Sunday, June 19, 2011

FAAE Leadership Lunch

After the first summit session all the arts teachers filtered out into the hallway outside the main ballroom. There was just a fifteen minute break before the Leadership Lunch. I pulled out my tablet and began a quick sketch. I use the tablet when I know there isn't enough time to finish a sketch. I feel less guilty deleting the image from memory rather than throwing away paper. Next to me I thought I heard a familiar voice. I couldn't quite place his face so I went back to the sketch. He recognized me and started telling a story about how he came to know Margaret Hill through one of my drawings of her. His name is Dario Moore and I last spoke to him when he sat on the review board for the United Arts grants this year. I remember him asking pointed questions that got to the heart of how art could affect and inspire a community.

At the morning session Mrs. Edna entertained the teachers with her puppets. William Shakespeare was the puppet in her lap and a grandma puppet had people laughing as she dozed off between sentences. Mrs Edna's voice was a bit shaky at first but she rallied. She will be graduating from Full Sail University this year with a masters degree in music business management.

When Jennifer Coolidge got to the podium, I found a place to sit at the front of the room. The tables were full so I ended up using my camping chair. Jennifer is the executive director of the Museum of Florida Art, a trustee of the Florida House in Washington DC, and she was a past Executive Director of the Florida Alliance for Arts Education from 1995-2001. More important she has a face that was designed for smiling and a curious spirit. She was the only person who noticed I was sketching that morning. She introduced Frank Brogan who announced the Leadership Awards. A principal received an award and she talked about how her father now has to live with Alzheimer's disease. At this late stage in his life he began making art. He was never interested in art in the past but suddenly it became his passion. She stressed that it is never too late to embrace art and she loves that she can help inspire and motivate children, making art important and meaningful to them. I started to well up with a broad smile as she walked back to her table and she was embraced by her staff.

Then Dario Moore was awarded the Doris Lieber award. Doris was an accomplished artist and the award acknowledges artists' contributions to the arts community. Dario stressed that the community brought him to this place. He stressed that everyone should have the chance to fully express themselves. As a young boy he would excitedly shout "Moma, moma, moma!" and get a slap on the back of his head when all he wanted to express was, "I love you." It was through art that a poverty stricken boy like himself could rise to a moment like this. He is a choreographer and I have heard good things about his "Sacred Slave Stories" which was performed this year as part of Arts Fest. After the awards ceremony I congratulated Dario and I asked if I could sketch rehearsals for "Sacred Slave Stories." He said rehearsals are starting up again this August. I left the FAAE Summit inspired and fired up to continue to explore the arts with my humble sketches.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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