Saturday, January 9, 2010

Analog Artist Digital World 2009 Retrospective Opening

The opening for the Analog Artist Digital World 2009 Sketchbook Retrospective was a lively and crowded five hour event at Dandelion Communitea Cafe. The ten sketchbooks created last year were framed in shadow box frames I had built myself. I had Frames Forever frame several assignments I had done for Orlando Home and Leisure as well. The number of pieces framed was just enough to fill out the space, and one sketch wasn't hung.
On opening night I arrived early to set up a tablet PC, which I hung on the wall to play a flickr slide show of all the drawings posted to the blog in 2009. Patrons who were from the various arts boards were some of the first people to show up right after work. The band called Hymn for Her set up to play alternative folk music for the people arriving later. The cafe is used as an unofficial after party for the people who go to First Thursdays, which is a monthlt themed art event at the Orlando Museum of Art.
Dandelion Communitea Cafe was packed all night. People who I had sketched during the year kept arriving and introducing themselves. Once the music started it became impossible to talk, so at that point I got the sketchpad out to document my own opening. An artist/author from the last Sketch Crawl also stood in a corner of the room furiously working in his pad. The little child at the table playing with the crayons is the performer's child. He had a large headset on to protect his fragile eardrums. The rest of us experienced the music full blast. I asked the performers to place one of my framed sketchbooks on the amplifier behind them. It frames Pierce's head in the sketch as he plays banjo. Maggi is playing a cigar box with a broomstick attached. The instrument actually has a really good sound.
When I finished this sketch, someone showed me a sketch on their digital camera and he said it would be a blast from my past. He said the sketch was mine, and for the longest time I didn't believe him. My eyes started to tear up from the strain of staring at the musicians and drawing. Julie Norris, co-owner of Dandelion, asked if I was Okay, as I kept rubbing my eyes with my sleeve. Perhaps there was an emotional reason for the tears as well, rediscovering a sketch from a vibrant and exciting time in my life. The lines on the sketch he was showing me digitally, were vibrant and flowing, dark and confident. I really liked the sketch, yet couldn't believe I had done it. It showed a New York City street scene with a crowd of people. He finally explained that it was from a sketchbook which had been passed around the Florida Disney Animation Studio. I had done that drawing on the backlot of MGM (now Disney's Hollywood Studios) more than fifteen years ago. Darn, I was a good draftsman back then!
All night, people offered new ideas on places I could sketch in 2010. By the end of the night my head was spinning. I only had one white wine. With all the conversations and activity, I never had time to take a sip. Eventually, a large crowd of us had to be asked to leave so the place could be cleaned up and closed down for the night. What an exciting night! The show will hang at Dandelion Communitea Cafe at 618 North Thornton Avenue Orlando through January 30th. Go by, grab a tea, and enjoy the events, places and people that defined Orlando culture in 2009.

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


Joseph Hayes said...

Well done, Thomas. You are an inspiration to those who think that waiting to be "discovered" is the answer ... you make your own opportunities and have carved a wonderful space for yourself in our community. Congratulations, and here's to an even more eventful 2010.

Thor said...

Thanks so much Joseph. This second year seems to be starting out with exciting new options presenting themselves daily. What fun!