in the barn was surprised. He claimed I might be something of a horse whisperer. I think the horses just like to see equestrian art.
KC said that the city of Orlando may be considering selling off the plot of land next to the Citrus Bowl that the Mounted Unit barn is located on. Several plans have been put forth before with no results. With tightening city budgets the entire future of the mounted unit may be at stake.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Meg Kat Studio

Over the weekend I went to sketch the studio of Megan Lee Katauskas. Megan left a comment on my blog stating that she had grown up with many of the landmarks I have been sketching around town and that seeing the sketches has bought back fond memories. I found out she has a fantastic blog called "Imperrfections" which chronicles life here in Orlando. She paints bold images of Hollywood stars that I really like, so I asked if she wouldn't mind if I sat in and sketch while she worked on one of those paintings. She was working on a commissioned portrait the day I stopped by. Rather than use an easel, she simply sits cross legged on the floor on some puzzle piece foam mats. Megan is in constant motion while she works. She wrestles the canvas turning it constantly. Megan often posts vlogs on her blog and she was shooting video and photos of me as I sketched her. You can see the video camera on a large box by the window. The camera is right at the vanishing point in the drawing.
Two weeks ago Megan and her husband, Mathew, had their identities stolen and every last cent was withdrawn from their bank account with Wachovia. Right now Wachovia or Walk-all-over-you, has been saying there is nothing the bank can do to help the couple. They were left with a balance of negative $170 and this morning Mathew had to sell his Wii video game console to help pay the rent. I dropped my computer off at Mathew's Radio Shack on Orange Avenue south of downtown and the tech, Don, has been really helpful. Megan has prints of her Hollywood stars for as little as $25. Quite a good buy.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tess Adamski

I met Tess at a writers workshop being held at the Keouac house. Tess designed the tattoo on her back herself and I found out that her tattoo artist in Toronto was named Thor, which happens to be my nickname. The tattoo consists of the last paragraph from Jack's novel, "On the Road." On the wall were photos of Jack writing in this very room. The center photo was the photo she used as reference for her tattoo. The red and green color scheme was far to perfect, there had to be a greater force at work here. There was something surreal about the whole experience. Tess refereed to it as Kerouacendipity.
"Like most people I read On The Road at age 17...and Jack answered and validated a lot of internal questions and thoughts that had me in a teenage turmoil. Growing up in an idyllic childhood in a small town...I always wanted out, feeling I should be somewhere else-so unlike my friends and family and wondering what is wrong with me? Why do I feel so unhappy? Jack let me know I wasn't crazy and it was alright to see myself on the road out of my hometown. That was the pivotal point in my life.
Then it was a sweet progression into his works and life. With a background in classic literature, I spent my time with London, Fitzgerald etc...then comes Kerouac...whose writing touched me so deeply on a personal level from the honest passion that he created with the same 26 letters offered to everyone. Yet he created such a unique voice...I developed a real familiarity that was very comforting...like finding the perfect lover without all the mortal complications.
The more I delved into his personal life, I found myself becoming very protective of TiJean, sympathizing with the bombardment of misunderstanding that plagued his life and legacy of work. And so now, I am at a point in my life where I can devote my time to constant study of
Kerouac...working on a book to promote a further understanding of his writing genius. His voice is still an important voice to be heard and like hearing a great piece of music...reading Kerouac
once, is not enough. I've always thought that Kerouac could give sight to a blind man...the true historian of mankind...no one has documented the minuteness of sights, sounds and feeling of man like Jack... and he makes everyone of those details so poetic and soulfully important that it makes you glad you're alive and a part of it.
Jack once said...Life is my art. And now I ink myself with his art-his words.... an eternal
canvas of the purest poetry of life....and it's kinda nice to know that Jack always has my back."
-Tess Adamski

Friday, June 5, 2009

Orlando Magic Pep Rally

At noon Mayor Buddy Dyer held a pep rally on the steps of City Hall in Downtown Orlando. It was sunny when I arrived and a high school band was playing on the steps for the crowd of perhaps 100 people. Then some kids in blue Orlando Magic shirts ran out and started throwing tee shirts and noise makers out to the crowd. It was hot in the direct sun so I took cover in the entry of a building.
A speaker shouted that Orlando's time had come, that Orlando deserved to beat Los Angeles in the NBA Finals. For whatever reason the event didn't leave me feeling inspired. I have seen high school pep rallies with more energy and enthusiasm. It seems like the city is trying to drum up enthusiasm for the insane expense of $480 million dollars being diverted into another sports arena that isn't really needed, and is now half built. I personally find the Amway Arena to be a fine venue.
When the Mayor got up to speak, the sky suddenly opened up and it began to pour. Everyone ran for cover and that was the end of the pep rally. I was under cover so I continued to work as all the people in the square dispersed. The wind forced some rain onto the pages so once in a while you will see a line bleed out as I drew through a rain drop.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

John Pierro Sculpture Studio

Quite some time ago I went to John Pierro's studio to sketch him as he started a new piece. John is a friend from my old Disney Feature Animation days and in recent years he has developed into an amazing sculptor. When John bought his small Orlando home he had the forethought to insulate his garage and turn it into a spacious studio space. When I arrived, Dunkin his aging yet energetic Terrier greeted me at the door with loud barks. Later when Dunkin was used to me he would stop by once in a while to lick me on the elbow as I was sketching. You can just see his snout in the lower right corner of my sketch.
John set a goal for himself of producing 30 sculptures in 60 days. Because of that goal John produced an amazing body of work. Like my sketch a day goal, it forced him to make quick bold choices and live with them. His art blossomed. In a guest bedroom at the front of the house a huge stockpile of sculptures are perched on industrial strength metal shelves, waiting to be discovered by expectant art collectors.
The sculpture John was working on when I stopped in was based on a sketch he did some time ago. It represents how he and his wife, Jacque have grown together as artists. John met Jacque at Disney. The two figures twist and grow together like trees sharing one head. I have followed John's work for some time and it is astounding. It reminds me somewhat of the work of one of my favorite artists, Egon Schiele, with twisted expressionistic human figures. Explore John's portfolio, you will be glad you did.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fringe Volunteer Party at Pulse

All Fringe volunteers were invited to an appreciation party at Pulse. Pulse is a gay bar on Orange avenue south of Downtown. The tiny parking lot was packed and the side street parking was full for a solid block. I walked in and was given an armband. When I entered the bar area through an beaded curtain I could not see a thing since the room was so dark. I greeted some friends and then after staking out the room decided my best bet was to muscle up to the bar and sketch from there. I ordered a Fringe Tini and it was tasty. The bartender was of course in constant motion trying to keep up with all the orders. Another challenge was that the room would change color from red to blue to green to pink every few minutes. I chose to paint a lavender room.
When I was perhaps halfway done with the sketch, most folks went into the front room for an awards and a raffle. I stayed at the bar since the awards didn't concern me. Brian Feldman and Jessica Earley also stayed at the bar. As I was slapping down watercolor, I heard Brian calling me and he said that the announcer was calling my nickname, Thor. I pushed my way to the stage thinking well maybe they made up an award for the most sketches done at the Fringe. I stood in front of the stage and shouted out, "did you say Thor?" The confused announcer said no George. What would I do with a pink flamingo anyway? Right? I still don't know if Brian was pulling a prank or if he misheard the name. I shook his hand when I got back to the bar anyway to let him know no harm was done.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Earth Day

On the same day as the Kentucky Derby, Lake Eola became the home of Earth Day in Orlando. Twenty eight groups and businesses helped sponsor the event. Dozens of tents were scattered around the lake. There was free music, a kids play area and various performances through out the day. You could learn about building a local food network, health and wellness and water conservation. I on the other hand was drawn to such luxuries as a good shoulder massage. As I leaned back against a tree and did this sketch, my shoulders as usual tensed up as I worked. Right next to me in the lake was a gooses nest with mom sitting pretty. Periodically well meaning adults and children would chase the mother goose away by crowding the nest and throwing bread at the her as she swam away.
When My sketch was finished Summer and her friend Teresa stopped to say hello and I decided to be sociable for once and joined them on a quest for a refreshing desert. After turning down some holistic cupcakes we all settled on flavored ices. I got a mango flavored ice and we all sat down to enjoy some free music as we ate. The ice really hit the spot on a hot summer afternoon. It was nice to just relax after a solid day of sketching.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Green Festival

On a sunny Sunday I went to Lake Baldwin to sketch the Green Festival. I assumed I was looking for a lakes side park so I drove around the neighborhood for a bit before I finally rolled down a window to ask for directions. An old woman walking her dog pointed me in the right direction. The street was blocked off and two blocks were cluttered with tents. I was thirsty so I immediately got an organic iced lemonade. Kristen Manieri wanted to get some photos of me at work and we were to meet here. I walked on the shady side of the street looking for a spot to sketch. I settled on Joe's Oat Patties stand because of the intermittent lines that would form offering me a chance to sketch people waiting in the foreground. The sun moved and within minutes I was no longer in the shade. I had stood in the shade of a palm tree and those never offer much cover. I dug through my bag for sunscreen but I had left it at home. My arms and neck got quite a burn.
Kristen walked right past me once then called me on her cell. She explained where she was and I could see her on her cell in the distance from where I was sketching. I steered her toward me until she saw me on my cell. She introduced me to her husband, Marc and baby, Elizabeth. Then she started taking shots while I continued to work. After perhaps a dozen shots she was done. Afterwords she and her family went to the lake side to have a picnic lunch. They had bought a picnic basket and blanket. I like the way she manages to mix work and pleasure.