Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ghost Busters

The October edition of Dr. Sketchy's had a Ghost Busters theme. The walls of Tatame Sake lounge were lined with paintings by Vaughn Betzk which all had a macabre, goth, Halloween flavor. Tamara Grey who had run Dr. Sketchy's since I first discovered it a year ago, moved to the West Coast to work at a visual effects house. Her move happened just days before and so she handed over the reigns to Kristen Pauline and a photographer named Adrienne Frankenfield.

The woman dressed as the Ghost Busters secretary, Jenine Melnitz, was both sensual and awkward with her tight orange mini skirt and wild red hair which almost hid her cat eye shaped lime green glasses. The model wearing the Ghost Busters uniform had gone all out in duplicating the tools of a Ghost Busters trade. His backpack haa blinking diodes, a disk shaped vortex at the base and tubes that went everywhere. That unit would fire off a serious plasma beam.


While all the rest of the artists were struggling with the one and two minute poses, I was focusing my attention on the room and all the paintings. When there was finally a five minute pose, I blocked in the figures quickly and finalized the ink work on Jenine. I then waited for the ghost Buster to take another "shooting" pose. when he did, he was facing the wrong way so I moved to the opposite side of the room to sketch him. Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Carving Pumpkins

I got an invite to attend the Stauton Spookerific Pumpkin Party 3 . I also got a nice note from actress Lindsey Cohen saying she hadn't seen Terry or me for the longest time, and we should come to the party. Terry and I had just seen the movie "Social Network." I pulled out my calender and we debated on where we should go next. We decided to head to the pumpkin carving party. We stumbled around in the dark for a bit searching for the house. When we walked in, everyone was on the floor stabbing pumpkins. There was plenty of frenetic activity as pumpkin guts were scooped out and thrown into the trash can. I had told Terry I didn't need to sketch at the party, but I couldn't resist.

I stood in the kitchen with a nice counter to rest my art supplies on. Meggin Stailey, an wonderful comedic actress walked into the kitchen with a bowl of freshly gutted pumpkin seeds. She spread the seeds out on a cookie sheet and then reached up into a cupboard. A spice container leaped out at her and landed on the cookie sheet sending seeds trampolining all around the room with a crash. She apologized, but I had not been struck by any of the projectiles. She then rubbed down the stove top quickly. Her frenetic energy was endearing. I first saw Megin perform in a REP production where she played a demure woman focused on reading her book, while Brandon Roberts played a waiter who was constantly trying to win her attention. She remained oblivious. It was delightfully funny. I also saw her perform in Crimes of the Heart where she played the sister trying to keep some normalcy in a dysfunctional family.

Brandon was gutting a truly ugly green pumpkin with warts. Before he finished carving it he announced to everyone that he wasn't feeling well and he needed to lie down. After Terry and I left the party, I found out Brandon had to be taken to the emergency room by Patrick Braillard and Melissa Mason. Brandon suspected he had a kidney stone. They waited in the ER till 1am. He finally got out of the hospital gown since the pain had passed. Shivering in the ER must have cured him since he had to pay a $150 co-pay.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tribute to Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen is a Canadian singer, songwriter and poet. Jeremy Seghers bought together an amazing cast of singers songwriters and poets to the Timucua White House, (2000 South Summerlin Avenue), for a stellar concert celebrating Leonard's work. The whole Glazer family, Benoit, his wife and two children sang Whither thou Goest. The sets were short and sweet. Sarah Percer got on stage first, winning the audience with her warmth. Tony Macalusa played bass while Joe Canitia performed on the mandolin. Mathew Mendel is shown in the sketch performing on piano and guitar. I believe he performed on the drums as well that night. Jeremy Seghers is shown singing. In the far corner of the sketch, Tracy Burke is shown doing a quick portrait of Leonard Cohen in oils on canvas.

Poets like Brad Kuhn and Darlin Finch got up to the mic to read poems and observations by Leonard while the piano offered a soft supporting accompaniment. The whole evening was magical and uplifting. My head swayed to the beats as the lines danced without much second guessing or deliberateness. The evening ended with a stellar performance of Hallelujah with everyone in the audience singing along. It was an uplifting luminous moment.

After the concert everyone socialized with wine and snacks. The concert was free, as always and guests often bring along their own favorite vintage to sip and share. I got to meet some of the musicians and I could kick myself for not buying a $25 sketch from Tracy. I had a chance to have a long talk with Dina Peterson who is in my mind a true aficionado of the Orlando music scene. I feel I am taking baby steps slowly opening myself to hear, feel and see the amazing talent all around me.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Eagles

The Eagles were Terry's all time favorite band from her college years. When she found out they would be performing as the first concert in the new Amway Center, she had to get tickets. I heard the tickets were not cheap. I met Terry at her office and then we walked over to Hamburger Mary's for some dinner. The place was packed for Bingo Night. By the time we finished eating, there was a line of people out the door waiting to get tables. People eyed any open seats with annoyance and anticipation. We walked from Church Street Station to the Amway Center. The city splurged and installed blue spotlights to illuminate the I-4 underpass. A veteran in a camouflage uniform was selling tiny American flags. A man was shouting with his raised fist clenched in a peace sign indicating he needed two tickets.

At the entrance to the Arena I pulled out the computer printed tickets Terry had given to me earlier in the evening. We rode the escalator up to our level. There was a huge crowd around the Eagles T-shirts and merchandise. We had to walk down several staircases to get to our seats. I was shocked at how close our seats were to the stage. We arrived about an hour early which gave me plenty of time to sketch the stage as people filed into the immense space. The lighting changed constantly from blue to red. A lighting tech climbed a rope ladder to get to the suspended walkway hundreds of feet high. The crowd cheered for him and he paused and waved making everyone cheer louder.

Finally the band began to play and the cheering and whistling became deafening. When they performed "Peaceful Easy Feeling", Terry leaned over and said, "This was my favorite song in college." I looked over and saw that she had tears in her eyes. She dried he eyes grabbed my arm and put her head on my shoulder.When the band played "The Best of my Love", people started raising their lighters and iPhones. Terry said there was an application for the iPhone that looks like a lighter. She quickly downloaded the application and soon there was the image of a closed lighter on the screen. Laughing, we both tried tapping the screen with our fingers trying to open the virtual lighter. We finally discovered the flicking finger gestures needed and she raised the lighter just as the song was ending.

The next day, I was asked, "If you were an abstract painter, how would you imagine the renewed affection that you and Terry are sharing." My first response was, "I am not an abstract painter." We laughed. Then I painted the scene he was looking for, "When the Eagles played 'Desperado' the whole arena was lit dark and blue, the lyrics intoned 'why don't you come to your senses? Come down from your fences, open the gate.' Then as the song rang out, 'You better let somebody love you, before it's too late', the lighting pivoted out towards the audience lighting them in warm yellows and oranges. Couples held each other swaying side to side and Terry and I hugged in a long embrace." Terry was there as I described the scene and she misted up as did the person who asked for the description. The warmth in the arena is the sketch I should have caught.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Haunted Swamp

I went to the Enzian Theater (1300 South Orlando Avenue, Maitland), to go to the opening night of the Haunted Swamp. I walked around the property looking for hints of what was to come. As the sun set, I decided to sketch these volunteers who were ripping and cutting up strips of fabric and throwing them in a bucket. I was told they were creating a bucket of gore. The strips of fabric were to become intestines and eviscerated flesh. One of the girls was saying, "I have no idea what is going on. A friend asked me to come down and I said, what the heck, why not?" Later as I was working on color washes in the dimming light, the fellow with the red beard came over to see what I was working on. I didn't recognize him at first since he was now dressed as a demonic clown. I watched as a volunteer got dressed as the extra tall clown. The head and shoulders are worn resting on his head and the large hands are on sticks held by him with the clenched fists inside the sleeves. A women shouted out, "Megan can you get your machete and clear a path down by the weatherman?" Megan ran off in the direction of the hearse.

With the first sketch finished, I realized there was about an hour until the Haunted Swamp came to life. I decided to get a beer and relax for a bit. As I reached for a chair, a man walked up and said, "Were you sitting there?" I decided I had to say, "yes." He went on to explain that the table was his mothers. He and his friend ended up finding seats right across from me. The friend was saying, "If you had to pay real people to do this, it would be real expensive." I suddenly realized these to knew what was going on. I asked the fellow I had played musical chairs with, if he knew who was in charge of all the actors. He introduced me to his son named Alex.

I explained to Alex that I wanted to do a sketch on the swamp route. He responded, "Well, I have to do one more walk through, follow me." I almost had to run to keep up. At the entrance, a channel 13 anchor woman was trying to park in an impossibly tight spot. Alex offered her help in parking. The swamp was illuminated and ready but there were no actors in place yet. As soon as I saw the blood red clearing with a TV playing an interview with a demonic looking child, I knew I had to return to sketch. I told Alex where I planned to set up and he said, "Go for it."

Terry was looking for me on the lawn next to the Eden Bar. We got our wrist bands and were the second people in line. They were the GAB girls from be_local. Their names were Destiny Bianca Lopez and Sharon Baumeyer, they shot video the whole time with night vision turned on. I looked over Destiny's shoulder, the footage looked like it was from the Blair Witch Project. These two squealed and shrieked the whole time. Sharon fell down elbowing Bianca in the lips in the process. The blood red interview spot was one of the scariest parts of the swamp tour. Just as I focused on the strange child on the TV, a swamp creature jumped out with a loud howl. Terry clutched my arm, screaming. This was definitely the spot to draw.

When I returned to sketch I found out the creature was a beautiful young woman covered in military style grass camouflage. Whenever swamp guests would approach, the man in the straight jacket would stare at the TV and rock forward and back. The actress I was seated behind would crouch down like a cougar about to lunge for its prey. The TV interview repeated over and over... "Are you feeling OK? Can I get you a glass of water?" The alien baby made strange cannibalistic sounds. "what do you see there Johnny? What's this about your mama?" Johnny, who's eyes had no pupils, made juvenile "Ma ma" sounds. He breathed quickly and maniacally, his face filling the screen. "Don't breath like that, it will make you feel real strange. Do you mind if I give you an injection or something like that?" Johnny thrashed about and the screen blacked out.

It was fun watching all the different terrified reactions. When it was time for all the actors to take a half hour break, I decided my sketch was done. They all walked through the final section of the course when suddenly all the lights went out. We were all subjected to the most frightening experience of our lives. Actors and volunteers screamed in terror and when it was over we all whooted, hollered and clapped in appreciation.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

East Orange Shooting Sports

Katie Windish's friend Arden Monroe suggested I come out to a shooting range to sketch. It was a crisp clear fall morning. I arrived at the East Orange Shooting Sports (7210 Gardner Street, Winter Park) perhaps fifteen minutes early since there was no traffic on the East West Expressway. Entering the parking lot my heart started pounding. I have never touched a gun in my life. The parking lot was almost full with perhaps twenty vehicles. When I killed the engine I suddenly heard the distant popping of the guns being fired. There was a bench next to the entrance and I sat next to a man wearing a Magic jersey. His exposed deltoid, biceps and triceps had a New Zealand style sharp spiraling tattoo that snaked down his arm. The American flag waved in the cool breeze beside me.

Toby Monroe walked up with a rifle case and several other smaller cases with hand guns. All the windows were barred. Hand guns and rifles decorated the walls behind the register.We all had to fill out release forms. Questions such as, "Have you ever been arrested? and, Are you an American Citizen?", I quickly checked "No." One question read, "Have you ever been depressed?" caused me to pause. Who hasn't been depressed at some point? I decided to lie and checked "No." We were given a quick five minute lesson on how to handle the guns on the range. The most important point being to keep the barrel of the gun always facing into the range. Katie and I got ear phones and protective goggles. When we entered the range the noise was deafening and constant. Katie was the first to fire and Toby showed her how to hold the handgun. I quickly blocked in the sketch. Her first shot was so loud that other shooters looked around with gun envy. The Luger spit out the empty bullet shell which ricocheted off the side barricade and flew back hitting me in the shoulder. I jumped and the line I was drawing swerved.

When it was my turn, Toby explained how to use the safety and how to hold the gun. Toby works for Kel-Tech designing and testing rifles and handguns. Many of the weapons we were shooting were new designs. I fired the Luger and was blinded and surprised by the muzzle flash and kickback. Araden let me shoot her grandfathers Sears revolver. I emptied the spent shells and reloaded. This gun had less of a kick and I felt a bit more confident with my aim. When we pulled back the target, clothes line style, I could see how I did. Arden said I had a good grouping most of my shots were in the area of the right lung. She said having a tight grouping is more important than hitting the bulls eye. I took comfort in that. I was glad I had even hit the target. I returned to the sketch adding color washes.

Toby pulled out the rifle which unfolded neatly. I had to take off the headphones and goggles to use this weapon in order to press my cheek up against the stock looking through the cross hairs. I emptied the entire clip into the target with spent shells arching to the floor all around me. Over lunch after, Toby said that countries that require all citizens to own a gun had less crime than any other country. Apparently there is a town in Texas that also insists that everyone must own a gun. For me, shooting guns at a range is a bit more exciting than bowling. Since I never bowl, I will probably never shoot.

Bullets cannot be recalled. They cannot be uninvented. But they can be taken out of the gun.
- Martin Amis

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rocky Horror Rehearsal

Jeremy Seghers who plays Riff Raff invited me to a dress rehearsal for "The Rocky Horror Show at Theater Downtown (2113 North Orange Avenue). The show runs till November 13th. Steve MacKinnon, the director, introduced himself and he offered suggestions on the best vantage point to sketch from. The show opens with the cast sitting in front of a movie screen with the lips projected. I started blocking in the sketch and tried to resist putting in the red curtains since I knew they would be coming down. I couldn't resist drawing the lips and dripping lettering. In the first act Jeremy sang "Over at the Frankenstein Place.". He looked like Frankenstein with his high platform shoes dressed in formal black. All of the singing leads were given headset mics and the sound levels were crisp and clear. More important was the fact that the songs were belted out with sincerity and bravado. This is a talented cast that really throws their hearts into every song.

The set was pretty minimal with golden columns and picture frames hung at odd angles. This cast shines brighter than gold. Atmospheric fog added to some really nice lighting effects. The whole show was sensuous and fun. Culminating in an orgy group dance number that makes the movie seem tame. The Time Warp dance is so energetic that I can not imagine an audience that wouldn't want to join in. Jeremy confided that he split his pants the first time he did the dance at a dress rehearsal. The final song sung by Adam McCabe as Frank-n-Furter, "Don't dream it, Be it" is uplifting and inspiring. This show is campy, and over the top fun. It is time well spent to ring in the Halloween season!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Song Circle

Dandelion Communitea Cafe (618 North Thornton Avenue) hosts a monthly song circle where an informal group of musicians and song writers gather to jam for several hours. This was one of Orlando's first cool evenings, so everyone sat outside under a canopy. The first performers consisted of Jerry Mincey on guitar and vocals, Joe Canitia on the mandolin and Tony Macalusa on bass. They played several warm folksy tunes before passing the baton to the next performer. As far as I know, every song performed was original. One song writer and guitarist apologized, saying the song was still in development. This is what was so nice about this gathering. New ideas, lyrics and music could be tested and shared with musicians who would gladly offer supportive advice. The night was cool the stars were bright and the music was red hot. I didn't stay for the full duration of the song circle since I planned to jump over to Redlight Redlight to hear another group perform.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lakeridge Winery

Terry and I drove up to the Lakeridge Winery (19239 U.S. 27 North, Clermont), for a 50's 60's themed car show and music festival called Vintage Venture. There was a $2 donation to get into the event but the wine tasting was free. There was a constant flow of people into the winery. Some people walked past me with cases of wine piled into old fashioned red flier wagons. People also returned empty bottles in the same wagons. The woman at the entrance would read her book, then ask, "Free wine tasting?" whenever someone stopped. Her table displayed all the wines made at the winery. Since I was holding a pad and taking notes, people must have assumed I was a manager since I kept fielding questions about the tasting and the festival.

When I finished this sketch, I texted Terry and we both went in for the wine tasting. There were nine different wines to be sampled. My favorite was a Blanc du Bois 2009 which was a semi-dry white wine with a rich fruity flavor. Quite honestly I was surprised at how good all the wines were. I never thought of Central Florida as a place where grapes could be grown. Terry tried growing tomatoes in the backyard once and they literally exploded on the vine from excessive heat and then too much rain. I was amazed that grapes could be spared such a fate.

There were perhaps 20 or so vintage cars. I considered drawing them but I couldn't find a shady spot with a good view. While I was sketching the winery, Elvis performed on the main stage while 2 old women danced in poodle skirts.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Winter Park Farmers Market

I ran across the Winter Park Farmers Market as I was looking for a writing and yoga workshop. I never found the workshop so I returned to sketch the market. It seemed like every other person in the market had a dog. There were pugs, poodles, greyhounds and this furry beast who lunged forward whenever he saw another dog. The owner pulled back hard on the leash. An older man walking by said, "That is no way to treat a dog." The yuppie just went on shopping.

Across from me there was bamboo for sale along with garden plants. The proprietor fingered his iPhone. There was local honey in the booth behind me. A little girl walked up to me and asked what I was drawing. I had met this child just a week before at a political forum. Small world.

When I finished the sketch, I began my search for some lunch. I found a small booth that served omelets. When I got t he omelet, I settled on a park bench to eat. The Winter Park historical society was on my right. A woman sat across from me and she must have noticed that I was studying the architecture. She said, "I can't believe the building isn't open when the market is open. They are missing a chance to get some foot traffic." She then started to tell me all about the history of peacocks in Winter Park. The Tiffany's had a large property where they let peacocks roam. Peacocks are in Winter Park to this day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oktoberfest

The German American Society of Central Florida (381 Orange Lane, Casselberry) holds an annual Oktoberfest. This fall I have attended a plethora of "fests" but this is the real deal not some homogenized commercial knock off. We knew we were getting close when we saw cars parked on lawns and every business parking lot was full. A tiny Smart car managed to find a parking spot by driving on the grass around some SUV's his tight turning radius was enviable. Women and men walked the sidewalks in authentic Tyrolean outfits. The German Society building resembled an authentic Alpine lodge. I could hear the German music out back and the place looked packed. We had to buy five dollar tickets to get inside. We both realized at the same time that we had no cash. I pulled the change out of my pocket and started counting pennies. We had to leave and find a cash machine. We found an ATM at a 7-11 and went back. This time we got in and I started sketching the musicians immediately.

Germans are strict disciplinarians. Children were crowded on the dance floor running, screaming and dancing. The German singer kept shouting, "All children off the dance floor! We will stop playing if the children do not get off the dance floor." In time, order was restored. Terry was nice enough to bring me a cup of beer which I sipped while I worked. Lesley Silvia had suggested that I had to get some potato pancakes. With my sketch finished, I got some food tickets and sought out my pancakes.

We stood in line to get potato pancakes for one and a half hours. In the line in front of us a tattoo artist was trying to talk a chipper blond out of getting a tattoo on the inside of her index finger that looked like a mustache. She wanted to be able to raise her finger to her face at parties as a joke. He told her he would never do such a tattoo and that it would make her look trashy. By the time we got to the front of the line, Terry was getting annoyed. My plate had been served yet she still had to wait. I gave her a taste of my pancakes and she calmed down. I tasted several beers but many people were staggering drunk. I was told that this was the largest crowd they ever had for Oktoberfest.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gay Pride Day

Sunday October 10th was Gay Pride Day in Orlando. I went down to Lake Eola about two hours before t he parade was to begin. As I walked towards the park, I saw a man struggling to get a horse carriage out of an 18 wheeler. Around the lake tents were set up and vendors were quickly arranging their wares. I walked past all the tents with a personal mission in mind. I wanted to sketch the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. I had sketched several sisters putting on make-up months ago yet never had the chance to sketch them when they were fully made up. I never found them. I finally found a shady tree with a view of the tents set against the skyscrapers in the distance. Activity around the beer tent was constant.

Terry texted me several times to try and find me. I texted back, "I am behind the rainbow." She responded, "Which rainbow? There are so many. " Several more texts were needed. When I finished this sketch there was just 5 minutes till the parade began. I thought I might just relax and watch the parade, but the urge to sketch kicked in. As I blocked in the second sketch, a police motorcycle pulled up in front of me. I suddenly had a center of interest, something stable in the changing sea of humanity. Terry pushed her way to the front of the crowd and fought hard for the necklaces, trinkets and candy that was being thrown from the floats. A box of candy landed next to where I was seated. They were called "Nerds" and they were tasty. Scantily clad men and women danced on the floats. Through it all the police officer stood stoically , never changing his steely gaze.

When the parade was over Terry wanted to look at all the tents around the lake. The narrow walkway was jam packed now and I had already seen the tents earlier. I convinced her to leave the crush of humanity and sit on a grassy hill while I ate a slice of pizza. A woman walked by with a sign that read, "I may be straight, but I am not narrow." That pretty much sums up why I like to come out on Gay Pride Day and document this fun event with my sketches.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Harbor House Breakfast Fundraiser

Harbor House held a fund-raising breakfast at the First Baptist Church (3000 South John Young Parkway). I was invited by the second Vice President of the Harbor House Board of Directors to attend and sketch. When everyone filed into the room and sat down at the circular dining tables, the first order of business was the screening of a news story about domestic violence. The facts presented were staggering. Between 2009 and 2010 there was a 20% increase in domestic violence cases in Central Florida. As the economy gets worse, the violence in Central Florida is on the rise. Twenty six people died in the last 12 months due to domestic violence. 759 women and children were sheltered from the brink of deadly violence at Harbor House. There is a pandemic of violence by men against women and children in our state.

Carol Wick, the CEO of Harbor House said, "The city beautiful may be considered the happiest place on earth...until you go inside Central Florida homes." She told the story of an event that happened in a quiet neighborhood apartment complex. Neighbors began to hear the screams of a woman calling for help inside an apartment. There were the brutal sounds of her body hitting the walls. Everyone knew what was happening, yet no one called 911. The next morning an elderly woman went to the manager and said, "You better check in that apartment because I think a woman was murdered." The woman had indeed been murdered. This story makes me angry and outraged. Outrage is nothing without action. Some people simply say, "Well why didn't she just leave?" In many cases women were trying to leave an abusive partner when they were killed. Had anyone in that apartment complex called the police, that woman would be alive today.

Carol talked about a new program called Project Courage which engages every member of the community to help stop the violence. This program creates support for survivors of abuse, holds abusers accountable for their actions and teaches all members of a community to recognize abuse, respond to it effectively and refer people to assistance. The glimmer of hope I clung to when confronted with the staggering facts about domestic violence was the idea that none of us is alone, as a community we can help stop the violence. By recognizing how we can help others, we become part of something much larger than ourselves.

Sultana Ali got up and said, "Batterers are the stealers of dreams. Not on our watch will this be allowed to happen anymore." Everyone was asked to vizualize a world in which children do not have to fear going home, a world in which every member of the community actively helps stop the violence. Gifts donated at this fundraiser saved lives.

"So I fight with one hand and love with the other. In my dreams, I love with both hands and the fighting is over." - A Survivor

Monday, October 18, 2010

Britt Daley

I had just finished up a Doctor Sketchy's drawing session at Tatame Sake Lounge (223 West Fairbanks Avenue, Winter Park.) As I packed up my supplies, a woman walked in carrying various band equipment. After she leaned the equipment against the wall, she stood in the doorway. I recognized her, but I couldn't place her in a recognizable context. I must have been staring because she finally pointed to me and said, "We met at Evan and Christy Miga's house. The light bulb flickered on. Her name is Britt Daley and she helped Evan out by singing backup vocals for the hilarious, Dog Powered Robot.

She and her drummer Scott Christy began setting up on the small Tatame stage. I threw my backpack over my shoulder and started for the door. I planned to sketch at Tanqueray's where Kaleigh Baker was performing. Britt caught me and said, "Your not leaving are you? You haven't seen me perform." I told he I had been sketching when she was interviewed on Orange TV. Then I agreed to stay and watch one set. Britt has been writing songs for years. Many deal with heart ache and not being able to let go. Her voice is silky smooth and the songs left me quietly sad. She shouted out, "I am dedicating this song to Christina, it is called 'It's Too Late'." This song about a couple at a crossroads left me truly sad, there was only a faint quiver of hope that could only be found in the harmony itself. I was caught off guard. I didn't expect to find original music with this much emotional depth to be sung in a small sake bar. I was struck to the core.

Between sets, James, the guitar player and drummer, sat next to me. He checked out the sketch and I explained that I didn't have the time to get him in the sketch yet. He assured me that they would perform again. As "Sunlight in Her Hair" performed, I took the time to add color washes in the background. When Britt Daley took to the stage again, she noticed me sketching. She asked, "Are you sketching us?" When I nodded my head, she turned to the audience and said with childish delight, "Thor is sketching us!" Then she turned to me and said, "I want to see that when I get off stage." The second set was just as good as the first. I felt emotionally drained when the sketch was complete. I did show her the sketch before I left, and she seemed pleased. I asked her for her cards, so I could learn more about her music. Listen to her songs online, you will be glad you did.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Zombie March

At the last minute I was told by Paula Large that there was going to be a zombie march in broad daylight on International Drive. The starting spot was at Uno's pizza right across from Ripley's Believe it or Not. Driving down International Drive the sudden appearance of hundreds of zombies wandering around the Uno's parking lot was unsettling. I drove around the block making my way back to the mayhem. My pulse quickened. I parked at the Indian restaurant next to Uno's.
As soon as I walked into the crowd, I was surrounded by pale, lifeless, brain eating zombies. A stage was set up at one end of the parking lot for a band that I assumed would be playing later. I was immediately drawn to this Hurst parked in the corner of the lot nearest the street. I stood on a small island covered with dried out dead vegetation. Little Red Riding Hood seemed out of place until I saw that she had slit her wrists. A young woman in a tight black leather dress had a cross tattooed between her shoulder blades she walked with a limp. With her nose ring and studs, I suspect she wasn't really in costume. She must live Goth.
Loud music blasted from the two speakers strapped to the roof of the Hearst. A guy in a black leather vest got on the roof of the Hearst and shouted into the megaphone, "Do you want to see some blood?!" He fired up a chainsaw and the crowd of zombies went wild. one zombie never broke character, he just swayed side to side with his eyes rolled back in his head. A foam manikin was thrown on the roof of the Hearst and he started cutting off limbs to the roar from the crowd. When he thrust the chainsaw blade into her chest blood began to fly and spill everywhere. A pizza was delivered from the restaurant . He began attacking the pizza with the chainsaw with shards of crust and tomato sauce raining down on all the zombies. He threw large chunks of pizza into the crowd where I assume they were devoured.
0n the sidelines citizens with signs protested the march, demanding that the undead return to the graves they came from. When the march began I stayed behind frantically throwing blood red washes onto my drawing. The Goth girls limp must have been real since she remained behind as well, seated in one of the two wooden chairs near the Hearst. A female zombie asked to see my sketch. Her eyes had a strange metallic blue shine. She complimented me and thanked me for sharing with a sweet voice that seemed very out of place since her skin had decomposed rather horrifically. I am sure the party would continue late into the night, but I had to get to class back in the world of reality.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Orlando Psycho City Derby Girls

I rushed from an art opening in Winter Park to the Universal Entertainment Skating Center (866 S. Goldenrod Road). I managed to arrive just moments before the match began. Admission was $13 which is pricey for me but I had never experienced a whole derby match before so I fumbled for a $20 out of my wallet. On the entry door to the rink was a poster for the movie "Whip it." Three steps into the rink and my hiking boot got stuck to the floor thanks to a wad of bubble gum. I circled the perimeter of the rink counter clockwise searching for my vantage point. I ran into Carl Gauze, a writer for the Orlando Weekly, and he explained I could sketch from anywhere so long as I stayed outside the bright green rink line. I setup on a table at the far end of the rink. Skaters were warming up doing leisurely laps.
The Bellevue Bombshells were competing in a rematch against the Sunnyland Slammers . Players were announced one at a time and they did a lap around the rink soaking in the roar of the crowd. Skaters names are part of the reason roller derby is so fun. There was, Anita Priest, Phoenix on Fire, Ellen Rage, Hit Girl, Sister Mary Mayhem, Brooklyn Deck Her and On ya knees.
I honestly don't understand all the rules and through the first half, I concentrated more on the sketch than on any jamming, blocking or scoring going on. At the half Sunnyland in the blue and gold had the lead of 62 to 26.
A fan who wanted to check out my drawing, explained some of the rules and the game started to make sense. Each team had a girl with a stripe on her helmet called the pivot. The pivot's job was to set the pace of the pack, no one could pass the pivot. Each team had a skater with a star on her helmet called the jammer. The jammers job was to make her way through the pack to get points. Skaters were blocking and falling down constantly. Number 187, Ellen Rage took a very nasty spill and she lay on the rink floor. Team mates skated up to her getting on their knees. After an agonizing wait she managed to get up and the fans clapped and whooped.
The announcer let everyone know there was just 30 seconds remaining in the match and suddenly all the players skated full out. "Little mini Poo Poo made a hole for cup cake!" The announcer screamed. Then skaters were ramming into each other and there was a huge pileup. A skater barreled into a referee knocking her down. "Everyone is down, it is a free for all!" The buzzer sounded and even though the match was over, arms flailed and bodies smacked to the ground. The final score was Sunnyland 124 and Belview 76. Roller derby is in Orlando you really have to see it to believe it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Zombietoberfest

You know Halloween is approaching when zombies roam the streets of the Audubon Garden district. As Terry and I approached late that night we noticed a few zombies stumbling down Corrine Drive. There was a large crowd of zombies outside Park Avenue CD. We arrived at Stardust Video and Coffee around 11pm. When we opened the door, a loud pulsing rhythm shook us as a band played angrily. Decomposing bodies around us writhed to the beat. Terry clutched my hand as I searched for the right sketching vantage point. Rather than committing to a sketch of the band, I decided to search the other rooms for zombies.
The food and drink order counter had a line of zombies that stretched out the door. Chad Bruce and Dana VanZandt were seated at a small corner table and they waved us over. Chad's sweatshirt was thickly spattered with blood. Dana was dressed as a huntress. When asked about their outfits, they demonstrated their method of hunting zombies. Dana had a human brain that she dangled from a fishing line off the end of a stick. Her job was to lure a zombie close using the brain as bait. Then Chad would unholster the golf club at his hip and strike the zombie down with swift blows to the head.
A zombie was checking his iPhone as he waited in line. A female zombie held a human brain on a plate. When she turned to me I noticed the bullet hole in the center of her forehead. She said she was one of the models at a Boudoir Bombshells photo shoot I sketched several months ago her name is Tamarie Lang. I tried to recognize her but couldn't get past the blood and bruising. When the quiet demure woman in the red kimono finally turned around, her face wash ashen and blood was dripping from her lips. It was hard to notice if there was blood on her red kimono. Doug Rhodehamel stopped in front of me, frozen mid-stride in his walk. It took a few seconds for me to notice him and I laughed out loud at his attempt to get in the sketch.
When the sketch was done I considered going in the loud room full of writhing zombies, but Terry was tired so I decided it was a one sketch night . My zombie hunting was complete. The event was supposed to end at midnight anyway so I didn't have time for another sketch.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkin Brigade

The first sign of fall for me this year came when I was driving north on Apopka Vineland Road and I spotted this pumpkin brigade. I was heading out to another sketching location but when I got to the next corner I had to turn around. The 18 wheeler was parked in the grass behind Saint Luke's Methodist Church. I walked around for a bit and peaked inside the truck to see the hundreds of pumpkins both large and small. I noticed bags of granular ant killer scattered here and there. I considered leaning against a tree but there was a huge fire ant mound at it's base with granules sprinkled on top. Pallets were arranged in neat rows and the line of adults and children stretched from the back of the truck to the pallets. I chose to lean against a chain link fence that surrounded an electrical power generator.
Halfway into the sketch a man and woman approached me and asked what I was doing. Before I explained, the woman said, "We provide a safe zone for the children." Wow! She thought I might be a sexual predator, a stalker, a menace! She checked my half finished sketch with little interest, then turned toward the truck and said, "So you find this inspiring?" I countered back with, "Yes, of course how often do you get to see a pumpkin brigade?" I gave her my card and told her to check out the blog. Then she said, "Are you a member of Saint Luke's?" "No" I replied, "though I have sketched quite a few churches in town." I doubt I will be going to a service at St. Luke's anytime soon since the first member I met seemed less than welcoming, perhaps a touch paranoid. Regardless I am happy I stopped and didn't let this rare moment go unsketched. I am left wondering what moral lesson can be learned from carving pumpkins.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Haunted Yard

Driving back from Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards, Terry and I discovered this amazing Victorian haunted house. We drove past at 45miles an hour and I shouted, "Stop the car! We have to go back." Terry did a three point turn and parked in the grass across from this amazing display. It is located on Oakland Avenue just west of Avalon Road, west of downtown Winter Garden. I didn't sketch that afternoon since I knew Terry wanted to get home. It was two days later when I returned alone to sketch. I set up my portable stool on a grassy center median, leaned back against a huge old Live Oak tree and started to sketch. I really needed a bigger sketchbook since the display is so vast. I squeezed what I could onto the pages.
The Live Oak tree's trunk took up most of the width of the median so I was just a few feet away from the cars that rushed by me. Once in a while a large pickup truck with its knobby mud tires buzzing would honk in appreciation or annoyance. While I worked SUV's driven by moms would park and children would pile out and begin exploring. A boy shouted, "Look a jar full of eye balls!" The kids loved the place. Soon the mom would round up the kids and the SUV would roar off.
The owner pulled into his driveway and as his daughter went inside he placed the skulls he had with him around the yard. His name is Joseph Williams and his daughter who also helped with the display was named Josette. This display began on a much smaller scale in 1977. Each year he changes the theme of the display. This year "Pirates of the Caribbean" is the theme. The entire porch is planked to look like the broad side of a ship and dead pirates are everywhere. 20 or so of the figures are animatronics. Joseph was nice enough to walk me around demonstrating the figures that moved. The inside of the house is also elaborately decorated. The house is only open on Halloween night. Each year, two to three thousand people walk through. Joseph gives away glow stick bracelets as well as full sized candy bars, no mini bites here!
Joseph walked me inside even though work still needed to be done to finish the decorations. The first room was my favorite. It was Egyptian themed with a gorgeous gold king Tut mask over the fire place. There was a huge sarcophagus and two sinister mummy's guard the room.
Across the hall Hannibal Lecter strapped to a gurney is threatening in his snakelike oily way. Also in this room Jason threatened with a machete. A butler breathed heavily in the hall with a python coiled around his neck. In the kitchen Dracula stood overlooking a blood fountain. Here guests are offered a beer or soda before heading to the graveyard behind the home. A ton of ice is shipped in for all the drinks. A garish autopsy room on the side of the home was created entirely by Josette. Marie Antoinette cradles her own head on the back porch and this is just a small taste of the horrors to come as you walk out into the darkness.
On the night of Halloween cars park all along the length of Oakland Avenue for two miles or so. In all of the 33 years the display has been put up there has never been an accident. Joseph said that only once was an item stolen. His cell phone disappeared and he simply dialed the number and asked the person to leave it at the 7-11. The phone was returned. The event is free and open to the public. Joseph even refuses to accept donations since he feels it might discourage people from coming out. I certainly hope to return Halloween night.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Interview with Robert Hill

Mark Baratelli invited me to come out and sketch an interview he was having with Robert Hill, the Artistic Director of the Orlando Ballet. The interview took place at the Orlando Public Library. Mark kept the interview entertaining and funny. This is Robert Hills second year as the artistic director and he is on a mission to make ballet relevant to the world we live in by providing audiences with contemporary choreography, music and subject matter while continuing to preserve classical ballet that have stood the test of time. The Orlando Ballet's 37th season begins with Giselle which is one of the timeless classics. For the holiday season, Nutcracker will return to the stage and in February Battle of the sexes hits the stage for a second time. The season will close with Carmen based on the opera.
Questions were fielded from the audience . A man stood and asked, "With a stage filled with dancers, how do we know where to look?" Robert said, "Actually that is a really good question, If the choreography is done right, it will lead your eye." Mark asked a question which bought a laugh from the audience, "Do you let your dancers eat?" Robert responded by pointing out how he encourages his dancers to eat healthy foods.
Conducting the interview in a public place like the library is part of the plan to bring the ballet to a wider audience. After the interview was over, I approached Robert asking him to allow me to sketch rehearsals. He seemed enthusiastic and he said his assistant would call me. I have wanted to sketch ballet rehearsals for well over a year and it looks like I might finally realize that dream.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Amway Opening Day

The media rushed inside the Amway Center once the ribbon had been cut. I was still putting watercolor washes on the previous sketch. I got a text from Mark Baratelli saying he and Tisse Mallon were inside. I needed to get a media sticker in order to join them. He told me to look for a media tent. When I found the tent, it was deserted. I decided to just "fake" my way to the media section. A security guard told me where the media went. I got to a passage where I was stopped and I explained that I was with the media. I was given a sticker and a lanyard. The media and assorted politicians and building contractors were seated on the floor of the huge arena.
What followed was a series of numbing back patting and self congratulating. When the speeches finally subsided, the Mayor asked everyone to shout out the three words that appeared on the jumbo tron, "I was there!" The crowd shouted and clapped as all the lights in the arena blazed brightly in vibrant blue and white. When the ceremony was over, the media stayed behind for a guided tour of the facility.
The first stop on the tour was the Mercedes Lounge where paintings by local artist Tracy Burke were mounted everywhere. This unexpected abstract work was well integrated with the space. The liquid blue tones perfectly matched the room. Gernagin's Restaurant recovered some of the magnificent stained glass from Church Street Station. This restaurant has three tiered levels where people can eat dinner and have a great view of the game. Reservations are required.
There is a children's play area where kids can shoot hoop at baskets hung at 3 different heights.
The highlight at the end of the tour was the Sky Bar. Located at the top of the iconic tower, Sky bar offers stunning views of all of downtown Orlando. Light plastic seats are located all around the bar. I will be going to the Eagles concert next week and I can't wait to see this brand new arena in action.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Amway Center Ribbon Cutting

The opening of the Amway Center to the public resulted in a sizable crowd assembling in the street for a ribbon cutting. Just to get into this area, all bags were searched. The security officer joked with me about having so many pens and notebooks. Seems most media folks are all digital. Mayor Buddy Dyer spoke about the long road that had to be traveled to get to this point. He pointed out that a major feature of the building was its transparency. A practice basketball court can be seen from outside the building from Division Street. He felt that the tower and beacon wodld be known years from now as an iconic Orlando feature. A great consideration is that the building offers great amenities to everyone, not just the Box seat season ticket holders. The $5 seats offer great views of the game. Rainwater is captured from the roof saving an estimated 8000 gallons of water a year.

The Center houses an art collection with work from 25 artists with 300 pieces in the hallways and suites. The open wire mesh that was used in the construction of the tower was produced by a metal worker in Parramore, just a few blocks from the Center. Rather than trying to get a glimpse of the ribbon getting cut, I focused on the media that were on hand to record the cutting. Once the ribbon was cut, fireworks exploded out from the Amway Center letters. Then as I was rushing to put on some watercolor washes, the crowds rushed into the huge open space.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

World's Largest Smiley Face

On the morning of the opening of the Amway Center, hundreds of people gathered on the roof of the parking garage adjacent to the Center to set a Guinness World record for the largest group of people to assemble to create a smiley face. When I starred the sketch the crowd was rather thin but slowly people arrived. Each person was given either a bright yellow or a black poncho. The previous record was 250 people who stood for ten minutes assembled to look like a smiley face. Over the loudspeaker an announcer said, "As soon as you enter the smile zone we want to see those pearly whites."
Mayor Buddy Dyer addressed the assembled crowd along with Brian Dirk the chief operating officer of Smile Train. This organization is responsible for helping get operations for children born with cleft pallets. The organization was given a check for $19,825. One area of the parking garage had hundreds of note cards lying on the pavement arranged in a circular pattern. This was the smile zone. People were given note cards with numbers and letters on it. They needed to locate the matching numbers and letters in the smile zone to know where to stand. When they were in place the announcer said, "Everyone, please put the hoods of your ponchos up." At the last minute volunteers put on yellow ponchos and squeezed in to fill in any holes. Several children who had cleft pallet operations then joined in.
The photographers on the lift verified that a smile was formed. Three helicopters hoovered noisily above the garage and the assembled crowd waited for ten minutes to set the record. Mark Baratelli who took over as the announcer shouted, "Anyone need to use the bathroom?" A few hands rise. "No! Welcome to Orlando!" Everyone was instructed to shout out "Orlando makes me smile!" Finally the clock countdown indicated the record had been set. A bullhorn blast sounded. People started to walk away and the volunteers shouted out, "Go back, Go back!" Morgan from the Guinness World book of records took the stage and announced that the record had been broken with 500 people. Many of the participants came from around the country because they won a competition by answering the following question, Why does Orlando make you smile? One contestant wrote, "It makes my wife smile and what makes her smile makes me smile even more."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Paws for Peace

I drove towards downtown Orlando with the sun rising with a glorious orange glow from behind the skyscrapers. I parked behind the Day building near Panera's. There was already a small crowd of people gathered on the east lawn registering for the dog walk around Lake Eola. Bright purple bags were handed out to each dog owner who registered. With all the frantic butt sniffing action and the occasional threatening barks, I decided to focus less on the dogs and more on the hard working volunteers. Former Democratic State Representative, Dick Bachelor spoke to the gathered crowd but the microphone cut out so I didn't catch much of what was said. I knew that funds raised would go to help victims of domestic violence. 0ne speaker asked each person in attendance to tell five friends about how rampant domestic violence is. Three out of every four women will be victims of a violent crime during their lifetimes. Slightly more than half of female victims have kids under 12 in the house. Scattered all along the dog walk route were signs relating facts abowt domestic violence.
When all the dog owners and their pets were out walking, I decided to look at the colorful T-Shirts which were hung on clothes lines. The Women's Resource Center supplies the shirts to Art Therapy courses at the Women's Residential Counseling Center, the Howard Philips Healing Tree, the Victim's Service Center and Harbor House. Harbor House helped organize the days event. The T-Shirts were boldly painted. This is what some of them said:
Silence the Violence 4-Ever.
I am afraid, help me.
Teach love, respect and equality not violence.
Judeth Johnson, age 40 of Orlando was beaten to death allegedly by her boyfriend.
Because of his choice to beat my friend, I too, am scared for life.
I have the right to live happy - unhurt and safe.
He should fry for what he did to her.
I deserve to be loved.
Scotty raped me on roofies. He's dead now, call it karma. I love myself again.
What didn't kill me made me stronger. No one deserves to be abused. Real men don't hit.
If I cried for help, if I cried rape, would you believe me?
To dad, I made this shirt for you. What you did was wrong and dangerous. You hurt Jordan and you hurt mom. Please stop drinking. Why did you do it? I love you. -Taylor and Jordan
Mental abuse hurts.
We will never die as long as we are remembered.
U deserve true love.
There is light. Faith in god will heal your wounds.
Loyalty, Oppression, Violence, Enraged. This is the love I learned from you.
As I read, I felt a wave of anger and sadness that we live in a society that looks the other way as women and children are abused. The only thing I can do is tell you, and hope you tell others. Help stop the violence.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Redlight Redlight

Terry had a tip from someone that there would be pirates at Redlight Redlight (72 Bennett Road). She was right, as soon as we entered we were faced with pirates galore muscling up to the bar. One pirate with a patch over his eye was a former Disney Feature Animation artist named John Hurst. John and his wife bought the Cameo theater on Colonial and he has turned it into an amazing raw venue where I often find myself sketching. Terry pulled out her real fencing sword and challenged a pirate who pulled out his musket. "you should never bring a foil to a pistol fight" he said. Outside a group of pirates were setting up a 5 pound cannon and aiming it at the Roxy night club across the street. They set the charge and then waited for traffic to clear. The blast took me by surprise and I almost spilled my beer.
I stalked pirates all night but they were constantly on the move. I finally decided to sit on a comfy couch and I sketched Rick Jones's birthday, his girlfriend Katherine Sullivan was at his side. Everyone at the table wore newspaper pirates caps which Rick continued to fold as needed. Hannah Miller stopped in and sat on the couch with me for a while to talk, then she joined the party at the table for the rest ot the night. I was drinking a light tasting honey ale and I liked it. I expected a band of pirates to gather in the background at any moment but they never did. Later Chad Bruce explained to me that pirate garb is rather heavy and hot so they were most likely outside to stay cool. An important lesson learned if you want to sketch pirates in their natural environment.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Turned Away from the Holy Land (Again)

This year I decided I would get into the Holy Land. I considered my plan carefully. Last year, parking involved long lines and was absolute chaos. I decided this year to park at the Millenia Mall and hike over I-4 to get to the park. When I got out of my truck the first thing I heard was helicopters. I knew I was once again entering a theme park war zone. When I approached the gate I entered last year, a security officer approached me and asked, "Got your ticket?" I replied, "No." He said, "You are going to have to go down the sidewalk and enter down there, that is where they are giving away tickets." He pointed.
I passed several news vans with their long coiled antennas raised. When I turned, there was a line of people stretching back in the parking lot as far as the eyes could see. The line switched back and I took my place at the end of the line. I stood behind a mother and father with their four daughters. One of the daughters shouted, "It's my turn, It's my turn!" The dad lifted her up quickly and kissed her face and neck several times,"mwah, mwah." The younger daughter then shouted, "Do me! Do me!" The father did this for as long as he could then he said, "No more turns." I turned and looked behind me, the line was growing longer. For a brief moment, a light breeze hit me, drying the sweat on my back. I resisted the urge to sketch since I had sketched the line last year and that was part of the reason I didn't get in the park.
A countdown started from a family in line, "3...,2...,1..." was followed by a shout of "Hallelujah". A little girl dressed in pink maneuvered her wheel chair with amazing dexterity. An old man relaxed in a lawn chair. There was no shade. Two Roman Soldiers all in red and gold marched through the line and into the park via a gap in the fence. A woman shouted out, "Hello everyone, Jesus Christ loves you all!" I didn't understand why she was preaching when everyone in line was drinking the Kool-aid. I finally inched forward to a spot where the line turned. I was shocked to discover that the line turned the corner away from the entrance for a hundred yards or so. I waited another half hour and then an angry woman walked past the line saying, "You are all waiting for no reason,. They ran out of tickets!" I immediately got out of line and rushed up to the gates to sketch. The Central Florida News 13 van pulled up and set up their camera. Two women approached the news anchor and said, "We never got a ticket. We came all the way from New Jersey only to be turned away." A policeman started shouting at the people still standing outside the gate, "Everyone to the left! We need room for vehicles to get through! People in the back of the line, back up, I need five feet clear in front of the gate."
Once a year, Holy Land is required to open the park for free in order to keep their tax exempt status. The park has a capacity of 2000 guests and then they have to close the gate. Last year the people who didn't get in, all got vouchers to return for free any time in the next month. A park spokes person said the vouchers resulted in a situation that was out of control. Hundreds of people showed up the next day resulting in more chaos. The voucher was the Christian thing to do, but if you think about it, also resulted in profits going down. Even if everyone used their free voucher, it would still be cheaper for Holy Land than paying their taxes.
As I packed up to leave, the line outside the park's closed gates continued to grow. People were waiting for guests to leave the park in the hope that they would then get in. I don't have the kind of faith needed to stand baking in the sun for many more hours.
On the walk back to my truck, I decided to treat myself to a Tutti Frutty Frozen Yogurt at the Millenia Mall. On the windshield of my truck I got this note from security officer Krigsner: "Mall at Millenia parking lot is for Mall at Millenia guests or employees only. Please relocate your vehicle if you are not shopping or working at the mall. Thank you." God I hate malls and theme parks. What am I doing in Orlando? Security guard Krigsner, my Tutti Frutty receipt is in the mail to you.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stuffing Backpacks

I went to the Children's Home Society offices to sketch as 800 or so backpacks were stuffed full of school supplies. Amanda Chadwick greeted me at the door and walked me around the work space. As part of his "Available" project, Brian Feldman was in a back room removing unwanted marketing items from donated backpacks. Three young girls, children of Home Society workers, had volunteered as well. Their names were Corinne, Madison and Bailey. First all the backpacks had to be emptied of all the donated supplies inside, so that every backpack was guaranteed to have exactly the same supplies when they were stuffed. Brian goofed around and had the girls laughing the whole time. Brian would make a great dad. He found a tiny donated bicycle with rather deflated tires and rode it around the cubicles much like Butch Cassidy. The girls took great pleasure in throwing school supplies at Brian and Amanda would step in and insist we all get back on task. Somehow through all the play, the job got done. I only did one sketch because at noon I was going to meet a Children's Society case manager and ride along to see a backpack get delivered to a child who needed it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Landmark Forum

While I was sketching in the lobby of the Sonesta Hotel, Kelly Medford, an artist from Florence Italy struck up a conversation. She invited me to return the next day to experience what she called a wisdom workshop which is an offshoot of "Landmark Forum." Being curious, I returned. When I entered the ballroom, people were gathered in small clusters in animated conversations. There was a point to all the social interactions. On the chalkboard at the front of the room the following questions were written: "What is happening in your life? What do you want to get out of being here?" It was later stated that life is a conversation, that one person can change a conversation and a conversation can change the world. Participants were asked to continue a conversation even when it got uncomfortable. One person said that when the conversation moved beyond the awkward moment, then suddenly the person would offer some insight which he needed. Everyone was asked to get seated. I continued to work on the sketch in the back of the room. People were asked to introduce guests. Kelly stood and gave me such a glowing introduction about being an influential artist who is helping build and strengthen the arts community. I got choked up, and a tear rolled down my cheek. I didn't bother to wipe it away since no one was close enough to see. I shouted out, "Thank you Kelly" and got right back to work.
On tables around the room, there were scrapbooks which had visual biographies. Each page signified a year. Kelly showed me hers and there were childhood photos and snippets of conversation. Post its with negative thoughts were pasted here and there. These negative comments were things she said at the workshop and they originated years ago in her past. By recognizing the origin of the negative thoughts she could leave them behind. She could complete her past.
Other collages were called Originating Circles. They acknowledged that words that come out of our mouths create our new reality. Images were picked to symbolize those words. I read the back of one,
"Seems like I don't trust women."
"Seems like I don't trust people."
"Seems like life is a big lie."
"Seems like everybody but me is crazy."
None of these statements were true and by visualizing them they can again leave them behind.
The workshop really stressed the idea that we are part of a community. We need to talk to people to find out what they have to offer. If we use the community, anything is possible. Things we create live through other people.
Another important aspect of the workshop was to recognize the importance of play in our adult lives. Life can be play and it is important to bring that to the people in our lives. By playing we bring a flow back into life. As an exercise people sat in circles and had to relate something that they always wanted to do in a group but never had. Kelly pointed out that she had just seen people shouting out hell and brimstone on Church Street at night. She had never shouted out her convictions to a group. She stood on a chair an shouted with her fist raised. I had related that I never express anger. I shouted in anger though I had no one to direct it at. Then the play began. I was recruited as part of a human pyramid. At the front of the room a chorus line formed and then a conga line. A woman related that while she was in the women's room, she started singing, "If your happy and you know it clap your hands!" Women in the other stalls started to sing along. When it was all over, Carl related that "This never happens in life, only in the movies. In the proper environment there can be play. Thank you."
To make anything happen, first you must dream it. Perhaps a community that allows for play is possible. The universe rewards action. Nervousness is power and energy. Be big in the moment. Inspire those around you with playful exuberance. Continue to grow every day. Think big, pursuing that dream while being truly alive.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Theater Tailgate #1

I arrived at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater to find Brian Feldman, Sultana Ali and my wife Terry relaxing in lawn chairs in the parking lot. Sultana's Nissan Pathfinder had it's tailgate open exposing her clutter. I noted the clutter, like her Vasque hiking boots and a dinosaur puzzle, since she asked me to neaten things up in the sketch. Brian offered Terry a non-alcoholic drink since she arrived just moments before I did. Brian initiated this tailgate party for "The 39 Steps" which was having its first matinee performance that day. The truck's stereo was playing a book on tape reading of the John Buchan book the play is based on. I sat in the shade across the way to sketch. Sultana jogged over and put a pirate head eraser on my pencil. Then Matt Simantov arrived with Amanda Chadwick who was hooting and hollering. "Oh Yea! Time for a theater tailgate party! Wooo!"
This tailgate party had been going on since about nine that morning with the actual play starting at two. I arrived for the last hour figuring the largest number of people would be involved right before the show. This is an inspired idea. I'm usually rushing to get to performances on time. In fact, I missed one Fringe performance by being late. It would be so nice to arrive early, socialize and enjoy great conversations with friends at a relaxed tailgate. I hope arts groups around town adopt and expand on the idea, or I hope Brian expands the premise. This idea has a touch of the Fringe about it and its time has come.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mounted Police Horses Struck

On October 1st the Amway Center opened its doors to the public for the first time with much fanfare and an obligatory ribbon cutting. Mounted Police were dispatched not so much for crowd control but as a display of Orlando's finest. The Mounted unit barn is a bucolic spot right next to the Citrus Bowl. Rather than loading the horses in the trailer they decided to let them get some exercise by riding them to the Arena.
On the way two of the horses were struck from behind by a vehicle traveling an estimated 30 miles per hour. The horses legs buckled and the two volunteer riders were thrown clear. There was broken glass and the horses were bloodied. Both horses bolted once they got back up and they returned to the barn without the riders. The struck horses were named Captain and Peanut. Katherine and Katie were the volunteers. Katie was scraped and bruised and she had to be taken to the hospital. Her riding helmet was cracked. After a barrage of tests to be sure there was no concussion, she was released. The policeman, named Joey stayed at the scene and called for help. His horse named Farran, had bucked but he managed to stay on. The horses didn't suffer any broken bones but they were bruised and cut up. Captain had a bloody patch above his eye and Peanut had a nasty gash around his mouth possibly from the bit.
Thankfully no one was seriously injured.The driver involved is the father of City Commissioner Sam Ings. He is 90 years old and said he couldn't see due to glare and his visor was down. It is unknown if charges will be filed. Veterinarians were quick to respond and the horses have been eating so hopes are high that they will pull through this tragedy.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Poetry in Motion

I went to Starz Dance Studio on 436 in Casselberry, to see one of the final rehearsals before "Poetry in Motion" hits the stage at the Winter Park playhouse. When I walked in, Larissa Humiston, the choreographer and founder of Emotions Dance, welcomed me and made sure all the dancers knew who I was. Dancers were filling out paper work committing themselves to Nude Nite in February and Element Earth in April. Larissa surprised the dancers when she announced that they would not be doing a run through of the whole show. One dancer expressed concerns as her face flushed red. She was visibly upset . She pointed out that the show was only three days away. Larissa wanted to give the dancers a rest but she decided to put the issue up for a vote. She told the dancers to discuss and she stepped out into the hall. I was in the midst of a possible mutiny. Larissa re-entered the room before a final verdict was decided on. She joined the discussion and finally put it up for vote again. This time she told all the dancers to close their eyes and raise their hand to vote. Only two dancers wanted to run through the show.
Larissa lead the dancers in some warm up exercises and then spent the rest of the evening helping the dancers feel connected to one another like a family. She had all the dancers sit in a circle. She asked each dancer to then tell two truths about themselves and one lie. Everyone then had to guess the lie. Rather than hard work, they began to play and in the process learn about each other. Listening in as I sketched, I found out Larissa hates socks and likes tiny collectible things.
A second game involved the dancers picking one of four songs and then standing in a corner of the room designated for that song. No one went to the corner of the room where I happened to be sitting. Either the song sucked or the dancers didn't want to stand near the creepy artist.
One of the songs assigned was Time Warp from the Rocky Horror picture show. The two dancers in that corner had 5 minutes to choreograph a dance routine to the music. The dance they came up with was lively and entertaining. There were the required hip thrusts but the rest of the routine was spontaneous and fun, performed with constant laughter. The other two songs offered equally fun and spontaneous results. The important thing was that everyone was laughing and having a great time. Worries about the big performance in three days were gone.
The last exercise that Larissa pulled out, was to have all the dancers walk as a group to the Mexican place right up the street. With my sketch finished, I packed up and went home.
Larissa manages to bring plenty of truth and sincerity to the choreography, with dancers who are committed to the performance and each other. Emotions Dance will be performing "Poetry in Motion" tonight (October 1) and tomorrow (October 2), at the Winter Park Playhouse (711 North Orange Avenue, Winter Park). Tickets are only $20. Tickets can be purchased online at www.emotionsdance.org with a credit card OR
From an Emotions Dance dancer or representative for cash or check OR
Cash or check the night of the performance (as long as tickets don't sell out) Get your tickets NOW as they are going fast!