Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fresh Rehearsal


Jessica Mariko invited me to sit in on rehearsals for Fresh which is starting February fourth at the Cameo Theater (1013 East C0lonial Drive). Rehearsals were held at the new Drip Warehouse on Old Winter Garden Road. I got hopelessly lost the first time I tried to find the place but Christie Miga, one of the amazing Drip Art Directors finally gave me some landmarks to help me find the place.
Fresh promises to offer a Willy Wonka like edible environment where guests get to experience culinary performances all revolving around the theme of love. There will be an art and candy market in which you will be able to see my work as well as photos from Tisse Mallon. This is an amazing event that will appeal to all of your senses. Everyone at the event will be dressed in their bohemian best along with colorful hippie accents and beatnik flair.
At this rehearsal Tin Tin was leading the dancers as they rehearsed a piece around a new hand made silk screen printing press. In previous performances they had rented a printing press but for this show a hand crafted press was created using PVC, wood, and lots of creativity. Now the press looks like a glorious lotus flower. The music for this piece is driving and rhythmic. At first he dancers move like zombies who are discovering their body movements for the first time. They stretched and reached out in staccato violent moves. They shivered and shook until they discovered the press and through it they developed a sensuality and vitality to their movements. As they created, every movement became more vibrant.
The warehouse where the rehearsal was taking place was littered with all of the creative elements that are being assembled for the set. Christie asked me for any junk I might have lying around my garage, and I bought in an old Computer monitor, a VCR and a broken down air conditioner. There were disassembled and incorporated into organic creations. I saw VCR wires hanging from a flower made from plastic bottles and the computer monitor was painted white. I joked that if these set designers had been given the task of fixing the Lake Eola Fountain they could recreate and get it working it with found objects, old PVC, duck tape and a whole lot of creativity.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Art for Haiti at Stardust Video and Coffee

A fundraiser was held at Stardust Video and Coffee called Art for Haiti. A call for artists went up on Facebook and the response was amazing! I matted a sketch and headed to Stardust to drop it off. Greg Leibowitz was on hand to accept the work and then figure out how to hang it all. By the time I arrived, most of the wall space was covered and some work had to be propped up on chairs. After I dropped of my sketch, I lingered since I didn't have to be at another sketch location for a couple of hours. I sat back and started to draw the patrons who spend many hours working at laptops and holding long discussions about art and life. The group of men right in front of me were discussing their band and how much work still was needed to finish the album they were working on. The woman seated behind them was knitting a purple and pink scarf with diagonal bands. Others sat reading or writing for the entire time I sketched. A black and white high contrast film noir thriller was playing the whole time on the flat screen TV above the bar.
I ordered some food and watched as some final pieces were hung. Nails were hammered and a drill was used to try and anchor some photos but the wall cement refused to give in to the drill bit. I had to be somewhere else during the actual auction, but I found a photo online that shows my sketch of the broken down Lake Eola Fountain being held up, and a person in the crowd with his hand up, so I feel good knowing it must have sold. Proceeds from all the sales went to the following organizations: Doctors Without Borders, Yele Haiti, and Partners in Health. According to Greg Leibowitz, who organized the event, over $3,500 was raised thanks to the auction. It is inspiring to have been part of an event where so many artists gave so freely to help those in need. Should you still want to contribute a donation contact Greg Leibowitz.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Florida Super Balloon Jam

Paula Large gave me a tip on an Event called a Balloon Jam that was taking place at the Courtyard Orlando Lake Buena Vista in the Marriott Village down by Disney. The event got started at 7 AM, so I rose bright and early to get there. As usual, I got a bit lost looking for the place and when I arrived there were a handful of people setting up tables and putting out brochures. I sat quietly, and waited, to let things get underway. People sat around and talked and I didn't see a single balloon, so I started to get nervous since I had to get to another event later that day to sketch. Finally a group gathered some chairs and sat around in a circle. They started inflating balloons with an automated inflating device and things got going. Other small groups formed and they taught each other how to make unexpected and strange balloon creatures. The room began to fill with the sounds of balloon squeaks and plenty of conversation.
I spoke with Paul Belanger, one of the organizers of the event, and he explained how balloon twisting has become something of an international phenomenon. He traveled to China and wanted to start an event called a balloon fashion show. People tried to explain to him that the Chinese didn't like balloons but that didn't discourage him. He organized the show anyway and now similar events are sprouting up all over China. He unfortunately does not make any money off of these knockoff shows.
One conversation cropped up when a twister asked everyone, "What was the biggest tip you ever got for twisting a balloon?" Answers varied from $20, to a bottle of wine to an airplane ticket. It was agreed that the ticket was the best tip. As I was sketching this group twisting their little bears and snakes, I noticed in the corner of the room something big being built. Instead of using the thin long balloons, they were using fat chunky balloons and chaining them together to form large cylinder shapes. The Great Wandini, Sheree Brown-Rosner, explained that they wanted to use these fatter balloons so the manufacturer would continue making that line of balloons. All the balloons were bright yellow, and for the duration of the sketch, I never figured out what they were building. It wasn't until I saw a youtube video taken at the event that I discovered what they were up to. Twisting balloons is a whole subculture I was never aware of. Balloon Jams are certainly a fun bizarre experience. I hope I get to experience a jam again when they are in town. Next time I would want to show up later after hundreds of balloon sculptures litter the floor.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Scottish Highland Games - Beer Tent

Wandering around the Scottish Highland Games, I soon discovered the place that had the most activity. This was the center of the hive where the hordes gathered to collect their nectar. Beer was on tap in a large trailer and the three men who were filling pitchers and cups could barely keep up with the demand. Whenever a keg would run dry, a cry would rise up from the crowd.
Doing this sketch was a real challenge. I found a small spot to place my chair and then leaned back against the ropes that support the tent. With any gust of wind, my backrest would lurch just as if a child was sitting behind me in a movie theater and kicking my chair. I was in front of the spot where people could pick up refills and, more often than not, drunk patrons would trip over my feet as they made their way back to get more brew.
The girl in the pink shirt would wave to the people in line trying to get them to come to her table. Either people didn't see her or they thought she was waving to a friend because very few people got the hint that she had beer to offer. The scene was constant and never ending chaos. I discovered a much quieter beer tent on the opposite side of the event and ordered a peach and apricot beer that was sweet and delicious. The Dundin Brewery did a fine job of keeping the crowd satiated, inebriated, and happy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Broken Lake Eola Fountain

The Lake Eola Fountain was struck dead by a bolt of lightning way back in August of last year. Inside the structure there is broken glass, melted metal and a fried motor. Mayor Buddy Dyer has vowed to fix the fountain for a price tag of 2.3 million dollars. At a party, one person joked that he could easily fix the fountain by dragging his lawn hose out there and setting it on top of the structure. He said he could then pocket the 2.3 million and call it a day.
On the day I did this sketch, I visited Amanda Norvell of the Orlando Broadway Series. We discussed the possibility of my sketching each of the Broadway Series as they load in and perform at the Bob Carr. The first show I will likely sketch is The Phantom of the Opera. At a City Council Meeting I sketched back in November, the Phantom entered the proceedings and offered to help fix the fountain. The Phantom will be donating $5 from each ticket sold to help restore the fountain to its former glory. Should you want to see The Phantom of the Opera, running from January 20th to February 14th, call 1-800-982-2787 to get tickets! The city had also set up a place where concerned citizens can donate to the cause. I hope that whatever sketches I do of the Phantom will bring more people out to the show, which in turn will help fix the fountain. As I was doing this sketch a man approached me and said, "Great sketch, it's a shame the fountain isn't on, your sketch would be much more beautiful."
It turns out that on the day I did this sketch, Brian Feldman was also having a meeting with Terry Olson of the Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs office, in the first of his Swan Boat Talks. Brian will be meeting with ten different Orlando artists with whom he would like to collaborate in 2010. I may rent a swan boat for one of these talks and try and sketch a meeting up close.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

United Arts Professional Development Grants

I assumed that attending the United Arts Professional Development Grants Panel meeting, at the Enzian Theater, would be a boring experience. Sketching this process was quite the opposite. I arrived a bit late, and embarrassed, sat at the table closest to the entry door. I agonized for a moment thinking maybe I should move up closer to the panel table to get a better view. Then I noticed that Aradhana Tiwari and Zac Alfson were sitting at the table in front of me, and Beth Marshall, Dewey Chaffee and Douglas McGeoch were seated at the table to my right. I was surrounded by friends and decided an overall view of the room full of artists was the correct vantage point for my sketch.
After I started blocking in the sketch, one of the first orders of business was Michael Poley talking about how he wanted to produce a half hour documentary about an artist who explores Orlando, sketching every aspect of the arts scene. Several panelists didn't know what he meant by sketches, were these theatrical sketches, poems or moments in time? Some panelists who knew of my work started praising what I am doing. This was something akin to sitting in on my own eulogy. None of the panelists knew I was in the room sketching. I finally decided to march up to the panel and hand over my most recent sketchbook as people's exhibit A. Michael said this stunt helped him gain some points, and I certainly hope he gets the $1000 grant: which, if he does, will still have him investing over four thousand dollars of his own money into the project. This is humbling. I hope my sketches and stories do not let him down.
Artists who were submitting applications for grants had to defend their positions, often being asked how the grant money would help them grow as artists rather than focusing on the techniques of their craft. Dewey Chaffee has just taken a huge plunge by not renewing his contract to work at Disney. He certainly could use the boost a grant would offer now, but the panel seemed convinced that his character Wayburn Sassy was fully developed with no room for growth. One panelist seemed to think Wayburn just offers shock value, but Dewey explained that the character gives people a way to laugh at bigotry and narrow-mindedness. Orlando, in my mind, certainly needs Wayburn Sassy.
When Hannah Miller was asked to discuss her puppetry show called "Thunder Hag", one of the panelists leaned back too far and broke their chair. There was an awkward pause, and Hannah asked if he was alright. Aradhana Tiwari put in a grant to study Viewpoints with the SITI Company and its artistic director Anne Bogart in NYC. Aradhana walked up to the panel and sat as close as possible. She was poised, confident and eloquent. She discussed "Project F" at some length and from the panelists responses, it sounds like she is sure to get the grant. As one panelist remarked,"You are up and coming, go to New York and make it happen."
After the panel discussion broke for lunch, a small group of artists remained standing around the snack table, eating the free pretzels. For me, this was lunch before I went to the next location to sketch. Brian Feldman remarked, "All the real artists in the room are still here." It was fun joking around with these artists, all of them friends, and discovering how they felt about the process. For some, it was like facing the Spanish Inquisition, but there was also comedy and unlimited human potential to be discovered in the room that day.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?

Play The Moment Productions is staging a reading of Edward Albee's, "The Goat, or Who is Silvia?" This one time reading is happening TONIGHT at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center (812 East Rollins Street) in the Goldman Theater at 8PM. There will be free wine and free admission. Any donations made will go towards a new stage production titled "Project F" which is being created and directed by Aradhana Tiwari and produced by Matt McGrath.
I went to the first table-read of the play by the cast at Matt's home in College Park. When we all arrived, Matt offered several options on places to do the reading, and we all agreed that it was such a nice day we should sit out on the sun porch. I went into the reading cold, knowing nothing about the play. The play starts out with Martin, a successful architect, played by Frank McClain, joking around with his wife, Stevie, played by Marty Stonerock. Their intellectual and playful banter sets the stage for a long-standing loving marriage. Later, Martin is talking to his best friend, Ross, played by Mark Baratelli. Martin goes on about how great his marriage has been, about how good his sex life has been with his wife, how they always know how to please each other. He says he might have been groped a few times at parties, but he has always been faithful. Then he talks about how his wife wanted to get a place out in the country. On a trip to the country, his life was turned upside down when he saw Sylvia. This was love at first sight and could not be ignored. Ross ends up telling Martin's wife about the affair.
What follows is an argument that challenges all of our societies' moral values. The affair cuts deep and causes a rift which cannot be repaired. All of this hard-hitting drama is laced with bitter humor and I was laughing out loud uncontrollably. This reading will certainly make you think. It makes me wonder what might lurk in the hearts of any happily married couple.
I had two cups of white wine while doing this sketch and listening to the reading. If any lines are wobbly or a likeness skewed I blame the wine. When I got home that night, issues bought up in the play still haunted me. I also heard that my stepmom's health had slipped. I went on a bender, drinking a bottle and a half of white wine and watching an old black and white Spencer Tracy film. At the height of my stupor, I went online writing messages on Facebook. A chat window popped up, announcing itself with a chiming noise. It turns out the person on the other end of the chat had a bit too much to drink as well, so they will remain anonymous. I am usually put off by the chat window, thinking I am not typing fast enough, but this time around it was fun and effortless. This chat refocused my attention and bought me down to earth with humor and understanding. I am writing this extra detail because "Project F" is about social networking as seen through the lens of facebook; about how this new group dialogue affects every aspect of our life. Even statuses that are not read, affect us subliminally. Facebook has done so much to fuel this blog, and now I find that newly discovered friends offer light when my mood turns dark. Terry called me from Miami concerned about me as well. Perhaps there is no such thing as drinking alone anymore.
If you know nothing about The Goat, you will be shocked, stunned and amazed. This is an evening that you should not miss. Prepare to be challenged, your moral codes shaken and stripped bare. Just go. Then send me a message on Facebook and let me know how it affected you.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

MOOM at Blank Space


MOOM stands for Meeting of the Orlando Minds. I attended the sixth MOOM hosted by Mark Baratelli's TheDailyCity.com at Blank Space (201 East Central Boulevard). Eighteen people were present. Jeff Wirth called the meeting to order and we all started by introducing ourselves around the table. Once the introductions were out of the way, Jeff asked us all to break up into groups of four or five people, with each person expected to quickly outline what they might need in the following year to help in the creative work they were doing. I was skeptical. I have never been one to specifically ask for assistance, and yet people have found me over the course of the last year and assisted in ways I never would have imagined. Well when it came my turn to talk about this blog, I said I just needed people who could assist me in trying to locate interesting cultural events at which I could sketch. To my amazement, the young woman seated next to me named Amber Mundinger said that she could help me on all counts. She is the Marketing and Special Events Coordinator for Downtown Orlando. My jaw dropped. She is as excited as I am to discover Orlando through sketches. It is a New Year's resolution to finally contact her at her office and discuss how we can help each other reveal to the world Orlando's growing cultural community.
My other humble request was to find out if anyone knew a web designer who might be able to help me update and improve Analog Artist Digital World as it rolls into 2010. To my right was seated Arianne Pemberton, and she said she knows an artist named John who could easily assist me. I am so excited. The arts community is proactively gaining strength from within its ranks and we all benefit.
Brian Feldman was with my group as well, and discussed how he might need help with a project he is planning with the Orlando Public Library. The project promotes literacy and I hope it can happen in 2010. Ambers humble request was for some timers, so that a lights display at Lake Eola Park could turn off automatically each night . I had two timers at home, but they were both in use and I felt bad not having any to lend to her.
I am reflecting on the supportive atmosphere that I felt at MOOM, as I face a whole new year with a rededication to post one sketch a day documenting Orlando and its art scene.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Highland Games - Bagpipers


When I first entered the Scottish Games, I was immediately greeted with the sounds of this bagpipe and drum corps band. The leader with the baton, would stand perfectly still until the song was about to end, then he would raise the baton over his head and wave it gently for a few beats before slamming it to the ground ending the performance. I knew my time was limited, so I started sketching immediately. The group performed about 3 songs before they wrapped things up and disbanded. I was far from finished so I entered the park area following my ears, and headed straight to the Piping Station. Here bag pipers were all standing around rehearsing. I used these individuals to add details to my sketch which had already been blocked in from the first groups performance. As I sketched, a bagpiper approached ma and asked "Excuse me sir, you're not a Steward Check are you?" I of course replied "No" since I didn't know what a Steward Check was. Looking around I finally realized that there were Stewards seated in small tented areas who were judging individual bagpiper's performances. The performer would play his pipes marching back and forth in front of the Steward. The pipers who were waiting would talk nervously to each other anticipating their turn. I added the background from the bagpipe station rather then the parking lot where I first saw this group. There were hundreds of bagpipers at the Highland Games. You could here them from where ever you were all day long.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Newcomers Meet the Arts at the Shakespeare Theater

This informational meeting to introduce people to the arts was held at 8Am at the Shakespeare Theater so people could stop in and then head off to work. John Thiesen the campaign manager introduced the event and explained that representatives from six Arts organizations would talk about what they offer the artistic community. First Sharon Lasic of the Orlando Shakespeare Theater gave a brief history of the building in which we were meeting. The building was for many years the Science Center and History Center of Orlando. After the New Science Center was built, the building was almost torn down to make room for more green area in Lock haven Park. A petition was passed around and the building saved. The Shakespeare Theater started in 1989 at the Lake Eola Bandshell and performances happened outdoors for many years.
Corry Warren from United Arts talked about Arts Fest which will be happening next month. This ten day festival is going on from February fifth to the fourteenth. It is a way to experience theater for FREE although some events have limited seating. Tickets will be available in advance starting at 10 AM on Tuesday February second. Be sure to check the Arts Fest Schedule and get a jump on this amazing opportunity! My calendar is already stuffed full of all the places I plan to go sketch.
Henry Maldinado talked about the offerings at the Enzian Movie Theater. The Enzian is unique in the country in that it is a fantastic place to have dinner and a movie. The Enzian is home to the internationally acclaimed Florida Film Festival as well. I also found out that the Enzina is showing old classic movie on the big screen. This is the one place where you could see Casablanca with Humphry Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. When you experience a movie like that on the big screen you realize why it is a classic.
Suzan Bright talked about the Orlando Philharmonic and how they are helping keep Opera alive by offering limited staged operas with the Philharmonic no longer in the pit, but up on the stage right behind the singers. This new Opera series will include Carmen, and Porgy and Bess. Carmen will be performed February 26th at 8PM and February 28th at 2PM. Porgy and Bess will be performed on April 9th at 8PM and April 11th at 2PM. As usual I dream of sketching these shows from the wings. Get tickets early.
Scott Evans talked about the importance of keeping Arts Education alive and well in the Orlando School System. In a study, the students that took arts classes achieved higher grades than students who didn't take arts classes. Autumn Schafer spoke about the Red Chair Project which offers ways to save on tickets year round. Red Chair offers such amazing deal as two for one tickets and a $99 Arts Sampler which offers a ticket to each of the following, Orlando Ballet, a Broadway Musical, The Orlando Museum of Art, the Philharmonic, Shakespeare Theater, and the Orlando Rep. With so much going on, I can't understand why anyone would want to be a couch potato at home.
After each person spoke an item was raffled off and I won a United Arts Card which offers discounts to arts events all over town. Whooo Hoo! Look like I will be covering alot more arts events in 2010!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Drip Fundraiser at Blank Space

The Drip Dance Company held a fundraiser at Blank Space Gallery 201 East Central Boulevard across from the Public Library. This sketch shows Christie Miga at the Canvas dip station. She created this colorful canvas in minutes by pouring the paint onto its surface then letting it flow diagonally with gravity doing the work. The colors would blend and flow together in unexpected ways. Small canvases are stacked in the corner. For a small fee a guest could take a canvas and dip it on the pool of paints left on the plastic drop after Christie finished the big canvas. In the background in the corner of the room was something called a Sake Luge. This device had a guitar amplifier hooked up so that when sake was poured into the top it would flow down a series of slides and make a haunting ethereal sound on its route. The works of MC Esher were being projected on a screen. Steve acted as the DJ for the night. He stood behind his laptop computer the whole time mixing songs. Sam and Tin Tin, two drippies, were covered head to toe with monetary contribution amounts. Their bodies were divided up like those cattle meat charts you see describing cuts of beef. For $20 you could paint Tin Tin's butt cheek red or for $15 you might paint Sam's left breast.
There was a station set up to paint Christmas ornaments by dipping them is paint cans, or dripping the paint on using a brush or stirring stick. A young dancer would perform from a hoop that had been crudely hung from an exposed ceiling beam. The hoop dancers little sister was watching and tried to imitate her sisters performance before the crowds arrived.
I was sitting next to a ping pong table while I did the first sketch and it became difficult to draw as a game began and the guy on my end of the table took the game very seriously. He was slamming the ball as hard as he could and I was bumped more than a few times, but I persisted until the sketch was complete.
The walls were covered by the works of an artist who now had a line of Swatch watches based on his bold primitive work. The paintings remind me a bit of Keith Haring's subway chalk graffiti work from the 80's in NYC. AS I got ready to leave, I passed a group of girls on the sidewalk as they painted Sam's bicep. They were having a grand old time.
The Drip Dance group is now rehearsing for a new Valentines show called FRESH which will premiere on February 13th and 14th at City Arts Factory. Mark your calenders for what should be an amazing event!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Orlando Science Center

I was at the Orlando Science Center for Otronicon. Otronicon, is a video game enthusiasts dream come true, was spread out throughout the museum including the dinosaur room. As soon as I entered I knew I has to draw the Tyrannosaurus Rex. He looked angry, like he wanted to devour every video game geek in the room. To the left in the sketch children work in a sand box where they can uncover fossils. Clustered under the fossilized fish a crowd had gathered to watch a large screen TV which was blasting a guitar hero performance. There was a constant stream of people coming and going.
As I was working, a little girl approached me and was transfixed by what I was doing. She left and came back several times and finally asked if she could take a picture of my drawing to show her mom. I said it was fine. Then she took several steps back and took a picture of me as I worked. I like the fact that she is taking time to document the moments of her museum experience. I hope she continues to be fascinated by the infinite universe and ever changing world around her.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Otronicon

My Full Sail job had me working at Otronicon, helping Sam Ewing as he taught a classroom full of students the basics of Animation. The students, both young and old, paid very close attention to what Sam had to offer, and got to work developing a 24 page flip book.
The Orlando Science Center was packed. I have never seen the place so crowded. After the class was over, I wandered around watching all the kids and adults playing video games. I stopped at this area where everyone was playing the same game. They were all involved in a game called VBS2 which is a military training simulator. The military bought a commercial video game called Armor 2 and converted it into the high tech simulator seen here. All the players were working together as teams in the game. One boy shouted out, "Ha, I killed you. That was me, I killed you." Most of the time however they stared at the screens intently focusing on the flaming oil fields and enemy tanks. Some players were situated inside virtual tanks, while others were field infantry. The creepy guy with the gas mask wandered over to mess with the kids by reaching in while they weren't looking and pressing arbitrary keys on the keyboard.
In another area, military men wearing field fatigues were showing kids how to fire of an authentic looking M16 which would blast out a laser beam at the target. Joking around with Evan Miga later that day, he said that the military is selling military service to kids with ads that make it look like every day is a game, where they get to enjoy using high tech graphics in the field. Evan joked that if kids join today they would get an extra life. Otronicon is now over so you will have to wait till next year if you are in the mood to kill.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Stable Party


Terry takes horse riding lessons at Morton Equestrian Center in Ocoee. For the holidays the barn hosted an outdoor barbecue. Guests each bought a side dish or deserts. This was a real home grown Florida party complete with cowboys and plenty of talented horse riders. The whole event took place in the middle of a riding ring. The horse jumps were still in place and people gathered around the roaring fire to keep warm since the night was rather cold for Florida.
Before I ate, I sat in the bleachers which are set up for people to watch the horses. Terry was still getting over a rather bad fall off of a horse and her instructor Emily offered her encouragement. The saying, "get right back on the horse", has a new meaning once you have been thrown 6 feet. Terry's had a huge 3 foot long black and blue mark all the way up the back of her leg.
There were beers in a cooler but I stuck with caffeine as I rushed to finish the sketch. The night was crisp and cold and the laughter and conversations continued for many hours. Once I finished I went and picked up some pulled pork on a bun and plenty of cookies. Terry was talking to a man who had owned horses for years and she was trying to find out how much land cost outside Orlando since she now dreams of a simple life in the country.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Scottish Highland Games

If you have never been to the Scottish Highland Games, you really should go. They take place at Central Winds Park at (1000 East SR 434 in Winter Springs). The event' is still going on today (Sunday, January 17) from 9AM to 4:30PM with a concert following at 6PM. I had an absolute blast sketching the events all day long on the first day of the festivities. This sketch is of the Kingdom of York which is an encampment which demonstrates the art of blacksmithing. It threatened to rain several times but the weather held. The Kingdom of York lists their core values as: Fairness, Integrity, Loyalty, and Respect. One of the blacksmiths, when he saw the sketch, was very pleased that I had trimmed at least ten pounds off of his figure. I discovered the artisan working the bellows is named Jack and I had sketched him and his wife Christina before. They were the couple I chose to sketch who were helping paint over hate at the Center on Mills Avenue.
In the background of this sketch you can see the sheaf toss in progress. I never got close enough to see the competitors up close but now I realize that they use a pitchfork to hurl the bales over the pole. The bar is slowly raised after each round and it becomes increasingly difficult to get the sheep over the pole. The crowd would scream with delight whenever the sheaf went over.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fairwinds Broadway Across America - Orlando 2010-2011 Season Announcement

I was invited to attend the Broadway Across America unveiling of the upcoming shows in 2010 and 2011. This is the line up:
Phantom of the Opera: January 20 - February 14, 2010
In the Heights: March 9-14, 2010
Xanadu: April 27 - May 2, 2010
Spring Awakening: May 18-23, 2010
Young Frankenstein: November 30 - December 5, 2010
Rock of Ages: January 11-16, 2011
West Side Story: February 1-6, 2011
Wicked: February 23 - March 27, 2011
Shrek The Musical: May 17-22, 2011
Hair: June 21-26, 2011
The festivities were held at the Fairwinds Corporate Tower (135 West Central Boulevard). I decided to dress up a bit for the event, so I wore a suit and nice slacks. To get in, I was told I would have to get an wristband. Jeremy Seghers was handling the bands, so I felt at ease knowing I was among friends. Inside the bank there was no noticeable decorations except for the fact that a bar had been set up. I immediately walked towards this group of men pictured in the sketch; an a capella singing group called 4:2:Five. They were singing, "They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway. They say there's always magic in the air. But when you,re walking down that street, and you ain't had enough to eat, the glitter rubs right off and your nowhere..." I loved singing this song when I lived in Manhattan. The lyrics take on a magnified meaning once you have had to struggle to make ends meet in the Big Apple as an artist. I sang along happily sketching the performers. Amanda Norvell, who arranged for me to sketch, said hello and Terry Olson walked up to me and said, "I am sorry, we do not allow sketching in here". He was kidding, and we both laughed. I seem to bump into him everywhere I go these days.
When it came time to add some color to the sketch, I realized that I had left my brushes at home. I had changed my pants, and the brushes were in my pants at home. I was frustrated, but had to finish the sketch regardless. I ended up finding a reject brush that functions more like a sponge than a brush. It sucks the color into the handle and then refuses to put down a decent wash. Well, regardless of the struggles, I managed to get something done.
After this group left the floor, the Mayor gave a quick speech. He joked around that he had been given a key to the banks' safe last time he was here, but he hadn't managed to get to the money yet. Singers then performed solos from the upcoming season shows.
Of the shows coming to Orlando this year, I am looking forward to sketching "Phantom" and "In the Heights" the most. When I lived in New York City, I lived in Washington Heights, so sketching "In the Heights" should feel like going home again. I hope to start sketching the load-ins for each of the shows when they get to town, as well as sketching from the wings. I also hope to start sketching the Broadway series cast parties and events. 2010 should be an exciting year, as I discover Broadway in Orlando through my sketches.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Crisis Nursery

Amanda Chadwick is celebrating her birthday with a week long series of events she has planned. This is the greatest idea I have heard in a while. Why only celebrate on one day of the year? The first party was at the Children's Home Society, Crisis Nursery where Amanda is an events coordinator. I was the first to arrive and gradually 6 or 7 of her friends trickled in. Most of her friends are comedians so I knew there would be plenty of laughter. Before we were let in to play Amanda explained a little about the Nursery's function.
The home is a place of refuge for children who been abused or neglected. Sometimes new born infants come straight from the hospital. It is hoped that all the children will find foster parents in a loving and stable home. Some children who have developed behavioral issues, end up returning to the Crisis Nursery. Amanda said that most visits are rather structured but this time she wanted to have a free and open play period. When we first entered everyone sat on the couch in the living room area. Within minutes children were hugging and playing with the newcomers. I thought I would sit down on my portable stool and start sketching, but the children were soon standing in front and beside me asking what I was doing. They immediately wanted to sketch themselves and I gave each a pencil. I had another pad for them to sketch in. One boy asked me to draw him. He then took the sketch and went over to a corner table to work on it. He worked for the longest time hunched over and focused. Amanda came over and told me I had inspired him.
I drew a little girl and then she asked me to draw her dress so I sketched her from head to toe. She was thrilled and took the sketch to hang in her room. The electronic piano was bought in by Elizabeth Drake Forbes. The children crowded around it, discovering new sounds and beats. This moment gave me a center of interest and finally gave me time to sketch. Most children were still running around with balls flying and bouncing off of heads and ceiling fans. Amanda bought cupcakes and everyone sat around the table to eat them. Then the children went outside to play and burn off the sugar. I stayed and finished up this sketch. One little girl loved the piano so much she returned to it when everyone else had lost interest. She began to develop a beat and sound that finally resembled music.
One little girl was sad and crying. Mary Hill saw the girl crying and she sat down on the floor near her. Mary said, "I hear you, you are sad. I hear you." The little girl didn't quite know how to process this but as Mary continued to talk soothingly to the little girl, she slowly inched towards Mary until she was sitting on her lap. When it was time to leave there were many hugs. This was the best birthday party ever!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Radio Rickshaw

I got a tip from Brian Feldman that local podcast Radio Rickshaw was about to broadcast its 100th episode. At the last minute Brian contacted Dan Ginader, one of the show hosts, and found out where the program is broadcast from. With the address in hand thanks to a barrage of text messages, I drove towards the Milk District where the broadcast studio is located. I was surprised to find myself in a suburban neighborhood as I approached the address. House numbers were impossible to see so I parked and walked the last few blocks. Don Fowler and John Valines, the other two hosts of the radio show, were seated on the front porch of the small suburban home smoking. They were surprised to see me and we introduced ourselves. When they finished their smokes we went inside. The broadcast studio takes up a small area of the living room. A banner with Radio Rickshaw printed on it sort of divides up the living space from the working sound studio. Two dog cages were stored in a corner of the room. Space was cramped, so I ended up standing to do my sketch in the entry way to the sound studio.
The broadcast was irreverent and fun. I learned a few things about the cultural scene in Orlando, so I suspect I will be tuning in more often. Don explained that he had just had an argument with his girlfriend and he suspected she might have broken up with him via Facebook. An argument ensued as to whether it was worse to be dumped via Twitter, text message or Facebook. It turned out that I was the first studio audience in the show's 100 episode history. John seemed to feel that I disliked him, since I had drawn his girlfriend at Beth Marshall's Halloween party and I left the spot where he had been seated empty. Dan pointed out that he had gone to Brian Feldman's ChanuIKEA event and even sat down right in front of me thinking he would end up in the sketch. I ended up drawing only an empty chair and the plate and utensils he had used to eat dinner that night.
This sketch, however, proves that I love these guys and I am more than happy to draw them. At the end of the program, I was quickly interviewed about my blog. In my quest to answer all of Dan's questions, I forgot to plug my 2009 Sketchbook Retrospective now on display at Dandelion Communitea Cafe through the end of January. D'oh! Should the Radio Rickshaw boys decide to plug my show on episode 101, they might find themselves looking a little less transparent in my sketch.
Postscript: The Radio Rickshaw boys did, in fact plug my show in the 101st episode of their show. So, as promised, here is the sketch in it's original state. Brian Feldman tried to stir the pot, by saying their plug was insincere and rushed, but it was good enough for me. Here is to 99 more episodes!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sea World - Dolphins Vewing Area


When I left the dolphin feeding area, I couldn't resist going underground for the underwater experience. There was a constant crowd pressing up against the glass, viewing the dolphins swimming from underwater. Photo flashes would pop and people were constantly pressing forward to get a better view. I chose to sit with my back against a fire extinguisher a bit removed from the throng and I tried to catch the ever changing scene. Some parents lost interest in the underwater view and turned to their phones for entertainment. One tourist walked up to me and asked me if he could take my picture. He said his sister-in-law was an artist and would get a kick out of the work I was doing. I am amazed that everywhere I go I meet someone who has a relative who is an artist.
After this sketch was done, I battled the crowds milling around the park for the first time. I became immediately exhausted with the start and stop nature of trying to move around the park. I approached a men's room, but the line was so long that I decided to wait. Lunch was out of the question. I didn't need food that bad. I wandered the park aimlessly searching for my next sketch.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sea World - Dolphin Encounter


The Dolphin Encounter at Sea World is a very popular attraction. People pay $7 for some fish and are then guided in how to behave around the dolphins by trained parks people. The biggest concern is that people not let the paper tray the fish come in ever get close to the water. If the dolphins saw that tray, they would try and snatch it, potentially choking on the paper. Also Seagulls would flock overhead whenever the feeding started. They had a habit of dive bombing tourists in an attempt to get at the fish.
I stood across from the area where people could stand near the water for free. They would lean over with their hands in the water waiting diligently for the dolphins to come to them. The dolphins were not interested. They only went to the trainers who they knew had food.
I was standing next to a parks person whose job was to watch the tourists and make sure they didn't have any personal items hanging over the water's edge. If he saw a tourist with a sweatshirt hanging over or a water bottle he would contact someone on the opposite side via walkie-alkie and let them know what was up. "The tourist with the blue shirt on your right has a sweatshirt hanging over the ledge." Another parks person would rush through the crown to find the tourist with the sweatshirt and ask him to step back. Some Harley-Davidson bikers also hung out, hoping to touch a dolphin. I'm betting the dolphin's skin feels much like the worn leather jackets they were wearing.
After a few minutes of feeding the dolphins, the people who had paid would all be asked to leave to that another group of tourists could file in.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sea World - Entrance


Just before the end of the year, I went to SeaWorld because I had a complimentary ticket that would expire come January first. I got the ticket at IZEAFest, a bloggers conference that was held at SeaWorld. Let's face it, going to a theme park during the holiday rush isn't really my idea of a good time, but I could not miss the sketching opportunity. When I got close to the park, traffic backed up for maybe a mile leading into the parking lot. I got sick of waiting and decided to turn off and go down a side street. I found an office complex and parked in its garage. I then hiked the mile or so to the park entrance.
The crowds just kept coming, and I decided to sketch the entrance just in case the park filled up like the Holy Land Experience did several months ago. I was surprised when a Amish Mennonite family walked by. The blue roller coaster in the sketch is new and called the Manta. The turnstile line I decided to stand in ended up breaking down, so I had to force my way into the next line over. My sketch bag was searched and I sighed relief when my ticket actually worked.
I always like seeing the flamingos when I enter the park, but they had been moved to make room for the Manta roller coaster. The flamingos no longer had a nice scenic lagoon to stand in, but were now in a tiny fenced in enclosure. The park was insanely crowded. I stood in a line for a bathroom break once I finished this sketch and then I went to see some dolphins.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Make a Wish

Lucas Anderson, who is just 14 years old was diagnosed with cancer. The Make a Wish Foundation of Central and Northern Florida granted his wish, and on this day he is picked up his English Bulldog puppy for the first time from Petland at 3920 Semoran Boulevard. I arrived about an hour early and started by asking the store employees a few questions. I decided that I would sit down near the cage, which was also a gift to Lucas, along with plenty of dog care supplies. One of the employees crawled inside the cage and artfully arranged all the supplies before tying helium balloons to the it. A red carpet was unrolled in front of the store and Lucas and his family arrived in a white stretch limo. Lucas also had a bunch of his friends with him and they laughed and caroused in the store. The puppy's name is Tucker and he was very cute, with huge paws and an adorable face. Petland has small cubicles in the middle of the store where the dog and owner can bond. Tucker and Lucas hit it off from the start. Tucker particularly liked it when Lucas would scratch him under the chin. Tucker seemed a bit confused and didn't know how to act with all the attention he was getting.
Giovanni Ferriolo, the owner of Napolitaly Ristorante next door, bought in some free pizzas. I was seated right next to the table where the pizzas were stacked, but people didn't mind reaching over me if need be to get a slice. Afterwards, a cake was bought in decorated with the image of a puppy in icing. As Lucas and his mom posed for pictures, she began to tear up and I suddenly realized what an honor it was to be documenting such a moment.

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.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Grandma Party

Stardust Video and Coffee was the host to the annual Grandma Party. The streets around Stardust were crammed full of parked cars. I had never seen such a crowd at the venue. The Grandma Party started several years ago as a place for local fashion designers, bookbinders, painters, knitters, silversmiths, vintage dealers, bakers and print makers to showcase and sell their work. Everything found here was hand crafted and original. There was a stage set up for local musicians to perform as well but they were not playing when I arrived. I wandered around and bumped into a few friends as I searched for my sketch of the day. Anna McCambridge's mom, Vicki was celebrating her birthday and she blew out a candle on a cupcake to celebrate.
I ultimately became infatuated with Alchemy, an outdoor hair cutting booth. The seats were always full as women and men rotated in to have their hair cut. It was a challenge to capture the hair stylists who were in constant motion but it was worth the effort.
When I finished this sketch I went to the stage to listen to the music. At the end of the final number a girl dresses in a red and white overalls stood next to the stage and threw confetti when the song ended. Although titled the Grandma Party, most of the crowd was hip and young. These were Orlando's true bohemians and they knew how to party.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jai-Alai Fronton is Saved from Closing

I had heard a report that the Jai - AlaiFronton in Casselberry was going to close and it's last day was to be December 27th, several days after Christmas. The facility has 75 full time employees. I decided to go and sketch on this final day of betting. When I arrived I bought the one dollar ticket and went through the turnstile. I was told I would have to have security check my bag of sketch supplies. The security guy was located on the far side of a fast food stand almost hidden from sight. I held the bag open and he lazily nodded his approval. I took the escalator to the second floor and I heard the sound of the Jai-Alai ball being tossed around. Three men were on the court and there wasn't a soul in the stadium seating. I watched for a while but I don't know the rules and they looked like they were just practicing. No lights were on but I noticed a men's room so I decided to use it before I got to the third floor off track betting area. Then when I was leaving I discovered the bathroom door had locked behind me!
I tried turning the door knob in different ways figuring it might have a trick to it. I couldn't believe it. I was locked in and the floor was deserted. I started trying other doors in the men's room figuring there might be another way out. I opened the far back door and it looked like a broom closet for the janitors. The closet itself had a door and I tried it. That door lead out to a tight metal spiral staircase. I decided this was my only option so I stepped out onto it. Old candy wrappers and potato ship bags crunched under my feet. I had to wonder why there was so much garbage in a stairwell. I wound my way up to the third floor. At the top of the steps I found myself in the employees area behind the betting cages where they take money. A guard stood with his back to me at the swinging door which lead out to the betting floor. I said "Excuse me." and squeezed past him.
Out on the betting floor I let out a sigh and immediately started sketching. When I was about half finished a security officer approached me and said "Can I help you". My stomach tensed. He had no intention of helping me. He pointed out that I had been behind the betting counters and that I would have to leave. I explained the situation with the bathroom but his mind was stuck on only the one detail of my story, I had been behind the counter and that is State property. He seemed to feel that being back there is punishable by imprisonment or leaving the facility. He felt I had been acting strangely since I arrived in the Fronton. As he said this the men standing behind him were shouting "Common 4, common, go, go 4 go. You can do it! Ooooh mother f*#&^%$!" I thought it funny that he found my sketching to be strange behavior. I continued to reason with him but he returned again and again to the fact that I had been behind the counter.
Actually my talk with him turned into a bit of an interview in the form of an argument. I found out that the Fronton was NOT going to close since an unnamed buyer had come in and bought the facility. The new buyer is possibly going to bring card rooms to the now rundown facility. The security guard eventually decided I wasn't worth the trouble and he left, or rather stood a short distance away watching my every move. A food vendor named Valerie walked over to see what I was up to. She was glad the place was going to stay open. She had worked here for years. The sale of the Fronton isn't final yet, and if it falls through another date will be announced for its final day.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Speakeasy at Will's Pub

12-16-09SpeakeasyNew800Tod Cavinass hosts a poets open mic every Tuesday night after 9PM at Will's Pub located at 1040 North Mills Avenue. When I entered the bar I noticed one lone poet writing from his bar stool perch. Tod warned me that the event never starts on time. This evening there was some sort of community swap meet or market filling the room so I wandered around and looked at the old LPs, crafts and art. They started to break down their tables and by 10PM the market was gone. Tod worked diligently to fill the room with chairs and tables and soon the room was full of poets.
On the walls of the room were dark sinister paintings featuring skulls and nudity. Tod took to the stage and introduced the first poets. Two of the poets in this sketch, the one with the blue cap and the one with the orange shirt were a poet team.The poet with the ball cap took to the stage and periodically the fellow in the orange shirt would shout out "Rewind"from the back of the audience, and the poet on stage would back up his poem then continue forward again. Their energetic delivery was inspiring.
The young girl on the far left in the sketch had the amazing ability to bend herself up like a pretzel. She is disjointed and can fold her arms in inhuman ways. I was still sketching and didn't notice her as she showed friends the first time and I was pleased when she was willing to demonstrate for me a second time.I will have to get a sketch of her some day if she is able to hold one of those uncomfortable looking poses.
A writer from the Orlando weekly read a poem about how he infected his work computer when he was researching a story about how some people surf porn sites while at work. So in the name of research he looked up some of these sites. One of them gave his computer a virus . The tech had to inform his boss that a malicious porn site was to blame.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Driving Miss Daisy Auditions

Beth Marshall Presents will bring "Driving Miss Daisy" to the Winter Garden Theater February 12th to the 28th. I sat in on the auditions for this show. Seated at the table are Aradhana Tiwari, the Director, and Beth Marshall the Producer. This auditions process stood in stark contrast to the auditions for Crimes of the Heart. Crimes took 2 agonizing days for the cast to be solidified but this auditions process was fast and painless taking only about 3 hours with about a dozen actors and actresses auditioning.
One actress with a bit of a haughty attitude who reminded me of Sheila in Chorus Line, entered the room and when she greeted the director she wouldn't let go of her hand. The actresses head shot was from about 20 years ago. After doing the reading she demanded to read another section of the play. Beth said that would be fine and she could come back in after the next set of actors had finished their audition. The actress said emphatically "I should say so". After a long pause, Beth said, "You know what, lets not waist your time or mine, you can leave." Beth felt bad for the actor who had auditioned with this actress. She could see that he was embarrassed by the exchange.
Another actress who auditioned for the roll of Daisy was about 30 or 40 years to young for the part. She walked in wearing a black dress with a white lace collar and a gray haired wig. She reminded me of Norman Bates Mother in "Psycho". Beth glanced over at me and smiled. I was smiling as well. There is something charming about an actress going for a role which is so out of reach.
When I sketched the auditions I tried to pick the actors that I felt were best for the rolls to go in my sketch. At this audition I hit a home run and sketched Elizabeth Murff who will play Daisy and Michael Mormon who will play Hoke. I had met Elizabeth once before at Beth Marshall's Halloween Party. Elizabeth had won for the best costume as a Cougar. Michael who is 60 had played the roll of Hoke 20 years ago. He has a natural ease and seems very comfortable in the role. Elizabeth brings a humor and honesty to the part of Daisy that is endearing. When she said "Hoke, you are my best friend" the sincerity of this unlikely friendship warmed me, even in this early reading.
As they were packing up to leave, Beth remarked to Aradhana, "Now I had experienced the most difficult and the easiest auditions ever with you."

Monday, January 4, 2010

2009 Sketchbooks on Display!









































The Analog Artist Digital World blog was started January 1st of 2009 by artist Thomas Thorspecken with the commitment to post a sketch a day documenting Orlando culture. Assembled for the first time are all the sketchbooks from that year long journey. As the blog rolls into another year, we look back at the events, people and places that defined Orlando in 2009. People start to wander in around 8PM often after attending First Thursday at the Orlando Museum of Art. Dandelion offers a fun after party.
At the opening there is going to be a band and there are two other shows going on in the back rooms. One show features records painted with musicians portraits by Rebecca Rose. The other room features photography. Come on down. It will be a great way to kick off the New Year!

If I Had My Way by Joseph Hayes


If I Had My Way was written by local playwright Joseph Reed Hayes. This reading of the play at the Winter Park Playhouse was funded in part with a development grant from United Arts of Central Florida. The play is set in Central Florida in 1945 at a time when there was a POW camp where the Kissimmee airport is now located. Margaret Perry had left her southern home and was educated in Atlanta and New York. Her mother lived her whole life in the ranch home in Central Florida and when she became ill her daughter returned to take care of her. Margaret resented every aspect of having to work in the ranch taking care of her sick mother. She rejects friends and suitors until one day an Italian POW, bought to the ranch as replacement help, teaches her her the power of love though the beauty of fresh cooked food. Joseph read a section of the play in which Bernice, a young 19 year old woman who works in the kitchen, dreams about her future husband who she has yet to meet.
The play deals with bigotry and hate in the old South. Joseph says the play is influenced by the Blues and you can feel the lonely rhythm throughout. This is a serous play about lonely souls in hard times. Yet towards the end of the third act the actors talk about the scent of Orange blossoms which is a sweet smell that once experienced, is never forgotten.
I attended the reading because Darlyn Finch a local poet and friend had been asked to play the part of Mrs Alecia Jamison the ailing mother. Darlyn didn't have to act to pull off a convincing southern accent and she did fit the part perfectly. In a question and answer session following the reading Joseph explained that the play is still a work in progress. Some lines changed as he worked with the actors. Even in this early stage the play packs a punch and I felt deeply for each of the characters. I hope that when the play is presented on the stage for the first time I will be there to sketch.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

South by Northwest


As of January first I have launched a second blog called South by Northwest. It is intended as a visual dialogue between myself and Gabi Campanario. We will both post one sketch a week and they will be displayed as diptychs side by side. We welcome comments. I am excited about where this 3142 mile collaboration might lead.

"Take My Beard, Please!"

On New Year's Eve at 7 PM Brian Feldman had his marquee sign set up outside Urban Stylez Barbershop at 7 North Rosalind Avenue, right across from the Orlando Public Library and next to Blank Space. To attract additional attention an 8-foot high inflatable barber pole also danced in the street. I arrived a little early and considered drawing the inflatable barber pole, but felt it would take too long. Minutes later, Brian arrived with his parents. Inside, he set out his Best of Orlando plaques on a ledge and disappeared into the back room of the barbershop. I asked which chair Brian would be seated in and the second chair was pointed out.
I started one sketch but felt I was too close to the action and the barber might block my view most of the time, so I started a second sketch which offered a better overview of the room. I started this second sketch drawing the fellow getting his hair buzzed. Then, when Brian stepped out and was seated I started blocking him in. Brian asked if anyone in the audience would like to have a first cut using scissors and Jeff Wirth stepped up to the plate. I sketched Brian's head at the moment his beard was beginning to be buzzed off. He didn't look happy about these first cuts. The beard came off in less than a minute, and then the straight edge was taken out to give Brian a really close shave. The chair was reclined and Brian's face covered with a hot towel. He looked nervous as the straight edge was taken to his throat.
Brian's huge head of hair looked very much out of place without the beard, and he asked the barber to cut it as well. From the audience, Jeff Wirth shouted out, "It's a double feature!" For a reasons unknown, I still do not understand why Brian asked that 2011 be shaved into the side of his new haircut.
The event was shot live by Brian's dad using his iPhone and was posted on The Daily City even before the shave was finished. Brian handed out beard masks to everyone who attended.

Muni String Quartet


Terry and I met for dinner one evening in Winter Park. As we ate dinner the sun set and the street lights came on. We ate in an outdoor patio area with a view of the New England Avenue. This city block was recently gentrified in the last several years. All of the store fronts are brand new. The street was blocked off by police. Walking from Terry's car, a man asked me why the street was blocked off and I had to reply that I honestly didn't know. Art galleries and stores were open late. Terry saw a bull dog inside a clothing store and she went inside. The store owner was just outside the front door talking to a friend. Though Terry lavished attention on the dog, he never once looked away from his owner. He quietly stood vigil. The owner explained that every first Monday this street would be shut down to traffic so people could stroll through the stores shopping for the holidays.

Outside a violin store this quartet began to play Beetles songs and holiday music. Terry left me with the quartet to sketch while she shopped. There were many folding chairs set up in the street but besides myself there were only maybe four other people seated. Only in Florida could you get to see a quartet playing outside the warm glow of a music store without jackets on. When they finished I started walking back to my truck. Terry had already decided to go home. I heard music coming from Central Park so I changed course and went to investigate. An old Doris Day film was being screened in the park. Young couples cuddled for warmth under blankets. I considered trying to finish a second sketch, but I was tired and who knew how soon the film might end. What a gorgeous night, full of surprises.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

"Dressed to Kill" New Years Eve at the Enzian

This is officially my first sketch of 2010. I had four other parties I was considering for New Year's Eve, but Brian Feldman and Tisse Mallon told me about this $5 James Bond themed party at the Enzian Theater. At $5 admission, it may have been the best deal in town. Approaching the theater, I could feel the electric excitement of the crowd. Terry and I had to park several blocks away because the lot was overflowing. At the Eden Bar outside, people were packed shoulder to shoulder. One man in a black jacket had a huge scar down the side of his face and he was petting a white rabbit. This villain explained that the rabbit was much more sinister than the cat used in the Bond movie, From Russia with Love. Beautiful women were everywhere, dressed in gorgeous gowns. Groups were voguing for the cameras. There was a red carpet to the theater entrance. A movie screen was set up outside and crowds were seated at the tables watching. Gunfire ricochets could be heard from every angle.
I found Brian, Tisse and Mark Baratelli almost immediately. It turns out Mark had scored a table thanks to his Blog, The Daily City.com, so we tried to get in. Everybody but Mark was turned away at the door since we did not have wristbands. So we stood in the line for wristbands. The line never seemed to move. Terry proactively sought out the General Manager of the Enzian and got us wristbands.
We squeezed past the bouncer and found Mark's table. There were only two chairs at the table and four of us, so I hiked back to my truck and got my portable chair. Once seated, I scanned the crowd and started sketching. Faces were lit everywhere by the warm loving glow of iPhones and other portable devices. The music was so loud that you really could't talk, so I imagine people might have been texting one another even as they were seated at the same table.
After the ball dropped, Terry and I got on the dance floor. We got caught up in a line dance to a song I had never heard before. The music roared "To the left, to the left, to the right, to the right, turn yourself around, turn yourself around!" It involved a few chorus line kicks and shuffling left and right. We caught on pretty quick, although the crowd itself was never very organized. The smooth slippery beat was addictive. Dancers batted blue and white balloons around the dance floor. The strobe lights tended to blind me so I usually danced with my back to the stage.
We left the Enzian and then headed over to Matt McGrath's house. His place had a group of actors and actresses all shoulder to shoulder at the backyard bar. Leander Suleiman, an actress I had sketched before, was there and I introduced her to Terry. We all toasted with champagne when New Year's came around for Chicago.
Matt and I chatted for a while and I found out he is going to be a producer for a possible Orlando Fringe show called "Project F." The show is fourth on the waiting list to get into the Fringe, but he's excited about the project, and we discussed it for quite a while. Other than talking to Matt and Leander, I didn't socialize much. I was winding down. Matt claimed that his party would be going strong till 11:45 AM, but I didn't have the ambition to keep partying. We returned home happy and pleasantly exhausted.