Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Confluence Opening

Confluence is a show mounted by four women artists who decided to collaborate on a series of large painted panels on which they all worked. The four artists are Brigen Gresh, Vicki Jones, Dina Mack and Anna McCambridge. I followed their progress sketching them on several occasions as they created the works. They were a fun group of artists to observe. Creating the art was a fun playful experience. Laughter was as much a part of their creative process as the long hours of painting.
Anna called the day of the opening and asked me to bring some prints of my sketches that I had done of the project and I was glad to do so. When I arrived the first artist I saw was Dina who was in the outside courtyard with her husband. We hugged and then I went inside to see the show. I placed my signed prints on the table along with a full sketchpad and some business cards and I wandered into the gallery. The first gallery had the artists individual works created before the collaboration. Each artist had a distinct style. In the next gallery, the huge panels lined both walls of a long hallway and the crowd was getting thick. I found Anna who I didn't recognize at first because she had died her hair red. I congratulated her and continued to explore. I began to realize that I recognized many faces in the room. I had sketched many of these people and going to the opening was a fun way to reconnect with people who had influenced my art and this blog. Strangers approached me and asked if I was the sketch blogger. It was fun meeting new people.
At the end of the hallway there was a video showing the women at work. It was fascinating to watch. The video highlighted much of the playful spirit yet hard work that went into creating this show. In the next room the walls were painted partially grey with white slashed in which hand written messages appeared. Then in the final gallery the artists again showed individual works, this time however the thoughts and processes learned from the collaboration showed in each piece. Each artist had picked up new ways of painting and seeing. It was amazing to see how they had changed and grown as artists, learning from each other.
I returned to the table where I had dropped my signed prints and was amazed to find someone had walked off with them. Thank goodness the sketchbook was still on the table and I quickly tucked it in my bag before it also disappeared. I am far to trusting, or the Orlando art crowd is so naive that they consider art prints a free commodity. Well whoever took the prints, I hope you frame them and give them a good home.
There was to be an after party at the Enzian Theater and I drove over there but the parking lot was packed. Exhausted, I finally decided to give up and I headed home. I had been sketching all day and I needed some rest.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Life, Art, Music

The tag line for the fundraiser for Hospice of the Comforter at the Ritz Carlton was: Celebrate life, Enjoy art, Love music. I had just finished a sketch of the bar out in the hallway where the silent auction was going on. I entered the ballroom and found my way to my table. For dinner we had a light salad of Baby greens with grilled summer fruit and hearts of palm. The main course was a braised beef short rib with macadamia nut crusted grouper along with twice baked potato and vegetables. Desert was a chocolate mousse layered with chocolate and espresso creme brulee.
After dinner Sarah Harvey spoke of the support her family had received when her child Gracie was diagnosed with a terminal disease. She related how the doctors considered her child's illness a puzzle to solve. A scientific curiosity, perhaps a way to get their name in a medical journal. Gracie had to go through endless tests as she gradually grew sicker. The doctors were unable to discover exactly what was causing her decline. Finally with no cure in sight Gracie was admitted to the Hospice House and there she and the family were given the emotional support they needed. When Gracie passed away the family was offered grief counseling and Sarah formed friendships that last to this day with members of the staff. She doesn't know how she would have coped without Hospice of the Comforter's help.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Global Peace Film Festival

I went to Baldwin Park to see a free outdoor screening of "Playing for Change" at the Global Peace Film Festival. As usual I arrived a bit early and I walked around the main drag of Baldwin Park to enjoy the night life. I like the fact that many shops are open to the street so you can watch people doing martial arts dancing or taking a dance aerobics class. What great sketching opportunities! I got myself a drink, found the outdoor screen and waited for the crowd to arrive. When the film started I was surprised that only 2 or 3 people were sitting on the grass lawn in front of the screen to watch. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that Americans would not find a film about peace worth watching. To take in the scene I decided to sit across the street leaning up against the corner of a Subway's shop. This was the best place to watch the few people that stopped on the sidewalk to watch. Metal post barricades jutted up to help keep terrorists from slamming a truck into the small park, disrupting the screening. A woman was canvasing passers by trying to get them to sign a petition.
I let the film music wash over me as I worked. My attention was often on details of my surroundings so I only watched the film in small bursts. A female singer from Tel Aviv Isreal always caught my ear and made me look up. Toward the end of the film a story was told that hit me like a wall of bricks. One of the performers in the documentary passed away after the film was shot and his grieving wife was busy packing his belongings in boxes, so she could try to move on with her life after his death. One day by mistake she pressed the wrong button on her TV remote control and a DVD started playing that showed her husband playing with musicians from around the world for this film. These musicians had never met before but they stood united in the belief that music could help bring peace to the world. She saw her husband happy and joyous doing what he loved. He was part of something greater than himself. Rather than remembering him sick in bed, she now rejoiced in the memory of him playing music. The next song played, and had me sitting on the street corner with a sketchbook in my lap emotionally overwrought. "One love, One heart, lets get together and feel alright." I rubbed my tired eyes and oil from my skin caused them to burn. I wiped away the tears with my sleeve. I tried to open them again to continue painting but they still burned. I sat quietly on the street corner with my eyes closes and waited for peace of mind. When I opened them again the end credits were rolling.
The film ended with a quote from the Dali Lama:
"Never give up; No matter what is going on, Never give up.
Develop the heart; Too much energy in your country Is spent developing the mind instead of the heart. Develop the heart. Be compassionate; Not just with your friends, But with everyone. Be compassionate. Work for peace; In your heart, And in the world. Work for peace. And I say again, Never give up. No matter what is going on around you, Never give up. "

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dance Auditions

The Harbor room is a kids area of the church which, through murals and a small dock like stage, makes it look like everyone is dancing on water. Molly and Alison were put in charge of the dance auditions. The director was also on hand to offer advice and keep things running smoothly.
First everyone in the room was taught all the steps. Everyone stood up and the instructor went through the moves one at a time. As people started to understand the dance moves they then had to be reminded to smile and look like they were having fun. I can relate since I tend to frown when I draw. If I smiled the whole time I drew however my face would hurt.
Once everyone was up to speed, the director called up 4 or 5 dancers at a time using their numbers. Then this group would go through the moves while Molly and Alison watched. The group would go through the dance moves twice which allowed Molly , Alison and the director to see everyone's performances. This endless process allowed me to sketch the dancers in deep space. The dance began with a hip thrust from side to side and it was this movement that I tried to catch with each of the dancers. While a group was going through the moves everyone else sat in the back of the room quietly waiting for their turn.
This was a fun process to watch and sketch. When the core group of dancers was finally picked, everyone else knew that they would be working the non dancing actors rolls in the show. I am still shocked by the sheer size of this production.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Singing Christmas Trees - Habor Room

The First Baptist Church in Orlando holds a huge Christmas show called "The Singing Christmas Trees" each year. I have never been to the show before, but this year the director, Aradhana Tiwari, invited me in to witness how this huge production is put together. First Baptist is a large complex with many buildings and I got a bit lost trying to find the Harbor Room where the auditions were to be held.
When I entered she was explaining to everyone how the auditions were to run. In the hallway there were a series of rooms each assigned a specific task. One room was for measuring actors for costumes and others were for various paper work that needed to be filled out. A release had to be signed which would allow the church to broadcast the show on National Television. Everyone was issued a number, I was number 60, so I am assuming there are at least 60 actors in this cast. Aradhana's mom was put in charge of all the children. She had sock puppets made and the kids might stage a mini play satirizing their parents roll in the production.
When everyone got back from all the paperwork and measurements, Aradhana asked them to stand in a large circle and hold hands. She prayed on every one's behalf that any nervousness or actors jitters might be calmed. She asked that everyone in the room be able to serve with a glad and open heart.
There was a break before the dance auditions began and I had a chance to talk with a dancer named Rachael. She came to Orlando thinking it would be a good place to get her actors equity card but it has been years and she is still working as a temp for Disney. She came from a small town with a small Lutheran Church. She is a member of First Baptist now and finds it a contrast to the small church of her youth, but she loves the theatrical aspect of the place.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tulgey Wood - Sound Stage Shoot

Tulgey Wood is a Full Sail student short film loosely built around the Lewis Carol poem "Jabberwocky".
And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the Tulgey Wood,
And burbled as it came!
The film follows a young girl named Jose who discovers her parents are about to get divorced. Unable to face this harsh truth the girl runs from her home and wanders into the woods where she is transformed into a girl that looks just like Alice in Wonderland. She finds a small red camping tent and wanders in. The interior is much bigger than expected with paper lanterns, mounds of pillows and candles everywhere. Inside is a fortune teller who looks into a crystal ball summoning insights into the challenges that Jose faces. "Thus my child, it does not do to dwell on that which we have lost. For certainly, we are given more than we could ever hope to loose."
Leander Suleiman the actress who played the fortune teller, was the one who suggested I come to the sound stage and do this sketch. When I arrived people were rushing around taking measurements and checking for lighting levels. One fellow took his time lighting all the candles and a fire extinguisher was on hand at all times. Between shots several set pieces had to be moved and twice candles were knocked over causing a flurry of activity as they tried to pick up the candle before any pillows or fabrics caught fire. A long track was set up in front of the set allowing the camera to follow the actresses movements with the candles looming large in the foreground.
Leander is a frequent guest artist at a Full Sail class that helps teach students how to direct actors. She read the part of the fortune teller and then auditions were held. The director couldn't find anyone else that was right for the role so he tracked her down. She had just finished playing a gypsy (Madame Zeroni) in the stage production of "Holes". So jumping into the role was easy. Leander loves both theater and film but the stage is where her heart truly sings.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The White House - Lindy Romez

Based on a tip from a reader I went to an event called Timucua White House. This is a private home of Benoit Glazer, the musical director of Circue du Soleil, at 2000 South Summerlin Avenue where music acts are featured salon style in the families living room. The first act featured Benoit on the trumpet accompanied by his very talented kids. On this day Lindy Romez performed with her band, SolY Mar. Juan Leon played the Bass, Chapman Stick played the native American flute and guitar, Gary Tompkins was on guitar, Johnnie Spulveda was on the hand drums and Ralph Gray played the kit drums. In the corner of the stage an artist worked on a canvas when ever the group was playing. The painting was made available for sale when the performances were over.
The home is three stories and opposite the band, a spiral staircase wound upwards offering multiple balcony views of the act. Being curious, I walked to the top of the stairs and that is where I stood to do the sketch. A fair sized crowd of 30 or 40 people were gathered in the living room and stairwell to view the show. Some people leaned against the walls since seating was limited.
Th music had a swinging jazzy beat with a tropical flavor. I found myself swaying my hips to the beat the whole time I was sketching. The intimate space made the music resonate deeply in my chest. This is the second time I separated the performers from the audience with the centerfold of the sketchbook. It seems a natural divide. The heat from all the stage lights rose up and I found myself sweating up a storm as I sketched. It was worth it however since I love this aerial view of the event.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Maitland Art Center

I went to the Maitland Art Center Sketch Club for the first time attend the figure drawing class. It was early evening and a light drizzle had started. I was one of the first to arrive. I introduced myself to Bill Orr who is the fellow in the Hawaiian shirt in this sketch. Bill told me quite a bit about his past. He once lived in this very room back when it was divided up into small apartments. His room had a small fireplace and the window seen in this sketch. He served in World War II being part of a cavalry regiment. When the war ended all the horses were sold off in Europe rather than returned to the States. As an artist he made his living doing life sized paintings of horses. This preoccupation keeps him busy to this day. A few times during the class I peaked at his drawings and they are really good. I am sure I could learn a thing or two from this master, but the class is just an open drawing session with no instruction. Bill helped save the Maitland Art Center when developers wanted to level the site.
Although the nude model was a beautiful young woman, I unfortunately didn't look at her very much. I am more interested in the everyday mundane moments of peoples lives rather than a view of the classical figure. I still had to pay the model fee which I think was $15. It seems like a waste since I didn't glance her way very often.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Central Florida Packer Backers

Brian a reader of Analog Artist Digital World suggested I do a sketch of the Central Florida Packer Backers. He tempted me with an offer of free beer while I drew. How could I pass up an offer like that?
As I approached One Eyed Jack's, at 15 North Orange, I heard the crowd shouting from a block away. When I entered, I stood for a few minutes at the entrance to let my eyes adjust to the dim lighting. Next to the door was a paving stone which fans rubbed for good luck. The stone was a duplicate of a stone that the club had donated to the paving outside Lambeau field. Football fans are a superstitious crowd. The club also supplies Packers tee shirts to the homeless in town. This was a fun crowd and they can be found every Sunday at One Eyed Jacks at Wall Street Plaza downtown during the football season, I don't know where you would find them the rest of the year.
I was facing a huge crowd that filled every seat in the bar. Most fans had on green and yellow Packers Jerseys. Brian came over and introduced himself. he suggested I get up on the stage where bands usually play and I took his suggestion since it gave me a good view over the crowd.
While sketching I didn't have time to follow the games score. I know the packers were playing the Cincinnati Bengals and it was a close game. Periodically music would fill the bar and the whole crowd would shout "Go Pack Go!"
At halftime, a line of fans formed and each tried to kick a field goal with a beach ball sized inflatable football through a 5 foot high yellow inflatable goal post. I had to move since I was seated on the stage right behind the goal post. In hindsight that was actually the safest place to sit since so few got the ball close to the goal posts. Most fans kicked the ball into the rafters but 2 managed to get it right between the posts. Some kicks sent the ball flying out into the crowd. The announcer said " Watch your drinks everyone!". Wouldn't you know the next kick landed the ball right on a table spilling 2 drinks.
I am tempted to become a rabid Packers fan, but I would need to get a green jersey. The game ended with an agonizing defeat when the referee claimed the game was over before the last play began.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Food Not Bombs

Today is International Peace Day so I thought I would do a sketch about "Food not Bombs". This is a group that supplies food to Orlando's homeless around the picnic area of Lake Eola Park every Wednesday. This group has faced arrests and police harassment since they began serving food in 2005. In July of 2006 the city passed an ordinance that severely limited the ability of groups to share food in 36 different parks around Orlando. The ordinance stated that any group that shares food with more than 25 people, including servers, must be limited to 2 food servings per 12 month period. Violation of this ordinance could carry a 60 day jail sentence and a $500 fine. The city claimed that food scraps left on the ground could be harmful to birds and squirrels, Garbage could affect public health, and that public safety would be threatened by the homeless attracted to the food. From my observations of this event, Food not Bombs did a great job of cleaning up after the feeding. As I sketched I certainly didn't feel threatened in any way. I felt more threatened drawing at Neiman Marcus last week.
In April of 2007 Eric Montanez was arrested for violating the ordinance. 8 police officers were on hand to arrest him for serving stew. Police even took a sample of the vegan stew as evidence. Montanez was acquitted at his jury trial.
On September 26th 2008 Food Not Bombs won a victory against the city when federal judge Gregory Presnell rules that the City Ordinance violated Food Not Bombs right to free speech under the first amendment since the food sharings are expressive conduct carried out to convey a political message. As he stated "Not withstanding their diffuse political views, all Orlando Food Not Bombs members share in OFNB's core belief: that food is a right which society has a responsibility to provide all of its members."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lesley Silvia working at Stardust

I met Lesley Silvia and her husband Jared at a Kerouac House event. As I have been sketching more and more in Orlando's more artsy cafes, like Infusion Tea, Dandelion, Seven Sisters, and Stardust, I have become curious about all the people who sit and use their laptops for extended periods of time. Lesley works on her photos and graphic design work using a laptop and Photoshop or Illustrator, InDesign and on rare occasions Painter. She had arrived at Stardust before me and had just finished a dinner of nachos. She and her husband who is a writer, usually work together. Silvia enjoys working in Stardust because it has free WI FI and she feels Dandelion and Infusion have a more mature crowd. Stardust is a more comfortable fit for a young edgy artist. She also likes to work in Winter Park's Central Park sitting on a bench in the shade, or she goes to Borders and looks through a few magazines for inspiration before she gets to work on the laptop.
As I sketched, Silvia was working on a series of photos called Pinatas. This series resembles crime scene photos where people are shown injured or dead with candy in place of blood. It is a unique and somewhat unnerving series of photos. Her graphic design work is inspired by the Swiss, it is clean neat and tidy.
Silvia was just 10 years old when she took her first photography class. She and her brother learned to make the pinhole cameras at one of the art camps they attended. Her work to this day plays with photography's earliest forms. Her father helped her with a little bit of photo composition at an early age although at the time she didn't know photography would be her passion. I high school she discovered that photography was really fun and took every class offered. In college she got a BA in Studio art with a minor in philosophy and her independent study focused on photography. Like most artists she has many facets including an interest in sculpture and graphic design.
Silvia is a full time course director at Full Sail University teaching Digital Photography. She gets freelance work through word of mouth and serendipity. She has shot some weddings and portraits. She shot photos for an Australian Rock Band who was later signed by Columbia Records. The record company asked her to take the rock band pictures off of her web site. She just removed the groups name and the lawyers stopped hassling her. Past clients include Scottish Highland Games and Mega Con. Her favorite assignments are outdoor shoots using natural light and shot with film.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Confluence

I first heard of Confluence from Brigen Gresh at an opening she had of her work at a show called Lot 1433. At that opening she began talking about a collaboration among 4 women artists. Having tried to collaborate with an artist myself in the past and having failed miserably, I was intrigued by this idea of 4 artists all working on the same paintings. I arranged to meet these four artists at McRae Art Studios in Winter Park as they began to work on these huge paintings. The 4 artists are Brigen Gresh, Dina Mack, Anna McCambridge and Vicky Jones. It was a typical steamy Orlando afternoon and the industrial studio space did not have air conditioning, but that did not slow down these women. Anna immediately got to work mounting a drawing to the panel. Vicky had previously drawn in the feet and Anna used her judgment to balance the two works together. Brigen placed tape along the top edge of the panel and painted in a thin band of light blue reminiscent of a sky. Dina started painting in the corner of the panel a bold warm cascade of shapes with the rhythm and flow of jazz. Vicky is Anna's mom and these two have a similar narrative, representational feeling to their work. Dina and Brigen both work more abstractly with gentle color harmonies and a delicate balance of shape and form.
It started to rain outside and things cooled down. A train rumbled by outside. Anna backed away from the panel and started to dance to the music playing on the radio. She pirouetted and leaped like a ballerina. When she had finished dancing and everyone had stopped laughing, she said something that really resonated with me. "Collaborating with other artists, when the work is really going well, feels just like being in love."
Confluence will run from September 25th through November 1st at the Maitland Art Center. They will host a gallery walk on Sunday October 18th at 1PM.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Social Chameleon

Sometimes I experience an evening so enjoyable that I wish I could relive it. The first time my wife and I were at the Chameleon was with all the actors and crew of War of the Worlds. Let me tell you, actors know how to party. I didn't sketch that evening, instead I drank, ate great food and enjoyed pleasant conversation. I ended up staying until 2 AM to close the place down, not wanting to leave.
The Social Chameleon is located at 2406 East Robinson Street in the Milk District. I returned because I needed to organize places to go for the 24th Worldwide SketchCrawl which will be September 19th. I figure the Social Chameleon is a perfect stop on the crawl so I decided to have dinner and get a sketch before heading off to Infusion Tea for a poetry reading. The infinite detail to all the clutter in the room however left me working on the sketch a bit longer than expected and I missed the poetry. There is plenty of poetry in soaking up the Social's warm inviting environment however.
I sat a a small corner table with a good view of the front room. In front of me a British couple who were trying the restaurant for the first time. They tried some beers they had never tasted before and ended up leaving with a 6 pack of some raspberry flavored beer. The bar keep was talking to a costumer about something called an Electro Guinness. They electrocute the beer to give it extra carbonation. I had never heard of that and I suspect I will be back to try it out.
The Social Chameleon serves food tapas style with an emphasis on flavor and small portions. The first time at the Chameleon I tried the tomato basil pizza which was fantastic. This time I ordered a Mediterranean plate and a glass of Pinot Noir. The stuffed grape leaves were very tasty and the crispy pita was topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, Olive oil and a perfect blend of spices.
In the kitchen was Brett Ashman who owns the Social Chameleon with his wife Serena. Through the window to the kitchen, Brett related to the British couple that he had worked for 100 days as a provisions master on a ship called the National Geographic Explorer. This ship traveled the world showing passengers some of the Geographic's most famous research sites. Though he worked hard, he had enough time off the ship to shoot 2000 pictures which display automatically on the HDTV above the bar. As the place filled up around 8 PM the TV was switched to Obama's speech on health care. I decided that when the speech was over so was my sketch.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Karie Sue Creations

I arranged to sketch Karie Brown of Karie Sue Creations at work creating her one of a kind hand bags from all recycled materials. I met her at Roho Coffee and Art downtown where a group of a dozen or so people had met to brainstorm and talk about upcoming arts events. At the coffee shop Karie asked the proprietor is she would be willing to recycle her used coffee bean bags. The proprietor of course agreed and offered Karie some bags on the spot.
When we got to Karie's studio, she cut away the edges of some Gillies Coffee bags to use just the gold and silver outer lining with the coffee growers logo. She then started going through wall paper sample books which were also recycled. Her plan was to use the wallpaper samples as the inner lining to the bag.
After much careful measuring she used the sewing machine to stitch the two inverted fabrics together, and to stitch the zipper in place. Then came the more complicated task of folding and stitching the corner sections. Once everything was done she had to delicately turn everything inside out and then the bag took on its final form. With one bag finished she had an errand to run for a friend and since I hadn't finished my sketch yet I agreed to join her on this task. She drove to the friends house and took the 4 dogs out for a walk in the yard. One dog was a huge dark beast the size of a horse and when he charged down the hallway at me I was sure I was going to die. He just barked a bit and sniffed me however.
With the dog sitting out of the way she then wanted to go to a local coffee shop where she had gotten many of the supplies she had used that day. She asked for the manager and Karie gave the manager the finished bag. The manager loved it.
Most of this sketch was done when we got back to her makeshift studio and she began to experiment with new sizes and handles. The work was rather fast paced and I ended up erasing more than I drew. But I still had a great time getting to meet this vibrant local artist.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stardust Video and Coffee

I drove to Stardust Video and Coffee thinking I would sketch the Audubon outdoor market but the market was nowhere to be found. Rather than call it quits, I went inside and ordered a Coke. Stardust is a quirky artsy hangout located at 1842 East Winter Park Road.
One room had a wall stacked with VHS videos and large tables made from old doors which have been varnished and smoothed. The room I sat in has a small stage area with red glittery curtains. A group of five or so people sat at tables busily tapping at their laptops. The central area of Stardust has the food counter which I sketched. I ordered a pita plate and I was handed a VHS video titled "Pushing Tin" starring John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton. The waiter used this to find out what table to deliver the food to. My plate arrived within minutes. The pita was warm and toasty and the humus delicious.
A woman who had been focused on her laptop walked by and noticed me sketching. She started to tell me about how as a child she used to draw with her left hand. Back in those days parents didn't want their children to be left handed so anytime she would pick a crayon up with her left hand her parents would slap her hand. Today she is right handed. She said she could still draw a bit with her left hand but if she tried to draw with her right hand, Nothing.
Oil paintings hung on the wall by Jennifer Payne. Exhibits seem to change fairly often. The light in the room slowly got darker as the sun set. By eight PM the place was getting packed. The core group of laptop users in my room were still at work when I left to go to Will's Pub.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Gift for Teachers

After covering an event at Lake Eola called Push Play, I decided to find out more about the organizers who were from A Gift for Teaching (AGFT). AGFT offers FREE school supplies to Central Florida's disadvantaged school children. This organization is located off of John Young Parkway at 6501 Magic Way. The building is a nondescript brick warehouse. When I walked in I was impressed by a store filled with vibrant color that rivaled any Office Max or Staples.
I met with Audrey who has worked for AGFT for five years and is the longest running employee of the company which was formed 11 years ago. She gave me a tour of the facility. She explained that more than half of the students in Orlando schools are on the free or reduced price lunch. The reduced price for lunches is just 40 cents. Students that can not afford that are often faced with the choice between food or school supplies.
This is where AGFT steps in, they seek out local businesses to donate surplus supplies, the kind of stuff that otherwise would end up in a landfill. The company also has fundraisers, events and some grants to keep afloat. They have never relied on government grants because all the paperwork would be overwhelming.
Audrey said that in some ways things are getting harder because of the slowing economy. However many companys are going out of business and all the supplies are being donated to the cause as a tax write off.
The gorgeous facility is entirely staffed by volunteers each afternoon. AGFT has founded a work woman's prison program where large stock paper is cut up and packaged into bound journals, flash cards puppets and craft supplies. Many of these inmates have children who benefit from the program. One area of the facility offers new socks and underwear. Some children can not afford new clothes and wear the same outfit every day of the week.
Teachers enter the facility each afternoon and "shop" for their students in need. Teachers can take advantage of $517 worth of merchandise when they shop. There are limits on how many items a given teacher can take of any given item. This allows all the teachers to benefit from all the supplies. AGFT has donated over 45 million dollars worth of supplies to students for free over the years. They have given away over 4 million pencils and over 130 thousand teachers have visited the facilities.

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.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hospice of the Comforter Fundraiser

I went to the Ritz Carlton to sketch the fund raising party for Hospice of the Comforter. I had been to the Hospice up in Altamonte the previous week to meet Melissa Silvers the communications manager, and there is a possibility I might begin to sketch patients at the Hospice who want to tell their stories. Patients at the Hospice of the Comforter know that they only have a few weeks left to live. The prospect of this series of sketches both excites and frightens me.
The Ritz fundraiser was a whirlwind of non stop activity. There was a silent auction outside the ball room with many objects of art as well as jewelry and other fashionable bling.
I stood in the middle of the hallway to sketch the bar which is always an active area at the beginning of such an event. Waitresses walked around with platters of hours-devours but I didn't sample the food or drink since I needed to finish the sketch.
Once in a while someone would walk up to me to find out what I was doing. One woman checked in on my progress 3 different times so she got to see the full progression of the sketch. Just before they opened the doors to the dining room, I had stated the carpet pattern. With the halls now empty, I finished up the color pattern I had started. I worked fast because I wanted to be sure to find my table before the food started coming out. With the sketch finished I felt relaxed knowing I had a decent sketch under my belt, I now could enjoy the event. I introduced myself to the people next to me at the table and sat back to enjoy the show.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Night Hawks Orlando Sketch Crawl

The 24th Worldwide Sketch Crawl is going to take place in the Milk District of Orlando. This is a Night Hawks Crawl where we will close down one establishment and then move on to the next. Die Hards like myself will stay up till 5 in the morning, finishing up the evening at Pom Pom's which is open 24 hours that day.
Sportstown has a huge room full of pool tables and other games. Bull & Bush had darts and a rustic old world bar with plenty of character. The Social Chameleon has delicious pizzas and tapas style menu items with an emphasis on flavor. They have a huge beer selection as well. Pom Pom's is a cup cake shop for the folks who never sleep.
Don't know how to sketch? That is fine, come along and lift a few pints.

Taco Truck Taste Test Two

Mark Baratelli of the Daily City organized a second Taco Truck Taste Test this truck is located at the corner of Conway and Curry Ford in a gas station parking lot. The trucks main dish is Monfongo Relleno which is from the Dominican Republic. Monfongo is made from fried green plantains or yuca which is mashed and seasoned with garlic, olive oil and pork bacon. As I walked up to the taco truck someone approached me and said "Hey if you want to get your truck cleaned be sure to call me, I do good work." He handed me a business card that read: Rambo's Car Cleaning. About a dozen people gathered for this taste test. After saying hi to Mark, I immediately sat down leaning up against a tire air compressor. I sketched as quickly as possible to try and catch the individuals who had shown up. I found it odd that one man stood on a milk crate next to the truck so he could see into the truck and presumably talk to the chef. A second truch weas located behind the gas station and many of the cooking impliments were strewn around on the ground. I presume they were retrofitting or upgrading the Taco Truck.
There were just two of those generic white plastic chairs that you see everywhere. People ended up sitting on the curb and leaning up against the gas station walls while they ate. The prices at this truck were on the high side. For instance a shrimp Monfongo was $12, you could also get a lobster Monfongo for $14. Because of the prices I decided to pass on sampling the food. I finished up my sketch and headed home.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Crimes of the Heart Callbacks

This sketch shows Kylie Kusco and Heather Leonardi on stage with Beth Marshall and Aradhana Tiwari watching. Some monologues from the auditions were quite memorable. One fellow had a monologue about being strip searched. The whole time he was talking he was angrily throwing items of clothing on the floor, first his shoes, his socks then his belt. I stopped hearing what he was saying and started to wonder just how far he would go to get the part. The director put her hand over her face in amusement and embarrassment. Another actor rather than recite lines from a play started talking about how he ended up in Orlando after a student work exchange program for Disney and about his first love. I enjoy hearing slices of life like that but I don't think it got him a part.
Actors who made it to callbacks were in serious consideration for a part. They would pair up and act out scenes from the play. Some scenes I must have heard close to a dozen times yet certain performances had me laughing out loud or swept away in the romantic drama while some left me unmoved offering me time to focus on the sketch.
Any time actors would leave the stage Beth and Aradhana would turn to each other and discuss how certain actors really worked well together or how several actors bought different energies to a particular role. I do not know how they would ever decide since every actor bought something new to the table.
One actress named Kylie Kusco, really stepped up to the plate and she was asked to perform an exercise where she and Beth could only say two lines "Their is not enough time" and "their is enough time". Each actress had to convince the other she was right using body language and raw emotion. It was like watching two matadors in a ring each circling and moving in for another emotional exchange. The director let the exercise go for a long time and I thought the performances were some of the best I had witnessed that day. There is magic in moments like this.
Near the end of the day Beth and Aradhana placed all the photos out on the table and began to organize them into groupings of possible cast scenarios. They talked about the possibilities for the longest time. I'm reminded of a line from the play Sunday in the Park with George "a blank page or canvas, so many possibilities". I finished my sketch and packed up to leave. As I left the endless discussion continued and all the actors who had made it through the day were coming back at 5 PM to continue the process. I had to go out to Sanford to do a sketch For Orlando Home and Leisure. Here is the final cast and cheers to what should be a great show!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Crimes of the Heart Auditions

I went into the "Crimes of the Heart" auditions not even knowing the story of the play. I hoped to discover the story through the actors constant readings . I arrived at the Lowndes Shakespeare Theater at 11 Am and only the Stage Manager Chasmin Hallyburton and the Director Aradhana Tiwari were on hand. Aradhana was busy reading a stack of papers in front of her so I just sat in the front row of the theater and started sketching the stage. I figured I could draw the stage and then just draw in the auditioning actors when they arrived. I was a bit disappointed since I had hoped to find a long line of aspiring actors all waiting for a chance to be in the play. The morning started off slow.
Beth Marshall showed up and she told me the rough outline of the story. Crimes is the story of 3 sisters in Mississippi. One sister has sacrificed her life to take care of the father and the family estate. Meg is the black sheep of the family and she is a force of nature and larger than life. The third sister is a bit of a socialite and is concerned with her reputation. The play revolves about these women coming to terms with their fathers death and coming of age. The women's names are Babe, Meg and Lennie. There is also a cousin named Chick.
Slowly actors began to arrive and each would enter the theater and then present a short monologue. If this monologue was good enough, the director then asked the actor to go in the hallway and rehearse a scene from the play. When they returned Jason Horne would often read along with the them so there could be some interaction. Jason would even read the female parts if needed, which was quite humerus. In this sketch Jason is reading with Britni Leslie. She had on light southern summer dress and looked the part. She was ultimately cast as Babe and Jason was cast as Barnett.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Winthrop

The next leg of the trip involved finding a horse stable where Terry could get in a trail ride. By iPhone she found a lodge just outside of Winthrop Washington. We stopped at Winthrop an walked about for a bit to take in all the renovated Western architecture. Bikers were around in abundance as well. I decided to sit outside of a saloon to get this view of the main street with the Harley's in the foreground. I miss timed adding color to the bikes and before I knew it the bikers had roared of. I threw down splashes of color wherever I felt the sketch needed them partly from memory and partly from direct observation. Terry had scoped out a cinnamon bun and ice cream store that I hope we will go back to tonight.
I also sketched the horses just prior to the trail ride. I ran into similar issues where I would start sketching a horse and then immediately a child would hop on and the horse would wander off. Life just keeps forging ahead with little regard to the limited patience of an artist. "Stand still laddy!"

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Killer Whale Pod

As the Mystic Sea sat quiet in the water, a pod of killer whales swam right towards us. They swam by on both sides of the boat and one crossed right under the boat surfacing right near where I was perched as I sketched. Since I wasn't crowded up against the railing on the opposite side of the boat, I was the only one who got to see him that close. I felt his spray.
Terry was getting annoyed that I was spending more time sketching the tourists than watching the whales. Sketching the tourists as they ran from one railing to the other was definitely more entertaining than watching the blow spouts and dorsal fins. One person would point out to sea and then everyone would rush to that railing tipping the boat slightly. Digital cameras and binoculars would come out and thousands of shots must have been fired off catching every nuance of the whales brief surfacing.
After this sighting the captain maneuvered the boat several more times to follow the pod, giving everyone on board more views of the whales. At one point the whales churned up the water feeding on a school of fish. One slapped the water's surface with his tail.
I spoke with one fellow passenger that once lived in Orlando but moved to Seattle 3 years ago to work for Microsoft. He said he never regretted the move. He also said his son is studying to be an artist. Are every one's children studying to be artists? Kids wake up, art isn't easy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Mystic Sea

We boarded the Mystic Sea at Anacortes in Washington State. Anacortes is about a two hour drive north of Seattle. The boat traveled through the myriad of islands heading to a spot near San Juan Island where the spotter plane had last seen a pod of Killer Whales. On the several hour trip out the captain informed everyone that a fishing vessel had capsized and sank the night before in the waters we were traveling in. He asked us all to look for debris. When we got to the location the spotter plane had mentioned, there ware no whales to be seen. It took us another half hour to find the pod of whales.
There were 20 to 30 whales in the pod and the captain stopped the engine when he saw that the whole pod was swimming right towards the boat. There are very strict rules about how a boat can function when spotting whales. One woman a week before had slapped the water with her hands from a smaller craft and she was fined $12,000. Our boat was used in the filming of Free Willy 2 when that film was being shot.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Producing Large Arts Events in Orlando

Mark Baratelli hosted a two hour event at Rollins College which gathered together the people who organize large arts events in Orlando. Mark is planning to organize an Improv Festival and as the moderator he asked each of these people advice on how he might best organize his Festival.
The Organizers in the sketch are (Left to Right):
Jamie Donmoyer of the Orlando Puppet Festival
James Schoepflain of the Orlando Hispanic Film Festival
Beth Marshall of the Orlando Fringe Festival
Carol Moreland of the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival
Chris Blanc of the Florida Film Festival
John Carter of Nerdapaloosa
and Mark Baratelli
The line from Chris Blanc which best summarized how to set up a first attempt at a festival was:
"Keep it simple. small and centralized".
I became interested in the comments of Beth Marshal when she started talking about the Lake Eola incident I had witnessed the day before. She spoke about the larger issues revolving around the incident. Beth and all the panelists had a heated discussion to hear it all head to The Daily City and listen the audio from the event.
Beth said, "There is one thing about how to get a permit with the city, that has its own set of problems, but it is really pretty much self explanatory. It is relatively inexpensive. It is not something that can be done quickly. I completely understand why this small group who was just doing this 20 minute thing, didn't get a permit because they were just going to the park and dance, big deal."
"The issue isn't getting the permit as much as it is the logistical hassles. The problem is in the fine print, for example, if I have someone who decides they want to put a poster on a city light pole, that can't happen, because there is some fine print prohibiting that. So the city will come and take a picture of the poster on the light pole and they send that to me and tell me, Beth, you have to do something about this poster on a light pole. So I walk and I take the poster down. Then I get an e-mail from the city that says, you need to do something about the tape on the light pole."
"If the city wants us down here doing our events, if the city wants us to have a community presence that generates dollars that come out of market back into our community, then you have to make it easier for us to do it. Period end of story."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Welcome Home, Pay Up

I just got back from a beautiful trip to the Pacific Northwest and started going through the pile of mail. I discovered a letter from the City of Orlando saying I had not paid a parking ticket and since payment was overdue, I owed a fine as well. What Parking ticket? I had never seen one. I discovered after some research that the ticket was issued on the opening night of "War of the Worlds". On that night I had gone to an opening night pre-party at the Savoy. Parking is near impossible in the antiques neighborhood where the bar was located and I drove around for quite some time to find the perfect spot. I parked in a residential neighborhood far from the congestion and enjoyed the long walk to the bar. I didn't get the ticket for parking in a no parking zone but instead it was for parking with the butt of the car facing west instead of east.

I had just experienced a surreal display of authority at Lake Eola and decided I needed to further my experience in the city by dropping off my $45 parking ticket check in person. I was shocked when I walked up to the City's Parking Division. The city placed this cash cow in the ground floor of a 5 story parking garage. This bureaucratic edifice resembles a movie ticket booth only a little bigger. It is playfully decorated by 32 colorful ceramic tiles decorated by school children to give the passer by a warm feeling that art is alive in the City Beautiful. I expected a long line at the pay out window but instead found I could just walk up to the window and deposit the check as if in a bank. I was curious to see my original ticket but knew that would cause a long and arduous wait. I just smiled and paid keeping my comments to myself. I don't think I could have reasoned with the woman behind the window anyway. I am sure she has seen it all, besides video cameras were located everywhere. Big brother was watching.

As I sketched homeless would wander by, some with bikes and some with loaded carts, heading back to Parrimore returning from their day downtown. A young couple shouted down to me from the parking garage 2 floors above "Hey, don't forget to sketch us!" Every 15 minutes or so another person would walk into the Parking Division to drop off a check or cold hard cash. The stream of people was steady and sure.

Post Script. I got a mutilated letter crushed into a plastic postal bag that says "We Care" in the mail today from the City for my Parking Violation Notice. A quarter of the letter had been ripped out by some sorting machine. I got to see the picture of my truck beautifully parked with no warning signs in sight. Sigh, I am so innocent.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Activists or Anarchists?

I arrived at the Lake Eola Band shell a few minutes late for an MP3 event called "Push Play". Since the event was downtown, I asked my wife Terry to come down during her lunch and enjoy the show. People had their headsets on and had already begun to perform. All the participants had MP3 players with an audio file they had downloaded from the internet. Following the example of Improv Everywhere the participants would listen to the audio for instructions. The audio began..."This experience is about joy and fun. It is about embracing the unknown and each other with an open heart and a playful spirit."
Not being a techie I did not have an MP3 player so I observed as an outsider. Everyone began jumping up and down waving their arms in the air. They then began to form long lines behind people who like me had no clue what was going on. Terry arrived with a long line of people walking behind her and mimicking her every move. She waved to me as did her line of followers. When Terry settled in all the 30 or so participants began to dance. Periodically everyone froze and then began to dance again.
Then the unexpected happened and the event turned surreal. 4 park Rangers showed up and they looked concerned and confused. The participants all began to lie down on the benches for a nap and what was a playful experience suddenly looked like an anarchist demonstration to the Rangers. The lead Ranger started shouting and asking to see the person in charge. Since everyone had headsets on no one heard him. I turned to Terry and said "This is bad, there is a law in Orlando against performance artists in public places and there is a No Loitering law forbidding people from lying down on benches in Lake Eola." The parks Rangers used their walkie talkies to call in several Bicycle Police Officers.
When the police arrived and asked for a leader, the participants began to laugh uncontrollably as they had been instructed to do on the audio file. They then placed a finger to their lips as if to say Shhhh and they all raised a hand and made peace signs. The police blindly interpreted this as an anti war demonstration that they had to get under control. The police and Rangers thought the participants were mocking them. As the Rangers forced everyone out of the Amphitheater the MP3 participants were listening to a song titled Peace, Love and Happiness on their headsets.
Terry and I were asked to leave the area as well although my sketch wasn't finished. It turns out that most of the entrances to the theater had NO TRESPASSING signs hung on velvet ropes. In order to sketch in the final details I sat at the edge of the roped off area adding background details. With the crowd contained on a grassy knoll the lead Park Ranger became more indignant claiming he had been ignored and everyone should be sent to jail. He was finally able to assert some authority to a captive audience. Jane Thompson stepped forward trying to reason with him and assumed responsibility for the group. A Police Officer took her license and issued her a summons that banned her from Lake Eola Park for one year. You might wonder what her deviant agenda might be, well she is the President of A Gift for Teaching which helps transfer the communities surplus materials and resources FREE to teachers and students in need. I applaud her efforts to bring this organizations work to the public's attention. My simple act of sketching suddenly felt like a quiet plea for freedom of expression. The police watched me with suspicion until I finished my sketch. The irate Park Ranger asked me to step aside so he could take a picture of the NO TRESPASSING sign I was sitting near. Perhaps he needed that photo for his trophy case or to remind me that I was sitting dangerously close to the forbidden zone. In Iran thousands of brave people took a stand for democracy but here in Orlando you might face possible arrest for dancing in a public park.
A related article at "The Daily City".
Post Script: The dialogue continues on the Orlando Sentinel web site.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Deception Pass

Our Washington State vacation was quickly drawing to a close. Deception pass is a straight separating Whidby Island from Findalgo Island. It connects Skagit Bay with the Straight of Juan de Fuca to form a churning boiling water mass. Tourists can walk across the Deception pass bridge. You can barely see the small forms walking the bridge in the sketch. Construction of the bridge was completed in 1935. Vertigo dampened Terry's desire to walk across the bridge for the view. Instead we drove down to the water where fishermen were busy trying to catch Salmon.
I set up shop and started sketching near a barefoot young couple who were snuggling on a blanket and enjoying the view. I liked the way the bridge sort of mirrored the gentle curve of a large drift wood log. Some people took the flat smooth stones and skipped them across the water, others caught fish as the sun set. After a fish was dragged up on shore the fisherman would then bash it in the head with a rock, the bloody details of which I really didn't need to see. Several other fishermen were arguing with each other about where they should be casting. These guys almost came to blows simply because one fisherman was casting to close to the other guys sweet spot near a rock. I thought fishing was supposed to be relaxing!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

There is a Bison in the Lobby

At the Sun Mountain Lodge in the Cascade mountains we found this huge Bison standing in the lobby. As I sketched him several families approached and took pictures of their children next to this Bison named Floyd. One little girl asked her mom, "Is that Floyd's real tongue?" Her mother pondered the question and said "Well I know they replace the eyeballs with glass but I am not sure about the tongue. I suppose it could be his original tongue." The little girls father offered to lift her up to see the tongue up close but she screamed and backed away shouting "NO!"
Little kids were fascinated with Floyd and respected the fact that he didn't want to be touched. The Bison is a beautiful beast and I tried to imagine huge herds roaming the open ranges around the Lodge. Deer were to be found in abundance every night at dusk. They would roam the grounds eating the fresh grass and sometimes the garden flowers. They had no fear of humans at all. One camped outside our window and didn't even turn its head as we spoke about her. The ears did twitch indicating she did hear us however. The other wildlife that could be seen each day were the chipmunks.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dr. Sketchy Grows

This is a public service announcement to let you all know that Dr. Sketchy will be having a sketch class tomorrow night Wednesday September 2nd at Tatame Lounge 223 West Fairbanks Avenue Winter Park. This month the model will be Jessica Nova and she will be dressed as Poison Ivy and Emma Frost.
This is a sketch from the August event. As usual there was a huge crowd of artists and the event seems to be bursting at the seems. The couches are cozy although the pillows sometimes got in the way as I was swinging my arm about to dash the lines down on the page. As usual there was a contest and the winner would get a Pixar's Making of "Up" book. They asked the crowd of artists what foe the model should be pitted against. No one was offering ideas so I shouted out "A spider" the room fell silent and some other ideas were thrown out then another artist shouted "Spider". So for the last pose everyone had to include a spider in the sketch. I really wanted that Pixar Book yet I had only done one sketch for the whole session so I was kind of stuck. I finally decided to put a very tiny spider on the napkin in the lower right hand corner of the sketch. Since I figured the judge might miss this subtle invader I also labeled it. It is actually a pretty big spider if you think about it, it is probably the size of a quarter.
Well I didn't win the book. Someone with a great big cartoony spider won that, but I did win a plastic cup that blinks. It is actually quite cool and my pet cockatoo Zorro loves it.