Friday, September 2, 2011

Red Chair Affair

Terry and I arrived early to the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre for the VIP main stage food, drinks and silent auction bidding before she show. Food was provided by Charley's Steakhouse, Moonfish, Johnnie's Hideaway, Vito's Chop House, Fish Bones, and White Wolf Cafe. Organic draft beer was provided by Orlando Brewing. Terry headed for the food but I wasn't hungry. I hunted for a choice sketching spot. I decided I had to draw the IKEA Red Chairs which had been decorated by different arts groups in town and were now perched on tables to be auctioned off. The lighting technicians were still testing all the stage lights and the stage and all the red chairs went black on occasion. I paused thinking I might not be able to work under such uncertain conditions. I sketched anyway and as guests arrived the stage was bathed in a warm red light. Most women wore sleek red gowns. I struggled to keep my tie from getting in the paint.

I focused on the chairs. My favorite chair was decorated by the Winter Garden Theater like the plant from Little Shop of Horrors. I'm thinking it would make a great toilet bowl seat. The plush red plant lips would be a pleasure to sit on. I might just remove the sharp teeth from the design. Another chair had an entire doll house built around it. Fairwinds Broadway Across America had an Adams Family chair that was built like an electric chair with "Thing" perched on the seat.

When the sketch was finished, Terry and I were the first in the Theater and we found a group of seven seats just behind the VIP seats. Sarah Austin and Wendy Wallenburg had won tickets by answering an Orlando Cultural Arts question online. The question was, "Who is the artistic director of Voci Dance?" The answer was Genevieve Bernard. I guarded the seats while Terry searched for our friends in the lobby.

15 different arts groups performed. The Florida Opera Theater performed a hilarious "Complete History of Opera (Abridged)". They began with a guttural caveman grunting and quickly moved to a Renaissance harmonizing. All the subtle shades of operatic romance were sung to hilarious effect. My favorite performance was "I love you, I can't live without you although I might kill you." All sung in classic Italian. Since Terry and I used to attend the opera all the time before it went bankrupt, we were laughing out loud at this tongue in cheek irreverent view of opera history. Frank McClain the company's Artistic Director has helped raise the phoenix from the flames.

The Orlando School of Cultural Dance had the packed theater clapping in unison as they danced to the African beat. Orlando Aerial Arts featured three beautiful women who climbed way up near the stage lights, wrapping themselves in the white silky material and then spinning down like yo-yos. I was to nervous to enjoy the performance. There were no safety nets or guy wires. The evening ended with the Power Chords singing "I got the music in me!" 16 energetic youthful singers danced and sang their hearts out causing a standing ovation. All of the performers crowded on to the stage for one final bow.

Back stage VIP's and performers mingled behind the closed curtains enjoying cupcakes provided by Sugerbuzz Desert Company and Barnies Coffee. The crowd dissipated fairly quickly except our group, who had to be chased out with the flickering of lights. We decided to go to the Imperial bar behind Washburn Imports for after show drinks. I left the sketchbook in the truck and laughed and talked with friends until we were the last to leave the bar. I love the Red Chair Affair because it introduced to me some new and exiting new arts groups that I hope to visit for more sketch opportunities.

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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