Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tisse's Birthday Bash

I had to leave after Tod Caviness did his spoken word performance at Urban ReThink. I went to the Mennello Museum to transfer several sketches on to the mural. The work went quickly so I decided to rush back to Tisse's birthday party. When I re-entered Urban ReThink, I saw a dancer stretching.

There was home made birthday cake so I grabbed a slice. I grabbed a seat at a table with authors Karen Price and John Connelly to see what was next on the Urban ReThink stage. Chaz Yorick came in after having seen all the downtown gallery openings as part of Third Thursdays.

Tisse first met Elise Frost through various mutual friends in the Orlando dance circle and they finally had their first full conversation at Michael Sloan's going away party.Elise took to the stage wearing a dogs mask and holding an umbrella. Elise moved and spoke in a childlike manner. She reminded me of Totoro. Her monologue had a child's sincerity with dark undertones. The lantern implied a character lost in the woods. She spoke of her grandmother dying, yet she didn't like her grandmother. Was this an infants Kabuki? A sinister bedtime story? I remained mystified and bewildered.

Tisse got on stage and started talking about how she gradually discovered Orlando's arts scene. She moved from Chicago with her parents to Celebration Florida. She hated Celebration's theme park facade and the clutter and chintz of 192. She missed the big city. She eventually moved downtown where she began to discover the true Orlando scene. The importance of any city is in the people you surround yourself with. Orlando is a small enough city where individuals can really make a difference. The theater scene is small enough where the performers truly appreciate the audience members. The people that stand out in her life are the people who have a passion for what they do and love to help out.

Suddenly she was talking to me, calling me the "Where's Waldo" of the Orlando arts scene. She praised my work and persistence. I stopped my sketch to listen. It felt like all eyes were turned towards me. My right eye welled up, I'm not used to so much direct praise and adulation. I don't know how to process it. Chaz was busily taking notes. Later as Tisse praised Jessica Earley she became overwhelmed and choked up, feeling thankful for the people in her life. Chaz took that emotional pause to start singing happy birthday to Tisse. Everyone joined in as she wiped away her tears. When the song was finished and the clapping died down, Tisse said, "Thanks I needed that moment to recover." The room was filled with love.

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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