Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What Moves You?

City Arts Factory for Third Thursday in August had an exhibition called "What Moves You" which featured installation art. In a far back room, Jessica Earley had an installation with two projectors which were decorated to look like space shuttles. On one of the two screens she could be seen crying animated tears. Brigen Gresh had an installation in which railroad spikes hanging from the ceiling caused a traffic pattern which directed viewers to a corner of the room where a whimsical sculpture with multiple wheeled modes of transportation looked like they were balancing on a high beam. In the hallway a toilet bowl was lined with firecrackers.
Outside Pine Street was shut down and the Mobile Arts Show U-Haul was parked with the back of the truck facing the City Arts Factory. White curtains were draped from the rear of the truck. Near the ramp leading up to the truck, three monsters had set up a kissing booth. Terry was feeling quite bohemian this night, but what happens at the Mobile Art Show stays at the Mobile Art Show. Inside the truck was the work of Karen Russell. I identify with her angst filled figurative work.
A large weather balloon was perched in the middle of the street. This was an installation called "Connections". This sphere had video projected on it by students from UCF. I wandered the street because for a solid block artists were out and working on their creations for the duration of the evening. It had been raining rather hard at the beginning of the evening and most artists were under awnings. I followed their lead and sat down under an awning across the street from City Arts. Antonio Santos was painting right in front of me. He was working on a religious themed painting with the figures glowing in a mystical cloud. Jimmy Margary was painting two rather cartoony frogs.
Michael Moore was set up on Orange Avenue somewhat isolated from the rest of the artist crowd. His work uses stencils and spray paint for a quick effect. I started my sketch since I was trapped by the rain. I hoped he might work on his painting but he ended up talking to a friend for the duration of my sketch. Around the corner a woman and man were arguing. She yelled, "I'm waiting to have fucking dinner with you! That is what our fucking plans were!" The man was yelling back, "I show up and you're all like..." I lost track of what he was saying as I walked away. A homeless man looked at me smiled and shook his head. I smiled back, amused.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Trivia - Hamburger Mary's

Terry and I went on a double date with Amanda Chadwick and Matt Simantov at Hamburger Mary's. The small stage in the corner was already set up with a microphone and questions were being lobbed out to the crowded room. Sheets were handed out where answers could be filled in. The first order of business was to figure out a team name for everyone at the table. After much discussion, we decided our team would be called Cuntry Blimpkins. I had never heard the work blimpkin before, but Matt went on to explain it and I don't think I should repeat it here. You are better off not knowing. Other team names of note included, Your Earwax Tastes Better Than My Dick, Eat Rim Love, and Grandmas little vibrator. You get the general idea and flavor.
Here are some of the questions presented in the "Gay, Gay, Gay" round.
Who designed Cher's costumes?
EOCPHUANLIACRPSM This is two words and a magazine popular with lesbians.
Al Pacino played a homosexual in what film?
What homo is getting a talk show on the Opera Winfrey Network?
What was Julias's son's name on "Designing Women?"
What actor did Will marry on "Will and Grace?"
What "Facts of Life" star has a movie coming out in which she plays a fag hag?
Who wrote the book "La Cage Aux Folles?"
Our team did really good in the first round, coming in second place. We were shocked when the table next to us had copied our team name. They spelled 'Country' the traditional way, however. Our ranking slipped gradually in the subsequent rounds, but regardless of there we placed the evening was a blast.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Blank Space - Artist Incubator

Every Thursday and Friday, Blank Space is open to artists who would like some studio space downtown. The hours were from 10AM to 11PM. This offers the public a chance to experience and view the artists at work. This move should bring more artists downtown and help enliven the downtown district. When I arrived one Thursday, Tracy Brurke and Maisy May Mars were hard at work.
Tracy does boldly painted portraits which are usually large in size. This day however she was working small and applying the paint more thickly and experimenting more. The painting she was working on was of a fashionable young girl with beautiful lips. She managed to finish up two of these quick studies while I was producing this sketch. I learned quite a bit from watching her work. Maisy was working on a picture of a wide eyed young girl. The eyes were bright green. Her whimsical work is on display now at Blank Space on a central column.
What is odd about the scene is that the women had to set up and paint on the ping pong table. The space isn't quite set up yet with easels or drafting tables. The space is available on a first come first served basis. I sat up on a high stool and started to sketch. In the far corner of the next room a woman was threading thousands of optical threads through a white plastic board to create a light art piece.
Having this space open and available for artists on Thursday and Friday is a great idea. I hope in time more artists recognize the potential and take advantage of the opportunity.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

DRIP Musician Auditions

DRIP held Auditions for a new show which will be at a permanent performance space on International Drive. Auditions took place in the DRIP warehouse (4502 Old Winter Garden Road). It was a boiling hot Saturday when I pulled into the warehouse parking lot. The huge garage warehouse door was partly open and the pounding of drums and bass guitar was pouring out. The new show in development is called RIFF and it is a wild and vibrant show featuring black lights plenty of splashing water and day glow paint. I did a sketch several months ago of one of the early unveiling's and my sketch and shirt got covered with paint.
When I entered, Jessica Mariko, DRIP's Creative Director and CEO, was sitting with Jennifer Wagner, the Production Manager. Jessica gave me a warm hug and told me to set up anywhere.
I sat in a beat up couch right behind the drum set. The first auditioner had left and they were setting up to have someone else perform on bass. The drummer turned to me and said, things might get loud! I told him I would be fine.
David Traver, DRIP's music director, performed on his own bass to explain to the auditioners how he wanted the music performed. After he had demonstrated the piece several times the drummer Jeff Wright and the new bass performer began. James Woodrich was the bass performer I sketched auditioning. The music was super loud and I was right on top of it. Between pieces Jessica asked the performer to really act it out, to perform like he was on stage at a rock concert. He stared performing with some real flourish. There was no air conditioning in the warehouse and the performers sweat and strained.
The sketch took me about 3 auditions to finished after the third auditioner, there was a long break for lunch so I took that as the sign that the sketch was done and I should head back home.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Lake Cane Morning Swim

Sultana Fatima Ali told me about an early morning swim that is held at Lake Cane. When I arrived there were many cars parked on the street in front of a gorgeous lake front home. As I walked toward the metal gate that blocked the driveway, I bumped into Melissa Swedburg who plays the Viola in the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. She had been to this morning swim before and she said the gate was magic. She walked up to is and it opened all by itself. As we walked back, I noticed a huge perhaps 10 foot high yo-you which was stored in a carport. A sign announced that it was the largest yo-yo in the world according to the Guinness world book of records. Melissa and I talked for a while as we walked towards the backyard of the home, then I let her stretch and get ready and I started to sketch.
A plume of smoke rose up over the lake from a Cape Canaveral rocket launch earlier that morning. As the plums dissipated, the sun rose above the horizon and caused a bright glow behind a tree and gazebo. Runners kept arriving and by the time it was time to swim, there must have been at least 75 people wading out into the water. The owner of the home had on a large cowboy hat. He told me that Adam the family dog always started the morning swim by jumping in the water first. Soon the water was boiling with the frantic strokes of all the swimmers as they started off to the far shore.
Sultana arrived late and asked me to watch her bag. She walked up to the water's edge and made sure her hair was neatly tucked in her skull cap. By the time she got back my sketch was finished. I was surprised when she told me she had swam across the lake twice. When someone goes to this swim for the first time, they get a bumper sticker and they are allowed to sign their name on the back of the home. I went to see this signed wall and the number of names is astonishing. I searched for Sultana's name trying to focus on a grid like search pattern and just looking for the letter S. We had just about given up when she spotted the signature on a spot near a bay window.
As I strive to improve my physical health by running I hope to someday return to this lake, confident in my swimming abilities. I once competed in a Tin Man competition in Seattle. I lost much time in the swim since I swam on my back with my eyes closed. It turns out I was swimming in circles. Several men in a row boat had to beat the waters surface to get my attention and point out to me that I was swimming back to the shore where I had started from! I need to swim with my face in the water doing the crawl like a pro.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Biker Bar

Karen Cali (KC) has a knack for finding Orlando's true dive bars. She invited me to come out on a mini SketchCrawl at a biker bar located in a Howard Johnson's , Crossroads Bar and Grill (2801 East New York Avenue, Deland). The music was blazing as we walked in. We walked from table to table trying to find a good vantage point from which to sketch. Tables at the back of the place were so dark that it was impossible to see the sketchbook. We tried sitting at about 4 different spots before finally deciding to sit at the bar itself to sketch the band and patrons. The bar had bras hanging from the ceiling along with an American flag and then a confederate flag proudly displayed behind the stage. We both ordered a beer and got to work.
There were free wings that night and the guy next to me was enjoying a drum stick. His frayed denim jacket announced that he had been at Bike Week in Daytona. The band was all high energy singing rock and roll cover songs and I later found out the lead singer was exactly my age. Between sets the bass guitarist with the long black hair came over to KC to see what she was working on. They talked for a while and she put in a song request which was the first song they performed when they started playing again.
A competition was announced and a call for volunteers went out. I was surprised when KC got up and walked to the stage to participate. The competition involved holding two buckets filled with beers and ice above your head. The one who held them up the longest would win. KC competed against two other women in the women's round. As they struggled everyone in the bar started shouting out encouragement. KC won. When she sat back down, she said her arms were shaking, which might make it difficult to draw. The men's round which I refused to volunteer for went on for a long time. They guy who won had huge biceps. KC had to compete against him in the final round. She put up a good fight but he won.
Several friends of KC greeted us and started admiring our work. Other bar patrons asked to see the sketchbooks and there was much appreciation. When the first sketch was done, I wanted to with another sketch of the huge bikers hidden in the shadows with long gray beards and gorgeous tattoos. That sketch will have to wait for another night since we both agreed we had sketched enough. The place was a gritty down to earth blast. When I got home I realized my sketchbook smelled like cigarette smoke.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Available

For the entire month of August, performance artist Brian Feldman has decided to make himself "Available" to do anything you need help with. Do you need your car washed? Laundry folded? Lawn mowed? Dog walked? Dinner prepared? Someone to go shopping with? Someone to see a movie with? Kids watched? Help crossing the road? Services of the self-proclaimed greatest designated driver of all time? Just fill out the form and he is available for you. It is like hiring a friend to help out for FREE!
One request caught my eye from the start. Karen Cali (KC), a figurative artist, wanted Brian to post nude for her. As KC wrote, "I do charcoal work from the figure and there's a shortage of male models in general and my money to pay models in particular." There was a mad flurry of e-mails as this private sketch session was arranged. Several sketch locations were considered and then discarded, including the Mobile Art Show and Blank Space. Since I was having a sketchbook display at Frames Forever & Art Gallery, we finally decided this would be the perfect spot for a quiet Sunday morning sketch session. Katie Windish, who owns the shop, is still offering huge clearance discounts on everything in stock. She even bought in a whole pile of art books, DVDs and other items from home. She had a tiny digital camera that she wanted to sell and before Brian got to the shop we duck taped it to the far wall opposite from where he was going to pose. We made no effort to disguise the camera, we just wanted to see if he would ever notice it. It took him about half an hour, but when he did notice it we all had a good laugh.
KC had bought her own artist sketch bench and a flood lamp. Brian hung a black drape over the windows of the shop door. KC and I dropped our cell phones off in the back room of the shop with Katie. She was busy working on a framing job and wasn't prepared to see Brian nude, so she stayed hidden. She did stop out when Brian had a break and was in his bathrobe. I showed her my drawing but kept my thumb over the private parts. KC did a great job of posing Brian and reassuring him as he found his pose. He is actually a really good model since many of his performances involve stamina and patience. KC did two drawings and I worked on this blog sketch. The second pose was a standing pose, and offered the full monty. I decided to stick with this sketch where his clenched hands hide his privates. I have a newfound respect for the lengths Brian will go to for the sake of his art.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Maisy May Marrs

I fist sketched Maisy May Marrs at an event called Blend. I then saw her at Blank Space where artists are permitted to come in each Thursday to work in an open studio environment downtown. Through Facebook I asked if I could sketch her studio and she agreed. Her husband Ron was home for vacation for a week so we agreed to set up a time around lunch for me to stop by. Maisy had prepared a delicious bean soup and I chowed down before getting to work. The small studio room is known as the Pink Room because the curtains are pink and when the morning sun comes through it makes everything in that room and some of the living room a pink hue. . It is a tiny and intimate space being perhaps a 10 by 10 foot cube. At first I considered sitting in the doorway but I only got a view of Maisy's back from there, so I shoved myself into a corner of the room where she kept her witch's broomstick. She has drawn me several times and I always laugh out loud at the results.
Maisey began to sketch out one of her wide eyed little girls as I began to sketch the studio space. I asked about a funeral urn which was on a top shelf and it turned out to be her mother's ashes. There were dried roses and a high school art piece which was a coffin shaped box with a nude woman struggling against her bonds and a red robed priest inside. Maisy's art on a whole is fun and lighthearted. Some of the pieces look like children's drawings. It was refreshing to see such childlike innocence in her work.
Outside her studio window she can see ducks as they swim around the apartment complex retention pond. it started to rain outside and then the rain slowed. Ron called out from the living room that he was going to get the mail. As soon as he left and got half way to the community's mailboxes, it started to pour. Maisey looked out the window anxiously. When he got back she shouted out, "Did we get anything good?" Ron shouted back, "Some junk mail and pneumonia." I started to run out of time and all the infinite detail in the room was overwhelming. Maisey would peek over once in a while to see what I was up to. She kept the afternoons work fun and light. It was great to sketch and laugh the afternoon away with a fellow artist.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Waiting for Godot

This was my first time seeing "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Becket. The play was staged at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center (812 East Rollins Street). I thought this would be an easy production to sketch since I figured the two men would have little to do as they waited. I was mistaken. Action occurred at every point in the production. I found myself erasing again and again. I finally settled on the moment when Vladimir and Estagon consider hanging themselves from a tree. They lack the ambition and tools to pull off this act. I have read that Godot might represent hope or god. but in the end it is the actions of these two men trying to find meaning in a seemingly meaningless existence that gives the play its legs.
The play is decidedly long, which gave me plenty of time to sketch. The two tramps are entertaining with distinct personalities. Estagon hasn't got a great memory and relies of Vladmir to recreate his history. Vladmir has a positive attitude at most times, spreading his arms wide for an embrace or smiling quizzically as he thinks. It is this faint positive attitude in the face of meaninglessness that offers hope for these men who seem to be living the same exact day over and over.
I have no desire to plumb the depths of the inner meaning of the play. I experienced it superficially enjoying the Laurel and Hardyesque routines and staging. Such antics as swapping hats, exercising to look tree like, playing games, arguing, talking and even contemplating suicide are all diversions to "Hold the terrible silence at bay."
Hard to say if I liked or disliked the play, like the main characters I am indifferent.

ESTRAGON:
(Struggling to remove his boot, giving up again). Nothing to be done.
VLADIMIR:
I'm beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I've tried to put it from me, saying Vladimir, be reasonable, you haven't yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle. (He broods, musing on the struggle. Turning to Estragon.) So there you are again.
ESTRAGON:
Am I?
VLADIMIR:
I'm glad to see you back. I thought you were gone forever.
ESTRAGON:
Me too.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Free Beer!

At the Audubon Park Community Market, Shipyard Brewing Company had a small SUV set up with beer taps sticking out of its side. Allison Stevens and master brewer Ron Raike were at the taps busily filling small plastic cups full of FREE beer samples. I walked around the truck several times trying to find a comfortable vantage point from which to do a sketch. Terry had come down to the market to meet me but I didn't see her anywhere. Distracted, I gave her a call. She was across the street at an Italian restaurant having a salad. A bit of a power struggle ensued. She wanting me to sit and have dinner with her, while I wanted to get started on the sketch with the few hours of daylight remaining.
When I got back outside, the sun had just set. As I sketched, the scene grew progressively darker. Terry joined me for a bit and then Craig Marris walked up to talk. The two of them talked as I rushed to get some watercolor washes down. Across the street, Kevian Acosta began singing to the crowd. When my sketch was finished I decided it was time to get a beer sample. I went up to the Shipyard booth and asked Allison for a sample. She poured me two and thanked me for a blog post I had written about the Shipyard Brewery and a fun conversation we had when we first met. Terry walked up beside me and announced, "I am Mrs. Thor!" She and Allison had a quick exchange and bumped fists.
The beer was smooth and light. I sipped it with my pinky in the air and sat down to watch Flammable Babylon Percussion perform. The pounding and rhythmic drum beats helped calm my nerves. I simply sat and watched the first piece. Then the urge to sketch took over again and I rushed to get something down. I knew they wouldn't be performing much longer but I had to get something. I liked the way the belly dancers would relax, off stage with their belly fat proudly overlapping the waste line of the dress. When they danced, others in the crowd would join in; some worked their hips with the hula hoops.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wendy with a Chance of Rain

This month's concert held at the Timucua White House (2001 Hamilton Lane, Orlando) featured singer-songwriter Wendy Feaver. This was to be Wendy's last performance in Orlando before leaving to get her masters degree up in New Jersey. The artist who painted the entire length of the concert is Maggie Sharar. She was pregnant with her first child and while most of the paintings on the walls were for sale, one was not because she is saving it for her doula. Benoit Glazer introduced the concert and his two children each performed a piece at the piano.
When Wendy took to the stage she explained that she would be playing some cover songs and plenty of original material. She felt that it was fortuitous that it had just been raining and as she stood outside prior to the concert she saw a huge rainbow that went from horizon to horizon. She began the concert with "Everyone knows it's Wendy." I enjoyed the original songs, some of which had to do with insecurity and of course, love. Wendy has a lighthearted way of delivering the songs, sometimes tapping on the piano lid for some percussion.
Sheila Marie Ernst sang and played guitar for the second set. Her gentle voice had a way of reaching in and pulling just the right heartstrings. All told it was an uplifting concert.
Guests to the Glazer home bought bottles of wine and there was a fine spread of deserts in the entry room. After the concert, people greeted one another and it became an informal party.
If you haven't been to the Timucua White House yet, you are missing out on one of the best venues in town. Grab a bottle of wine and come out on August 29th when there will be a trombone recital.

Friday, August 20, 2010

9000 Backpacks

When I arrived at the Amway Arena at 10AM on Saturday, I was immediately greeted with a line of people that stretched as far as the eye could see. Inside the Arena, 9000 backpacks were being given away packed with pencils, rulers and hand sanitizer. Hope Now International organized this event, which featured free immunizations, hair cuts, Community resources, prizes, entertainment and music.
It was insanely hot outside with temperatures well above 95 degrees and the humidity making the air thick and wet. Green hand fans were given to people waiting in line and large pallets of bottled water were on hand, but parents and children still had to wait in line for hours on end just to finally get into the arena. I had wanted to sketch inside the arena but in the parking lot I read a sign that read: "No backpacks are allowed in the Arena." I thought that was rather ironic, but I decided my task was to document the mass of humanity who were made to wait in the sun.
I sat under the only large tree and leaned back to do this first sketch. Occasionally children would wander over to see what I was up to. One small boy stood right in front of me watching each line as it was put down. His mother yelled at him when the line inched forward and he ran back. Another boy stirred up an ants nest at the trees roots behind me. He and several other children played in the grass in front of me. The line of people waiting for backpacks stretched from the Arena all the way past the Bob Carr theater, probably a quarter of a mile, and more people kept arriving so the line never got shorter.
Three police horses clomped out on the parking lot pavement. One of the volunteers was Karen Cali, a fellow artist. Her horse walked up to a small tree in the parking lot and started to eat the Spanish moss that was hanging from it. Later these three horses walked up to the shady spot on the grass right in front of me. Rather than worrying about the obstructed view, I took the opportunity to sketch the horses and the crowd of children who gathered to pet them. The volunteers had to keep shouting, "Don't walk behind, get in front." They were concerned that if a horse got spooked he might kick back.
It wasn't until 1PM that the line finally got shorter. At this point I had finished both sketches. I was hot and sweaty and smelled like mold. Watching this huge agonizing line reminded me of news reel footage I had seen of bread lines during the Great Depression. More and more people are finding themselves without a job and struggling to scrape by. An estimated 25,000 people waited to get into the arena that day. The evidence of hard times is obvious. Do the math.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Karen Russell

Karen Russell will be the featured artist at the TheDailyCity.com Mobile Art Show # 12 on Thursday, August 19th from 7 to 9pm outside the CityArtsFactory in a U-Haul truck. I first met Karen at a Kerouac House event. She had a dark brooding air about her that lead me to think she must be an artist of some kind. I have since seen her several times around town with her edgy, twisted, expressionistic, figurative work. I am always reminded of one of my favorite artists, Egon Schiele, when I see her work.
I have always loved sketching artists at work in their studios and I decided to make it a personal mission to sketch each artist that exhibits in the Mobile Art Show as a way to promote their work. Karen's studio is located in a small ramshackle home set back far away from the road. There was a canoe in the driveway and I noticed that all the windows were painted over. When she greeted me and showed me the living room, the windows glowed with vibrant color like stained glass - only messier. There was an empty pizza box on the sofa and I heard a roommate laughing to himself in a back room.
Her studio had two mattresses on the floor, one with red sheet and one with blue sheets. She was working on a huge canvas which was leaning up against the wall. The only way I could get a sketch of her in the tight space was to crawl across the blue mattress and lean against the wall in the corner. On her laptop computer Karen played an online educational program called TED, about the flight of dragonflies across the ocean. Another program about robotics had me so fascinated that I stopped to watch for a bit.
She is working on a huge painting of Sirens. The stark, almost Egyptian poses express to me a constant mortal angst. While sketching, I liked integrating Karen's arms as she painted, into the fray of gestures. The door and several of the walls had been punched or kicked, leaving large holes. In the hall, her work was hung at an odd angle. I felt like I was in a true artist's garret. It wasn't until I got to the bottom of the sketch that I noticed that the sirens were standing on a pile of human skulls, and that their feet were birds talons.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

From the Heart

Terry told me about this free fundraising concert to help raise funds to help fight cancer. The concert took place at Trinity Prep Academy (5700 Trinity Prep Lane, Winter Park). We walked in without any high expectations. I picked out a front row seat with a clear view of the piano. As we sat and waited, I penciled in the details of the stage. I figured when the performers arrived I would ink them in. Norah Jones was singing soulfully over the speakers to the audience as they arrived. We had just seen her in concert the previous night and I was smitten. She is following me and haunting my thoughts.
Nassi Brandes sat at the piano and opened the event with a quick piece. Then a series of speakers explained the importance of the evening to the audience. 14 Arab and 14 Jewish children with life threatening cancer had traveled to Orlando from their everyday lives isolated in hospital beds and treatment rooms to get a chance to just be kids and play in the Orlando theme parks. Politics of a war-torn Middle East mean little to these children. I glanced over and saw for the first time that an entire section of the audience was filled with children wearing white shirts. One girl had a gauze eye patch on and and I suddenly realized these were the children. Their travel had been organized by Travel Holdings. Give Kids The World organized a morning at their World Village and the children would also gain access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios and all of the Disney theme parks.
The concert was fabulous. As Aviva Avidan sang an Israeli song some of the children started to dance. I noticed Terry looking over and when she turned to me there were tears in her eyes, which she quickly wiped away. The final act was a folk-pop-rock band called "The Wellspring." One of their songs called "Put up a Fight" reminded me that Terry and I need to continue to fight to regain common ground from which we can once again grow together. We haven't yet lost the war. Their final song had a beat that you simply have to dance to. Suddenly all the children got up on stage and started to dance. They all moved with pure joy and abandon. Celebrate life! Live, Laugh, Love, Sing! Life is too short, so make this and every moment count!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Norah Jones

Terry joined me when I went to sketch the Norah Jones concert at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. We met near the courthouse where we found free parking and then walked over to Orange Avenue to get some dinner before the concert. We settled on New York Pizzeria Delicatessen (373 North Orange Avenue). I got a 10 inch cheese pizza and she got a decent looking pasta dish. My pie had a nice light crust just like pizzas I had enjoyed in NYC.
When we got to the Bob Carr there were just a few people waiting outside and it was easy to pick up the tickets from the Will Call window.
My ticket stub read: Beaver presents Norah Jones (No cameras/no recorders). I knew it was safe to draw. We sat up in the nosebleed section. I like the God's eye view and the sound was fine. When the house lights went out I pulled out a book light which I had dimmed by wrapping the bulb with paper and tape. I really didn't need to be so concerned. People all around me had their cell phones out all during the concert and at one point they waved them like lighters. I did ask the guy sitting right next to me if he minded my drawing and he rather liked what I was doing and asked me all about my work. A woman behind me did lean forward once not to complain but to compliment. All my concerns were in my nervous head.
The leading act was Elvis Perkins. He got a few boos from the anxious crowd, but he bravely went on singing his mix of American Folk rock songs. He sat alone with his guitar. One of his songs, "Doomsday Love Song," had the audience singing along with the chorus and at that point he had the audience in the palm of his hand. When he sang his last song, "123Goodbye" the audience clapped loudly perhaps in part because they enjoyed his songs and in part they were about to see Norah!
When Norah Jones and her brigade got on stage the crowd was wild and ready. Most of the early songs I did not recognize, but from the first song I was entranced. Norah joked between songs about being in Orlando where it is always hot, then cold, hot, cold. In NYC, she said it is hot all summer because if you visit a friend, chances are their air conditioner would be broken. One song about "Back to Manhattan" had me yearning to return to the place where I first discovered my art. My heart ached. I yearned to return.
She sang a silly song about her dog and all the lyrics point out how much better the dog is to any of her boyfriends. I thought back to friends who could only find unconditional love from a dog as boyfriends became fickle and impossible to communicate with. Terry told me that if she had bought our pet Cockatoo before she had met me, then we probably wouldn't be married.
When she finally sang her signature song "Don't Know Why", the rest of the brigade left the stage leaving Norah alone at the piano with a lone spotlight illuminating her. This song filled me with regrets. It is beautiful and full of longing and haunts me still.
Leaving the concert after a thunderous encore, I felt elated. Then on the dive home alone in my truck I found myself humming "Come Away with Me." When I hummed the low notes, my entire chest vibrated deeply leaving me feeling like an empty vessel. Norah's smooth, silky and sultry voice kept running through my head and it still does. I found myself humming the same song on the way to work yesterday. I melt every time I hear the words, "Come away with me...".

Monday, August 16, 2010

Vegan Bake Sale at Stardust

On my first day back in Orlando I headed out to Stardust Video and Coffee (1842 East Winter Park Road) for the Audubon Market where I knew there was going to be a vegan bake sale benefiting animal rights. I arrived at about 6:30PM and some of the vendors were still setting out their wares. The sun was getting low on the horizon but it was still baking hot so I was immediately on the look out for a shady spot to sit and start sketching. I looked at the goods in all the booths and then was stopped in my tracks by a tall man with a flowing gray beard who was selling poetry. I was fascinated by his strong features and I know I need to seek him out some day to sketch. He handed me a slip of paper with a poem about Independent American Patriots. I started reading as I walked away. I heard him shouting behind me something about buying American Savings Bonds. I later found out that he kind of expects some payment if you read his work. Whoops, I thought it was a free sample.
It is hard to settle on a definite spot to sit down and start a sketch when you are faced with a space filled with tents. I didn't want to just sit in the midst of what might later be a high traffic area. I found myself standing near the music staging area and noticed a woman diligently writing texts on her iPhone. She was sitting on a retaining wall which looked like a comfy spot to sit and the spot offered a view of the whole outdoor market. I sat down beside her and started sketching. She seemed very focused so I didn't want to interrupt her. She looked up while I was sketching and commented on how cute the dogs were. I glanced over at a large poodle that had been recently shorn and put him in my sketch. We introduced ourselves and she was kind enough to compliment me on the early stages of this sketch as I was still blocking things in.
Her name was Allison Stevens and we talked as I continued to sketch. It turns out she was there to sort of survey the event since she would be setting up a booth the following week. She works for Shipyard Brewing Company of Portland, Maine. She informed me that Shipyard is going to set up a brewery right here in Orlando and next week she will be offering free beer samples at the Audubon Market. Her job seems to be to market and help spearhead this new brewery. She said the brewery will offer many local jobs and it is also inviting local brewers a chance to use the facility to craft new tastes. I had tried several glasses of Shipyard beer several weeks ago at a late night comedy club. I had picked the beer for the simple reason that I liked the color of the tap handle. Craig Marris walked up with his hair ablaze. He and Allison spoke for a while while I continued the sketch. When he discovered what she did, he shouted out that he loved Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale which comes out in October. I perked up since I had tasted this beer last year and really liked it. Allison got out her iPhone and pulled up a photo of all the Pumpkinhead Ale that was sitting stacked high on pallets in a warehouse like the final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Allison started telling us a story about a student named Taskar Divine, who used to sit outside the girls dorm every day with a sketchbook. He had a mad crush on a girl and he sat there every day hoping she might notice him. All the students thought he must know everything that went on in that dorm and his sketchbook must have been full. It was later discovered that he never once did a sketch nor did he jot down a single note. He had sat idle and never got the girl. The story made me wonder what strange thoughts might be running through people's heads about me as I sketch them every day.
Then Travis Blaise stopped over. He said he was going to get a beer and Allison waited with baited breath to find out if he was getting a Shipyard beer. He ended up getting an impossible to pronounce German beer that came in a tall beer stein. Alison made a comment about how some people pick a beer based on how tall the beer stein is.
It turns out Travis and Craig are working on character designs for a film they are working on. Travis and Craig both pulled out their sketchbooks and started whipping out amazing sketches of demonic beasts for the film. They would show each other what they had worked on and then they discussed which features worked best for the film.
Robert Johnson took to the stage and warmed the crowd up as the sun set and the night grew a bit cooler. I quickly worked him into my sketch. Craig Marris talked nonstop so this sketch took much longer than expected. It was nice however to find out about how some of my fellow Disney artists had fared over the years. As I was dashing color onto the sketch the second musician took to the stage named Matt Kenyon. His cover songs of Simon and Garfunkel and the Beetles were familiar and comforting. As he sang "I am a Rock" I felt my own sense of isolation. It was a solemn way to end the night, but Terry called and told me I had been sketching for too long, and I should come home. I had spent too much time talking and laughing. She missed me, because we had just been on vacation. To finish my sketch, I put a leash on the dog, packed up my supplies and left.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Grey Towers - Milford PA

James Pinchot bought several thousand acres of land in York County Pennsylvania in the late 1800s. He then proceeded to denude the entire property of all its trees. He later regretted that decision and suggested his son, Gifford, become a forester. Gifford pursued that ambition with a vengeance and over time the property was restored. Pinchot bought ideas from Europe back to America to help restore some of Americas stripped forests.
Grey Towers is styled after a French Chateau. Much of its charm came from the influence of Gifford's wife Cornelia who he married in 1914. When she first came to the property she found the place rather dreary with the house sitting on top of a barren landscape. She added gardens and a really unique feature called a water table. This large table is located outside and is under a beautiful wisteria which it trellised with an intricate wooden dome. One bright spot of light is left open at the top of the dome much like the Parthenon. The table is built up of stone and cement and it is essentially a large bathtub the height of a table. Chairs are placed around the table and the pool of water is used to float wooden bowls full of fruit and vegetables. When someone wants something a guest simply and delicately pushes the bowl across the watery divide.
This was the last day of my aimless wanderings around the north east. With only an hour to go I had a choice to sketch the Chateau or wander down into town to see a "Wood Festival". Since I only had an hour I chose to sketch the Chateau. Later Terry informed me that I might have enjoyed sketching "The Chainsaw Chicks." I was devastated, but I am still happy I took the time to document this bucolic setting.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Final Stop



The final stop in our aimless trip around the Northeast was the Delaware water gap. We were going to visit Raul and Cindy Mello. We first met Raul over 20 years ago in NYC. He is now an internationally acclaimed opera singer and Cindy works for nasdaq-amex.. We arrived in the small town of Milford before the Mello's since they had gotten caught in some hellish traffic leaving NYC. Terry and I wandered the country roads looking for a scenic spot to stop and have lunch. I saw this VFW and had to stop. I leaned back against a shady tree and started to sketch. Terry took the rental truck and went up the road to shop at an antique shop we had passed. She has gotten good at judging how long it will take me to finish a sketch. when she came back I was just putting down the final washes.
Terry and I ate leftovers from the previous nights dinner at Olive Garden. The pasta tasted even better than it had the night before when I had been too full to enjoy it. While I sketched, I discovered I was sitting right on top of an ant mound. They had started to scramble up my legs. I jumped up and stamped to shake them off. I moved a yard away to do the watercolor washes.
From the brass marker I discovered I was in Pike County New York. This UH-1H Dustoff Helicopter's tail number is 68-15542 and it flew 16 kn0wn medical evacuation sorties for a total of 1,423 flight hours between May of 1969 and February 1970 in the Republic of Vietnam.
The veteran's parking lot started to fill up. Two SUV's emptied its load of teenagers. The boys put on backpacks and then the whole pack marched off into the woods. When I finished this sketch, Terry wanted me to go to go to the antique store which she wanted to continue shopping at. It was a fun shop with tons of fun affordable options, though I didn't pick anything up. I was tempted by a $3 leather monocle holder. But I realized I didn't have a monocle.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Magic Forest

Driving into Lake George New York is like driving down International Drive in Orlando with cool crisp weather. Terry and I were visiting my younger sister Carol and her two daughters . We followed the GPS to Chestnut Street, but none of the four homes matched Carols house number. When I called Carol on the cell, she said she lived on Chestnut Road not street. Her directions brought us a few miles south of town. When we drove past the Magic Forest, I knew I would have to go back. This place is pure tourist kitsch, it had to be sketched. Uncle Sam's face is peeling off and was haphazardly folded back into place. Paul Bunyan was back in the woods and Santa was also keeping vigil in the parking lot. Tourists who entered the lot would pour out of their cars and then snap photos before heading into the park.
The following day was Carol's birthday. Terry and I treated her and her two daughters, Anna and Kirsten to dinner. Carol took half a day off and she walked us around downtown Lake George. This place is booming with tourists everywhere and little parking. There were several haunted houses and plenty of miniature golf courses. Just south of town there was a drive in theater which had a line of cars waiting to get in. The lake itself was gorgeous with a large paddle boat and several beaches. We had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the water. A guitarist was performing cover songs so loud it was impossible to carry on a conversation. The view across the lake made the location spectacular. A small beach right next to the building was crowded with tanning tourists. It would have been nice to stay longer so we could relax and swim, but our packed travel itinerary had us driving south early the next day.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hillstead House

Terry and I drove to Hillstead House, in Farmington, Connecticut. Theodate Pope Riddle refurbished a small house on this property and then she assigned architects to build this colonial home. Theodate's father, Alfred Pope, was an industrialist and art collector who financed the building's construction. Theodate oversaw the design and construction. After I finished this sketch, Terry and I went on a guided tour so we could view the one of a kind art collection. When Theodate died, her will stipulated that the property must be used as a closed art collection. Art never leaves the collection. The dining room had several gorgeous Monets and Manets. There were Degas pastels and paintings in several rooms. My favorite was a painting of ballerinas in pink with several more dancers in the far wings. In an upstairs bedroom an early Monet of two sailboats fills a spot above a fireplace. On a table in the same room is a black and white photo of a New York City Hotel on fire. Our guide explained that Alfred Pope loved his art collection so much that he traveled with his paintings. When he returned to his hotel, he found the building on fire. He then petitioned people in the street, saying he would pay them if they would climb a ladder and save the art. Amazingly the black and white photo shows someone carrying the Monet painting of the sail boats down a ladder. We were able to witness the Monet painting being saved from the ashes.
This home has an amazing and priceless art collection. Our guide told of an instance when Alfred bought a painting from Whistler. When he unpacked the painting at home, he discovered the painting was unsigned. He wrote Whistler asking for a signature. Indignant,Whistler refused, saying the butterfly mark was signature enough. The butterfly mark is so subtle that most guests couldn't see it. Whistler etchings lined the wall up the stairwell. It was refreshing to see so much art all in the collectors home.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gillette Castle


One thing rural Connecticut has is plenty of stones. William Gillette was an actor who played Sherlock Holmes for many years on Broadway. He made enough money to build this castle overlooking the Connecticut river. Kyle, Val and Terry went inside for a tour and I used the hour I had to myself to wander the grounds and do a quick sketch. I knew my time was up when the whole staff in green tee shirts walked past me towards the exit. A miniature train used to run around the property. An overweight mom and her chubby whining child stumbled past me. The little red faced boy was screaming that he was hot red faced and tired. A fit French family then marched past at a fast clip. My hosts and Terry found me and told me it was time to go.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mystic Seaport

The amazing thing about Mystic Seaport is that artisans are handcrafting parts the same way they were made several hundred years ago. This tourist mecca is layed out like a small port town. In each of the old seaport buildings different craftspeople demonstrate their craft. Docked in port is the Amistadt which is a replica of a famous slave trading ship. This boat was built from scratch in the shipyard. Construction of the boat took two years. Any of the iron parts would have been formed and shaped in the blacksmith's shop. Bill Scheer is the master blacksmith and Parker Cronin is his apprentice. Parker worked diligently while Bill explained the blacksmith's art to tourists.
Bill explained that the temperature of the metal is important. He said the metal's temperature is measured by judging its color. White is the hottest then yellow, orange, red, crimson and azure. There seem to be many subtle grades of red. A tourist pointed out that he was colorblind and thus he would make a rotten blacksmith. One child kept asking questions and Bill told her that if she wanted to get the feel of what it is like to work with hot metal, she should practice by hammering clay. Bill started to demonstrate how to hammer a perfect cylinder. He started by hammering the metal till it had four sides then he hammered it till it had eight sides then sixteen then thirty two. It turns out hammering a cylinder is quite a challenge. The mother asked Bill about lessons and he explained that private lessons were available. Parker had started taking lessons when he was just fourteen years old. The implements in the foreground of the sketch are harpoons. Several of the boats in the port were once whaling ships. I felt right at home sketching in this workshop. Bill joked with me that I should get a camera. I said, cameras were just a fad. Why would people want to make pictures with a machine, when it is much more rewarding to fully experience a place by taking the time to do a sketch?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Vanderbilt Mansion

Terry wanted to see some mansions while we were on vacation. Our first stop was the Franklin Delano Roosevelt home in Hyde Park, New York. When we entered the visitors center, we found out a guided tour was $14. Terry then found out that there was a much more opulent mansion just up the road built by the Vanderbilts. Terry wanted to go inside for the tour, so I decided I would use that time to do a sketch of the exterior. I searched desperately for a shady tree with a view.
The mansion is a small place that the Vanderbilts only lived in for six weeks out of the year. The mansion has a grand view of the Hudson River Valley. As Terry's tour group approached the mansion, the park ranger who was leading the tour waved to me and asked, "Are you an artist?" I sighed and shouted back, with some annoyance, "Yes." It turns out Terry had put him up to asking this one question, which I cannot tolerate or stand. She got me again!
Terry said that the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC has more bathrooms than this mansion has rooms. She claimed that staff were well paid, and that when Frederick Vanderbilt died, they were paid in the will. Terry and I walked the property when she came out from the tour. I was amazed that there was a constant stream of tourists crowding into the building. We walked a quarter mile or so to the gardens. Roses were in bloom along with a colorful assortment of wild flowers.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cold Spring

Terry and I drove up the Hudson River Valley to a small town called Cold Spring. we stopped at a bed and breakfast inn which had beautiful Victorian decorated rooms. The rooms were rather pricey so we walked down Main street to the riverfront. There we found the Hudson House which is right across the street from the waterfront. A small gazebo is located at the foot of a wide cement public pier. A sign indicated that a band would be playing in the band shell so I sat on a wooden bench and started to sketch. After a loud sound check "The Steve Claire Band" started to play, They played a combination of folksy urban rock. A woman in the audience set out a bunch of Hula Hoops and she began to hula to the music. She was good, being able to move the hoop up her arms and around her neck all while moving to the beat of the music. She offered lessons to a friend but the friend moved with a staccato urgency never being able to keep the hoop going for more than a minute. 0thers tried with a bit more success.
Children were playing on the rocks at the rivers edge and families rested on blankets listening to the music. A little boy who had obviously just learned to walk, made his way over to Terry and myself and smiled at us. He then pointed at my boots and started playing with the shoelaces. His father told him not to untie the shoes but he was infatuated and determined. Terry laughed uncontrollably and soon I was laughing as well, though I'm not certain why. I'm not comfortable around children, but they always seem to gravitate to me. This is my own private curse.
The following morning we got up early and had breakfast before walking up Main street. Within a few blocks I sat down and started to sketch the buildings. It was a quiet Monday morning and nothing was open yet. Terry wandered looking in all the store front windows. When the sketch was done we went back down to the waterfront. There we saw the Clearwater which is a replica of a Dutch river sloop. Terry and I met because of the environmental mission of this boat 23 years ago. The sloop silently disappeared behind the concrete pier. As Terry walked away from the pier, she said, "I wish I could memorize this view."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Luau

After the memorial service for my step-mom Ruth, at George Washington Memorial Cemetery in Paramus New Jersey, the families went to Napa Valley Bar and Grill in the Garden State Mall for a luncheon. Everyone had on leis and Hawaiian shirts in honor of Ruth's many trips to Hawaii. I sat across from Loretta and Ken the children from Ken, Ruth's last husband. My dish, salmon over a bed of rice with asparagus shoots was delicious. I can smell the dish now, just thinking about it. Desert consisted of sorbet, a small cheese cake and a chocolate cookie. Everyone was given a Mai Tai, which is a pink sweet Polynesian drink. My step-brother, Wayne, stood up and offered a toast. He explained that Mai Tai means "good" in Polynesian. He assured everyone that Ruth most likely was given a Mai Tai when she got to the gates of heaven. I never considered the possibility that heaven might be an eternal state of inebriation.
After the Luau, I had to convince Terry to rush off to Pearl Paint in order to get a watercolor kit. The store was just a few miles up the road and I found a really nice kit with 24 colors. I am sure to use it often. One color, Peach, has already made it into the last couple of sketches.
When we got back to the hotel, we found all the Thorspecken and Bradley children sitting around the downstairs bar. There was no bartender. Instead, everyone had bought down their own six packs and they used the bar's glasses and ice. There was some joking about Ruth, who probably would have frowned upon this scene. Yet in life she regretted not being able to bring these two families together. When her strong will was taken, both families mourned and in s0 doing, her memory brought everyone closer. I overheard Terry saying Ruth made the best Christmas cookies she had ever tasted. I sat across the room in a comfy sofa and took in the scene.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ruth's Interment


Terry and I flew to New Jersey to go to my step-mom Ruth's interment. My father and mother are both buried here as well. The entry gates of the George Washington Memorial Cemetery are imposingly large. We drove up to the main office since I figured we would need a map to find Ruth's plot. On the steps of the office we ran into Walter, Juanita, Cindy, Gail and Ben. Like us they were all about an hour early. Juanita already had a cemetery map so we decided to follow them. We all relaxed in the shade and waited for more people to show up. Walter pointed out a huge regal falcon that was perched on a dead tree branch. I shaded my eyes and scrutinized the falcon as he looked at me. When enough relatives and friends were on hand, Walter got into his PT Cruiser and started driving to the burial site.
We followed in our rental car. Walter drove around for sometime and when we found ourselves back where we started, we realized he might be lost. After another lap he stopped and Juanita got out. She walked up to a small pile of dirt and shouted back, "This is it." I walked out and took a picture of the headstone. Rather than standing upright, all the headstones in this cemetery lie flat which allows for easy mowing and gives the cemetery a very open, park like feel.
Everyone at this memorial service was dressed in Hawaiian shirts and leis , since Ruth loved to visit the Hawaiian Islands. The memorial was sweet and to the point. The priest began by reciting the lords prayer, followed with everyone singing "Amazing Grace."
Suddenly a large flock of geese flew over the proceedings no more than ten feet above our heads.. It reminded me of jet fly bys at a stadium. A small boom box played Hawaiian tunes. Ruth's ashes were held in a small pink plastic handkerchief box sized container. The hole dug for the container was only about a foot deep. Walter said it cost $600 to dig that hole. When the service was over, the Thorspecken children walked in search of their parent's grave. It was about 100 yards away in the shade of an old Oak tree.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Infusion Tea Farmers Market

Every Thursday, Infusion Tea is the site of a Farmers Market from 5 to 9PM. I arrived just before 5 and parked across the street. Vendors were still setting up and I walked around looking for the perfect spot to sketch from. I wandered from tent to tent seeing the goods being offered. Bee's Knees Sweet Treats had creamy Lemon Tartlets, Chocolate Mint Cupcakes and Orange You my Honey Cupcakes. I had sampled their goods at the last Mobile Art Show and those chocolate covered marshmallows were to die for! A truck unloaded it's produce including watermelons. There were plants and jams and a grill was fired up. As I sketched a lone performer set up and started singing to the assembled shoppers. I waved to Maria Bolton-Joubert. She set up a caricature booth in the blue tent. I picked a vantage point from across the street so I could get an overall view of the Market while having a view of the Infusion Tea signs.
Thunder rumbled on the horizon and I started to sketch faster. One by one vendors looked at the blue gray clouds forming on the Eastern horizon. Soon enough it began to drizzle. I was under a tree so I was able to work for a while till the leaves became soaked and started allowing the rain through. Then a deluge. I threw my sketchbook in my bag and ran for the cover of my truck. I suspected the storm might pass quickly so I just sat in my truck and waited. I opened the window a crack and started to place watercolor washes over my sketch. I could see the basic colors of the market through the raindrop masked windshield.
When the rain finally stopped I was glad to get out of the truck since it had turned into a furnace and I was sweating up a storm. Outside it was nice and cool thanks to the downpour. Good things come to those who wait. Around 7Pm I went into Infusion and ordered a tea. The woman behind the counter knew of my blog and I showed her the sketch. It turns out they had just been talking about the blog when they noticed me sketching across the street. Melissa Kasper, from DRIP, came in and I showed her how to set up a blog using her laptop and Infusion's free WIFI. The set up took only a few minutes and she had a post up and published within half an hour. This brand new blog is called Currents and Color. It is rewarding to see another artist experience the same joy I fist felt when I pressed the "Publish" button for this blog over a year and a half ago.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sam Flax - Acrylic Demonstration

I went to Sam Flax on Saturday afternoon to sketch a free demonstration of acrylic paints. The presenter had a series of pigments which he would then paint on a board so the audience could see the paints thickness and consistency. New lines of paint were shown and the possible uses explained. Quite honestly I lost interest after a while as if felt like I was sketching an infomercial. I figured the group of artists assembled must practicing artists who I might like to meet, but as soon as my sketch was finished, I went to the back of the store to buy tubes of watercolor paint to replenish my supply of paint which must have fallen out of my bag at some event.
Julie Perreth, an amazing artist in her own right, works at Sam Flax and pointed out that the store carries the brushes I use for my sketches. I had been ordering these brushes from Tokyo and paying $5 shipping. I have shopped in that store for years and never noticed the brushes. I am ecstatic to find I can replace these brushes easily when they wear out from all the abuse I throw at them from sketching every day.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Carl Knickerbocker - Suburban Primitive

I bumped into Carl Knickerbocker at an art opening at the Peacock Room, we started talking art and I asked him if he would mind if I visited his studio and sketched him at work on one of his larger canvases. He told me he had a canvas ready and planned to paint the Annie Feiffer Chapel which is at the Florida Southern College in Lakeland. He suggested I should get there myself someday to do a sketch. Frank Loyd Wright had designed the chapel and he personally supervised its construction. Students from the college who Wright referred to as "Children of the Sun" had helped in the buildings construction.
Carl lives out on the East side of town in Oviedo. When I drove up to his home I knew I was in the right place because one of his Honda Element Art cars was parked on the front lawn. The second I walked through the front door I knew I was in the home of a serious working artist. The living room was used as a storage space for Carl's huge canvases. Rather than having them stretched, Carl had a seamstress sew loops on the tops of the canvases so that they can easily be hung like curtains.
His studio is located right off the living room in a sun porch. Most of the painting was complete. He just had a few oranges that he wanted to add to the painting as I watched. He used a large painters palette to lay out the pure florescent orange acrylics. He quickly used a palette knife to lay in the color with bold strokes. He then used a hair dryer to dry the paint a bit. He then re-attacked the surface with the knife to get the impasto texture he was looking for. Carl decided he didn't like the color of Frank Loyd Wrights building so he changed it to a cool blue. He was infatuated with the red steps which lead into the building and these became a very important pyramid shaped element in the final composition. He felt that the building resembled a UFO and so he had it floating above a black ground into which are scratched two Gator-Men.
I asked him how he first came up with the idea of using 3D glasses to see his work and he told me about an artist names Key Scramble Campbell who was a bit of a hippy and a psychedelic artist. Campbell had done his painting to be seen with a black light and he also experimented with the 3D glasses. Carl bought 60 3D glasses for his show at the Museum of Florida Art. This show exhibited many of Carl's larger pieces. One painting of Mermaids of Wicki Wachi, is stunning when viewed with the glasses. The mermaids seem to float above a sea of deep blue pigment as if you were seeing down to the bottom of a pool of water.
On shelves next to me while I sketches were a bunch of objects which were used in the making of a 6 minute short film called "A Dog Goes From Here to There." Heather Henson was pivotal in suggesting Carl make this film so she could have it shown in her Handmade Puppet Dreams Film Festival. Carl's bold painterly style is used as the basis for this amazing short. This film was first shown in NYC on December 6th of last year. It had since made its way around the film festival circuits, including Providence, Atalanta and Prague. Carl said he will submit the film in a few more festivals this year.
Carl showed me around his home and when he opened the door to what was once a guest doom, I saw hundreds of paintings stacked against the walls. He has enough inventory to fill the Menello Museum several times over. He said that now that he is getting older he is focusing more on exhibiting his work in large museums. He recognizes that as he gets older these large paintings will become harder and harder to do. He is racing against time to make his mark. As I got ready to leave, He gave me a car magnet of one of his Crocodile-Men. I now proudly exhibit it on the back of my truck. When viewed with 3D glasses the painting floats magically.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tempus

Sultana Ali suggested I sketch a meeting of Tempus at the SAIC building which is located on the east side of town on Ingenuity Drive. The building is a sleek all glass monolithic cube. The glass doors were locked, so I placed a call to Sultana and she let me in. The Tempus club was formed by Sultana in 2000 at Edgewater High out of its Engineering, Science and Technology program. The 12 students in the club will be participating in the finals of the International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC) this year which will taking place at the Johnson Space Center in Texas. Tempus is one of 12 teams from around the worlds who were selected for the finals. This International Competition is supported by NASA. The assembled group high school students and mentors are going to have to work as a team as they design and pitch innovative ideas for a space station design. From photos I have seen it looks like the design process involves several sleepless nights as the teams rush their projects toward completion in just 43 hours. The students will have to face stress and find ways to remain positive. When the team gets to Texas they will be issued a request for proposal and the teams must address all the points in the proposal as well as fulfill specific requests from competition organizers. The culmination of the process is a presentation of their work in front of aerospace engineers and designers who act as judges.
Sultana began the meeting by stressing the importance of confident and inspired public speaking. She began addressing the group while behind the podium but then she stepped out and got up close to the assembled group. She used this as a way to point out how important it is to have close contact with our audience and to always project. The students had been asked to prepare a 5 minute presentation with a slide to help build their public speaking abilities. In turn each member of the team got up and made a presentation. She stressed the importance of facing the audience and avoiding placing hands in pockets or fiddling with notes.
What followed was for me a highly educational view of how different people presented the material. Some students who were training for the competition for the first time were shy and very quiet, reading the notes and never looking up at the assembles group. The mentors would offer notes on how the presentations could be improved and the supportive atmosphere guaranteed that everyone would improve if they put in the effort. Roger gave a presentation in which he had long pauses every time he had to gather his thoughts. I know that if I was presenting I would panic in such a moment, but Roger just muscled his way through the material. Sultana said he had improved his presentation 200% from the week before and he now could be relied on in any situation if a presentation had to be done. Kevin Rucks would often ask a presenter to just explain what was their favorite aspect of the presentation. When the student answered, he pointed out that they were no longer giving a rehearsed speech, but talking in a relaxed way, as if to a friend and the excitement and sincerity would carry them through.
When everyone had a turn to present, the Mentors better known as Ninjas told everyone to assemble for a team building exercise in the parking lot. When the team got out to the parking lot they were face with the task of moving a small garbage can which had dry ice smoke billowing out of it. The garbage can was surrounded by a yellow rope. Team members could not go inside the roped off area or they would be vaporized. They had to use the assembled junk to move the can 20 feet and pour the liquid into a container. Failure was not an option. The teams first effort, which was largely devised by Hailey Rohrer, used rope tied to a small rubber tire. When the ropes were pulled taught the tire would clamp in on the garbage can. The problem was that only 3 team members were at the ropes and the liquid spilled because the can was off balance. Another hour went by before a another viable solution was offered. Tempers started to flair as some team members started throwing some items away in anger. The answer waited to be found in the pile of junk. Finally mentors started offering clues and one by one removing items from the mix.
The final solution was identical to the efforts of the first try but used different materials. A bungee chord was used instead of a tire to wrap around the garbage can and many more ropes were tied to it to offer more stabilization. It was a glorious moment when all the team members helped move the can and pour its contents into the destination pan.

"When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality."
-Joe Paterno

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tweet Up at the Enzian

The Enzian Theater along with Bess Auer of Central Florida Top 5 Blog, hosted an event called a tweet up. When I got to the Enzian I scanned the bar which was half full and then noticed two large boards set up outside. One had a computer screen projected on it with tweets neatly stacked and scrolling down as more tweets were added. The other board had peoples twitter names written in dry erase markers. There were also name tags to I wrote Analog Artist Digital World on mjne. Later Mark Baratelli pointed out that my twitter name was only Analog Artist. I had to go fill out another name tag. Then he pointed out that I should have put an @ sign in front of my twitter name. I went back for yet another name tag. How do people know all this stuff?
I finally settled myself and started sketching. The fellow to the right in the forground noticed me sketching. I wasn't looking at him but he said, "Look at me." in a hipnotic tone as he held an orange juice bottle up to his face and stroked it lovingly. I laughed out loud and then got right back to work. The sun had set and dusk was making the scene darker by the minute.
Apparently during the whole event people were tweeting rather than engaging in the usual party conversations. Every tweet went up on the screen if people put the proper hash tag on the tweet, whatever that means. Then I found out that prozes were being offered and I desperately tried to figure out how to get to twitter on my new cell phone. Passwords kept getting in the way and I didn't tweet once. People won $25 gift certificates as I struggled to try and get in the running.
I ordered 2 Orange Blossom Pilsners which were absolutely delicious. They helped take away some of the sting of defeat.