Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kaleigh Baker

Dina Peterson suggested I come out to Tanqueray's, (100 South Orange Avenue), late one evening to see Kaleigh Rose Baker perform along with the Absinthe Trio. I had seen her sing once before as Janis Joplin and she was amazing. The bar was smokey, tight, dark and the drinks flowed. Kaleigh has delivery that resonates deeply and then sours free. After each song she would take a drink from her cup resting in a stand beside her. She would toast the crowd. She had an edgy quality, always seeming a bit out of control as she sang with her eyes half open. Nathan Anderson performed on the sax beside her and his instrument wailed in lazy indifference. Halfway into the sketch my eyes began to water from the smoke. I closed them for the longest time swaying to the music and waiting for the stinging to pass. It didn't help that every song expressed pain and longing.

I was introduced to a singer named "Cat, Cat, Cat" who was an actress from NYC planned to sing later in the evening. She had on a stylish fedora and she swayed to the music along with everyone else. After the first set I got to meet Kaleigh and the members of the band. I passed around my sketchbook to let them see what I was up to.

As the second set started up, it was time to go home.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Feels so Good!

I've been feeling disconnected from friends and family lately, so on Monday night I decided I needed to treat myself to a sweet taste of jazz at the Grand Bohemian downtown (325 South Orange Avenue.) Jazz is performed every Monday night starting at 8pm, and there is no cover. A collection jar is kept out and any tips go towards the needy in the community. When I entered the bar, Yvonne Coleman, who organizes the jazz jams, gave me a warm welcoming hug. She is such an amazing champion of my work. Between sets she introduced me to the crowd. I ordered a Blue Moon and got to work.

The performers I sketched were Joey Pegram on the drums, Joseph Jebanni on the sax and Don Black on the keyboard. The spontaneous flowing riffs swept over me and caused the lines of my sketch to dance and vibrate. I didn't have to second guess or worry, the music allowed the lines to flow with simple spontaneous joy. Miss Jacqueline Jones got up to sing. As the sax screamed it's pleasure, her body vibrated electrically to the sound. Several minutes passed as the sax continued its joyous conversation. The crowd shouted back and Jacqueline shook harder. The place erupted. This was my first time seeing her perform and I wish I had caught her in a sketch. I am sure I will be seeing her again. Outside a firetruck pulled up in front of the hotel. Its red lights flashed in time to the music which flowed unhindered.

A performance of "Feels so Good" had me swaying to the beat my spirit lifted. Dr. Otto Gomez stepped in and livened the performance with his awesome trumpet playing. One of the final songs of the evening was, "This Masquerade." I was completely lost in the moment. I left after this set, my sketch complete. The beat stayed with me affecting my walk back to the truck. I didn't turn on the radio on the drive home, instead I hummed and tapped my foot to the beat that was stuck in my head and like a heart beat wouldn't stop. When life offers no resolutions, jazz is my anchor and joy.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Miami International Book Fair

0n the second day of the Miami International Book Fair, Elayne Pines, our hostess had one more author interview to do for her syndicated radio show "The Book Report." I did this sketch from outside the authors lounge which I had been denied access to. In this courtyard near the children's area, authors would sit at tables and sign books for the lines of people who gathered. Some people would arrive really early and sit on the pavement to wait. This book festival has grown quickly over the years but it maintains it's grassroots simplicity. Authors love coming to the fair because for once they are treated like rock stars.

Later that day I got a text from Brian Feldman who wanted my help to get into the book fair. I won't go into the details of that clandestine mission, which involved a homeless man, a sketch and hiding from security behind a CNN TV broadcast truck. When Brian arrived, Terry and I were waiting outside an auditorium to see Salmun Rushdie. Brian waited in line with us for a while working his iPhone the whole time trying to get me in to sketch a Spanish singer that night. He didn't have any luck getting tickets and he wandered off to look at all the tents full of books. He had to leave before the book fair closed to get to another "Going Green" performance at the Adrienne Arsht Center. Brian had arranged another performance in Miami where he will autograph 1500 head shots for anyone who wants one.

While walking the book fair I paid close attention to every graphic novel I saw. I finally had to buy a graphic novel by Nicolas De Crecy called "Glacial Period." I have been talking to an author about collaborating on a graphic novel, so I am opening myself up to the possibility.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Miami International Book Fair

The Miami International Book Fair is a huge event that sprawls taking up four city blocks. Elayne Pines who host a radio show called "The Book Report" was conducting interviews with authors all during the day. She lead us to building one of Miami Dade College where she would conduct her interviews on the second floor. Terry was her assistant for the day. I was left on my own to wander the booths and sketch. The fair was in part sponsored by the Mexico Tourist Information Association. In the center of the sketch there is a Red Mariachi Clown who wandered through the crowd. Later that day, Salman Rushdie, the well known author of Satanic Verses, was walking in the same intersection towards the authors lounge in building one. Wide eyed fans approached him, letting him know how his writings had affected their lives. Since Elayne wanted to interview him, we ended up becoming part of his entourage following him into the building.

After the sketch was finished we went to an authors panel discussion on "The Facebook Effect." David Kirkpatrick has been writing about Facebook since it began as a college meeting site. He pointed out that this is the only company to go from 0 to 600 thousand users in 6.5 years. He pointed out inaccuracies in the recent movie. The founder, Mark Zuckerberg, did not form the site after loosing a girlfriend, he had a girlfriend the whole time. More importantly David was highly impressed by Mark and he felt Mark was inaccurately portrayed as an asshole. Marks friend didn't walk away from the company empty handed but became an accidental billionaire.

By next year FB should have a billion users. Zuckerberg doesn't focus his energies on advertising or marketing, he hires people who do. Instead, all his energy goes into making immediate improvements to the program. This process of making immediate improvements and changing to meet new demands is what is making Facebook an unstoppable force. Another author, Dale Lamanga told hon he built a multi-million dollar business by simply selling tweezers. He stressed the importance of delegating responsibilities and empowering workers. He pointed out how important it is to focus on three things consistently, product, sales and management.

The third author, Larry Kramer discussed the idea of convergence. How all forms of media are now available on one platform. The iPad makes it possible for children to learn in new ways, a book might have a picture of a ball and when touched, the word ball appears and the audio plays. Newspapers that try to only promote the printed product fail if they do not also put their best content online. Consumers are in total control of where and when they will read and watch content. For content creators who embrace the new trends this is a very exciting time to market work in new and limitless ways.

Friday, November 26, 2010

An Evening of Eligance

Lago is a beautiful restaurant on the shore of Lake Baldwin (4979 New Broad Street Baldwin Park). The Evening of Elegance promised a complimentary cup of wine and piano entertainment featuring songs of Frank Sinatra. How could I resist? Funds raised at this event benefited Fertile Dreams, an organization that embraced hope for couples seeking paths to parenthood. When I arrived the bar was nearly empty except for a business man eating dinner. Slowly as I sketched people arrived and I let them populate the empty chairs in my sketch. One woman showed up with a young girl perhaps five years old. I overheard that this child was born thanks to In Vitro fertalization. The little girl was often the center of attention, often being told how cute and beautiful she was.

The organizer of the evening announced that the piano player and singer both had a cold and would not be able to perform. I was thankful since I was perched on a tall stool next to the piano which was probably there for the singer. I stopped rushing and relaxed into the sketch. This is the first sketch in a new sketchbook. I received the book from the "Sketchbook Project". Thousands of artists around the country are filling these sketchbooks and then mailing them back to the Brooklyn Museum of art where they will form a permanent sketchbook library. The collection will also travel the country allowing people to check out sketchbooks to view. As I was finishing up my sketch, the little girl waved at me and said, "Good bye." I smiled and repeated, "Good bye" in a sing song voice. That was the longest conversation I had that night.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chess in Dupont Circle:

It was a crisp clear fall day in D.C. and everywhere we went it seemed, couples were getting married. Our intrepid group of sketch crawlers continued down Massachusetts Avenue and stopped at the Islamic Center. I once again had to use a bathroom so I made my way downstairs. The room had a large area dedicated to bathing and then two rest rooms. I was surprised to find the toilet was srmply a hole in the floor with two foot shaped indentations on either side. I was tempted to sketch but without someone using it, I didn't see the point. Instead I went outside and started drawing the Islamic Center from across the street. As I worked a tall black man in a flowing blue robe walked by. A limousine pulled up and people piled out dressed in gorgeous robes. They were from Sierra Leone and there was going to be a wedding. I cursed myself for being so far away but soon the fluttering crowd of robes and head dresses disappeared inside.

After I finished my sketch, I walked up to the ornate entrance to take a peak inside. As I did, Meredith Nelson, one of the urban sketchers, walked out with her scarf wrapped over her head. I was impressed with how she respected and honored the traditions. Before I could start a second sketch, our group gathered and we all started down Massachusetts Avenue once again. Passing a handsome brownstone, a crowd of people gathered on the steps caught my eye. A more traditionally dressed couple, she in a flowing white dress and he in a tuxedo, exited the building with cheers and a shower of rice. I realized I had lost my group of sketchers so I jogged to catch up.

The last stop on the Crawl was DuPont Circle. Most of the remaining sketchers gathered around the center fountain but I was immediately drawn to the group of men gathered to play chess. Spectators contemplated the game with as much seriousness as the players. As I sketched a brass band started playing on a street behind me. A group of college students were lounging in the grass beside me playing with an awkward large pawed puppy. The puppy kept testing the confines of his leash, bounding forward happily until the leash snapped taught choking him back. The chess game grew serious and a player cursed the stupidity of a move he had made. Check mate. I returned to the fountain and the remaining artists shared their work. So much artistic variety is always refreshing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kahill Gibran Monument

On the 27th International Sketch Crawl I joined a dozen or so artists in Washington D.C. for the day. After regrouping at the National Cathedral, we moved as a group down Massachusetts Avenue towards DuPont Circle. We passed Embassy after Embassy. The Iraq Embassy was deserted. We finally stopped as a group at this small park where there was a monument to Kahlil Gibran. I had read "The Prophet" as a budding adolescent in high school. The book is even more resonant as the years pass and my heart grows mature from its years of work. Seasons and friendships come and go. Orlando is such a transient city, usually a stepping stone to a greater challenge in a much bigger city.

This bronze statue feels light and airy, the doves are off balance as if about to take flight. As I sketched, my heart relaxed. Accuracy was less important than flow. Being in the company of artists all striving to capture and retain a moment always feels important and time stands still. After this day, the Washington D.C. artists formed a group flickr site where they could share their work. I am considering forming a similar Orlando group, but then I need to seek out others who share my vision.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Woolite

Mona Washington the author in residence at the Kerouac House, hosted a reading of her one act play Woolite. Mona began as the narrator setting the scene. In a laundry room, a male character played by Dennis Neil, is doing a load of laundry when he stuffs something in his pocket. The female character played by Val Gamble enters. The couple flirts and cuddles affectionately. It becomes apparent that they are a loving married couple. As they hug, Val notices the bulge in her husbands pocket. She pulls out a pair of woman's panties, not hers. What followed was a long argument in which she questions her husbands fidelity. She comes to realize she almost wished he had cheated on her since THIS could not be discussed with anyone. The play was laugh out loud funny at times. For instance she suddenly realized that he must have been a panty thief in college.

The question and answer session after the reading was just as outlandish and funny. As one member of the audience said, "Every rabbit has her habit." During the argument, the husband counters with the fact that she is very loud in bed. Of course she was getting her freak on within the confines of the marrage while he was sniffing other women's panties. How men and women vary in defining infidelity is explored with great comic effect.

There was a going away party for Mona with snacks and wine after the reading. Rachel Leona Kapitan told me a bit about the book she is working on. Scott Donald, one of the partners at Neon Forest, arrived after the reading and told me about how the gallery was doing. Mona and I discussed the possibility of working on a graphic novel together. The story centers around a young college art student who moves to Orlando and discovers the thriving quirky art scene. Who knows where this story might lead?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Phenomenal Conundrum

Back in Orlando, I found I had time to kill between scheduled sketch assignments. I was coming from Baldwin Park where the opening of a French furnishings store turned out to be an uninspiring subject. I drove to College Park where Mona Washington was going to have a reading of one of her plays at the Kerouac House. I was early so I stopped at infusion tea and ordered an Italian Gelato. Sitting on a comfortable couch in the back of the room, I was reminded of a scene in "Eat Pray Love" where the main character sits quietly in a bustling Italian square savoring a Gelato and enjoying being alone taking in the scene around her. As I savored my Gelato, using the delicate little spoon, I noticed Rachel Kapitan sitting at a table near the door, looking a bit corporate yet very edgy, working on a laptop probably writing up a storm.

In the far corner, a guitarist got behind the mic and started strumming. His friend worked the knobs on a speaker and walked into the middle of the room to check the sound levels. When he was satisfied, he sat down and started playing the drum. They had a warm, mellow soothing sound and I moved closer. A group of women had just abandoned the front table, so I sat down and started sketching. I really had to rush the sketch since I only had an hour before the Kerouac house reading. One of the women returned and she jokingly raised an eye brow and pointed at me as she picked up her full cup of tea. I laughed as she quickly made her way to the door to catch up with her friends.

The musicians were Alexander Gunn and Raymond Hussmann and they called themselves "Phenomenal Conundrum." They hail from Washington D.C. and they had been performing the Pirate Bars along Florida's coast before sharing their music at Infusion Tea. They had some paintings from a friend leaning against the wall beside them. On the guitar a message was scrawled that said, "This machine kills Fascists." As I got close to finishing the sketch, I saw Rachel walk past the plate glass windows. I knew she was looking forward to Mona's play reading, so I knew I was out of time. The Kerouac house is only a few blocks from Infusion. The sketch was finished with a mad flurry of watercolor washes. I left in the middle of a song, fanning the sketchbook to try and dry the washes.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Festival of the Masters

Terry and I went down to Disney Village to see the Festival of the Masters. Artist who displayed their work in tents had to have won a "Best in Show" ribbon in another festival in order to exhibit here. I parked my truck in the lot behind Cirque du Soleil which isn't as crowded as the lots up front. As we walked in Terry told me to go find a spot to sketch since I'm not very good company until I have a sketch under my belt. I prowled the festival hunting for the perfect spot filled with color, crowds and contrast. I bumped into Kathy and Eric Blackmore and she showed me some cool brass sculpted bookmarks she had purchased. As I continued my search, I saw a woman sitting on the ground working on a bold ink line sketch of the Disney Architecture. She was about half way into the sketch so I resisted the temptation to find out if she was a fellow urban sketcher.

I finally decided to sit in the shade leaning back against a "Morning Glory" movie poster. Large metal sculptures of a horse, bull and a lion were on display in the center of the square. There was a constant crowd gathered taking iPhone photos and reading the plaques. 0ne man stood frozen a few feet in front of me and he said, "Should I hold still?" He had guessed that I was sketching and he asked , "Can I take a look?" I said, "Of Course." Rather than discuss art, he asked, "Did you see "Social Network?" I replied, "YES! It is without a doubt the best film I have seen this year!" He let me know, "I have seen it three times." When he found out I was a blogger he said, "You better watch what you write, you could get yourself in trouble. When I pointed out that , "Zuckerberg became a billionaire." He said, "Well at the time he wasn't."

I started adding color to the Wolfgang Puck signage, "Live, Love, Eat." I called Terry to find out where she was once I finished my sketch. We held hands as we walked towards the far end of Disney Village where Anna McCambridge and her mom were doing chalk sidewalk art. We found Anna's panel of a Blue Owl but the image was finished and Anna wasn't around. Terry and I considered getting a drink at the House of Blues but the slack service convinced us to leave. When we got back to my truck, I was shocked to find the original Carl Knickerbocker magnetic painting that I had on my tailgate had been stolen! The thief should know that for the rest of his life, he will be cursed by the horrible legend of the alligator man. Once a month in an agonizing process, his skin will turn scaly and green and he will return to the primitive, primordial swamp where his empty spirit belongs. I felt like I had been gator tail slapped in the stomach. Another reason I hate going to Disney.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Going Green the Wong Way


Getting to the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami was an adventure in battling congested urban traffic. Terry and I followed Elaine Pines who was a native Miami dweller. We hoped to get to downtown Miami from Miami Beach in 45 minutes. There were five accidents as we drove down I-95. Traffic slowed to a crawl. We considered scrubbing the whole theater experience since we were running late. Orlando performance artist Brian Feldman was performing in the theater lobby for an hour before Kristina's Wong's show. Brian and Kristina had met last summer at Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach. Terry dropped me off at the theater steps and I jogged inside. I picked up our tickets and then asked the box office assistant where Brian was performing. He looked at me with a blank stare and said, "Brian Feldman? I'm sorry, I don't recognize the name." I thanked him anyway and searched the lobby. After I searched in the men's room (you never know where Brian might perform!), I found him right near the Carnival Studio Theater entrance. Beside him was a 5 gallon gasoline container. Brian lifted the container and took a long drink. Behind him, a large mosaic mural by Cundo Bermudez called "Ways of Performing" decorated the wall. He rested for a bit, coughing between long draughts. The arriving audience patrons that slowly crowded into the lobby never seemed to notice Brian. I, on the other hand, found the image of him sucking down gasoline timely and funny.I knew there wasn't much time to sketch so I rushed to get lines on the page.

Kristina's show, Going Green the W0ng Way, directed by Paul Tei, began with an image of Earth projected on a large screen. Hundreds of plastic grocery bags were piled up and toys were lined up along the back of the stage. The show was a no holds barred hilarious experience. She had no problems with self-deprecating humor. Everyone in the audience had a plastic grocery bag on their seat with a water bottle filled with beans that made for a fun alternative to clapping. The first act began with Wong shouting her environmental beliefs into a megaphone to her middle school classmates. She broke into a fast-paced rap that outlined her devotion to Mother Earth.

One of the show's funniest moments came as she demonstrated the wonders of a reusable tampon called The DivaCup. Her attempts to demonstrate this environmentally friendly product were embarrassingly funny. The story she later told about trying to reduce her carbon footprint by driving a car that ran on vegetable oil was endlessly funny. The car became a money pit, with endless trips to mechanics. She related the inner workings of the LA bus and subway system with so much detail, it became a spoof on how insane the inner workings were. I found it ironic that Terry and I had to battle so much traffic congestion in order to get to the show.

The environmentally friendly messages were driven home with humor. Life's bittersweet ironies were mined and exposed. The show never missed a beat. I laughed the whole time as I discovered more about Wong and the World she wanted to save. There are two more performances: Saturday, November 20th at 7pm and the same day at 10pm in the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Carnival Studio Theater (1300 N. Biscayne Blvd. Miami). Cost is $30-35.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Shipyard Brewery

Allison Stevens has been helping spearhead the creation of a Shipyard Brewery right in the heart of Winter Park (200 West Fairbanks Avenue, the former site of Strollo’s Cucino Due). Fred Forsley, president of Shipyard Brewing company of Portland Maine. Allison, the new brewery's General Manager, has been doing the whole project of construction, retail, marketing, and menus on her own. When I first visited the Brewery, Allison told me that they had baked 300 pounds of bread the previous weekend. Much of it had been sold to the finest restaurants in town but there were racks of fresh bread lining the baking shelves. She threw large loaves and baguettes in a brown paper bag and insisted I take it. This was delicious European style bread without preservatives. Saturday November 20th, there will be a group of 40 home brewers going for a private beer and bread tasting.

The brewery will feature a 28 gallon brewing system. A hole had just been knocked into the western wall to accommodate the system. When I arrived a cement truck was being used to drop fresh cement into an outdoor shelf on which the equipment will rest. Two workers dragged a 2 by 4 over the wet cement to flatten the surface. Inside a loud metallic screeching noise shattered the relative calm. At the front door Allison was handling business on her cell phone. She high fived me and I walked inside. In the kitchen workers were using a large saw to cut a hole in the foundation. One worker handled the saw while the other slurped up the slurry with a wet vac. They were trying to uncover hot and cold water lines under the building. Once the thick foundation was cut into sections, they then lifted out the chunks and dropped them in a wheel barrel. The saw operator shouted out, "You think I'm making enough NOISE!" I shouted back, "You are getting there." I considered stuffing two erasers in my ears, but I chose to remain stoic.
I was told that a new counter area would be built in this area. Originally they thought they might have to plumb the new waterline up to the ceiling and over but the owner insisted the new sink be plumbed directly to the main water line below the building. Once the cement was lifted clear, they shoveled out the dirt and found the PVC pipes a few inches down.
The water was turned off for the entire building. I noticed this since I couldn't refill my watercolor brushes. The new lines were branched off and glued in place with bright yellow PVC cement. While this work was being done below the foundation, an electrician was busy high up on a ladder snaking in new electrical lines.

I told Allison that I was going to get some lunch and come back. She said I could have a hot dog with the crew, so I stayed, continuing on my second sketch. The workers had a BBQ grill set up outside. I ate my lunch like a hungry wolf listening while one worker told a dirty joke that I will not repeat here.

Once completely set up, the brewery will be run by accomplished local brewer Ron Raike. He will brew small batches of seasonal and unique beers based on his inherent creativity and seasonal ingredient availability. Allison told me local home brewers will be invited to share their experiences and findings, making the brewery a creative place of experimentation and discovery.

The Big Wheel Provisions Marketplace will feature a regularly revolving selection of deli items, local produce and eggs, cheeses, hard-to-find specialty food products, cookbooks, food-focused periodicals, and kitchen tools. Alfresco dining, cooking classes, catering, and local delivery service will also be offered. Located right next to Rollins College, I can already imagine this place crowded every evening, becoming a creative social hub.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Magnifique!

Magnifique! A Voci Dance Nighttime Glowing Fairy Fundraiser will be held at the Mennello Museum of American Art (900 East Princeton Street Orlando, FL) on Saturday, November 20th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Admission is just $15.

As dusk falls, the audience will gather beneath Orlando’s oldest oak tree for an evening walking tour of the grounds of the Mennello Musuem of Art. Refreshments, wine and a raffle will accompany the performance. All funds go to Voci Dance to support their many performances, workshops and community outreach programs they present throughout the year.

Since I was going to be on assignment in Miami that weekend, I called Genevieve Bernard, the choreographer and founder of Voci Dance and I asked to sketch a rehearsal. She filled me in on the entire rehearsal schedule. When I arrived at the Mennello Museum, I found Genevieve in the parking lot talking to two dancers. Rakia Mikhailenko had just flown in from Seattle for this performance and she was on her cell talking to her children. Leah Marke is the center pin of the performance and she was at every rehearsal whereas other dancers might have conflicts with work schedules. Genevieve explained that there would be seven fairies, including a pregnant fairy, on performance night, but for this rehearsal there were but two. Actress, Sarah Lockhard, showed up, and her roll was as an honorary fairy, helping illuminate the lead dancers.

The hatchback of Genevieve's car was open and inside were lights, costumes and fairy wings. Leah's sister Tamara had designed the wings which are made of a light translucent fabric. Leah secured her wings by tying a knot just below her chest and then tying two more shoulder straps in place. Genevieve had made a Walmart run the night before, to get small LED lights which will be used on performance night. With everyone's wings in place, the dancers walked out to a huge Live Oak tree whose branches gracefully bowed out, touching the ground, then branching back up. The late afternoon sun illuminated this magical secluded cove with patches of warm light.

Leah lead the performance. Her movements were graceful and light. She danced using the tree's huge branches as a natural staging area. Rakia picked up her moves by following Leah's lead. Sarah followed the dancers, crouching low and using an LED flashlight to illuminate the movements. The fairy's approached the main tree trunk, perhaps 20 feet in circumference and they worshipfully raised their arms and arched their backs, their arched fingertips reaching toward the stars. They were a delight to watch. On performance night their wings will glow, adding a haunting element to the already surreal choreography. Genevieve explained to me that she was inspired in part when imagining Magnifique, by the amazing, unexpected work of Henry Darger. Doug Rhodehamel will fill the mysterious cove with glowing mushrooms and DJ Nigel will supply the music. Tell your Facebook friends, this is one evening you do not want to miss!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2011 Fringe Lottery

The tension was palpable in the circular Patrons Room in the Orlando Shakespeare Theater this Monday night. A single folding table was set up at the front of the room and seats were set up in rows for the anxious crowd of performers, producers, directors and avid Fringe fanatics. For those new to the Fringe experience, it is a 13 day festival founded on the concept of offering 100% unjuried (hence the lottery), 100% uncensored and 100% accessible theater, music, dance, art and madness to all types and ages, where 100% of the box office ticket sales go directly back to the artists. The longest running U.S. Fringe Festival, the misson of Orlando Fringe is to provide an accessible, affordable outlet that draws diverse elements of the community together and inspires creative excellence through the arts. The 20th Annual Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival takes place May 18-30, 2011 in Orlando Loch Haven Park. Nine ticketed venues are located within Orlando Shakes and Orlando Repertory Theatre, along with three Bring Your Own Venues for unique site-specific performances.

Chasmin Hallyburton sat with her laptop open, ready to record the winners of the lottery. Shannon Lacek was in charge of pulling the winning acts from the bucket which was held by Beth Marshall. Beth held up her cell phone and shouted, "Everyone say hello to Brian Feldman who will be tweeting the results from Palo Alto, California!" Everyone shouted, "Hello, Brian." Once an act was picked from the bucket, Shannon would read the title and then George Wallace would tape the card up on one of the colored poster boards. Each poster board represented a different venue. Some acts drawn from the hat caused massive shouts of delight since performers were in the room. I shouted myself when I heard Dog Powered Robot was going to have its own show! After the lottery was finished, Evan and Christy Miga stopped by to say hello. I expressed how excited I was for them, and then Christy showed me her handbag, and there was Fisher's tiny furry face. Fisher is the dog behind Dog Powered Robot, and he is a rising star!

I went up to the poster boards and wrote down the shows that had been picked. I couldn't read my own writing, so check out Orlando Sentinel Theater Critic Matt Palm's list to start picking the shows you might like to see. So many friends will be performing. Brian Feldman will have an as of yet undisclosed performance in an alternative venue. Jeremy Seghers and Dewey Chaffee, and Voci Dance have shows that remain a mystery. John DiDonna will be directing a dance performance called "Unspoken." Logan Donahoo shouted for joy when "Trash Cinema 101" was picked. I am so happy for everyone who will be scrambling to push the creative envelope in May 2011. I am busy trying to decide which acts I most want to sketch.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

National Cathedral

Terry and I flew to Washington D.C. to get some time away and to see the fall colors. The Saturday after we arrived, was International Sketch Crawl Day.
I hooked up with the Washington D.C. artists online and arranged to meet them at the National Cathedral.Terry and I got a rental car for the week.
We were given directions to the Cathedral by Terry's cousins who had put us up for the night. We of course got lost in the maze of D.C. streets but we got to the Cathedral.I jumped out of the car and Terry drove off searching for a parking spot.It was such a gorgeous morning, crisp and cool.

As I walked towards this imposing structure, I noticed someone sitting on a portable stool.I introduced myself. He was Christian Tribastone the Washington D.C. correspondent for Urban Sketchers.Christian was half finished with his sketch of the Cathedral.I was the first artist to arrive. I breathed a sigh of relief. After we talked for a bit, I wandered off searching for my sketching vantage point. I decided Christian had the right idea so I walked further back on the green lawn and started to block in my sketch with Christian in the foreground.

Artists stared to arrive one at a time. A young woman named Meredith sat down not far from where I was working. Terry came back and told me Meredith had a very accurate way of drawing.I wanted to walk over and introduce myself but I resisted, keeping my focus on my sketch. By the time I finished my sketch she had moved on.
I texted Terry and we met near the steps of the Cathedral.
She had coffee that morning so we searched for the public bathrooms which we found in the catacombs under the building. I peeked inside the building, but I knew there wasn't time for another sketch. Instead, we explored the garden which was beautiful.We found several artists sketching and took a peek as we walked by.

One artist showed me his fountain pen which was called a pen and ink sketch pen from Berkley. Christian texted letting me know all the artists were gathering to move to the next location. I arranged a group photo and then we all hiked down Massachusetts street past all the embassies toward Donovin Circle.We stopped at several embassies but never long enough to sketch. The Iraqi embassy was deserted...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kevin Maines

The headlining act at Back Booth was the Kevin Maines band. The place was now crowded and smokey. Kristen Lippens was kind enough to order me an Orange Blossom Beer and sipped as I drew. The sketch was executed quickly, straight to ink with no planning. The room was dark so I had no clue if the color washes were working. People started sitting in front of me, but I didn't mind, I just leaned to the side to pick out details on stage as I needed them. The music was fabulous to draw to. I seldom got a good view of the drummer since Kevin was usually blocking my view of him. I finished the sketch before they finished playing their set, so I packed the sketchbook in my haversack and then stood to stretch out and start moving to the music. People were dancing all around me and I lost myself in the beat swaying in time. The fluid riffs lasted for an inspired eternity.

When the band finished, I texted Terry and she responded that she missed me. I said goodbye to Dina Peterson who has become my guide and mentor to the best of Orlando's music scene. I must say she has never steered me wrong. If heaven is a smoke and music filled bar, I had arrived!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Diocious - Back Booth

Dina Peterson had gotten tickets to Back Booth (37 West Pine Street) for Terry and myself. Terry decided not to go because she can't stand cigarette smoke. When I arrived I handed over my ticket and was given a smokey gray wristband. I started to walk in, when I heard Dina say, "Hey!" She was seated right next to the ticket lady and I was so focused on the ticket process that I hadn't noticed her. It turns out we were both on time which for a club, is too early. Inside Diocious was finishing up its sound check. Even Kevin Maines, the headlining act was waiting outside where it was actually a bit cold. I was anxious to start my sketch and we all headed in. I imediately loved the vintage look of the stage with raw wood, billowing drapes of red curtains and a circular stage that jutted out onto the dance floor. Wires snaked all over the stage in apparent chaos.

Dina introduced me to a dozen or so friends and the members of the band. Alex Robertson was on Guitar and Vocals, Josh Hoffman played Bass and Vocals and Partin Whitaker played Drums and Vocals. Diocious described themselves as a psychedelic Funk / Rock band. I found it unique that Partin on the drums often performed as the lead vocalist. They played for well over an hour giving me time to finish the sketch. The room was so dark that I really didn't see what colors I was using. A flash photo let me see the finished sketch for just an instant. The place became packed. The music had a driving forward momentum with plenty of percussion. I let the music affect how the lines were put down. For me it had a jazz like improvisational feel with occasional sound effects thrown in. It was a great time. Next up was the Kevin Maines Band.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Face Forward

On the first Thursday of November, the Orlando Museum of Art hosted a group exhibition called Face Forward. Every first Thursday the small gallery next to the lobby is opened to a themed group show. The work in Face Forward was predictably mostly portraits. I arrived early so I could case the space and decide where I wanted to sketch. In one corner, Paul Austin Sanders began playing guitar. The opposite corner is what finally caught my eye. Ashli Szymanski and Sarah Okun from CSStudios, were arranging makeup and foam latex masks. They had to duck tape down some plastic to protect the museum carpeting. Ashli cut off lengths of tape and handed them to Sarah who crawled under the table to tape the edge of the plastic. Facetiously Sarah said, "You are getting better at that Sarah." Sarah replied, "Thank you, I went to school for it." A custom blood red mask was glaring out with his face chiseled and skeletal. The model for the night, Jess D.P., arrived with a large backpack full of dresses. After much discussion, the black dress with purple trim and lapels was chosen. Black boots with plenty of buckles completed the ensemble.

As soon as the latex mask was placed on the models face, I began to sketch. They were planning to turn her into a very creepy porcelain doll. The model was beautiful but with the mask her features became swollen and strange. A long time was spent getting the edge of the mask to flow seamlessly into her skin. The model held the small dish of latex or glue that held the mask in place. A young girl complimented my sketch and then sat and watched the makeup transformation transfixed. After she finished her plate of food from Cafe Tu Tu Tango, she started to squirm.

As I was putting the last of the watercolor washes down, they started spreading white make up all over the model's face, neck, chest and arms. The transformation was almost complete. By now the museum was packed. Allison Stevens was offering Shipyard beer in the main gallery and we spoke for a while about the new brewery coming to town. I am hoping to do sketches as the brewery takes shape. I spoke to Pam Treadwell who had several pieces in the show. She explained that one image had been achieved by pouring chocolate on her son's girlfriend's face and watching how it dripped over her features. In the painting the girl looked like she didn't enjoy the process. Anna McCambridge announced she is now engaged to Marabou Thomas. So much to celebrate!

Friday, November 12, 2010

EDC BBQ

The Economic Development Corporation has its offices at 301 East Pine Street which is the same building that Broadway Across America has it's offices. The ground floor lobby was packed and I walked past every one out the back doors where Pine street had been blocked off for the event. I walked around searching for Terry, who had invited me. I was distinctly under dressed in my blue jeans and polo shirt. I was in a crowd of black suits. I decided this bull was a good focal point so I texted Terry and let her know I would be sketching the bull. I had just started the sketch when a police officer approached me from behind. He said, "Are you an invited guest?" I told him, "Yes." The then told me, "You will have to go back to the lobby where they will check your name off the list and give you a wrist band." Just then Terry walked up and explained that I was with her. She offered to get the wrist band while I continued to work.

I was introduced to several people who said they would like to help me get more exposure for the work I am doing. When I was introduced to one member of the EDC she knew me since I had sketched a flash mob event at Lake Eola and she had been there. Such a small world. We laughed about the insane events of that day. When I finally got a pulled pork sandwich everyone else had already eaten so there was no wait. All of the BBQ joints in town were here and it was a great opportunity to taste and compare. Suddenly it began to pour. Everyone huddled under the huge tent and the din of conversations grew loud. I was ready to try a second sandwich when I realized all the food tents were isolated away from the big tent. I would have to make a run for it. I decided it wasn't worth getting soaked to get another bite to eat. Cupcakes on the other hand were in the main tent so I tried a couple.

A colleague of Terry's sat at our table and the two of them counted business cards. They talked about business and its inherent back stabbing. Then the rain died down to a drizzle. He offered us a ride back to Terry's car. Terry and I drove off to a surprise birthday party at Redlight Redlight.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

College Park Jazz Fest.

Terry and I drove to College Park where about five blocks of Edgewater Drive were blocked off to make way for two stages for Jazz Fest. Restaurants had tables set out on the street and walkways. Some large tables had been purchased by corporate sponsors. We walked south down the length of the festival. Lawn chairs picnic baskets and bottles of wine were everywhere. Every block people would try and sell orange arm bands. The event was free, but I guess they hoped to get donations with pier pressure and guilt. I planned to meet Summer Rodman at some point since she wanted me to donate a print of a sketch I did at a Kerouac event for a book being printed about Jack's life in Orlando.

My first order of business was to find some food. A street vendor was offering potato salad and two hot dogs for $5. We found a spot to sit on some steps close to the stage. As soon as I finished eating, I started looking for a vantage point to sketch from. As we wandered in the ever thickening crowd, we bumped into Summer. She didn't have the release forms we had talked about, but she pointed to an empty corporate table and said she had bought the table and no one was using it. She suggested we sit there. That is when I started this sketch. Terry wandered to look in a ( few stores and when she came back she read a magazine. The music acts were, Miss Jacqueline Jones, The Roadblock Blues Band and The Les Be More Band. Shak Nasty played at the stage at the opposite end of the festival but we never saw his set.

It was a nice cool night with a crisp full moon. The whole event reminded me a bit of the free concerts Terry and I used to attend in New York City's Central Park. I missed these kind of events which really make me feel like I am part of a thriving community.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

VegFest

Terry and I went to Lock Haven Park to explore VegFest on a sunny Saturday afternoon. We took a look at all the vendors tents and then I picked a shady spot under a tree as my sketching vantage point. I had hoped to sketch Doug Rhodehamel's paper bag mushrooms. Last year there was a large colorful installation of them. Unfortunately they were nowhere to be found. There were two stages where local musicians performed. It was a family friendly event with a kids zone. People constantly strolled the lawn pausing just long enough to read brochures and shop. Frankie Messina stopped by to say hello.

As I sketched, Terry shopped. I texted her when I was finished and then we looked for some vegan food. I got a heaping plate of rice and vegan egg rolls from Loving Hut. Delicious. We were constantly being given fliers for this cause and that. Terry got annoyed, saying they should save some trees since many of the fliers went straight into the garbage. I kept them all thinking they might offer sketch opportunities.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Poetry in Motion

Emotions Dance Company held two performances of Poetry in Motion at the Winter Park Playhouse (711-C Orange Avenue, Winter Park). Local poets recited their work as the dancers bought the words to life with expressive dance. I asked Larissa Humiston the dance company's choriographer and founder if I could sketch in the sound and lighting booth. She agreed and escorted me back through the dressing rooms and up a crude ladder made from nailed together two by fours. I knew it would be dark up there so I got out my book light. The entire show was dimly illuminated with simple spot lights on the poets and the main stage.

Tod Caviness recited a fabulous poem about a Punch and Judy puppet show in a park. "Everyone went home happy. Even the kids with swollen knuckles like wedding rings." When ever Dion Smith performed, I had to stop sketching and just watch. She has the delicate features of a ballerina but fully embraced the modern dance she performed. Curtis X Meyer's poem about a disfigured photographer was amazing when accompanied by dance. I had watched this piece in rehearsals and knew that Larissa had to step in to dance the part of the photographer since the male dancer kept missing rehearsals. She had an amazing ability to get completely lost in the music and she immediately made the role hers.

The whole cast did an amazing job. I am so happy I live in a town where such cutting edge, collaborative, expressive work is being created and performed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mona Washington - Playwright

Mona Washington is the present resident writer at the Kerouac House. We met at a reading she did at Infusion Tea. She saw the sketch I did and invited me over to the Kerouac House to do a sketch of her as she worked. I have always approached each resident author with the idea of sketching them and this was the first time the stars lined up. As I was sketching Mona at the kitchen table, she was doing online research for the play she was working on. The play is about freed slaves after the Civil War who are not entirely free. She was researching how female slaves were often used sexually by their owners. After years of this kind of treatment, a slaves body is not entirely her own. A male slave who was trained as a blacksmith had a relationship with this female slave and he was shocked by her promiscuity. She just wanted to feel good.

Mona had on her lucky Police tee shirt. This was the shirt she was wearing last time I sketched her. The Gato Negro red wine we were drinking was sweet and delicious. Mona read aloud from some of the sites she found using the Google search engine. She read to me from a KKK website and I told her about a KKK demonstration that I had witnessed in Maitland. Jack Kerouac glanced over at us from his framed in place of honor in the kitchen. Mona started offering suggestions for residencies that I should apply for. As we talked she was firing off e-mails to my home computer. She is an incredibly giving person and that evening she opened my eyes to creative opportunities that I didn't know existed.

On November 12th at 8pm Mona is going to read from her work in progress at the Kerouac House (on the corner of Shady Lane and Clouser in College Park.) Mona's work is insightful and deeply moving, you don't want to miss it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Masquerade at the Bohemian

Terry got a private invitation in the mail for a Masquerade party the day before Halloween on the sixth floor of the Grand Bohemian downtown. The invitation said the party started at 6pm and since I had just finished another sketch assignment, I was in the area. I arrived at the same time as the Peroni girls. They wore tight red tops and skin sight white bell bottoms with high heels. Only bartenders, chefs and event planners were scurrying around getting ready. Most of the space was taken up by a white billowing tent right out of Arabian Nights. A cool gust of wind sent black napkins flying. The other half of the space was a swimming pool with a DJ set up and two go go dancers on either side of him. I settled on a white leather couch and started blocking in the space.

An event planner asked if I was there for the Masquerade. He pulled out a list and asked me for my name. I thought to myself, "Great the second I start sketching, I will be politely asked to leave." I had to repeat my name several times and even spell it out, all the while continuing to draw. He finally left me in peace, I'm not sure if he ever saw my name. People slowly began to arrive ordering their martini's and Peroni beers. By the time I finished this sketch, the place was packed with people in masks. I of course wanted to sketch each and every gown and mask but there just wasn't time. Terry arrived dressed as Zorro and she bought some viking horns for me.

For the second sketch I got up and stood at the empty table seen in the middle of the first sketch. People quickly crowded in around me to eat their lobster tails and bisque. I started by drawing the man standing at the table opposite me. He was at the same table with his girlfriend and I had drawn her but left him out since I had already drawn a Peroni girl and wine barrel where he stood. He joked with me when he saw the sketch, saying, "Look he drew the beautiful woman but not me!"

Just as I was putting finishing touches on the second sketch, an event planner came up to me and asked if I would like to be in introduced to Richard Kessler, the owner of the hotel. Richard and his wife Martha were in an exclusive velvet roped off area next to the pool. Richard looked like a cattle rancher and his wife looked exotic in an all black gown and mask. When I showed him the sketchbook I was working on, I could tell he honestly appreciated the work. He asked if I worked larger and I mentioned the eighteen foot mural at the Sonesta Hotel.

From here, Terry and I decided to go to the Enzian to see what costumes were there. The Eden Bar was packed but honestly there were more costumes at the Grand Bohemian. We called it a night and headed home.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Scrubbed

Thanks to Dina Mack and Chip Weston, tw0 artists at McRae studios, I managed to get approved for a press pass to sketch the second to last shuttle launch from the press site which is supposed to be very close to the launch pad. The launch was postponed again and again for a solid week until Friday when it looked like a crisp cool beautiful day for a launch. That morning I checked twitter and NASA announced that the fuel tanks were being filled. Everything was go for launch and a tweetup participant announced that the countdown clock was running. I was up at 7am and drove over to Chips house were we would car pool in his SUV. When I was just about to his house, I heard on the radio that the fuel tanks were leaking and the launch would be once again postponed. I called Dina and she suggested I stop over Chips house anyway. She heard the planned launch on Sunday was likely to also get scrubbed. When I met Chip I told him I wanted to head out to the Kennedy Space Center anyway to hopefully get a sketch of the shuttle as it waited.

When I crossed over the Indian River and onto the space center property, my first order of business was to pick up my STS-133 Mission Badge. When I finally found the media Accreditation building, it looked deserted. There were no cars in the parking lot. I felt like I was in a Twilight Zone episode. Weeds sprouted up from cracks in the pavement. The doors were locked. A sign on one of the doors announced that there was a general warning of possible hostile activity. Had the space center been evacuated? I decided to drive up to gate two and find out why the office was deserted. The buff soldier in camouflage uniform gave me the number of the woman in charge of NASA Media and P.R. I called and left a message.

Now I was stuck, waiting for her to return my call. Things didn't look promising. I decided to drive up to the visitor's center and do a sketch there while I waited. I approached the entrance which looked like an entrance to Disney World. Patriotic music was piped in over the loudspeakers. I looked at the admission prices, $45 for adults and $35 for children. That was too expensive for one sketch, so I found a nice palm tree to lean against and I started drawing the entrance and rocket garden in the background. I was wearing a sweater but still started shivering. I had to walk back to my truck and get a windbreaker.

After I finished the first sketch I called the woman in charge of media again. She informed me that a press conference was happening at that moment and that it would be announced that the launch would be scrubbed until November 30th. I was right to come out but there would be no getting close to the launch pad.

I noticed a bunch of STS-133 Mission Badges on vehicle dash boards they were doing the same as me, killing time at the tourist spots. At least the tweetup attendees had a chance to see the robonaut that will be sent up when the shuttle finally does launch. I drove back west to a building that had a retired shuttle in front of it acting as a billboard for the Astronaut Hall of Fame. To discourage tourists from standing around and taking pictures of it, an orange plastic fence was erected. This just meant tourists stood in the street taking pictures. A Fox news crew was parked in front of me. They probably used the shuttle as a backdrop in their talking head news footage. I heard them complaining that they couldn't even get in the gift shop at the visitors center without paying $45.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Public Hearing High Speed Rail

I decided to go to a public hearing to learn a little bit about the proposed high speed rail system. Florida has been a candidate for the system since the 1980s. The fast population growth, flat terrain, large number of tourists and distance between cities make Florida an ideal candidate for high speed rail. On January 10, President Obama announced a $1.25 billion award to Florida as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. These funds will start construction of the Tampa-Orlando high speed rail corridor. In May of 2010 Florida received $66.7 million in ARRA funds to take the project 30% of the way in terms of design, ridership projections and to prepare bid documents in early 2011.

The 84 mile line will run from the Orlando International Airport to down town Tampa with a stop at Disney of course. The room was lined with maps on easels that showed the proposed route. The project will be built in the median of I-4. Bridges and overpasses were built higher for years to accommodate the train. The train will reach speeds of 168 m.p.h. The system will have 5 stops, Orlando Airport, The Orange County Convention Center, Disney World, Lake or Polk County and Downtown Tampa. Each station will have connections to bus routes. The system should be operational in 2015 , so expect four years of construction on I-4. I am sure this will not cause any traffic problems or rubbernecking. Tourists should be thrilled, but the average Orlando resident will have little reason to use the system.

After the presentation, the floor was opened for questions or concerns. One woman just expressed her concern that the system have good connections to bus routes. A man stood and started talking about his dreams of a system that transported cars as well as passengers. He was told that to get the line operational, they had to use proven existing technology. The public hearing was over so fast that I didn't finish my sketch. I walked to Panera Bread to finish it up while having dinner.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Waiting for Bill Clinton

The day before election day, Bill Clinton came to Lake Eola to endorse the Democratic Candidates. I had just been to a public hearing to sketch the ten or so citizens who wanted to find out how billions of our tax dollars will be spent to get tourists from the airport to Disney and if they want, Tampa. The small turn out was a bit depressing. I arrived at Lake Eola early, got a sandwich at Pannera and started to sketch. North Eola Drive which runs along the West Edge of the park, was completely shut down. Police blocked the northern access with their bikes. An officer walked up to me when I just had five lines on the page. He asked, "You sketching?" I replied, "Not much to see yet, I just started." "Weren't you at that Smile event?" Suddenly I remembered him. He took an interest in my work that day as well. He said, "You do good work, I'll let you get to it." Though he was pretty far away, I swear he might have been voguing a bit, looking regal for the sketch.

News vans were lined all along the street with satellite dishes to broadcast the event live. A homeless man stood close to me several times complaining about the number and placement of the police. I ignored him. One word from me and he would have someone to complain to for the rest of the night. Political signs from all the Democratic candidates were everywhere. An area was fenced in to contain the crowd. This area was only about twenty yards square with a stage set up with a podium and large American flag. The media had a staging area near the back of the enclosure. As they were setting up the TV cameras, a security detail told them to leave the area. They had to leave any equipment since the wouldn't be able to get it back in if they took it with them. An officer with a K-9 bomb sniffing dog explored the media staging area. The dog was a bit off task since he kept looking up at the growing crowd waiting to get in. The officer kept pointing at one bag and the dog just wouldn't sniff.

I walked around some more considering drawing the growing crowd in the darkness. But the crowd was depressingly small in size. Even if Bill played saxophone, it would be to little to late. Even though I had a ticket, I felt tired and despondent. I decided to drive home before the area became locked down with black limos and secret service. I would watch Bill on the eleven o'clock news with the rest of the Orlando couch potatoes.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Haunted House

After the Halloween wedding, Terry and I went home and got ready for Trick or Treaters. Terry got into her Zorro costume again. We had two large bags of candy to give away. If no children stopped by we would be stuck eating Gobstoppers, Taffy and boxes of Nerds for weeks. Halloween is our pet cockatoo's favorite holiday. Terry brings him to the door where he greets the children with a warm, "Hello!" He often flaps his wings frantically causing the kids to shriek with delight. The cutest trick or treaters were two little girls, maybe five year old twins, dressed as Indian princesses. Terry let them pet Zorro and then she got two of his white feathers which she also gave to the girls for their head dress. Later, a little boy dressed in a diving suit also wanted to pet the bird. When Terry got down on one knee to get to his level, he also got on one knee.

When the horde slowed, and all the candy was gone, Terry and I drove out to Winter Garden to see an amazing haunted house. This is a private home which is only open to the public on Halloween. Cars were parked all along the side of the road. I found the first open spot and we walked towards the house. We used my book light as a flashlight. The center median and many lawn had yellow caution tape out to stop cars from parking. The City of Winter Garden had told the home owner that $350 dollar tickets would be issued this year if cars parked on the median. Guess the City of Winter Garden is looking for some profit from this free event.

There was a huge line of people lined up to go in the front door of the haunted house. The line was moving though so Terry and I lined up. A wolfman kept sneaking up on people in line. He tried to scare Terry, but she just put her arm around him and said, "So what are you doing later?" A faceless hooded ghoul stood silently and his eyed began to glow red. Children were screaming in terror and pleasure. The wolfman walked up to a mother with her toddler in her arms. The little girl held her hand to her face saying, "No, no NO!" Then burst into tears. A teenage boy walked up to Terry and said, "It looks like you dropped something." He knelt down to pick the imaginary object up. "Oh look, it's your self-esteem." She countered with, "You keep that, you need it more than me."

The inside of the home was lavishly decorated. Animatronics and live actors combined to frighten guests. A wedding couple on the porch reminded me of Nick and Brooke. Right at the front door a scream faced ghost stood motionless. As a family walked by it suddenly moved and shouted scaring a family half to death. Not knowing what was real was unnerving. At the entry there was a treasure chest full of full sized candy bars. A glow bracelet was offered to all who entered and when people left through the back door there were free beers for the adults and sodas for the children. I have never seen so much Halloween generosity before. We used to give baby pumpkins to children who were frightened visiting our Tenafly N.J. home on Halloween, but this Central Florida treasure takes the cake.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween Wedding

I had only met Brooke Haber twice. She was an author I met at a Boudoir Bombshell Calender photo shoot. Brooke is writing a novel where the main character is a photographer. Like me, she was absorbing real life experience through observation. The second time was at an authors talk back, where Jamie Freveletti spoke about her experiences becoming a woman thriller novelist.

Terry and I were invited to Brooke's Halloween Wedding. Costumes were not required and any sexy costumes were discouraged since children would be present . It was a gorgeous day. The wedding was in Clermont and Terry wondered aloud about all the open farmland we drove through. We knew we were in the right place when we saw the cornstalks and bales of hay. It was hot in the direct sunlight and there were people huddled in the shade of a gazebo for some shade. Folding chairs were arranged in two sets of neat rows. I picked up a couple of chairs and sat in the shade of a small tree. We were told the wedding wouldn't be for another half hour which gave me a jump start on the sketch. I sketched in all the background elements waiting for the ceremony to begin.

Movie music from Pirates of the Caribbean and ET began to play. When Brooke arrived, the music switched to Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy singing "You make me Happy." Children rushed up the isle in front of her throwing fabric Autumn colored leaves. The ceremony was short and sweet stressing that this was the first step in a life of fidelity and trust. Brooke expressed with tears, the fact that Nick has made her the happiest she has ever been , and that he has stood by her even when things got bad.

At the reception a block away there were sandwiches and endless homemade dishes. Two skulls greeted people as they entered. The first dance was tender and sweet as Nick cupped Brook's face in his hands and kissed her. It was more of a slow affectionate embrace than a dance. Christen Wheeler, a friend and photographer shouted out, "Dip her!" Nick gladly complied and she fired off a shot. Brooke then dipped Nick for comic effect. The wedding cake was Goth and magnificently decorated, blood red and velvety when stabbed. Terry and Denna Beena swapped shoes and I must say, Terry's yellow pumps went really well with Denna's purple tutu and bright multicolored hair. They were instant Facebook friends. Terry fired off a friend request on her iPhone and Denna confirmed on the spot.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Foul!

It was the opening night season premiere game for the Orlando Magic in the brand spanking new Amway Arena. As I walked toward the venue, two hours early, I saw small crowds of fans dressed in blue and white all along Orange Avenue. Several news helicopters hovered over the city most likely shooting footage of the gathering crowds around the Amway Center. I wasn't going to sketch the game, I was going to catch Brian Feldman as he read the NBA Rulebook to the crowd. At just about any sports or theatrical event in this town there is always a person on a soapbox shouting hell and damnation to the crowd. Brian's performance didn't offer salvation, but enlightenment regarding the rules of the game.

When I arrived, I unfolded my compact artist stool and leaned against a metal pylon getting to work. Brian's father was using his iPhone to shoot continuous video footage of the reading. The sun set behind a bank of deep blue clouds. Brian shouted the rules into the megaphone. The rules are amazingly repetitive. I thought at first that Brian might be reading the same rule over and over, but listening closely I found the variations in the pattern. Erin Volz in a blue jersey rode up on her bicycle. After listening for a while, she relieved Brian's dad by taking over the iPhone and shooting video. She remained there listening intently, a true Magic fan.

A policeman approached Brian and the two of them spoke for a while. I couldn't hear what was said. As Brian got back on his crate, he looked at me and shouted, "Incident!" I started sketching faster adding color to Brian and his dad in case they were told to move along. So far I had escaped detection. A female security officer rode up on a high tech electric tricycle. She spoke to Brian and when he showed her the rulebook, she smiled, laughed then drove off. A third officer, a huge muscular fellow with a motorcycle helmet also approached. He insisted Brian move his crate a foot further west. He said to Brian, "You are blocking pedestrian access to the curb." He also insisted Brian not use the megaphone. He complied and continued reading and shouted into his cupped hand. I couldn't hear a thing he read from that point on and I was only ten feet from him. The Center was blasting the insipid commentary from two announcers who were predicting a stellar season for the Magic. The crowd rushed past me growing thicker and louder. I wanted more rules.

I think it was Erin who thought of rolling up a Magic poster, creating a crude paper megaphone. Brian shouted into it, "Thor! Can you hear me?!" The second time he shouted my name, I looked up and gave him a thumbs up. The paper megaphone was only a minor improvement. A couple of times fans paused and listened, never for more than a minute. Perhaps two people ever noticed what I was doing. One woman walked up and said, "Look at you, Mr. etch-a-sketch!" I cringed but gave her the blog address. I finished my sketch long before Brian finished reading the rulebook. I patted Brian's dad on his shoulder and waved to Brian who continued to read valiantly. I made my way East on Church Street a lone fish swimming against the school of blue and white all heading to the game. My job was done, a slam dunk. Brian said this might be his final Orlando performance in 2010, so something big must be on his horizon. I think route 66 is calling his name.