Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Glitters

Terry and I drove up to Greensboro North Carolina to attend a wedding on her side of the family. Between rehearsal dinners and other family gatherings, Terry and I had one day all to ourselves to explore the historic downtown district. We explored a number of antiques shops before running across this store front. This five foot high Betty Boop had me transfixed. Several months ago I had driven to Honesdale, Pennsylvania for my step mothers funeral. At the head of her open casket Carol had placed a small Betty Boop figurine. My step mom had loved Betty Boop and had a small collection all around her house. On the morning of the funeral I watched animated short after animated short. The movement is strange and fluid limbs often being rubbery and flaccid.
As I was working one of the sales women came out and said I would have to stop back in when I was finished, so they could all see what I came up with. Inside the store is jam packed with fun trinkets and games. I could have stayed the rest of the day exploring all the intricate shapes. The owner loved the sketch and he asked about my schooling which was in NYC at the School of Visual Arts. Like a sketch I did of my step mothers vacant house this sketch is a rare instance where I didn't sketch a person into the scene.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Orange TV

Emma Kruch of United Arts invited me to go to the Orange TV Studio for an on air interview. The TV studio is located just south of the Orlando Convention Center on a small service road. The white metal building looks like an old airplane hanger. When I entered the secretary told me to follow the "Studio" signs back to the green room. I walked past glass walls behind which were the infinite dials and screens of the editing suites. I yearned to sit down and start a sketch but of course all that detail would take hours to complete. The green room wasn't green. It had a few couches and in the corner a TV was broadcasting a live feed from the studio where Cory Warren was about to conduct an interview. I sat down and then noticed that Emma was curled up in a chair next to the door. I have seen her at arts event all over town but we had never been introduced. She started talking about a recent move she had made which turned into the move from hell. She said she leaned up against a wall in the new place only to have her hand crunch through the termite infested wood. Well she said there were no bugs left but the wooden wall was like tissue paper. It was fun to joke and laugh to relieve some of the anticipation. She realized she was laughing so loud that they might hear her in the recording studio. She opened the studio door, poked her head in and asked the cameraman if he had hears her. She was in the clear but we kept it down from that point on.
With the first interviews over I was lead into the studio and set up with a mic. I felt surprisingly calm like I did this every day. After I sat down make up was applied to my face. Cory and I talked about possible questions and our relaxed conversation resulted in the questions that were to follow. The program by the way is called "Participate - The Cultural Advantage." The interview will air July 15th through August 15th at different times during the day. Emma explained that a schedule can be found on the Orange TV website. I am also going to get a DVD of the interview so I will post that video her when I get it. From somewhere in the room a voice shouted out, "We are rolling, we have speed, and in 5, 4, 3, 2, ..... Cory read the prompter and the interview was off and running. The interview with Cory was relaxed and simple. I got to explain how this site came to be and how I offer a unique view of the Orlando arts scene as seen through the eyes of an artist. Cory wanted me to recount the events of September 2009 when I reported on an event at Lake Eola called "Push Play." At this even a group of activists trying to raise funds for free school supplies thanks to "A Gift for Teaching". At this event participants had MP3 players and they all listened to a file downloaded off the Internet. The audio told them to dance and other quirky behaviors. The problem was the police showed up and the behaviors like lying down on the benches and holding up piece signs looked like a demonstration. Police shouted to find out who was in charge but no one could hear. The participants all laughed as if mocking the police. Everyone was forced out of the outdoor stadium and Jane Thompson the president of "A Gift for Teaching" was issued a summons banning her from the park for one year.
With so many amazing stories collected over the year and a half, the most difficult question was, "What was your favorite event to sketch?" This sent my mind reeling and I finally just decided to relate the details of the post which had gone live that day which was about a fundraiser called Passport to Haiti. I was surprised at how fun it was to relate the stories that I collect each day. If you keep your eyes open and look where the action is there is so much to be discovered right in your own backyard. When my interview was over I sat down behind the cameras and watched Cory interview John DiDonna and Autumn Ames about the red chair project. I worked feverishly to get a sketch to document the occasion.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Gay Pride - Lake Eola

Gay Pride Day at Lake Eola is a colorful festive event that I enjoy getting out to sketch. All around the lake, tents and rainbow colored balloons spark color everywhere. As I did this sketch a man next to me kept shouting out information about time share deals. He was offering free water to anyone who would sign up for information. As I tried to stay cool in the shade of a large tree a young slender woman holding a single rose walked up to me and asked for an interview. She was working on a research paper and needed interviews. I gave her the usual information about this blog and how it all started. She thanked me and disappeared into the crowd. She never asked me if I was gay. I was of course gay for the day. Across from me Rangers Doggie Care offered pet sitting and dog training services. The Orlando Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence had a display which had large black and white photos of men who had been killed due to hate crimes against gays. There must have been 40 or so photos and this was just the tip of the iceberg. I wanted to sketch this scene but it was in the direct sun and it was boiling out. I don't know how the sisters survived in their black robes.
The Gay Pride Parade started on the Northern edge of Lake Eola near Paneras. I focused on this stage coach and tried to capture some of the cross dressers and men in drag that walked by. There was plenty of excitement and men shouting and hooting as they piled onto the floats and waited for the parade to start. I thought I might come across some demonstrators but I didn't see one person with a sign. All the signs I saw called for pride and unity.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

9 Parts of Desire

Set in Iraq the play follows the lives of 9 women who struggle to keep hope and love alive in an insane war torn country. Directed by John Di Donna, it would be an understatement to say this play is hard hitting. These women grab your heart and then squeeze it inside the tightly clenched fist. I of course was fascinated by the woman who was an artist and who had enough money to flee the country, but because of traditional ties and a bit of fear of the unknown, she remained behind. The fact that she paints nudes is unexpected and quite dangerous considering the countries harsh moral codes especially towards women.
One particularly moving scene involved all the women on their knees crying out in pain using the only American words they know, "I love you." I do not think there was a dry eye in the house. The play never lets go filled with hope despite the searingly depressing moral codes and love despite oppression against women. So upsetting, I really don't think I can keep typing.
There are 2 performances left, Sunday June 27th at 2PM and at 8PM. At the Orlando Shakespeare Theater (812 East Rollins Street).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Neon Forest

Neon Forest Gallery (1741 South Orange Avenue) opened its doors for the first time with a gallery show entitled "Welcome to the Forest." This show was four months in the making with floors being painted and walls prepared. The gallery partners are Dustin Orlando, Scott Donald, Sean Hartman and Jason Dwarzski. When I arrived, Scott Donald was out back in the parking lot putting finishing touches on the DRES13 piece entitled "Guerrera." It was decided that it would be nice to match the colors between the pieces DRES13 was hanging in the show . So some washes of green and red were added along with a light dry brush effect of white in select spots.
TU TU Tango was setting up a food tent and there were plenty of drinks on ice. Dustin, one of the partners in the venture walked outside and looked at the looming clouds on the horizon. He said to himself, "Come on God, Work with me. Well at least it's not windy." When he went back inside thunder rumbled. He said they were expecting two hundred people to show up to this inaugural opening. Rain could dampen everything. He hoped it would just sweep through quickly and then dry up. A hard wind blew through the lot and lifted up one of the tents sending it into the air like a parachute. Three of us ran and grabbed the legs before it disappeared. Several people worked on strapping the tent down. Then the rain came.
Inside the gallery I discovered the work of Nicholas Gazin, a Brooklyn based artist who does amazing line drawings of people copulating and strange portraits with titles like, I want your Damage, Suicide Bombing Aftermath, and House of Spirits. Disturbing and thought provoking I wanted to see more. I spoke with Scott for a while and checked out his piece in the show called, "Spirit Bear in the Golden Age of Jihad. " I then spoke to Tanya Dickie for quite sometime and I found out she posts a picture a day on flickr. This common thread of creating something everyday and posting it, I had to follow up on, and in time I convinced her to show me her work using the gallery's computer. She started one of her series on September 11th because she had been in the World Trade Center a month before the attack. Like many people that day left a scar that has never fully healed. I sat in my camping chair and watched the limitless possibilities found in taking a photo a day. I felt I really got to learn something about each of the artists I met that night. This was one of the more rewarding openings I had attended lately. I felt elated that the arts are very much alive here in Orlando.
It was easy to drive by the gallery without noticing it and being in SODO it might not get the foot traffic of a downtown gallery. Still, the show was exciting and unexpected. I am hoping they have lasting success.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Apopla Community Center

I received an invitation to sketch at the Fran Carlton Community Center of Apopka. Art classes are held in the Community Center so the instructor thought the students might like to see several of my sketchbooks and learn about what it is I am doing everyday as I discover the arts in Orlando. Nancy, the instructor this day had a small still life set up on the counter leading to the kitchen. There was an old cowboy's boot some bright red flowers and yellow drapery. No one in the room seemed interested in the still life however. Each artist was focused on their own projects. Each artist worked at their own level. One woman was working on a drawing of a football star, while another was working on a seascape with lobster pots and fishing nets.
After seeing my work, the one man in the group started documenting the people around him with his sketches.
When I was asked to talk, I kept it short and simple. I explained how this project began as a New Year's resolution and how my one a day commitment had grown to the point where I don't know when to put the pen down.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ax Handle Saturday.

As part of Juneteenth the Well's Built Museum hosted a literary review where author Rodney L. Hurst S. spoke about his book, "It was never about a hot dog and a Coke!". The book recounts Rodaney's personal account of the 1960 sit in demonstrations in Jacksonville Florida. At age 11 he joined the National Association of Colored People (NAACP).
Woolworth Department store would accept a black persons money at one counter but not allow the same person the right to shop at another counter. The store had two lunch counters one had the sign that read, FOR WHITES ONLY. The other counter located in the far reaches of the store had 15 seats and no windows. This was FOR BLACKS ONLY. The plan was for the students to buy something in the store, which was easy enough to do, and then as a group they would sit down at the white lunch counter. The first sit in was on August 13th 1960. The students employed the philosophy of passive resistance being sure to keep the sit ins non violent. They wore their Sunday best. At the first sit in, the white waitress shouted out, "This is the white lunch counter. The colored lunch counter is in the back of the store." The students continued to sit. A crowd of white onlookers assembled and started shouting racial slurs. When the lunch hour was over the students left the sit in one at a time but each student encountered some form of physical and verbal abuse from the assembled crowd. These sit ins continued for well over a week.
On August 27th 1960 several members of the NAACP drove past Hemming Park in downtown Jacksonville and noticed several white men dressed in confederate uniforms. More men walked around the park carrying ax handles with confederate flags tapped to them. A van parked on the street had a sign on it that read, "Free ax handles." The 34 students gathered in the youth center that day were told about the men in the park and they had to decide if they would go on with the sit in that day. They voted unanimously to demonstrate. Rather than go to Woolworth which was right across from the park, the students decided to sit in at Grants Department store which also had a Whites only lunch counter. When the students sat in at Grants the store manager turned out all the store lights.
As the students exited Grants, they saw a mob of whites carrying ax handles running towards them from the park. They swung the ax handles at any black they encountered, many having nothing to do with the sit ins. The students scattered and ran but many were severely beaten that day. There were 34 students who demonstrated that day and 200 Whites with baseball bats and ax handles. The violence escalated that day with rocks thrown at cars and a few shots fired but there were no fatalities. 162 people were reported injured that day.
When most of the students were back at the youth center, the reverend offered an encompassing prayer in which he said, "No one can turn us around." and "The die is cast." As everyone joined in singing "We shall overcome," the tears flowed. The demonstrations were never about being served food at a store counter, they were about human dignity and respect.

"Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
-George Santanyana

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Passport to Haiti

Passport to Haiti was a fundraiser organized by REBUILD Globally and held at the Lockhaven Community Center (610 Lake Formosa Drive). Funds raised by the event would go to the relief efforts following the huge earthquake that devastated the country. The mission of REBUILD Globally is to help with community development and education as well as to stimulate the much needed economic and cultural growth in Haiti. Put more simply,"Helping Haitians help themselves." There were silent auction items including original Haitian art. I sat down next to a table where fresh coconut juice was being offered. I tried a cup and it was sweet and delicious. Behind the staging area there were tents to represent the tent cities of Haiti.
I focused my attention on the table where sandals were being sold. Matthew Von Herbulis stood behind the table explaining the manufacturing process to anyone who was interested. These sandals called Re:Treads are made from old used tires. The company has been manufacturing these shoes for the last 4 months. The sandals are made locally now but they are going to train Hatians of Port au Prince to do the same. The tires used to make the sandals are just collected from dumps and roadsides. This small company has the goal of helping bankroll the Haitian economy by helping Haitians find work that involves craftsmanship and dignity. Although the country is in ruins thanks to centuries of poverty, Haitians are full of energy and drive and when given the opportunity to work towards building their own future they excel. A portion of all sales go towards putting shoes on the feet of orphans.
As I was sketching, Julie Colombino, who had organized the event, got behind the microphone and started describing the conditions she found on the last trip she took to Haiti. She got very choked up and was in tears as she described conditions that are beyond human comprehension. I later found out that Julie will be moving to Haiti for 6 months to help rebuild and restore a neighborhood. Sultana Fatima Ali showed up to the event after I finished my sketch and I found out that she is a part of a core group of activists who have been friends for years.
When my sketch was finished I didn't linger much longer. As I walked out to my truck Julie ran out after me saying I had forgotten my gift basket. Inside was a Hershey's kiss, a gift certificate for a beauty spa and a recycled bottle with a note inside. The note offered information about Rebuild Globally. I was touched by the generosity and thoughtfulness of the organizers. The note told the story of Zilice who has to travel a long distance to a city slum everyday to get water from a government water site. The water if not treated with bleach or boiled often causes fevers. Charcoal for a fire is a luxury and bleach is too expensive so she must take her chances. 10 percent of infant deaths in Haiti are attributed to dehydration according to government statistics. Several Haitian families were at the event and they told their stories of survival with the help of an interpreter. Each story was more heart wrenching than the last. When the speeches and stories were all told, a beautiful young blond woman and a 10 year old Haitian girl danced and laughed to the music.
Go to the people,
Live among them.
Learn from them.
Start with what they know.
Build on what they have:
But of the best of leaders,
When their task is accomplished,
Their work is done,
The people all remark
We have done it ourselves.
-Old Chinese poem

Should you ever want to help,
REBUILD Globally
P.O. Box 3756
Winter Park, Fl 32790

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Crealde Sunday Sketch Class

Every Sunday at Crealde there is a sketch class from 10AM to 12:30PM. I write it in my calender every week but usually there is some other arts related event that I end up going to sketch. This week they places one of my Crealde sketches on the invitation so I made an extra effort to show some solidarity and I headed out to the class.
The class starts out with 2 minute gestures then 5e minute gestures. By the end of the class the model is taking 20 minute poses. I started the sketch by blocking in a 5 minute gesture of the model on her stand. Then for the rest of the class I focused on the artists as they concentrated on the task at hand. The model named Jenny looked familiar to me but I couldn't figure out where I had seen her before. Half way through the class when she was on a break I finally shouted out, "You were Alice!" She admitted that she had modeled for a group called "Sketchy Broads."
There is another sketching event in town called "Dr. Sketchy's." A lot of new people going to Dr. Sketchy's were really confused about the two sketching events-- they had similar names, similar themes, they were both on Wednesdays, etc. Artists started thinking Sketchy Broads and Dr. Sketchy were the same group, or would get dates confused, showing up at Tatame (where Dr. Sketchy's is usually held) on the wrong night. Because of this confusion, Molly Crabaapple who is the head of Dr. Sketchy's, sent Jenny an e-mail explaining how Dr. Sketchy's is a notable world-wide brand, and how there's been confusion between the events, so she asked if Jenny could change the name. "Sketchy Broads" is now called "The Notorious Unnamed Sketch Club." I plan to head out to their next event called "Lions Lindsays and Bears...Oh My!" on Wednesday, June 23rd at 6:30PM to 9:00PM at Stardust Video and Coffee. I like that new venues like this are popping up.
Since I kept working on this sketch even through the breaks, I never had a chance to see any other artists work. There were perhaps about 10 artists at the session. I need to go back more often to just sketch the model and experiment with different ways of working. Sketching the nude figure is always a great way to charge the creative battery.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Bubble Room Monkey

I have become addicted to attending McRae Art Studios (904 Railroad Avenue) open houses. Some of these open houses offer the public the chance to watch the artists at work. The studios are located in a large warehouse and the space has been compartmentalized into working studios for 21 artists. The last open house I had attended, I found John Whipple working on a series of black and white illustrations which were rich and deep in tone. At the time I didn't have the time to do another sketch. I returned with the hope of catching him at work. Unfortunately this open house just gave the public a chance to view the artists finished works and wander the studios.
John told me that he had just cleaned up his work space. This room is filled with antiques and assorted odds and ends for his many quirky and fun sculptures. I fell in love with this old animatronic monkey. John told me that he had bought the monkey at an estate sale when the Bubble Room closed down. For those of you who have been in Orlando for some time you might remember that the Bubble Room was a quirky restaurant with tons of antique toys and animatronics like this monkey. John explained that the monkey had been the drummer for an animatronic band. I love that this character has a string tied around its thumb as if he was intent on remembering something. Even more interesting is the fact that the monkeys other thumb is missing like he had tied that string to tight and the thumb just snapped off.
The entirely naked animatronic to the left was once a Santa Clause. The gears and leavers are simply designed like an old fashioned wind up wrist watch. Santa's mask has been removed showing a lumpy malformed ball of Styrofoam. The arms also have Styrofoam tied down with twine. I have no doubt that when the lights go out, these characters live out a nightly drama before freezing in place the next morning. Also crammed in the space are old iron fireplace grills and aging yellow boxes. The bright red logo reminds me of the final scene in Citizen Kane when the sleigh is thrown in the fire with the name, Rose Bud.
John isn't sure yet what is in store for the Bubble Room Monkey. He doesn't want to alter the characters look until he is sure he has the proper artistic vision for it's future. Prior to the clean up, the monkey wasn't even visible. Now the space has a feeling of organized chaos. I asked John if he would allow me to sit in and sketch when he starts on the sculpture that the Bubble Room Monkey was meant for. I would love to see that piece find it's final form.
After I finished this sketch I then went to visit Don Sondag who is a local portrait artist. Don told me about a Sunday morning painting group. I expressed an interest in getting out and doing some plein air paintings with that group, but both times something came up which kept me from going. I need to call Don, it would be nice to do some thick paintings using large blocks of color rather than the line work I use every day to complete my sketches.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Juneteenth - Jazz Jam


Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. In honor of this holiday the Grand Bohemian (325 South Orange Avenue) hosted a Jazz Session Jam. Yvonne Coleman, the coorfinator of the event said, "Our Jazz Session Jam has been going on every Monday for almost two years and was selected to be a part of the Juneteenth event. The founder was the late keyboardist Billy Hall along with co-founder, saxophonist Don Black. The purpose of starting this awesome night of music was to have a venue to bring musicians together so that people could enjoy great music. Most important, proceeds in the tip jar goes toward needy families, and charities. "
I dressed up for the occasion and headed downtown. The jazz was to be flowing from 8 to 11 PM. I parked across from City Hall and walked down Orange Avenue to the Hotel, my dress shoes snapping crisply on the pavement. I entered the Bossendorfer piano lounge and asked where I could find the Jazz. I was led to the bar area. I didn't hesitate to find a place up front from which I could sketch. There was an empty table but it was being reserved for Dick Batchelor, a notable former Congressman and businessman and community leader, and his friends. I decided to place my small tripod camping chair next to a thick pillar and leaned back to start sketching.
There was much shuffling as people moved chairs from one table to another and at times photographers would stand in front of me to get their shots of the performers. Patience and perseverance paid off. I get a visceral thrill out of drawing while listening to jazz. The beat and rhythms add a spontaneous flow to the line work. The whole time I drew I was tapping my feet and swinging my body as I quietly let go to fully experience the flow and surge of the music.
People kept coming over to compliment me on the sketch. I'm always surprised to be complimented on something the is only half finished. I was talking to a woman on my right when someone tapped me on the shoulder making me swing around to my left. As I looked up at her my body kept falling to the left. My left leg had fallen asleep and I crashed to the floor. The woman tried to catch me but I went down anyway. I then tried to stand up to get some circulation back in my leg but then I stumbled again and began hopping up and down on my one good leg until I could do a sort of shuffle step to the beat of the music. When I had stopped my contortions, the woman said she had been watching me work the whole time I was sketching and she was amazed. I thanked her and then sat down to finish what I had started. I tapped both feet to the music to be sure not to loose them again.
Sultana Fatima Ali showed up for the final set, dressed in a black sequin dress. She and Washington-based Jazz musician, Marcus Johnson, both sat tapping on their respective cell phones with the warm glows from the screens illuminating their faces. I assumed they were tweeting or updating their Facebook statuses. I was shocked and delighted when I found out she had been inspired by the art-themed environment to write, and she shared her musings with me.  I believe through the visual elements and written word, an experience can truly be captured.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Something Worth Going To - The Cameo

Katie Windish the owner of Frames Forever & Art Gallery helped get me a press pass for this show held at the Cameo Theater (1013 East Colonial Drive). Twenty two artists from around the country were featured in this show. Each artist was given a large drywall slab on which to work their magic. Many of the panels were painted the day before in the parking lot of Frames Forever & Art Gallery. When Katie and I arrived, music was blasting in the back of the ground floor space. The DJs this night were SJ Supershot, DJ SPS, Rubeox and Divinci of Solillaquists of Sound.
It was hard to choose a spot to sketch from since the space was broken up with all the drywall panels. I finally settled onto a comfortable red couch with a view of a bicycle that was covered with graffiti. The bike was decorated by Chico who is one of the earliest NYC graffiti artists. On the base of many of the spray cans that were mounted on the bike, Chico had painted his self portrait.
Across from me a New York City artist was painting an amazing mural of skulls. I had watched him start the mural the day before and I was fascinated to see how he was finishing up the process. Much of the work in the exhibit had a pop cultural hard edged feel. A friend of Katie's named Tobar had a panel that featured a man in a gas mask. This iconic image appears again and again in his work. What really struck me was the fact that he had 2 security cameras mounted on the top edge of the display. It left me feeling a little uncomfortable like Big Brother might be watching.
Chico stopped over to see what I was working on. He offered me a signed print of one of his paintings which he gladly signed. It was a relief to see so much urban art. This show really was worth going to.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Something Worth Going To

The parking lot behind Frames Forever & Art Gallery became a large outdoor working studio for the Urban artist who came to Orlando from all over the country to showcase their work. In Progress Urban Arts Magazine hosted the event which would ultimately be staged at the Cameo Theater (1013 East Colonial Drive). In this sketch, local Urban Artist, Swamburger is seen working on a large sheet of Drywall. The old trees offer a perfect easel for the large works.
It was exhilarating to watch artists from all over the country all working together. While I was working on this sketch, a third panel was started just to the left of my view. This work of art was started with bold sharpies to block in the basic shapes. Then spray paint was used to throw in the dark's and more drawing was added. Finally a wide brush was used to add bold drybrush highlights to the skulls which had taken form. I had a fantastic time watching this bold execution and I would have stayed longer if I didn't have another event to sketch lined up. It is exciting to see this vibrant Urban Art being created right in white bread Orlando. The city and its art scene seem to be growing up. As I packed up to leave Katie Windish explained that she might be able to get me a press pass to the actual show the following night. I most certainly had to see the final results.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Riff

DRIP is currently developing an exciting new rock show called Riff, "a wet, raw, sexy Rock and Roll experience." The event is happening in the DRIP warehouse (4502 Old Winter Garden Road); which is now easy to find because out by the sidewalk there are huge Styrofoam letters spelling out DRIP. After parking, arrows lead me to the entry at the back of the warehouse. A makeshift bar was set up and people were mingling before the show started. Tony Corbitt, speed painter, had his easel set up right in front of the entrance. He slipped his shirt up over his head and started attacking the black board with bold strokes of white paint. Each painting took less than five minutes to finish, so I had to work extra fast to catch him in action. I had talked to Tony the night before and learned that he dreams of one day studying drawing and painting in Florence, Italy. Before the conversation was over I found myself with the same longing. Another artist stood beside me and sketched the painting in progress. Before my sketch was really complete, the stage door was opened and people filed into the warehouse. There was an area right by the door where people could check their shoes since all areas of the warehouse were considered a splash zone. The room was packed and I had some trouble finding a spot from which to sketch. I finally settled on a spot close to the band right next to the speakers.
The room went black and then the band started to belt out a hard edged rhythmic beat. I immediately realized I was a bit too close to the speakers. My right ear was starting to hurt. I decided to take one of the erasers off the end of a pencil and I used that as an ear plug. It worked like a charm. Soon the dancers in the center of the staging area began to move. They used two ropes hanging from the metal girders of the warehouse high above to start swinging. Paint buckets full of water were thrown at the dancers as they gracefully gyrated.
The next routine involved a large platform which was used to hold a transparent "canvas." As I sketched I realized that my sketch was getting covered with the constant rain of day-glow red and blue paint. Anyone in the audience with a white shirt suddenly glowed a mysterious blue. If my sketch were to be placed under a black light you would see clearly the red and blue day-glow paint splatters. The sketch shows Danny Millan and Nate Skaggs filling the dark space with loud music.
After the performance was over, people lingered outside and talked. Jessica Mariko was explaining that she hopes to find a hotel or similar venue that would be willing to offer DRIP permanent home.
You can still experience Riff in Orlando June 17th to 19th from 8 to 10 PM at 4502 Old Winter Garden Road. The show is also going to be in Miami July 22nd and 23rd from 8 to 10 PM at Easy Street Gallery (3501 NW 2nd Avenue Miami).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Plaza Theater

Terry loves Cajun music. We have learned a number of the dance moves which can keep us hopping and swinging our hips to the rhythmic Cajun beat. She managed to get tickets to see BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucett at the Plaza Theater (425 North Bumby Avenue). This sketch is of the opening act that played before BeauSoleil took to the stage. They were playing when we
entered and believe it or not I never wrote down the bands name. So if you recognize this group, could you give me a shout out? They were a high energy group and they were a blast to draw.
The Plaza Theater is a great venue. While waiting outside I usually stand and watch the Ballet lessons being offered at the Russian Ballet school right next door. The school had large plate glass windows making it easy to watch as the dancers stretch and pleat. The theater space inside the Plaza is intimate and warm. While I was doing this sketch, Patricia Charpentier, introduced herself. She runs a writing workshop called "Writing your Life". I later contacted her and arranged to sketch one of these classes.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Digital Salute


A Tibetan Monk was the second-to-last person to sit opposite Marina Abramovic as part of "The Artist is Present." A friend from high school named Bonnie Rose had joined me, and we returned to the exhibit which was now packed. I tried to see Marina and the Tibetan Monk by jumping up to see over all the heads. I discovered I got a decent view when I stood on my camping stool. Brian wanted to see the final moments of the performance so I let him stand on the stool. When the last person walked off the exhibit floor leaving Marina alone, the audience burst into applause. Marina then started shaking hands of people who surrounded her. Everyone in the room seemed to have an iPhone, digital camera or video camera and they all raised them over their heads to take photos. To me it was an iconic sight, a sort of digital salute with all the cameras offering validation and acknowledgment that an important moment was happening.

Actress Liv Tyler pushed through the crowd with her entourage past us. Suddenly, Brian came crashing down from the camping stool I have used for years. It had had enough and ripped wide open. I asked if he could get up and he was stuck. I grabbed him under his right arm an lifted him up. I was surprised by how light he is. The room was still filled with thunderous applause. The guards were creating a break in the crowd right in front of us so Marina could be ushered out. Brian yelled out that I should get one of my sketches signed by Marina. I scrambled around looking for a pen and had just gotten ready when she passed in front of us. Her attention was diverted by some of her friends opposite us so she never noticed the sketch. I had arrived in NYC at 7:30 or so in the morning and I was flying out late that night. It was a whirlwind day that I will never forget. Next to us was a sign that read: "Today is the final day of the exhibition, "Marina Abromovic: The Artist is Present."

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Artist is Present



As Brian Feldman got closer to the front of the line at MoMA's "The Artist is Present" exhibition, it was getting near the end of the day. Several times he walked out of the room and I feared that he might have given up or changed his mind. Instead, he was charging his iPhone so he could continue to text updates to people following his progress. When Brian was on deck, the next person to go on the floor, a guard stood next to him talking for some time. From my perch at a third floor window overlooking the room, I couldn't hear what was being said. Later, Brian told me that the guard had reservations about letting Brian sit opposite Marina Abramovic in his white robe. He feared Brian might be planning something disruptive.

I worked on this sketch for over an hour before Brian sat down. I simply left the seat empty where Brian would sit until he was finally in place. Since I was in a black suit, some people may have thought I was a guard; I was asked more than a few times about the event and was happy to answer questions. A small group of people clustered around the window I was drawing from, and wanted to know all about Brian. I couldn't help but offer some background on this amazingly charged clash of titans.


From the moment Brian sat down, he said he felt Marina was in total control. Towards the middle of their time together, Marina placed her hand to her chest and gasped lightly. Then, she once again regained composure and remained in control. When Brian walked away, Marina leaned forward and wiped her eyes with the palms of her hands. After it all was over, MoMA visitors stopped Brian and asked him questions as he walked around the museum. He said that he was ready to stare at Marina all day, but was still grateful for the brief moment he had been granted. I think this trip to NYC made a major impression on Brian. Walking the streets afterward, he was carefree and lighthearted. I have never seen him so happy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Brian Waits

Brian Feldman had a dream. He shared it with me months ago at a Toast to Elizabeth Maupin at the Repertory Theater in Orlando Loch Haven Park. He told me that he wanted to sit opposite Marina Abramovic, the world’s greatest living performance artist, who was having a retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) called "The Artist is Present." On top of it all, Brian wanted me to join him on the quest knowing I would get a great sketch. The MoMA exhibition consisted of Marina sitting in the center of the atrium with spectators having the ability to sit opposite her and look into her eyes for as long as they could last, as an exercise in being present in the moment with another person. Brian wanted to camp out overnight outside the museum on the final day of the exhibit to be first in line to sit opposite Marina and then he hoped to sit opposite her for seven straight hours. Brian raised money to get himself to NYC through donations at his parallel performance "The Staring Contest." One person was generous enough to actually give Brian their Delta Sky Miles. The dream was now a reality. Marina had been performing "The Artist is Present" for two and a half straight months and Brian was determined to be there on the final day, May 31st.

The day started with surprises. Upon his arrival to MoMA, Brian found out that they were allowing people to sit opposite Marina for only 10 minutes. Though disappointed, he kept moving forward rather than turning back. Though he camped outside the museum, there were 29 people who were in front of him in a line that inched forward in agonizingly slow increments. There was no guarantee that Brian would even get the chance he had planned and trained for over many months.The exhibit drew people from all over and there were many who waited patiently along with Brian for their chance to be present with Marina. Photographer Marco Anelli took photos of every person who sat opposite Marina. Shortly after the exhibit opened, a young woman in a one piece dress approached Marina and before she sat down, whipped the dress up over her head and stood naked for a split second in the center of the crowded room. Guards rushed around her and shielded the audience from getting a clear view of the woman. Crying, she was led away. As the pandemonium died down, he glanced over at me and raised his hands and shoulders in a gesture that said, "What the ...?" Brian regained his focus and waited for his chance to face Marina.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Beauty

The Premiere Orlando International Beauty Event was a huge event held at the Orange County Convention Center. Sultana gave me a thick book which showcased all the vendors and offered a fold out floor plan that showed the locations of the hundreds of vendors. Just walking the showroom floor offered constant visual stimulation. Every vendor was doing whatever they could to get viewers attention. I finally realized that I just needed to sit front and center at any booth and I could sketch the many models who were there. These two models sporting Alice in Wonderland outfits stayed fairly still. Once a photographer stepped in however they would vogue and pose looking down at the photographer with a highbrow disdain. I liked that the mad hatter had on a shoulder harness made from spools of thread. That was a nice creative touch.
Next to the models, a hair stylist was busy cutting and styling another models hair. I had just blocked in the sketch when the hair stylist told the models that they could take a lunch break. I calmly closed my sketchbook and then got up to sketch somewhere else on the showroom floor. Several hours later when the sketch was finished, I returned to the Salon Tech Booth and the same two models were back at work. I sat front and center and got back to work. Lee Ann McCall a national sales manager for Salon Tech came over to see what I was working on. She seemed sincerely surprised and delighted by the sketch.
Unfortunately, a cough I had caught flying out of NYC started to take hold in my chest. I had a press pass that would have allowed me to return to the event for several more days. The sketching opportunities were limitless, but the next day I was flat on my back in bed for much needed rest and relaxation.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Premiere Orlando International Beauty Event

Sultana Ali who was working at the information booth at this event was kind enough to get me a press pass so I could wander the Convention Center at will. She showed me around the show floor pointing out various sketch opportunities. I shouted out, "Everyone here is a model. how can I go wrong!" After she went back to work, I settled in and started sketching.
The first booth I stopped at was Farouk Systems. The product they seemed to be showcasing was a special hair spray. The two hair stylists circled a model seated in a barbers chair. They both kept spraying the models hair until he was lost in the mist filled cloud they had created. They both teased and snipped the hair while talking incessantly. It seems this product is targeted for a Hispanic market. Between hair cuts, the stylists would shout out to the crowd, "Who wants some free stuff!?" "I can't hear you!"
The models hair was multi-colored. The stylist demonstrated how to cut a perfectly straight edge between hair colors. Fashion models would strut up and down the runway and cameras would start flashing.
The convention floor was packed. Who knew that so many people would want to attend a conference devoted to beauty products? This sketch was a real challenge since there was a nonstop flow of humanity between me and the booth I was trying to draw. When I finished this drawing I felt I was capable of drawing anything. Drawing the stylists proved a challenge since they moved with amazing speed. His hands moved so fast they would show up on film as blurs. At the front of the stage there was a huge assortment of lotions, creams and sprays. They all seemed to sport the same orange label.
I continued to walk the show floor but I am sure I only saw a fraction of the vendors. Events like this are for me exhausting since I am always changing direction to avoid people who stop in the isles. It is like running an obstacle course all day long.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

sleepwalk 2: i walk over you

The week Winter Park hosted the 51st Annual Sidewalk Art Festival, Katie Windish of Frames Forever & Art Gallery hosted the 2nd Annual Outsider Art Fair in the parking lot of her framing shop. I like the sound of being an outsider, so I agreed to exhibit a bunch of my prints from sketches done around town. Doug Rhodehamel also was going to be there making paper bag mushrooms and this was going to be an opportunity for me to get a sketch of him at work.
I got to the Outsider Art Fair a little late and found I had to squeeze in to make some space for my work. I had just exhibited my work in the TheDailyCity.com Mobile Art Show and so I had a pile of prints which had been used to wallpaper the entire inside of the truck. I simply threw the pile of prints down on the pavement and let people who were interested flip through. I think I sold just 2 prints that day but I got to meet so many great artists. Tracy Burke was working on a large portrait of Pete Townsend in bold black and white brush work with just a touch of warmth added for the flesh tones. I was impressed by her work, yet didn't interrupt her to talk. I have bumped into her several times since and I keep trying to arrange to try and sketch her at work.
Towards the end of the day, I finally went up to the front of the shop to see Brian Feldman's performance called "sleepwalk 2: i walk over you." I set up across the street and watched Brian as he stumbled back and forth on the scaffolding that was set up in front of the shop. With the original "sleepwalk," Brian slept for 50 straight hours while people were allowed to walk over him. This time, the bystanders were under the scaffolding while Brian sleepwalked above them for 8 hours. A small sign read, Shout out, "Why don't you get a room?" A mother encouraged her little girl to shout this up to Brian in order to get a 1 inch button. He had a face mask on and thus really couldn't see where he was going. The metal railings were the only thing keeping him from falling to the ground.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Beyond Beat - David Amram

David Amram returned to Orlando to be a part of, "The Turning Point, a Symposium on Jack Kerouac in Florida." This multi day event took place at different locations around Orlando like, The Grand Bohemian, the Kerouac House, and as pictured here , the White House. The wite house was built by the music director for Circue Sole and he opens his living room each month so people can listen to talented musicians for free.
David played piano as authors got up on stage and read from excerpts from Jack Kerouac books. The performances ere part jazz and part smooth unexpected improvisation that flowed with the words lifting the spoken words to a heightened meaning. A drawing hung on the wall behind Dave as he performed playing a Peruvian wooden flute. Jack though always vibrant seems to always have a sad searching gaze. I had to keep drawing Kerouac even thought he was located behind the spot where Amram was standing. I enjoyed watching the painter on stage as she worked on a painting of Kerouac for the duration of the set.
I feel Kerouac would have likes this event. He would have jumped up on stage with the rest of the authors and shouted his words out to the waiting audience slipping his syntax to the slippery beat.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fringe Line

Just standing in line for a Fringe show is an adventure in itself. As usual at leas half of the people were fingering their cell phones sending texts or checking Facebook statuses. Many of the people in line were also actors which can be surmised from their feather boas and loud Hawaiian shirts. Well, I also saw them perform later that evening. One of the young astronautics from "Cat Women on the Moon" dances up and down the line in slow motion as if weightless. He handed out Cat Women on the Moon fliers to anyone who would take one.
Before I was fully finished of course everyone filed into the theater. After I finished up enough washes, I followed them in. This twenty first Century digital age moves a touch too fast for me to be sketching it using methods used back in the Renaissance. The only way to keep up is to ignore the final polished look of things and just let go and get sloppy!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gatorland

Terry arranged a tour with the Audubon Society to see the nesting birds in the sanctuary behind Gatorland. The tour guide who was the grandson of the founder of the place kept up a constant banter. He also kept the group constantly on the move. I finally escaped the tour and settled in to sketch this white gator. It turns out a white gator would never survive in the wild and the two gators in this compound were found together and saved when they first hatched. Sea World kept them hidden away from the public for years until they felt they were large enough for their Giant White Gator marketing campaign.
Drawing a white gator is a little easier than drawing a regular gator since all the ridges and wrinkles are easily visible. I was of course in a rush since every line I put down meant I was falling that much further behind the tour. As I was working a thunderstorm rolled in. there were loud claps of thunder and illuminating blasts of light. In the lagoon outside the larger gators rose to the surface and started to let out an unearthly bellowing noise. Pairs of gators would bellow and roll in the water. Perhaps it is some sort of rain appreciations dance. Regardless it felt like I was back in the age of the dinosaurs.
Gator land is someplace I should really look into sketching at more often. It is a real Florida treasure right in my backyard.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Insurance

Dealing with insurance sucks. I was rear ended about a month ago as I coasted to a stop for a stop light at 436 after getting off the East-West. The fellow that hit me was in a rush to get to the airport so He didn't call police. My cell battery was dead. When I got to work I discovered that I wasn't even scheduled to work that day. Someone had forgotten to tell me. This always happens to me somehow I end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. It has taken a solid month of talking to claims adjusters to finally settle the matter. The damage to my truck was light. I managed to fix the bumper with some duck tape and a couple of new bolts. The other truck blew out a head lamp and lost its front bumper. On top of everything I caught a cold and fever flying out of NYC. I need a travel sized hand sanitizer.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fringe Merchandise

The Fringe box office was a constant whirlwind of activity. Before you can even purchase a ticket for a show you must first get a Fringe button. I was running late to one show and had managed to forget my Fringe button at home. My button was tied to the backpack I had used to go camping for Brian Feldman's Fringe of Nature. So I come running up to this table with just seconds to spare and I ask to buy a button. The kind sales lady informs me I can return the button after the show. I pull out my wallet and I don't have enough cash. I rush up the ramp to an automated teller machine and withdraw some money. I rush back get the button and then rush to the box office to get the ticket. The ticket sales lady says, "I'm sorry the doors are closed already." The Fringe is a tightly oiled machine. Show doors close on exactly the specified hour and then no one else can enter. I decided to return the newly purchased button and then I drove home to get my button and Artists Badge. I would see more shows that day, just without the rush and hassle.
The vote signs are so audience members can vote for their audience choice awards.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Follow Your Dream

Dina Peterson is co-Directing a short film called "Follow Your Dream". The film is about an Elvis impersonator who dreams of making it to the big time. His wife doesn't understand the dream. While he sings in a smoky night club a young woman tries to seduce him. His wife finds out about this incident. While arguing one night his wife has a brain aneurysm. At her bedside the impersonator vows to get a 9 to 5 job as a mechanic to help pay the medical bills. Over time the wife comes to realize that she has taken her husbands dream away.
These shots were set up at the Dog and Bone British pub (9 Stone Street, Coco). When I arrived the smoke machine had just been turned on and an assistant was waving a large sheet of board around to spread it around the room. Once the smoke was ready, then the shot could start. Elvis sang 5 tunes straight through while the cameramen used hand held cameras. They also shot the songs using a tripod. At the time I sketched him, Elvis was singing "I Gotta Follow That Dream."
As Elvis sang, Dina was dancing in front of the video monitor watching the shots. When I first met Dina she was singing karaoke in a bar very much like the one this film was being shot in. The film was shot over the course of 3 days and will be edited soon.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I Can't Help Falling in Love with You.

Although the Elvis impersonator's wife wanted him to live a normal 9 to 5 existence, she soon realized she loved him more when he was chasing his dream, as crazy as it might be. She found out about a talent contest where some talent scouts were going to be and she insisted he sing again.
This is the last shot in the film where he sings "I Can't help Falling in Love with You" to his wife. This is a 360 shot where the cameraman, director and an assistant circled the table as Elvis sang. The film ends with the couple embracing. This was a challenging sketch to get because the whole bar was black except for the spot light above the couple. I was using the book light as they set up but one they started shooting, I had to turn it off because they didn't want to see anything in the background. I worked between shots and painted a bit after it was all said and done.
Later in the afternoon there was going to be a scene where a woman in the audience flashed Elvis. I had to get to Gatorland so I had to miss it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cody Rivers Show

The Cody Rivers Show, starring Mike Mathieu and Andrew Connor, had me laughing out-loud for a solid hour. I had seen this comic pair last year and I had to return for more this year. Sultana Fatima Ali and I sat in the front row and at times I leaned forward and grabbed my camping chair, fearing it might get trampled in all the physical humor. A ping pong game with an invisible ball and table relied on nothing but sound effects to bring the scene to life. The game could be played as fast as the speed of sound and such limitations as gravity and realistic timing could he ignored. This could be said of so many of the fast paced skits.
The sketch depicts a Mummenschanz like moment where the actors hands function as eyes and a mouth. Different arrangements of hands portrayed different characters.
The pace of the show was fast and furious. At times I was laughing so hard I couldn't catch my breath.
If you go into this show with no expectations you will be blown away. I left the theater in high spirits and every time I bump into someone I know, I tell them they have to see this show. I am telling you the same. You will thank me if you go.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fringe - Outdoor Stage


Mark Baratelli, the editor and chief of thedailycity.com, took to the outdoor stage for two nights. Mark didn't have a prepared script, he simply took to the stage and started talking. He started talking about waiting in line for the Cody Rivers Show. I was in line with him along with Sultana. Someone told Mark that he had parked in a construction site and he would be towed if he didn't move his car. The line started moving and people poured into the theater. Mark didn't have enough time to move his car and still get back for the show. He decided he had better move his car. He said this loud enough for everyone around him to hear. I didn't think he would get towed and I told him so. Finally he decided to move his car. He was locked out of the show. He had made the right decision since a tow truck had been sent to the site.
Mark continued telling everyday anecdotal stories for more than an hour. This sort of relaxed conversational tone is very similar to blogging . He bought up a good point when he said that the outdoor stage is underutilized. There is a stigma to the outdoor stage where people assume only bad acts would perform outside. Mark thought it would be a good idea to have a panel discussion outside with all the out of town acts. This seems like a great idea. It would be a way for the Fringe audience to learn more about the performers and producers. It would be awesome if a hint of the creative process could be unearthed and mined. He particularly wants to find out more about some of the amazing one man shows like "The Bike Trip."