Monday, February 28, 2011

Brass Ensemble

I have become a fan of attending the free concerts held at Rollins College's John M. Tiedtke Concert hall. The acoustics inside the new Tiedtke Hall are fabulous. The concerts are seldom very crowded so I am able to find a seat right up front close to the performers. This Brass Ensemble was performed by students and directed by Christopher Dolske. The instruments in the ensemble consisted of 5 trumpets, 2 trombones, a bass trombone, 2 euphoniums, 3 French horns and a tuba. The music was eastern European themed with composers like Moussorsky, Gabrieli, Susato, Kabalevsky and Koetsier. I only recognized the name of one of the composers and all the music was new to me.

The concert lasted just long enough for me to finish the sketch. The music's tone and timber influenced every line. The warm, full tones filled the hall. With the concert over, I quickly packed up my art supplies to leave. Someone stopped me in the isle and asked to see the sketch. I dug in my bag to retrieve my sketchbook. He asked me if I planned to show the sketch to the conductor. This is rather common, people seem to feel the subject must be made aware when they are included in a sketch. The conductor was already back stage and Terry was waiting for me at home so I ignored his frantic desire to share my work.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Flea Market Blues

The Renninger's antique fair and flea market in Mount Dora is a huge event that pulls people in to central Florida from all over the country. Robert Newlen flew here from Washington D.C. and Elaine Pines, drove up from Miami Florida. For them, this is an annual pilgrimage. Terry and I joined them when they decided to shop the flea market. While they hunted for bargains, I broke away in search of a sketch. Very little of the worn and rusty merchandise interested me. The one thing I searched for was an old working fountain pen, but I never found one.

It was at the end of the second row of endless clutter where I found Odell "Bluesman" Maxwell singing the Blues. He had a twangy, sharp, resonant and soulful was of playing. I quietly set up my artist folding chair and got to work. Odell seemed to simply speak the lyrics with the guitar played along in unison. He would shout out to anyone who paused, saying, "Hey, how you doing?" "I got the blues today." One woman responded, "I am sorry to hear that, but the music is wonderful." Another woman asked him about his fingering style. He always let people know that they could leave a tip and many people did leave a dollar in the large glass vase. He never seemed to mind me sitting and sketching. He let me know he had been married 7 times and he was still playing the blues. I laughed. His brow was glistening with sweat. As I sketched, I was lost in the moment rocking to his music. Odell was a true jem perched in among the lost and neglected clutter of peoples lives. He is an Orlando Florida native, a true southern home boy. There is something real, raw and true in every song.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Discovery Launch

The Space Shuttle Discovery was scheduled to launch at 4:55pm. I had approval to get a press pass thanks to the artists at McRae Art Studios. The launch had been scrubbed so many times that the McRae Artists were unable to go. I couldn't let this opportunity pass me by. I drove out to Kennedy Space Center alone. This was going to be one of the final launches in the dying shuttle program. I thought I was giving myself plenty of time to drive out to the space coast when I left at noon. I was wrong. 50 became a gridlocked parking lot about halfway out to the coast. The hour drive became two and then three. Others were driving out to see the launch, who knew. The most agonizing wait was on the causeway over the Indian River. Finally I got to a security officer who asked for my paperwork. He waved me through. Suddenly there were wide open roads. I was now in the Kennedy Space Center. I knew where the press accreditation building was since I had been there before.

This time the building was open. Inside two elderly women were busy getting ready to leave. One woman looked at my paperwork and said, "Cutting it kind of close, aren't we?" She printed up my pass and gave me a map to the press parking lot. I arrived on site with an hour to spare before launch. Just enough time for a sketch if I got to work immediately. I was tempted by all the news crews but with only one sketch I had to catch the launch pad. I was drawn to the huge rusty countdown clock. This thing was like 5 feet tall and 15 feet wide. I considered sketching it but I was standing in the blazing sun. It was hot. Instead I walked behind the clock and I sat down in its shadow. Ahhh... Nice and cool. I began to sketch all the photographers with their cameras aimed out across the water. The launch pad was visible on the horizon. I was surprised when someone said my name. He knew of my blog. He asked me if I thought it was ok for him to stand on a rusty box that jutted out from the back of the clock. I'm no expert, so I said, "Fine with me." From his elevated perch he pointed out that Bill Nye the Science Guy was watching the launch. Seems he is always in character since he was wearing his signature bow tie. There was also a Japanese fellow in a blue astronauts jumpsuit talking to a Japanese news crew.

I finished the sketch with minutes to go before the launch. I sent out a couple of tweets and Facebook pics since I couldn't sit idle. Then I started a second sketch where I planned to place the huge vertical plume. Then I heard people shouting and clapping. A large white billowing cloud silently issued from the launch pad. Then the blazing yellow light hit me. It was as bright as the sun. Then the sound rumbled across the water and struck me full force. It was a deep powerful, guttural sound that made my chest vibrate. I have stood next to huge concert speakers and they don't come close to the force of this sound wave. The plume rose quickly into the sky and I quickly sketched its gesture. A soldier in a camouflage uniform stood in front of me. People continued to clap and scream as the brilliant light diminished. The setting sun illuminated the shifting rockets trail with it's golden light. It was a perfect day for Space Shuttle Discovery's final launch, and a fitting tribute to this space crafts long career.

The drive home was a nightmare. I used the GPS to keep looking for alternate routes then I just settled in and relaxed with the window down as I crawled home on the Beachway going 10 miles an hour. I had just witnessed one of man's greatest achievements, the traffic didn't matter. I listened to the sounds of crickets and other night life. I flipped the radio on for the long, long drive home. It was midnight when I pulled into my driveway. Exhausted I dropped into bed and drifted to sleep.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Monday Night Jazz

If downtown Orlando is quiet on a Monday night, I can always county on quality jazz at the Grand Bohemian (325 South Orange Avenue).I heard that an artist was going to demonstrate how he does paintings using only coffee as his medium.The artists name was Steven Mikel and he was set up in the Grand Bohemian lobby opposite the reception desk.I asked him the question I am sure every tourist asks," Are you wield the whole time you are painting?" "Do you sip the coffee all day?" We spoke for some time. He used a concentrated coffee "tar" for the darkest dark. and then selects different grades of coffee for different hues. Painting with coffee looks very similar to painting with watercolors.I considered sketching the artist at work, but the sound of jazz pulled me into the bar area.

As always the jazz was lively spontaneous and heart wrenching. I relaxed into a front seat ordered a Blue Moon and got to work. Having just watched Mikel paint with nothing but browns, I found myself dipping into the Sienna's and Umber's. Different musicians and singers rotated onto the stage. I searched for the moments when performers became completely lost in the music. By doing so I became just as lost in the spontaneous fluid searching rhythms and beats.When my beer was finished, I decided the sketch was finished as well.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Polasek Museum

I was asked to participate this year in an event called the Winter Park Paint Out.The event will be happening between April 23 and April 30th. During this week plein air painters will set up all around Winter Park to paint. I will report on this unique event with my usual sketches. To promote the event, the Polasek Museum hosted a poster competition with the winning entry getting $1000. I was invited to the opening reception where all the plein air paintings were on exhibit. In the corner of the room an easel was set up and draped with a while sheets.The finished poster was hidden and would be United when the time was right.

I decided I couldn't set up in the man gallery without sitting in front of someones painting. Even I am not that rude. So I went outside to the gorgeous gardens and decided to take an outsider's view of the proceedings. An Albin Polesek bronze sculpture of Saint Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio quietly and stoically held its vigil as the sun set. Patrons from last years Paint Out were invited to the reception to meet the artists who would be painting this year.

Don Sandag
came out to say hello. I first met Don back when I worked at Disney Feature Animation. Don came to the studio to run painting workshops in the evening back then. He told me he looks forward to the Paint Out each year because artists were pampered and treated like Rock Stars. Mary Hill and her boyfriend Berto Ortega were inside. Berto is a painter originally from New York City. Mary and another painter mugged at me through the window making me laugh. By the time the poster winter was announced, the sun had set and the cool, blue dusk light darkened Saint Francis. I heard the wave of applause as the winner was announced. I threw down my last water color washes and rushed inside. Don Sondag's painting of the Polasek statue, "Mother" had won.

Afterward a group of artists remained. Larry Moore was discussing the idea that artists should make a percentage any time one of their paintings is resold. Don joked that this idea might backfire if the work was sold for less than the initial price, for instance at a garage sale. I spoke to the editor of Winter Park Magazine about using my sketches as a way to report on this years event. Getting to meet all these amazing artists is going to be a thrill. I am bound to learn a thing or two.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pulse of Orlando

What follows is a fictitious account. Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental...

It was another rehearsal in the weeks leading up to Fringe. The actors sat around the kitchen table at Mike's house reading personal stories and poems. They shared several bottles of red wine. Soon the rehearsal was more of an opportunity for members of the cast to share intimate secrets. The notion that this was a reading vanished and the conversations blossomed. Todd then admitted that he had started to dance at a gay club. Having a room full of people admiring his body gave him a visceral thrill. Anna, the director then decided that we all had to see Todd perform. We piled into two cars and headed off to Pulse. I was one of the designated drivers since I had been sketching rather than drinking. Anna sat on a copy of the Alchemist that was on my passenger seat. She and Sandra had just been talking about this book. Excited, she said she had to read it and she shoved it into her large purse.

We all filed into Pulse. My bag was checked since they thought I might have a camera. I explained that I only had a sketchbook. I backed myself into a nook and immediately started to sketch. Men gyrated in the amber light. I was right behind Todd who was dancing on the bar in front of me. About halfway into the sketch Anna pulled me over to join the cast that was assembled in a tight cluster at the end of the bar and dancing. Sandra and John were dancing provocatively close. When they grew self conscious, Anna would shove them together. She was always the director even in matters of the heart. They had all been drinking some exotic shots and combined with the red wine they were feeling no pain. A guy actually groped my balls as if this was his way of saying hello. I shoved his hand aside and decided I needed to walk away and finish the sketch. I wandered back to my spot, where I had to stop sketching every time someone needed to shove into the bathroom. When I returned to the group, my sketch finished, it was obvious that Anna had been drinking too much. Todd, the male dancer was with her trying to get her to sit down. He suggested Betsy and I try and get her home. When I approached Anna she backed away and disappeared into the packed dance floor. I wasn't about to chase her around the club. Betsy seemed sober so I asked her to talk to Anna and convince her to leave. However Betsy was busy trying to find her cell phone which she had left in the other car on the drive over.

I exited the club and waited outside. I was sure Betsy would be out any minute with Anna and her cell phone but the clock kept ticking. Then suddenly Anna stumbled out and sat on the retaining wall beside me. She didn't realize I was there. She had been sick and she couldn't keep her head up. I asked if she was alright and she was surprised to see me. Embarrassed she began running down the street. Betsy exited the club and we both trailed behind her, concerned she might run into traffic. She finally collapsed between two parked cars and slumped over in a seated position. I reassured her until she shouted out, "Leave me alone!" I was making matters worse. I backed off and decided this had to be settled by the cast. Tod managed to help Anna get into his car. It was agreed that we would drive her to Mike's house where she could sleep it off. I then drove Sandra and Betsy to Mike's and when Todd and Anna arrived, the girls helped tuck her in for the night. I waited long enough to be sure everyone was fine, then I drove home. I'm convinced the events of this night helped bind the individual actors in the show into a tight knit ensemble. I suppose I could have left at any time, but I was the designated driver, besides I got a decent sketch.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Carol Stein at the White House

Terry knew Carol Stein from Dor Shalom, a local Jewish social group. This concert at Benoit Glazer's home (2000 south Summerlin Avenue) was one of the monthly concert held in this acoustically superb space. Carol plays light entertaining jazz that often incorporated riffs from classical music. She performed along with Eddie Marshall, Barry Smith and Charlie Silva. Jason Hunt had his detailed photo realistic pencil renderings hanging around the performance space. Carol pointed out that she is the proud owner if several of his pieces. I set up on the second floor balcony and started sketching frantically. Terry joined me on this outing but she stayed on the ground floor while I worked. Carol's mom was in the audience, and she dedicated a song to her. It was a fun lighthearted evening of jazz.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fall Festival

Terry and I went down to Lake Eola for the annual Fall Festival. It was a beautiful day, bright and crisp.The streets around the Park were blocked from traffic and crafts tents lined both sides of the street. The streets were packed with people. Of all the jewelry, lawn gnomes, wooden signs and ceramics I saw, nothing interested me. shopping with no set goal is hard for me. There is no, "thrill of the hunt" when shopping, I Just want to get what I need and leave. I do experience "the thrill of the hunt" when it comes to sketching. After patiently walking through two thirds of the festival I finally had to let Terry know that t couldn't take it anymore, I had to sketch. I had stopped right at the North East corner of the Park where a beautiful flowerbed was in full bloom. Yellow and violet flowers were arranged to create the image of a giant star.

I set up my artist stood on the sidewalk behind a craftsman's tent. Behind the flower bed children were running, screaming, and bouncing. Parents relaxed on the stone retaining wall that arched around the flower bed. Radio station K92 FM was set up in a mobile van pumping out music. One of those inflatable fabric tube puppets grated and gestured to the beat, flapping happily. When I finished the sketch, I called Terry and we decided to get some food. We both ordered juicy Mediterranean gyros and sat on a park bench near a Civil war memorial to people watch. Imagining peoples lives and relationships was far more interesting than any trinket found in the tents.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Daytona International Speedway

Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com gave me a call and asked if I would like to go to the Daytona International Speedway to sketch a race. I of course said, "YES!" We met at IKEA and I drove the rest of the was to the speedway. Mark had been invited by Red Bull to experience the start of the race from the Pit Road Patios. This involved VIP access to the infield of the race track. We were both stoked but at 8:30 AM our excitement was restrained. At least Mark had a full cup of coffee for his morning jolt. We Knew we were getting close when we started seeing RV Parks. Then the bandstands loomed on the horizon and traffic settled to a crawl. The lot we had been instructed to park in was reserved for handicapped parking. After several calls to our contact, we were told to park across the street at a mall. Parking there was $50 but we were told we would be reimbursed. We walked to tunnel four which would lead to the infield. A Red Bull "Wing Girl" drove up in a jolt cart and drove us the rest of the way to the Red Bull Patio.

There were beautiful women everywhere. On the track, I swore I heard a 747 jet airplane firing up its engine. The patio grandstands were right behind the pit stops. I picked up a Red Bull and slopped some breakfast food on a plate and then started sketching as the pit crews set up. We had several hours before the race world start. We were offered a walking tour of the pits and the garage area where all the cars went through multiple inspections. Groups of five men would push the race cars from spot to spot. There were so many amazing sketch opportunities. I hope I get to return someday when I can fully commit myself to the event. As it was, I only had time for one sketch before I had to go back to Orlando to go to my night job at Full Sail.

Right before race time lunch was putout. It was an impressive spread. A D.J. was mixing music. This was a young crowd most of college aged kids. We were told this was part of a champagne to introduce NASCAR to a younger demographic. I was sad when we had to go, the party was just firing up.The sound of the race cars rushing by was deafening. As a "Red Wing Girl" drove us back out with the golf cart, we saw row after row of fans who were waiting for the race to start as they stood on the roofs of their RVs.The entire infield was an RV city.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Crown Royal

It was the evening of an Orlando Magic game. I heard that a NASCAR vehicle was going to be on display down on Church street.When I arrived the closest thing I saw to a race car was this stumpy race simulator. Magic fans on the way to the Amway Center could also have their picture taken with a racing trophy on a pedestal. Reaching into my bag, I discovered I had left my sketchbooks at home. Subconsciously I must have wanted to use the tablet PC. Since there was little light it was the best option. A woman named Dana introduced herself. She had organized this event and she also handled events out at the Daytona International Speedway. She also let me know that car number 17 the Crown Royal would be at Church Street around 9 pm.

Just as I was finishing up this sketch a huge sixteen wheeled pulled up in front of me. The driver got out of the cab walked to the back of the truck and extended a shiny chrome ramp. Then using a winch the black race car was backed down to the street level. About six police offers were there and they inspected the cars every curve. It was a sexy machine. The truck driver asked if we all wanted to hear the engine fire up. Of course we did! He turned the ignition leaving in the cars diver side window. The starter clicked and sputtered like an old worn out Chevy. I thought, "Oh, great, the one race car I get to see on the streets of Orlando and it is a dud." Then the engine, suddenly roared to life with such force and volume that it literally pushed me backwards forcing me to catch me balance on one foot. The noise filled the Church Street corridor. After revving the engine a few more times he shot the engine down. The silence was deafening.

I had promised Terry I would be home at a reasonable hour, so I didn't stay to finish a second sketch. I agonized about this, placing about and considering the best sketching angle. When the Magic game was over there would be huge crowds of people around the vehicle. I also knew that I would be out at Daytona the next day. It turned out, that Terry stayed out late so I could have finished the sketch. Oh well, there will be other race cars.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Nude Nite

This year Nude Nite was in a large warehouse South of Downtown, (SODO). Terry and I arrived in separate vehicles. I parked in front of a cement factory. Terry got to the event before me and greeted me at the entrance. We got to the event early but it was already packed inside. The first thing we saw was this woman seated nude on a blue inflatable chairs with a red fabric covering her head and a phone outlet cord plate where her face would be. I started sketching Immediately. A sign invited people to pick up the phone. On occasion people would sit opposite the woman and hold the phone. Most people only did this long enough to have their picture taken. As one patron said, "I am presuming that's what pay-for-phone-sex sounds like. It was hard to hear, because of all the ambient noise, but I did hear enough." As the crowd grew thicker, fewer people took the seat since there would be an audience watching them for a reaction. Terry came back after wandering and looking at all the nude art. She mentioned that there was nowhere to sit in the whole place. I suggested she sit opposite the woman I was sketching but she didn't want to become part of the performance.

After the first sketch we walked around together and I got to see all the art for the first time. By now the venue was jam packed. Emotions Dancers slipped gracefully around among the crowd. Periodically one of the dancers would let out an ear piercing scream. We kept bumping into people we knew. I recognized the work of some of the artists I know. For the second sketch, I watched beautiful women get body painted with graffiti from head to toe. I noticed that no one was completely nude. women always wore panties. A more accurate title for the event might be Topless Night. Sketching the body painter, I was often bumped by photographers who were so excited to shoot a nude body that they never looked where they were going. Actually this was true all night, everyone stared and crashed into one another.
I was starving. We had been to a reception prior to Nude Nite but the food was gone by the time we arrived. Terry had some sushi provided by Sushi 101. She couldn't use the chop sticks provided so they wrapped a rubber band around them to make them easier to use. We wandered around looking for an open restaurant but nothing was open but fast food restaurants. We were almost home before we had to give up and go to Burger King.
I found out that an artist who exhibited work at Nude Nite had a painting go missing. If you see this painting anywhere around town, leave a comment on this blog. The artist is offering a reward for information leading to its return. The reward is either a print of the painting or a small original charcoal drawing of the artists choice. I had my own work disappear at a Sonesta Hotel fundraiser and work has been defaced at Pom Poms Cafe, we need to stop the madness or Orlando will become a cultural backwater.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shooting Orlando Live

After spending 82 hours on the streets of downtown Orlando, Peter Murphy went straight into shooting a video broadcast of Orlando Live. The show began at 10 pm at the City Arts Factory. Cameras were set up in the hallway entry. There was the frantic activity of getting ready with time running out. Wires snaked everywhere in the hallway. Singer, songwriter, Britt Daley who was setup right outside the entry gave a live performance. Peter looked tired, his eyes glassy, but he lit up once the cameras started rolling.

His first interview was with Hannah Miller. Hannah is a puppeteer and she had several of the puppets she made for an upcoming show titled "Gift of the Magi." One puppet hung from a light. A stagehand was concerned the light might topple with the added weight, but Hannah assured her that the puppet was extremely light. The conversation quickly turned from the world of entertainment to the experiences Peter had on the streets of Orlando. He discovered that Hannah volunteered for an organization called iDignity, which finds identification papers for the poor. Without IDs it is impossible to get a job. The organization's mission is so simple and yet empowering, allowing people to take control of their lives.

Hannah had wonderful ideas about how to revitalize downtown by allowing street performers to work and improving the downtown culture through art. The only big business downtown at night now seems to be the sale of alcohol. Just then a gaggle of college girls started yelling and screaming because they saw the cameras. As Hannah walked back to her car, some jerk snatched a puppet out of her arms ripping it in the process. When she got to the parking lot space she had paid for, she found her car had been towed. She spent the rest of the night trying to find her car and extricate it from the impound lot all the way out by the airport. The towing pirates even made her wait an additional 40 minutes before they showed up to the lot. Rather than holding a grudge, she had this to say, "I'm going out of my way every time I leave my house for the next week to be super, super nice to everybody. I think Orlando needs it."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Human Heart


It was Valentine's Day. A large group of people stood assembled at the edge of the Repertory Theater parking lot for an event called, the Human Heart, an Outright Love In. There were a few Mylar balloons and much excited chatter. Out on the lawn there was a large heart shape created with Doug Rhodehamel's brown paper bag mushrooms. Nicki using a megaphone asked everyone to form a large circle around the mushrooms. Then groups of people were invited to step in closer to the heart shaped mushrooms. She began by inviting clergy and priests to step forward.

The fading golden sunlight hit the tops of the trees, igniting them with a bright orange glow. Soon everyone on the field was formed into the shape of a heart. They held hands and began to sing, "Seasons of Love." Earlier in the day, Nicki and Rachel, who organized this event, went to the Orange County Courthouse to ask for the right to be married. They were denied. "You never hear on the evening news that there is too much love in this world!" This event was all about equality and love. Everyone had been given candles, and as it grew dark the candles were lit and the singing resumed.

Terry arrived and we agreed to skip "The Kiss Tones "a Brian Feldman and Britt Daley production at Stardust Video and Coffee. I had my sketch for the day. Instead we went to go to Citrus for an amazing dinner and a bottle of wine. I had a crispy baked salmon with a pomegranate glaze that was mouth wateringly good. It was the perfect Valentine's date night.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blind Love

I fired off a tweet asking, "Why are children taught that animals are put on this earth to entertain us?" This was along with a link to an article I wrote about abuse of animals at the circus. Mark Baratelli replied that his cat entertained him. I couldn't argue with that. He later put out a call for help asking someone to adopt a blind Tabby cat named Smokey. Smokey was born without eyes. The Orange County Animal Services had put out an announcement that he needed a home. Mark, who re-tweeted the announcement also said he would donate money if this blind cat found a home. Though I'm not a cat owner, I tweeted back that I would match his donation if Mark's buzz on twitter resulted in this cat getting adopted. I grew up with a gray cat named Smokey. I had to chip in. Thanks to this internet campaign, $400 dollars will be donated to the Orange County Animal Services.

Within 24 hours Smokey had a home when a mother and her son went in to adopt him. The little boy said the kitty will be able to sleep in his bed. Smokey still needed shots and to be neutered so he couldn't leave the shelter right away. Mark texted me and asked if I would like to go to animal services to meet Smokey. I jumped at the chance. I got to Animal services before Mark and Brian Feldman arrived. Kathleen Kennedy greeted us all when we were all assembled. Mark shouted out as he hugged her, "What are you doing here?" "Living the dream."she replied as she walked us back to the holding area. We walked by row after row of cages. Smokey's cage was opened and she let Mark hold him. A baby kitty in the next cage kept pawing at Mark through the cage bars, trying to catch his attention. After a quick video interview and a flurry of photos, Smokey was put back in his cage.

As I started to sketch, one of the volunteers named Christopher, took Smokey back out and held him for quite some time. Smokey liked to feel the breeze on his face and he crawled up Christopher's shoulder to sniff the fresh air. Later as I sketched the abandoned cats in their cages, another volunteer took Smokey out and held him. He is a bit of a superstar and every volunteer is happy he found a home. That didn't detract however from the fact that there are so many cats that still haven't found a home. Wide eyed cats stared back at me as I sketched, their future remained uncertain.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Packer Backers

Terry and I went to One Eyed Jacks to watch the Super Bowl along with hundreds of rabid Packer Backers. I had sketched this group before and they are a fun, boisterous crowd. Brian O'Halloran who organizes the crowd had asked me to come and sketch. A stone brick encased in a wooden box sat on a stool. Like everyone else, we rubbed the stone brick for luck. We got to the bar about an hour before kickoff and I immediately sat on the staging area and started to sketch. The fan that caught my eye had on jersey 52 and he had a flag that he would wave whenever the Packers scored. The little statue of a Packer player would do a happy dance at the press of a button. The tiny mechanized hips would thrust provocatively. There was a little boy seated next to me who was wound way too tight. He had tiny lights that he kept shining in my eyes and he kept jumping up and down off the stage. I ignored him. A very drunk fan got on stage next to the boy and stumbled sending the boy flying off the stage.

By the halftime show I was finished with my sketch. Terry had disappeared. I fired off 6 or so text messages but she didn't respond. In the second half the Packers started making mistakes and giving up ground. Fans got quiet and serious as the score got dangerously close. One of the people in charge had to jump up on stage often as he tried to play audio clips with a failing remote control. The audio would fire up shouting, "Go Pack Go!" Everyone shouted along in unison. He then fired up a dance number that had everyone dancing with their hands in the air. Terry and I danced along.

The Packers won and the place went wild. Think of New Years Eve times one hundred. People were dancing on the bar and tables. A woman flashed her breasts. Two women were french kissing. Everyone was dancing and giving high fives. On the walk back to my truck, Terry gave a dollar to every homeless person she met. The drive home was strangely silent.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

United Arts Grant Panel

The Enzian Theater hosted the United Arts Grant Applications panel meeting for the 2011 Professional Development Grants. 29 Artists and 10 Arts Administrators were to be awarded a total of $33,579. Individual artists could be awarded up to $1000 towards their professional development. The meeting was open to the public.Artists applying for grants were each given a minute to give a brief update on their project and then panelists could ask questions soften adjusting their scores based on the artists response. I didn't pay close attention to how the scoring was done. I know there was a total of 20 points available and different criteria were considered, like feasibility, assurance that the grant will encourage the artist to grow and assurance that the project will promote and strengthen the Orlando artist community. Attending the meeting was a great way to find out what artistic projects are being produced. I also had the added incentive that I applied for a grant this year.

After the morning session was over and my first sketch was done, I had lunch with performance artist Brian Feldman. He told me all about the 11 different performances he is planning for the Orlando Fringe Festival this year. I tried to figure out how to document so many performances by sketching. Sketching while walking is a new skill set I might have to develop.

The Visual Arts part of the meeting began with a slide show of all the artwork that had been submitted. I cringed when I saw some of my sketches blow up on the large move screen. I had selected sketches at random. A sketch of a haunted house made me think, " Why did I send that sketch? Does it say anything about Orlando culture?" There was some amazing work and I hope to catch up with some of the artists during the year. Katherine Mathisen had wonderful ceramic busts of Shamans, Gregorii had bright self illuminated fractal art that was stunning. When R V. got up and started showing a stack of his Pinocchio paintings, he expressed that he always felt like he was behind, never ahead. He runs a gallery that has an international graffiti festival each year. I have to get there this year to draw. Anyway, I learned more about the Orlando Arts scene in an hour than I did over the past year.

Here are sample comments and questions about my grant application.
Quality and Integrity: One of a kind project!
Benefit: The applicant’s contribution to the community has already been outstanding. This can only increase the value of our city.
Quality and Integrity: This makes me feel or think of the artist as the “Norman Rockwell” of our time. Have you identified the venue? When may we expect to see this gallery open?
Quality and Integrity: The best!
Feasibility: No doubt is feasible since you have already been working on this project.
Benefit: Sharing your work is a benefit in itself.
Feasibility: I'm interested in knowing at which venue(s) these will be exhibited.

I thought I would be nervous when it came time for me to discuss me project. Anytime I discuss AADW however I become animated, fueled by the fact that I believe that what I am doing has valve to the Orlando community. I got to tell the panel about a new project called LifeSketch where I team up with local authors who conduct interviews while I sketch. Many Artists in the room were checking the tally sheets to be sure that they had the required score. When I sat down, Rick Jones, I an abstract painter, informed me that I had a perfect score. I had managed to navigate the daunting process and have fun the whole time. Very soon Analog Artist Digital World will be funded in part, thanks to a grant from United Arts. When the meeting was over, I was giddy. I called Terry and we went out for a fabulous Mediterranean dinner.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Highland Games

The Scottish Highland Games are always held the third weekend in January at Winter Springs. When I arrived, the parking both were packed. I pulled my SUV up over a curb and parked next to some woods. When I went to the press tent and asked for my pass, the man asked, "Are you that artist that sketches?" I thought to myself, don't most artists sketch? But I said, "Yes?" He related that he follows the blog and he always wanted to meet me. We chatted for a while. I entered the event site feeling golden. Of course the first thing you hear upon entering the Highland Games is bagpipes. Bagpipers perform and compete for coveted prizes. I followed my ears and found a group of bagpipers standing in a circle rehearsing.

I wandered over to the playing fields which were surrounded by construction site orange mesh fencing. Women were throwing heavy metal weights. There really wasn't much competition for Kate Burton, who threw that thing twice as far as any other woman on the field. Later at the caber toss it was the same story. A caber is a telephone pole sized log which is supposed to be tossed end over end. The competitor that tosses the caber closest to 12 o'clock wins. When it was Kate's turns the announcer said, "Kate Burton is on the caber!" There was laughter from the crowd. I didn't understand why at first. A man helped her get the caber up into position, though I think she could have done it herself. She stood up and took a step back to catch her balance. She ran forward and thrust her arms in the air achieving an 11 o'clock toss on her first try. The crowd went wild. No other woman was able to up end the caber that day.

The men's caber toss competition was surprising in that the larger men were not the best caber tossers. Having a thick chest, legs as thick as barrels and thick beefy arms didn't matter. It must all be about technique because the smallest man on the field, perhaps 5 foot tall and of medium build, was the clear champion.I sipped a delicious apricot ale as I sketched.

On another field, Scottish Sheep Dogs were demonstrating how to herd sheep. Four sheep were on the field and the dogs would circle around them to bring them back to the herder. Using just a series of whistle commands the dog could even get the sheep to follow an intricate course maze. It was an impressive sight. I ended the day listening to a Scottish Band called Albannach. Their high energy music had a large crowd of people dancing in front of the stage as the sun set and golden orange light filtered up to the treetops.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Chalkboard Exercises


It was six in the morning and I was standing in my driveway waiting for Brian Feldman to pick me up with a U-Haul he had rented. It was still pitch black outside and a deep wet fog made the orange glow of the streetlights quickly fade away as they marched away down the street toward the horizon. I heard the roar of the truck before I saw it. I pulled out my iPhone and flashed it at the oncoming headlights. I had my tablet to sketch with since it is the best option when sketching in low light. Brian had asked me to bring me video camera and tripod as well, so I piled them into the cab. In the back of the U-Haul was a large portable chalkboard. Brian had labored for days to find one since most classrooms have whileboards these days.

I directed Brian on how to get from my place to Universal Studios. There was going to be a Principal's Appreciation Breakfast at Hard Rock Live. The event began at 7am and Brian wanted to be set up at the entrance writing "I WILL SUPPORT ARTS EDUCATION." over and over again. When we arrived at the Universal Studios security gate the guards asked us both for our drivers licenses. Brian was asked to open the back of the truck. While he was doing that I was asked who our contact was since our names were not on the list. I told him to ask Brian. Britt Daley, who works for the Orange County Arts Education Center which was the host if the event, was our contact. Brian called her and she scrambled to find out why we were not on the list. It turns out Brian's name was on a list, just not the one the guard looked at.

We parked behind Hard Rock Live and unloaded the chalkboard which was surprisingly heavy. We wheeled it around to the entrance and set up. CityWalk across the lagoon looked gorgeous in the misty morning fog. I set up the tripod and asked Brian if he had the tapes. He had forgotten to get them. The event guests slowly arrived. Brian started writing and I began sketching. I rather liked the clacking sound the chalk made as it struck the board. Some teachers laughed out loud. But mostly there was the clacking of the chalk and the tapping of my stylus on the tablet. The moist air was making my hand stick to the tablet making it hard to let long lines flow.

When everyone was inside, I went in and stood at the back of the room to listen. The keynote speaker, John Ceschini, spoke about the importance of arts in education. He began with a quote from Yeats, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the building of a fire." On the table in front of me there were boxes of crayons and a single tile mosaic with gorgeous blue tiles and several clear spherical tiles. I thought back to a mosaic I had made for my mothers when I was 10 years old. On stage John quoted some more famous minds like Einstein who said,"Imagination is more important than knowledge." A video was shown of a little girl talking about an abstract painting by Wassily Kandinsky. In it she saw birds, a bridge, a plane, rainbow and a black hole which was beginning to suck all light and color from the imaginary world. Here was a mind ignited by limitless possibilities of the imagination.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rising Star

It was Jeremy Seghers birthday. A group of his friends gathered at Ethos Kitchen, a vegan restaurant, to celebrate. We all pushed some tables together and everyone ordered dinner from the front counter. There was plenty of playful conversation. Someone had ordered a huge birthday cake from Rhapsodic Bakery. It was tasty but a little too sweet. After dinner a group of us went to Theater Downtown where Chicago had just begun it's run. The cast of the show was gathered in the lobby. The room was converted into a makeshift karaoke bar. Amenda Chadwick insisted I join her singing, "Somewhere Out There". I don't know why I can't just say no. She is persuasive.

Amanda did a soft shoe routine waiting for the piano introduction to finish up. We sang a bit timid at first then shouting till our voices cracked. Terry, who claimed she had never seen me sing, shot video on her iPhone which I hope was properly destroyed. To round out the festivities we went to Rising Start at Universal's City walk. Terry and I were driving separate cars so I followed her there. When we got to the parking garage Terry realized she didn't have her cell phone. She used my phone to call her number. Someone at the Theater Downtown, picked up and described the phone to Terry. She had to go back. I pushed on to City Walk. "The guard at the entrance to the parking garage told me that if I wanted one minute, I wouldn't have to pay. I think there was a $5 admission for the club. I got a wristband.

Our table was populated with talented actors, actresses and musicians. Mathew Mendel got up to sing and he really bought the roof down. A table full of women were sitting at the table behind us and they were swooning and screaming. Brian Feldman looked around comically for effect. After finishing his song, Mathew took the longest time, finding his way back to our table. He must have been shanghied. This place offered karaoke with a boost. There were sexy backup singers and talented band members. Jeremy and an actress I had never met before sang, "How do I get you Alone" and the crowd loved it. Terry finally stopped in as I was finishing my sketch. She was tired and I wanted to get away before someone insisted I get up to sing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

5 Course Love

Mark Baratelli,the producer of The Daily City, invited me to attend a performance of Five Course Love at the Winter Park Playhouse (711-C Orange Ave., Winter Park). In this play, three actors each got to play five different parts. The music was fun and the action comical as mismatched couples met at restaurants. Mark was hilarious as a waiter at each of the restaurants and each scene would invariable be punctuated by the sound dishes crashing to the floor in the off stage kitchen and Mark world offer the comic refrain, " Oops, there is trouble in the kitchen!"

Michelle Knight was absolutely fantastic as the female lead. Her singing voice is amazing. I had sketched her once before when she performed in "My Fair Lady". As Barbie she played a Saucy Texas gal who would do anything to woo her man, a blind date named Matt played by Christopher Alan Norton. Unfortunately her date was actually at the next table which left Matt frustratingly alone.

I sketched Christopher Leavy on piano and Sam Forrest on drums since I knew the action on stage was going to change often. When Mark came out on stage in lederhosen, I laughed out loud. Michelle, playing Gretchen, was in a hot tight red leather outfit and she had a whip. She climbed up on the piano and sang her lament. Stricken, I stopped sketching and listened. In the final scene, she played kitty who spent all her time reading about love yet never experienced life. It turns out she was perfect for Matt, a young man who was also unlucky in love. When they meet each other, Mark Bartelli came out on stage as cupid with large white angels wings pirouetting like a ballet dancer. It turns out Mark is classically trained in ballet but I was laughing too loud to care.

Five Course Love is playing through February 13th 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $35 evenings, $33 seniors, $26 matinees, $20 students and entertainment-industry professionals. Bring your love right before Valentines Day. You will laugh so hard it hurts and y0u might fall in love all over again.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Seed Alliance Show

The Seed Orlando Art Alliance sponsored a group show. Ten Analog Artist Digital World sketchbooks are now on display at the downtown Orlando Public Library (101 East Central Boulevard). The books are framed in black shadow box style frames. I transported the work to the library using an old shopping cart. It wasn't an elegant solution but it worked. The exhibit is on the ground floor right next to where the security officer sits. After I leaned the sketchbooks up against a wall, I settled back to watch and sketch as the exhibit was hung. Karie Brown was super organized with her laptop showing how she planned to hang the exhibit. As a matter of fact Karie was moving around so much that I ended up placing her in the sketch twice. Stephanie Matos was busy organizing all the items in the cart. Bonnie Sprung was there, but somehow I managed not to sketch her. I hope she was kidding when she said she was ticked about my oversight. Marcile Powers showed me her work which was done in the computer and involved intertwining repetitive patterns.If was a fun afternoon getting to meet some local Orlando artists I hadn't met before.

The opening was January 15th starting at 4 pm and closing the library down at 6pm. After 6 pm the party moved to Blank Space right across the street. Odin's Den was setting up it's sound system and Karie arranged for a bottle of champagne. The sound check for Odin's Den took forever and even after they started performing they had to stop and re-adjust the sound. Terry and I had to rush off to the opening of a new club downtown called Heat, so we slipped out.The Seed Alliance Art Show at the Library will be hanging through February 28th so stop down and take a look.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Caitlin Doyle at Infusion Tea

"Art transcends its limitations only by staying within them." Flannery Oconnor.

I went to a reading by the Kerouac House resident author, Caitlin Doyle. I had spent a wonderful evening sketching Caitlin as she worked on her poetry. I came to realize that poetry like art takes plenty of hard work. I was pleased and relieved that Caitlin had been able to relax and made major headway towards finishing the poem she was working on called "The Ship." I felt a warm glow of satisfaction when she announced that she planned to read the poem at Infusion. I had been witness to the birth of its creation.

To give you a flavor of the poem, you can read an excerpt of it below with the first two stanzas and the beginning of the third stanza. Caitlin plans to include the poem in her book manuscript, the project on which she is working while at the Kerouac House, so if you look for Caitlin’s book in the future you will be able to read the complete piece.

The Ship

The August I was grounded for sneaking out
at night, so stuck indoors I was homesick
for anywhere but home, my dad showed me how
to make a ship fit in a bottle – the trick,
string-rigged masts pulled full sail only once the hull
had been inserted through the bottle’s neck.
If wrongly put together, the ship could wreck

halfway inside, a tangle of strings and shards.
Mine cracked in two before the stern made it through,
as if to say: 'better broken than contained'.
But my dad answered it with a tube of glue.
The parts seemed to come back in place by choice.
He raised the sails and corked the bottle to seal
the ship inside the glass. I watched the keel

rise on invisible waves day after day…

The poem then goes on to continue its exploration of freedom and containment in the speaker’s coming-of-age experience, as embodied by the metaphor of the ship and enacted in the tension between looseness and restriction within the poem’s rhythm and form.

To satiate my need for a suger rush, I ordered a banana split vegan cupcake and the iced tea of the day. Rachel Kapitan showed me some poems she is crafting which take the form of architecture. For the open mic that followed Caitlin's reading, Rachel first recited from memory a Robert Frost poem titled "Stopping be Woods on a Snowy Evening." Hearing the familiar poems lines was comforting. She faltered for a moment and the poets in the audience were on the verge of shouting out the familiar lines...

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep

She then read her own poem that involved a Kafkaesque form of sexual performance art. It had an anger and vehemence that caused the audience to howl. The evenings endless variety was exhilarating.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Flash! At Parliament House

On the day of the FLASH MOB at the Mall at Millenia, dancers were invited to give an encore performance of their dance moves at the Parliament House. Admission is usual $10 but Flash Mob participants could get in free for the night. Terry had danced in the Flash Mob and she was excited to have this second "gig". It was 80's night. The place was filled with images from 1980's early video games. The bartender I decided to draw was wearing a Super Mario Brothers style hot as he checked out Facebook on his iPhone. This back room bar was probably the quietest spot in the club. The throbbing 80's beat still set me cokes surface to vibrate. Lightning kept changing from green to red and back making color choices in the painting a challenge.

Terry had remained behind near the dance floor waiting for her moment to once again strut her stuff. with all that was going on, no one noticed me sketching. Two other bartenders were dressed as big blue Smurfs. Pac Man images were everywhere.This was my first time at the Parliament House in the evening and it was a wild eye opening experience. There was such a cross section of humanity, from cross dressers, gays, lesbians, straight, young and old you name it. It was a sketch artists paradise.

The Flash Mob was reenacted right on cue. Everyone went wild and joined in the on the dance floor. It was like an electroshock jolt that set the dance floor ablaze. The disco ball spun and neon rippled out from the ceilings center. Smoke filled the space making shafts of light visible as they cut through the air. When the dance was complete, I was just finishing up my sketch. Terry and I both decided to head home. There was a huge line of people waiting to get in as we left. The evening was just getting started and I suspect things were about to get unhinged. I have heard that the Parliament House is having financial troubles and might close soon. That is hard to believe since there was such an amazing crowd. It would be a real shame if the place closed since it is the closest thing to the Moulin Rouge that Orlando has.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

82 Hours on Pine and Orange

Peter Murphy the host of Orlando Live, an internet video podcast, set himself a mission to raise awareness regarding homelessness in Orlando by spending 82 hours on the corner of East Pine Street and South Orange Avenue downtown. I arrived on day four of his sojourn. At first I didn't notice him, but then I spotted him across the street from City Arts Factory. He had some stubble on his face and his hair was matted. In his pocket was a tiny stuffed toy dog which a little girl had given him for good luck. He was happy to see me and he quickly related everything that had transpired over the last four days. He was about to film another short segment for his show, and I used that time to drop off the food items I had brought inside the City Arts Factory. He confided in me that his notion that food was a top priority had been false. There are a number of spots all within walking distance where homeless are given meals. He discovered that plastic garbage bags to keep things dry and blankets were priorities. He quickly realized sleeping in the empty lot across from the Cite Arts Factory would be a frightening proposition. A homeless man related how he had been awakened with a knife blade planted between his eyes and robbed. He had the scar to prove it.

Peter ended up sleeping in an empty alleyway across from Mad Cow Theater. He said one evening he tried sleeping near a church but a policeman told him to move along. He was also told he could not stand in the empty lot where he began his mission since it was private property and he was blocking pedestrian right of ways. He had a cardboard sign which asked for donations of food for the homeless. Since this is considered panhandling rather than charity, he was told he would have to stand in one of two blue boxes which have been painted on sidewalks for panhandlers. I have never noticed these blue boxes. I'll have to look for them.

Weather had been terrible every night. There was torrential rain and freezing cold temperatures. Peter said he only really got perhaps six hours of sleep total. As I sketched him in front of the City Arts Factory, he would shout out any time he spotted someone who might be homeless. "Hey! Where you headed?" Invariably they would walk over and he would offer them bottled water or some snack food. Everyone was grateful. Within minutes of starting my sketch, a policeman on a bicycle stopped to look at what I was doing. I said hello, but in the back of my mind I imagined him forcing me to stop sketching. He soon left. Peter shouted to me, "Your lucky your good!" I shouted back, speaking for the officer, " Yeah, 'That drawing sucks, move along!" I comically wiped my brow. Large fork lifts laden with kegs and bottled beers kept rolling past me on the sidewalk. One particularly tall stack of beers wobbled threatening to topple over on me.

Two homeless men in particular had helped Peter adjust to life on the streets. Science Dave, wore a pith helmet decorated with silver studs. He once worked for the Science Center but he had been fired. A series of unfortunate incidents landed him on the streets. When he saw I was an artist he started telling me the life story of Toulouse Lautrec. Toulouse is one of my favorite artists, yet Dave knew more about his life story than I did. Pete, in a wheel chair, rolled up to talk to Peter Murphy. He was very soft spoken so to hear him speak, you had to lean in close. When he saw the sketch I had done of him he whispered, " You are blessed." I admired the quick camaraderie that was shown by these people who happen to live on the streets of Orlando.

I only spent maybe four hours watching Peter Murphy greet and share food with people on the street. For him this must have felt like the home stretch in a very long marathon. Between the winds and the constant shadows of the tall buildings it was cold. Peter often blew his breath into his cupped hands. I did the same with my drawing hand. I couldn't imagine trying to sleep on the pavement in the dropping temperatures. Yet some people do that every night. More important than any food offered, Peter bought respect and an honest concern to every homeless person he met. I was moved and humbled. For Peter, this must have been a life changing experience.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Dog Tulip

I went to the Enzian Theater to meet Terry and see the animated feature film "My Dog Tulip." This film was traditionally animated and I had heard great reviews. I went to the Enzian straight from work and arrived before Terry. I got the tickets and then settled in at the Eden Bar for a drink. I ordered an Orange Blossom beer and got out the sketch book. There was only one other patron at the bar and she was seated at the far end near the cash register. The bartender, Robert Johnson, put on some music that I had never heard before. The woman started asking Robert some questions about the music. It turns out the CD was a preliminary mix for his band, Odin's Den. He said there were still many things he wanted to tweak to bring the sound mix up to par.

I really liked the music. One song in particular struck a note with me called, "I paint a picture in shades of gray." When the woman said she liked the music just as it was, Robert tried to explain the subtleties he was listening for. At a party at Blank Space following an opening of a Seed Alliance art opening I participated in at the downtown public library, Odin's Den performed. The sound check was indeed a long arduous process. Robert would lean close to the speaker and turn dials trying to get the sound just right. Blank Space is a rather small venue and the sound was loud and full. Terry told me I should put in ear plugs. I refused deciding to listen to the music's full force. Just as I refuse to wear sunglasses anymore, I choose to experience things fully and unfiltered.

"My Dog Tulip" had me enthralled. The whole film looks like my rough sketches with no attempt at polishing them to some pristine finish. This was the furthest thing from a Disney film I had ever seen. It made me want to bring my sketches to life. The entire film was narrated giving it a straight forward matter of fact tone. Entirely about the search for the ideal friendship and an Englishman who found that friendship and endless devotion with his dog. There was sincerity to every scene. One scene even had the signature of the background artist. There was a child like joy to some of the roughest animated scenes. I fell in love with the look and sentiment of this film. It felt hand made, the vision of a single artist.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Best Bets


Voting continues through February 28th for the Orlando Sentinel's Best Bets. I hope you will vote for Analog Artist Digital World in the Best Local Blogger category. They encourage people to nominate in as many categories as possible. Since the list is dauntingly large, I thought I would share my votes. I voted for places I have sketched, and spots that I return to often. This sketch is of Stardust Video and Coffee which I nominated as the Best Local Bar and the Best Local Restaurant to bring clients. This list should give you a running start. Of course mold this list to suit your tastes. For instance you might actually know who the best cosmetic surgeon is in town. If you disagree with any of my Best Bets, let me know!

Best Chain Restaurant..........Firehouse
Best Local Bar........................Stardust Video & Coffee
Best Local Nightclub .............I-Bar
Best Local Bar/Restaurant to see Live Music .....Tanqueray's
Best Local Wine Bar...............Cavanagh's Fine Wine
Best Local Beer Selection......Redlight Redlight
Best Local Martini Bar...........Bone Fish Grill
Best Local Hole in the Wall....Back Booth
Best Local Happy Hour..........Will's Pub
Best Local Brunch...................Dandelion Communitea Cafe
Best Local Burger....................Hamburger Mary's
Best Local Steak......................Dexter's
Best Local Seafood..................Bonefish Grill
Best Local Pizza.......................Mellow Mushroom
Best Local BBQ.........................Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ
Best Local Frozen Desert........Tutti Frutti
Best Local Sushi........................Amura
Most Local Romantic................Social Chameleon
Best Local Thai..........................Viet Garden
Best Local Cuban.......................Cuban Sandwiches to go
Best Local Mexican....................De La Vega's
Best Local Italian.......................Antonio's La Fiamma
Best Local Indian......................Spice Cafe
Best Local Chinese....................Ming Court
Best Local Sub Sandwich.........Publix
Best Local Wings........................Buffalo Bill's Wild Wings
Best Local Vegetarian................Loving Hut
Best Local Dessert......................Rhapsodic Bakery
Best Local Outdoor Dinning.......310 Park South
Best Local Place to Bring Fido...Doggie Door, Winter Park
Best Local Coffee..........................Austin's Coffee
Best Local Caterer.......................Bubbalou's BBQ
Best Local Restaurant to take Clients.....Stardust Video and Coffee
Best Local Bachelor/bachelorette....Brian Feldman, Hannah Miller
Best Local Gay/Lesbian Bar.........The Parliament House
Best Local Radio Personality.......Jim Phillips
Best Orlando Sentinel Columnist.....Matthew Palm
Best Local TV Personality...........Peter Murphy
Best Meteorologist......................I don't have time for TV
Best Local Celebrity...................Mark Baratelli
Best Local Blogger............Analog Artist Digital World
Best Local Band.........................Kaleigh Rose Baker and the Absinthe Trio
Best Theme Park Ride..............Carousel of Progress
Best Water Park........................Wet and Wild
Best Live Show...........................Orlando Live
Best Annual Event at Theme Park.....Food and Wine Festival Epcot
Best Local Resort......................Wilderness Lodge
Best Wildlife Encounter............Manatee Festival Blue Spring State Park
Best Community Festival.........Fringe Festival
Best Museum.............................Orlando Museum of Art
Best Weekend Getaway...........DeLeon Springs
Best Wedding Venue................Orlando Shakespeare Theater
Best Golf Course.......................Bay Hill
Best Movie Theatre..................Enzian Theater
Best Concert Venue..................Plaza Theater
Best Video Gaming Spot..........Aloma Bowl
Best Shopping Mall....................Mall at Millenia
Best Arts and Crafts Store.......Michael's
Best Sporting Goods Store.......Bass Pro Shops
Best Home Furnishing Store...Rob and Stucky's
Best Local Bookstore................Bookworm
Best Specialty Food Store........Rhapsodic Bakery
Best Local Wine/Liquor Store.....Eola Wine Room
Best Day Spa..................................Baden Baden Germany
Best Local Hair Salon....................I cut my own hair
Best Cosmetic Surgeon.................You are kidding, right?
Best Mens Clothing Store.............The Gap
Best Womens Clothing Store........The Gap
Best Jewelry Store .........................P.J. Abramson Inc
Best Department Store..................Stein Mart
Best Discount Department store.....K Mart
Best Shoe Store..............................The Track Shack
Best Fitness Facility......................Anytime Fitness
Best Tattoo Parlor.........................Black Chapel

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Boston Coffeehouse

On the day of the 30th International SketchCrawl, Terry and I wandered the streets of Deland as the sun set. The temperature plummeted and I was happy to even shop just so I could go inside and get warm. We ran across a quirky little comics shop and went inside. The store had two narrow isles packed floor to ceiling with science fiction pulp novels, comics, figurines and even quality literary books by authors like Hermann Hess and Harper Lee. At the front of the store I was tempted to buy a book about sketching on location. As I was flipping through the pages Terry was talking to the store owner.

Terry asked if he had any Zorro Books and he showed her an entire drawer filled with Zorro comics. She squealed with delight. She wanted to know if I had money in my pocket so she could buy them all. Now, she isn't a comic book collector, this went back to some childhood impulse that I don't quite understand. On an upper shelf there was a sculptural figurine bust of Zorro still in it's original packaging. The bust was $60. She said she couldn't afford it but she just had to see it. The store owner delicately unwrapped the paper from around the bust and removed it from it's snug Styrofoam inner casing. She turned to me and said she had to have it. I didn't have that much money. She asked the store owner if there was an ATM nearby. He said there was one behind the bank across the street. I stayed behind searching through the books while she rushed across the street to get money for her fix. She couldn't find the cash machine but he accepted a personal check.

After dropping off her stash in my truck, we went to this cozy coffee shop to relax. We were planning to go to a heroes and Villains party in Longwood but that was not starting for two more hours. Terry read her book and I started to sketch. She got some caramel infused foamy coffee and I got a Mountain Dew. I also ordered an apple fritter which was delicious. In the back of the coffee shop a storytellers meeting was taking place. There was a constant stream of customers ordering coffee and then leaving. As I was finishing up the sketch my stomach started to rumble. It had been a long day of sketching and worrying about sketch opportunities lost. My body was starting to revolt. I gave Terry my keys and asked her to drive me home. She got behind the wheel already dressed up as Zorro for the party we would have to miss.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

SketchCrawl

Terry and I got on the free bus to Blue Spring State Park. At Blue Spring everyone piled off and immediately crowded onto the first wooden platform overlooking the spring. A Manatee was relaxing in the bright green sunshine. A turtle sunned himself on a log. An alligator stealthfully approached the log. The turtle got nervous and slipped into the water. I had never seen Blue Spring State Park so crowded. Terry and I decided to walk up the wooden boardwalk to the source of the spring. There the crystal clear water could be seen gushing up from a fissure. Hundreds of foot long black fish were lying around the fissure all of them facing away, looking from the distance like tad poles. Groups of them would periodically swim to the water's surface where they would splash their snout out of the water before swimming back to the bottom. It looked like they were rising up to breathe, but fish have gills. I didn't notice any bugs on the water's surface. It was a strange ritualistic dance that still has me guessing.I didn't sketch any manatees at Blue Spring since it was so darn cold and the crowds of people were crushing. We saw maybe ten manatees in all.

When we got back to the festival site, there was a huge line of people waiting to get back on the bus. I am glad we went to the spring early. It was time for some greasy festival food. I was starving. We settled on grilled hot dogs. On the main stage Bubba " Whoopass "Wilson was performing. As he sang "Southern Girl", we found a picnic table and sat down. I became fascinated with an older couple sitting arm in arm listening to the music. I got my sketchbook out as soon as I finished eating. Terry read the book she had brought along while I worked. A young family sat opposite me. The boy, maybe 12 years old, became fascinated with what I was doing. When he lost interest, he started dreaming about going on all the rides. He turned to his mom and said, "Are you sure you only have four dollars." She shook her head. Any hopes he had of getting on the rides faded away from his face.

By the time I finished this sketch, the sun was getting low on the horizon and it was getting colder. Terry and I decided to drive to Deland and walk around the quaint downtown district. I hadn't noticed another sketch artist all day. This had been a solo SketchCrawl. If others did stop out, I hope they got to fully experience everything this home grown festival had to offer.