Autumn Ames called and asked me to do a painting to celebrate the ten years of service Margot Knight gave to the Orlando arts community as the President of United Arts of Central Florida. There was a farewell dinner in Margot's honor at the Orlando Repertory Theater. Autumn wanted me to execute the sketch and bring the five foot panel to the party so people could lay in the first colors. Autumn was the first person to step up to the painting, and she painted in the red guitar. The party was just two hours long, so I knew the painting would not be finished that night. I spent the evening thinning down acrylic paints and offering suggestions to the people who painted. I didn't put down a single brush stroke that night. In a conversation with Mary Hill, I came up with the idea of renaming all the colors after wines. I used sharpies to add the names to the cups of color. Not everyone noticed but those that did found it fun to paint a guitar with Merlot, for example. At first it was a challenge returning to the painting after so many people had touched it. Then it became liberating as it forced me to make bold decisions.
Every aspect of this painting was pulled from my Orlando sketchbooks. Most of the people in the painting were sketched for the Mennello Museum Mural. They didn't make it onto the mural for various reasons, so I consider this painting the blooper reel. I was blessed to find that so many people came out to pose that I couldn't fit them all on the 48 foot long wall. It is good to have too many choices sometimes.
That evening Margot brought with her all the silent auction items she had never used. We were given raffle tickets. I won an evening in a Maitland police patrol car! I can't wait. What a great sketch opportunity! I was rushing around so much filling cups with color that I forgot to eat. I grabbed a plate after most everyone was gone. Margot and Autumn were sitting together. I got to see pictures of the beautiful rustic home that Margot is moving to in California. She is taking a new job at Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside California. In a list of ten things to keep in mind about the Orlando arts community, she said, "We have some of the most out-of-the-box, talented artists. And we don’t appreciate or compensate them proportionate to their talent. Artists illuminate the human condition. We don’t always like what they show us. But they take more risks in a week than most of us take in our lifetime. They deserve our respect. They deserve to be paid." She is a true artist's advocate and I wish her well in her new adventure on the Golden Coast.