Thursday, March 31, 2011

Elaine Person's Writing Workshop

Elaine Person runs a writing workshop every Wednesday at the Winter Park library starting at 7pm. She also teaches at Saint Lukes for a program called Page 16 0n Tuesdays. Saint Luke's has a 17-year-old School of the Arts. Registration is required. 407-876-4991. This is a separate group. On Sundays at Unity Church, she teaches once a month at 1pm, with no registration required 407-295-9181. The next class is April 10.

She asked me to come in and share a sketchbook and talk about what I do each day, acting as a prompt to help spark the evenings writing session. I always get excited when I get to talk about the amazing stories that cross my path every time I sketch. The writers were then instructed by Elaine to pick a sketch to use as inspiration as they wrote. The room grew silent. No one used a laptop. When it came time for everyone to read what they wrote, I was delighted by the variety. Here was an amazing group of talent. Elaine brings an infectious enthusiasm to the group. Here is just one sample of the work produced that night.

Perspective

Sketching events as they happen
Tom captures the essence of things
He's perched as a careful observer
To give the happenings wings

He's also at times a participant
As the action begins on the stage
He's then a part of the drama
His effect may be tricky to gauge

The concert hall is quiet one moment
There's tension and hopes for the best
The musicians have drilled and have practiced
They're hoping their playing seems blessed

A poet is reading her first line
Tom senses the pause in her voice
She's trying to calm her frayed nerves
So she can continue with poise

A wedding is joyous and crowded
The couple has planned for a year
Tom sketches the concert of vendors
A symphony the couple holds dear

The directors are sharing their visions
Their images, their focus, their light
Will they succeed in condensing a story
And make their vision seem bright?

So what is the role of observer?
He might cause rewriting and changing
Is he audience or co-creator?
Creation is now rearranging.

- Holly Mandelkern

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

txt at the Telephone Museum

As part of ArtsFest, Brian Feldman held a performance of "txt" at the Telephone Museum in Maitland (221 West Packwood Avenue). The very first time I sketched Feldman, he was performing "txt" at the Kerouac House. Brian specifically grew his beard back for this one performance. I found my vantage point in the front row before anyone else arrived. I also set up my video camera which recorded the performance from the back of the room next to a telephone booth. Ancient phones loomed above Feldman's head and photos of switchboard operators were on the walls. There were perhaps thirty or so folding chairs set up in front of the large oak desk where he sat.

The idea of "txt" is that the audience supplies every line of dialogue that is spoken. Fifty protected Twitter accounts are set up so that each audience member can send a tweet directly to Brian's show account, all of which are redirected to his phone thus keeping every entry completely private. Before the performance space was opened, Feldman crawled under the desk to wait for his entrance. When the fifteen or so people were seated, he crawled back out and sat in the leather chair causing laughter.

The young couple across from me immediately started tapping on their phones. The girl resembled actress Julianne Moore. She kept glancing at her boyfriend's phone, not sure what she should type. She kept laughing at his entries. Brian's phone vibrated and he picked it up. He read, "Football may be America's pastime, but basketball players sweat much more." I glanced around thinking I knew where the text came from. For this performance, Feldman acted out and dramatized his readings. One text read, "The man in the front row blushes whenever he laughs." I was one of three men in a front row seat. I was certainly laughing. Was I blushing? Could people see emotion and expression just from the involuntary rush of blood through my veins?

I focused more intently on the drawing. Remarks were made about the corporate looking portrait above Feldman's head, and about a creepy mannequin dressed as a telephone repairman. An early text warned against using profane language since women and children were in the audience. Surprisingly everyone complied. I consider "txt" to be Feldman's signature performance piece and it would be great to see it performed in a larger venue. There is something interesting in clandestine, anonymous communication that indicates where we are moving as an interconnected society.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Foil Muse Receptor Caps

The Silver Fern Writing Workshop held the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month is approaching its second anniversary. To help celebrate this milestone, Janna and Geoff Benge decided to mix it up and have some fun by having the authors create their own thinking caps, which they would then wear to tune in to their creative muse. My wife Terry planned to attend and I decided this was a sketch opportunity which could not be missed. When I arrived Janna started telling me that she had just gotten a text from a friend who was in Roswell and he wanted to know if she knew where to find the aliens. This was rather fortuitous, a sign.

Muse cap supplies were scattered about on the dining room table. There was plenty of tin foil, tin pie pans, buttons, rubber bands, straws, soda cup tops, tape and a glue gun. The first author to arrive, already had his tin foil cap made. It had two large handles and a large satellite disk. He explained that tin foil is usually used to deflect the forces of mind control. The disk however was a conduit for pure creative inspiration. Rachel Kapitan designed an elegant Victorian looking bonnet that resembled a peacock when it spread open, fan like, perched on her head. Karen Price used a pie plate cap with a central antenna with a disk and button to catch her signal. Another author used a simple foil cap with foil flames flowing out behind his head. He claimed the design was based on the classic mullet hair style. One author crafted a very accurate Mickey Mouse aluminum skull cap with two buttons that made it look eerily life like. I made some very simple viking horns for my baseball cap to assist in my sketching.

Soon everybody put on their caps and got down to the serious business of writing. The room grew quiet and the pencils, pens and keyboards clicked and scratched out the messages caught by the twitching antennae capturing inspiration from the ether. Twenty minutes flew by as I sketched furiously trying to capture the quirky moment.

Everyone was then asked to share their musings. As Rachel read her story, I became infatuated with the way the potted Mother in Law tongue plant flamed up beside her. I enjoyed Geoff's story about an author's dependence on his foil cap. He claimed the cap allowed him to go where no mind had gone before. He experienced such a high from the creativity generated by the cap, that he started wearing it to sleep and in the shower. It slowly became clear that this man's addiction to creativity bordered on insanity.

Terry managed to press the wrong button on her computer and she lost everything she wrote. Several authors helped her search the hard drive with no luck. This is another advantage of analog over digital, things don't just disappear. After everyone had read their stories, the serious business began of drinking Funky Llama White Wine and enjoying the conversations about art and literature in the internet age. The stories and laughter lasted late into the night. Rachel gave Terry pointers on how to incorporate more dialogue in her stories. As I was walking to my truck outside, I glanced back through a window and noticed the warmth of the light as the remaining authors talked around the dining room table. One author was on the front lawn using his cell phone, the foil cap still on his head.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Holi Fest at the Citrus Bowl

I went to the Citrus Bowl to sketch Holi Fest knowing full well that this Indian springtime celebration would touch and color my life. Last year I went to the event in a black suit and that was a mistake. Live and learn. I walked past the Police Mounted Unit Barn and the horses greeted me by walking up to the fence. Across the street the Indian music was playing loudly and I saw that some people were already multi pigmented. I seated myself with my back against a light pole and immediately got to work. A husband, wife and daughter settled in next to me. The little girl was maybe 5 years old and the supersoaker water pistol she carried was as big as she was. She aimed it at me once and I raised my sketchbook up to my face in a joking gesture of self defense. The dad told her, "No!" I was a little disappointed. A few minutes later I was shot in the right shoulder from behind with a bright purple stream. I wiped the stained pages of my sketchbook and kept working. A woman approached from behind and wiped my cheek with a bright blue pigment.

The field wasn't very crowded when I started the sketch but by the time I finished there had to be at least a thousand people all joyfully throwing pigments and chasing each other with pigmented water pistols. Melissa Kasper from DRlP Dance company came out to do research for Jessica Mariko, DRIP's founder who was unfortunately out of town. I hugged Melissa who was like a giddy school girl ready to play. I gave her a plastic bag to protect her camera and then she bounded away to put a few things back in her car. The next time I saw her she was covered in pigments and she had met some friends who were swing dancing to the Indian music. When my sketch was finished I introduced myself to her friends who were all brightly colored. They had a bag of pigment and they helped fully initiate me.

For my second sketch I decided to introduce myself to an Indian family that was sitting against a fence. There was constant activity. People tended to keep turning around always on the lookout for a brightly colored shower from behind. In the opening remarks from the stage it was announced that people came from as far away as North Carolina, New York and Nebraska. The word Holi came from Hola which means sacrifice. The festival celebrates the beginning of spring. It asks that we renew ourselves and move forward with love, understanding and compassion. There was no drinking at the event. The family I was sketching offered me several round fried dumplings dipped in a sweet yellow sauce. They were quite good. After finishing my second sketch I bumped into Hannah Miller and Jack Fields. They and their friends were vibrant and bright. When I left the event, I had to go to Loews on an errand. I turned a few heads as I wandered the aisles. The clerk checking me out said, "You must really get into your painting!" "Yes I do." I replied.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Holi Festival at UCF

Last year I sketched Holi Fest at the Citrus Bowl and had a blast. I got a tip that there was a Holi Fest celebration at UCF this year so I had to go. Holi is an Indian springtime celebration that celebrates the triumph of good over bad. Brightly colored 'gulal' and 'abeer' is rubbed on each others' faces. It was a beautiful spring day and I relaxed as I walked past a large fountain in front of the school's library. Students were sunning themselves and reading on the grass. I regretted never having attended such a gorgeous campus. The Holi celebration was being held behind the arboretum, I presumed that was because there would be a large open field for the crowds. When I got there, I found three or four families gathered around a garden hose. I almost walked by thinking the larger Festival must be just a little further. Everyone was already splashed with bright colors, I was in the right place.

Holi is a playful fun celebration. The boys chased the girls trying to cover them in powder. A girl shrieked as she ran barefoot through some pine cones. I sat under a pine tree and started sketching. The smaller celebration had an advantage in that it was more intimate and direct, I wasn't distracted by a huge crowd. Several times couples approached me wanting to see what I was working on. They complimented me but I remained outside the celebration since I wasn't once tagged with pigment. I was wearing paint splattered jeans and a multi stained shirt I wore to a DRIP dance company party, so I was ready for anything.

After all the colorful powders were thrown, a water fight began. Pigmented water was dumped and sprayed playfully. There is an amazing beauty to this colorful celebration. As I finished up my sketch I considered sketching a particularly brightly pigmented couple. She was coated in bright pink, magenta and purple while he was covered in reds, yellows. Then everyone gathered around the hose and it was sprayed fountain like straight up and everyone took a group shower washing away the colors. My job was done. I waved goodbye to several people who had approached me and headed off to find my next sketch.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Leu Gardens

I went to Leu Gardens last week to sketch and report on a meeting of the City Public Art Advisory Board. This group selects artwork that hangs on the walls at City Hall and chooses the sculptures found in public places around town. Developers pay a 1 percent fee that goes into Public Art Fund coffers. As an artist I figured it was my responsibility to learn more. When I got to the Leu Gardens reception desk, I was told that there was not enough interest among members of the board and they didn't have enough members planning to attend for a quorum. An e-mail was sent out at 8am that morning canceling the board meeting. I was not informed. Most people don't know this board exists. Now I know why.

Later that week, I returned to Leu Gardens for the Annual plant sale. Terry and I go to this event every year to get inspiration for our own garden. It was a beautiful day with flowers in bloom everywhere. I arrived before Terry thinking I might get a sketch. Mosquitoes drove me away from one spot and an old man started telling me all about a geyser that apparently used to shoot up 100 feet from Lake Fairview. Since my sketch opportunities had been interrupted, I decided to get an ice cream cone. Delicious.

When Terry arrived I decided to simply stroll and enjoy the perfect weather. We kept running into people we knew, like Doug Rhodehamel, who now has a show called Dessication which uses dried plant matter to create whimsical under water creatures. Amanda Chadwick joined us. It was rather fun watching Amanda try and catch a photo of a Monarch butterfly on her iPhone. The Monarch never posed for long and Amanda was always in the wrong spot. I believe she did get her shot in the end. After seeing all the vendors, the three of us went down to the lake side gazebo. We bumped into Genevieve Bernard and Seth Kubersky And the conversations bounced between Passover practices, bird watching and travel adventures. Turtles and fish circled in the water expecting a hand out. An Osprey swooped down and splashed into the water grabbing a fish. The setting sun sparkled on the waters surface. It was a perfect way to end the day.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Buzzcatz

On Saturday, Terry and I went to the 5th Annual Baldwin Park Art & Jazz Festival. The festival looked very much like every other festival I have been to in Baldwin Park. Vendors arts and crafts tents were lined up down the length of New Broad Street. There are always a wide assortment of dogs being walked in this Celebration like "Leave it to Beaver" neighborhood. Our first order of business was to find some lunch. We decided to eat at La Bella Luna which was an Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria. Terry ordered a chicken Caesar salad and I ordered Lasagna. The chicken in Terry's salad was dry, overcooked and she couldn't eat it. My lasagna was tasteless except for the excessively salty sauce. I however can eat anything, although my stomach sometimes complains. The waiter asked how everything was and he got an earful from Terry. She said she was doing him a favor since the restaurant wouldn't be around for long if this is what then were passing off as food. He would be better off finding a better restaurant to work in.

After lunch we ran into Hal Stringer who was displaying his colorful paintings. He relaxed in the shade of a tree and watched as people examined his bold landscape paintings. He applies the paint thickly with a pallet knife. My favorite painting was an abstract that resembled liquid fire. Hal pointed out the program to us and told us where the two stages were set up. Terry and I wandered to the end of the streets and were drawn to the music of the Buzzcatz. Terry and I spotted Carol Stein, a wonderful pianist, song writer and composer. She grabbed a table and I sat down to sketch. While I worked, Terry decided to shop and explore the arts and crafts tents. Carol and I ordered margaritas. Carol said, "These people don't realize the world class caliber of musical talent they are listening to!" I had seen the guitarist on the left, Bobby Koeble, at a Rollins College Faculty showcase concert and he amazed me. The classic jazz, motown and rat pack era music kept the audience swaying. Several couples started to swing dance while children ran in circles on a patch of lawn. Behind the band people relaxed in the grass looking out over Lake Baldwin.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Voci Dance

As part of ArtsFest, Voci Dance converted the inside of a warehouse into a magical Victorian commentary on fashion. I arrived early and sketched the final moments of a rehearsal and then the mad rush to get lights in place and final set decorations finished. Genevieve Bernard, Voci Dance's fearless founder, welcomed me warmly. Tamara Marke-Lares did an amazing job of transforming the space using the simplest elements and draped fabrics. When people started to arrive it became my task to keep people from entering the performance space prematurely. The performance began outside where dancers gracefully explored a garden area enclosed in a dark wrought iron fence. A huge hooped dress was unveiled and Leah Marke emerged from inside, strapping herself into the immense garment. She reached for the stars as if the garment was the only thing keeping her earth bound. The other dancers unfurled a long train behind her as Victorian imagery flashed on the side of the building.

The dancers moved the crowd inside. The next performance featured Tamara as a seamstress who transformed the dancers one at a time. She would reach up and rip down a bolt of fabric from the ceiling and she would rip, knot and tie the fabric around the dancer creating a bold fashion statement. The audience was encouraged to move in close and dancers glided among the crowd. There was an amazing turnout for the performance.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Anne Frank & Me

As part of ArtsFest I decided to go to the Orlando Repertory Theater to see Anne Frank & Me. At the box office I asked about ArtsFest free tickets and I was put on a waiting list. I stood around with six or seven other people waiting. If the performance sold out, we wouldn't get a seat. Soon enough I was called back to the box office and given a ticket. The young ticket taker at the theater door abandoned his post when his family arrived and he went in with them to be seated. Since there was no one to take my ticket, I wandered in and found a seat. The seats were perhaps half full.

The play started out in Nicole's bedroom as she and her girlfriends practiced dance moves for an upcoming high school dance. The girls discuss Anne Frank's diary which is required reading at school. Nicole's mom believed that the horrors of Nazi concentration camps must be blown out of proportion. Nicole lets slip the fact that she has a crush on a boy at school. The other girls tease her. The scene is frivolous and care free. At the school dance this boy pulled her aside to talk. She anticipated his declaration of love, but instead he asked her if she thinks her girlfriend likes him. He asks Nicole to be a buddy and find out. Crushed, she runs across the road without looking and ends up being struck by a car.

What followed is a cross between Back to the Future and the Wizard of Oz. She woke up in Paris 1942. Her family is now Jewish and fearful of the Nazi invasion. Ultimately her family has to go into hiding. The boy she had a crush on ends up giving away her family's hiding place. They were shoved into a packed cattle car heading to Auschwitz and she meets Anne Frank face to face. The final scenes are gruesome and tear jerking. Fierce spotlights blazed through the cattle car doors directly into the audiences eyes. Angry German guards shouted and pushed. The ten year old girls seated near me were curled up in a fetal position. This was a hard hitting play that left my nerves frazzled. The past never leaves us and we must bear witness to never allow prejudice and cruelty to gain a foothold.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rollins Faculty Showcase

I wandered onto Rollins College and found my way to Tiedtke Concert Hall to see the Faculty Showcase. The hall wasn't very crowded so I made my way easily to the front row to sketch. A large piano dominated the stage so I blocked it into my sketch while I waited for the performance to start. Julie Batman, soprano, was the first to sing and I quickly sketched as she performed. She sang "While Shepherds Watched" by Michael Haydn. Harriet Hope played the piano. Next up was a Sonata in F minor, Op. 120 by Johannes Brahms. Mati Braun played viola and Garn Wolf was on piano.

Much later Bobby Koelble on guitar performed Variations On a Theme of Handel by Mauro Giuliani. He gave the piece a lively driving force. I became aware of just how good the acoustics were in the hall. When my sketch was finished, I relaxed and just enjoyed the music. Bobby performed in another piece titled Days of Wine and Roses by Henry Mancini. Chuck Archard joined him on electric bass and the two performers seemed to playfully improvise off of each other. They laughed and smiled as they lost themselves in the music. When the final chord faded the audience stood and applauded. These free concerts happen throughout the year and I love to attend when I can. The Rollins students are lucky to have such a talented faculty.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Saint Patrick's Day

There are some who are still celebrating Saint Patrick's Day, you know who you are. But on the 17th I decided to go downtown to sketch the crowd gathered at the Harp and Celt Irish Pub and Restaurant. The sun was setting as I sketched the darks grew richer and deeper. Everyone was wearing green. Some men had absurdly large inflatable top hats while women sported derbys and shamrock antennae. There were a few couples wearing kilts. I was seated on the center median on Magnolia Avenue since it was the perfect spot to get this panoramic view of the crowd. I was approached by one fellow that wanted to give me a plastic cup for the evening. I said, "I'm fine thank you."

Terry met me as I was working on the sketch. She decided to take a walk around Lake Eola to clear her head after a rough day at work. By the time she got back, I was done. We decided to go inside the Harp and Celt to get a drink. The pub was packed but we managed to muscle our way up to the beer taps. I saw the bartender pour a drink I had to try. The plastic cup had an inner shot glass which I think held a combination of Irish Whiskey and Baileys. The remainder of the cup was then filled with Guinness. As the ingredients mixed the drink frothed up like an ice cream float. I found out this drink is called an Irish car bomb! Terry ordered a Harp beer which seemed appropriate.

We sat outside. The table behind me was littered with half finished beers. A police officer on foot approached the doorman and they talked for a while. The only problem in the pub so far had been that a man who was presumed to be homeless ordered a beer and then started pan handling everyone inside. He had to be kicked out. After our one drink, Terry and I called it a night. We walked past the art galleries on the way to her car since it was Third Thursday which meant that there were multiple gallery openings. At her office Terry had a bright green jacket and I was surprised she hadn't worn it for our outing at the Harp and Celt. She didn't realize the evening might have a chill.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

DRIP's Wet Run

It was late afternoon when paint can lids began to be hot glued to the central column. Jennifer Wagner stood on a tall ladder with the hot glue gun hard at work. For some reason one of the lids just refused to stick so that task was set aside.
After a cast lunch of delicious wraps and giant cookies, everyone was anxious to see if everything worked. Thomas was in charge of dumping a bucket of water on the stage floor to see how the drainage worked and to check for leaks. Sure enough leaks were found and silicone was applied along all the joints. Jennifer sealed all the seams of the vinyl curtains that surrounded the dancers stage. A big difference between the initial design and the final stage is that the paint and the tubing supplying the chandelier fountains all remained hidden under the stage and inside the central column. This streamlined the design.

With the sun setting in the west, the dancers came downstairs to rehearse. There was just enough time for one wet run. I did one last sketch of the performers inside the space. One of the stage techs told a dancer that the water was very warm, like 94 degrees. When the water showered down on her, she shrieked because it was freezing cold. As always the dancing was sensual, fun, and compelling. Within six short minutes the performance was over. Jessica Mariko wanted to get one run done with paint instead of water, but the dancers had to leave. Melissa Kasper, a long time "drippy" and the DRIP Assistant Workshop Manager, was asked if she would stand in for a dancer and she shouted, "Yes!" For her this was a dream come true and the remaining cast considered it "Epic!" I was asked to step inside as well but I didn't have a change of clothes. Melissa changed into a pair of jeans which were ironically cleaner than the paint splattered jeans she had worn all day. She had lost weight and these jeans were getting too loose. She stood under the yellow chandelier and was covered head to toe with bright yellow paint. The paint splattered everywhere coating the vinyl screen. The hardest part of her job became cleaning the vinyl using a towel and then getting on her hands and knees to scoop the thin paint into the drains with her cupped hands. The dancers will have to clean up four times on performance night since the show is repeated for separate audiences.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Drip Paint Can Chandeleires

I was invited to sketch a stage construction and rehearsal by the DRIP Dance Company. They were setting up in the Isleworth Country Club as part of a Travistock Cup Golf Tournament gala evening. About a month ago I did a sketch of what the set could look like based on suggestions from Jessica Mariko as we sat in Starbucks. The sketch helped sell the performance to the venue.

When I arrived at Isleworth, I had to surrender my drivers license to the security guard at the entrance to the gated community. My license is pretty old. In the photo I still had a full head of hair. The license is updated periodically with a sticker on the back. In a typical case of security guard blindness he didn't see the expiration date on the back. I had to point the 2013 expiration date to him.


I was asked to park in the cast parking lot which is way past the clubhouse. A golf cart shuttled me to the cast entrance of the clubhouse where I wandered through the bustling kitchen past the security office and down endless basement hallways until I found an elevator upstairs to the main floor. Everyone was rushing to get the place ready for the gala.

The dance staging area was set up in a central court area surrounded by arches. White curtains had been set up surrounding the stage to hide the work in progress. Melissa Kasper, Jennifer Wagner and Thomas Starr were busy painting paint can lids. These lids would later be used to decorate the central column of the stage. The theme for the performance was Pop Art. On a second floor balcony, huge Pop Art paintings were covered with black fabric waiting to be unveiled. I could just make out an Andy Warhol soup can image as it peaked out from within it's curtain. Set construction went on all day long.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Daffodil Terrace

On the first Friday of each month the Morse Museum (445 North Park Avenue ), holds an open house offering free admission to the public between 4 and 8pm. This open house offer will continue through April. The museum also has a long tradition of offering an open house on each three day Easter weekend. I decided it was time to stop in and see the new wing which opened last month. I brought along my digital drawing tablet and my handy artist's stool for my relaxing afternoon sketch. When I entered the museum I was told I would have to check my artists stool. I didn't complain, I just handed it over. I would simply have to stand in one spot for several hours. I made a bee-line back to the new wing. I knew I wanted to sketch the Daffodil Terrace.

I pulled out my tablet and opened Sketchbook Pro. Within a minute the guard walked up to me and said, "There is no sketching in the Museum." Fuming I explained that I had sketched there before with no problem. He said, "Sorry that is the policy." I pulled out my iPhone and immediately sent out a tweet angrily announcing that an artist can not sketch in the Morse Museum. The guard walked up before I finished the tweet saying, "You can't use your cell phone in the museum." I sighed, turned on my heel, pressed send, and marched back to the front desk to collect my artist stool and leave in a huff.

As the woman behind the desk looked for my stool, I said, "I didn't realize that artists were not allowed to draw in the museum." She said, "I didn't know that either." She made a call. A very tall guard walked up to me as she was on the phone. He explained that it was the use of the tablet for drawing that was at issue. The guards assume a tablet might be shooting video or taking pictures. Anything digital is suspicious. He also said that people using their cell phones often walk around without looking where they are going. I imagined someone so immersed reading their cell that they walk right through a stained glass window. I find that image funny. "If I sketch in a paper sketchbook, is that alright?" I asked. "That is fine." He said. I offered to leave the tablet at the front desk with my chair. The woman behind the desk said, "You hold onto it." Walkie talkies buzzed among the museum guards announcing that an artist would be sketching, possibly with a tablet. They announced what I was wearing so they all could be on the lookout. She was concerned that I might block the traffic flow but I assured her that standing with a sketchpad, I would only take up a one footsquare. Besides, the museum wasn't particularly crowded. Only one or two people inspected the terrace at a a time.

When I got back to the new wing, the first thing I sketched of course was the guard who told me I could not sketch. I decided not to use the tablet since it had caused such a commotion. As I worked, Catherine Hinman, the director of public affairs introduced herself to me and apologized about the policy. She explained that she was from the old school world of paper and ink publishing and that this digital age was a whole new world. She was very gracious and I felt a bit less like a felon as I sketched. I actually started to respect the guards stamina because he stood in one spot for a solid two hours. That is no easy task. Who knows how long he stood in that one spot that day.

The Daffodil Terrace was part of Laurelton Hall, Louis Comfort Tiffany's upstate New York house. It was added to the house between 1915 and 1916. The columns are of beautiful white Carrara marble. Mined in Italy this is the same marble used by Michelangelo to carve David. Several times people reached out to touch the columns and the guard had to intervene. An old lady's cell phone rang and the guard asked her to take the call outside. The capitals of the columns were made of concrete with yellow glass daffodils clustered together. A pear tree used to grow up through the central opening in the terrace. Sadly that opening is now capped off. The whole structure is enclosed in a sterile glass atrium. In the future I hope the museum will encourage artists to stop, sit and observe Tiffany's colorful and inspiring work. As I retrieved my stool the guard said, "If we let you sit and sketch then everyone will want to do the same." Is that really such a bad thing?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dog Powered Robot Fundraiser

I arrived at Blank Space (201 East Central Boulevard) early and the DPR Army was busy setting up. They all wore custom blue Dog Powered Robot T-shirts. The cardboard city took form quickly but Evan Miga made many adjustments and then started adding cardboard billboards. The advertising was blunt and to the point like "Things", "New Stuff" and "Naked Underwear Model." Scott Wilkins, the music selector for the night, was busy setting up sound equipment and tapping at the keyboard of his Mac computers. Before the first patrons arrived I shot a photo of the whole DPR army using Douglas LoCicero's camera.

I donated a print to the auction. There were some amazing silent auction items, like digital cameras, a bottle of white wine with the label, "Wine Powered Robot" and a Robot Pizza Party! The huge DPR blue foam letters stood stoically outside the Blank Space entrances. Bob Kodzis and Christie Miga manned the entryway. Two young women who were just passing had to find out what was going on. With admission they were given a wrist stamp. My wrist still has the a blue robot on it and if I wiggle my hand side to side, I can make the robot dance. I really should wash my wrist.

Alyssa Foley, the actress who now plays Lollybot, asked me if my work had been on display at the library. It turns out her boyfriend is an artist and he pointed out my work to her. Alyssa was be very funny. Once she stepped inside the Pink Robot she was a non stop dancing and flirting machine. There were lolly pops along the length of her arm. I tried valiantly to get one for myself and Terry but Lollybot was dancing so much that I couldn't grab a pop from her waving arms. It was a bit comical as I tried again and again to get at the lolly pops. Each time I reached out she would turn or robotically walk away. Finally Lollybot walked right up to where Terry and Amanda Chadwick were sitting and Amanda quickly snatched two lolly pops. All my gallant effort was wasted, I never seem to catch the prize. I've always depended on the kindness of strangers.

Tod Kimbro performed on piano. He was later joined by Jessi Riese. They performed a fun lively set as I sketched frantically. Then came the main attraction, a recreation of the 2010 Fringe act that started it all. Darci Ricciardi stepped in and lip synced the singing of Britt Daley. As always the crowd was hollering and hooting as Dog Powered Robot Destroyed the Cardboard city. A video was then screened which had stunning special effects including lasers explosions and a burning cardboard city. Christie's silent screen debut was hilarious. I have never seen Blank Space so crowded. Swami Worldtraveler introduced me to two young German women who were visiting Orlando. This proves that DPR is already an international phenomenon. The fundraiser was an undeniable success.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Florida Film Festival Preview

I look forward to the Florida Film Festival every year. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the festival. Twenty years ago there weren't as many film festivals as there are today. The opening night of the Florida Film Festival 20 years ago had such heavy hitters as Paul Newman and Oliver Stone. Today the Festival will showcase 164 films picked from 1035 submissions from 25 countries. This years theme is "Fresh Squeezed Indies" implying this is a film festival with a reputation for southern hospitality.

When I arrived at the Enzian Theater (1300 South Orange Avenue, Maitland), I immediately made my way to the press table to get my credentials. Jordana Meade was there and she said, "I knight thee" as she tapped each of my shoulders. She has always been a warm and welcoming supporter of the mission of this blog. I found a table in the press area and settled in to sketch. Before I was too involved in the sketches details, Bess Auer from Central Florida Top 5 came over to say hello. We talked about the Space Shuttle Discovery Launch and the tweet-up event associated with raising public awareness about the space program. She is in the sketch with the bright orange scarf. The couple in front of me in the dark business suits held hands constantly. They were adorable. Terry Olson joined me at the table. He thought he might be late but things at the preview got started slowly. My wife, Terry had been caught in traffic but even she arrived before the trailers started. In the first trailer, a young couple asked an older couple what their secret was in keeping their relationship fresh and alive. The woman responded, "We sleep with other couples." A strand of spaghetti dangled from the young woman's pursed lips. Terry and I looked at each other in the semi darkness and laughed.

I of course paid close attention when the animated shorts were announced. I'm looking forward to "The Gruffalo", a cgi animated short that looks charming. It was recently nominated for an Oscar for best animated short. One documentary called "Made in India" is about how American couples are paying Indian women to conceive their child using in vetro fertilisation. The problem is that after 9 months, it isn't easy to give up a child. There are 43 women directors showcasing their films in the festival this year. Love is found in so many entries, like "God of Love" and "Young Goethe in Love." Along with the many juried films, several old classics will be screened like a remastered 35mm print of, "Breakfast at Tiffany's", "The Yearling" and "Amarcord" by Fellini.

Find your favorite films on the Festival website. The Florida Film Festival is truly unique, a chance to meet the creators and actors first hand at the Eden Bar between screenings. You never know who you might meet or what you might learn. For me it is a vibrant artistic experience that can't be missed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Porch Dogs

Sunday was Terry's day. She decided she wanted to go to Big Fin Seafood Restaurant (8046 Via Dellagio Way) for a Cajun Brunch. She knew there was going to be a Cajun Band playing and she reserved a table right up front next to the band. She ordered eggs Benedict and I ordered an egg in a basket which is an egg nestled inside of some French toast. My egg was under cooked for my taste but hers were delicious. We both ordered mimosas as well. While we ate I continued to sketch, figuring most sets don't last long. The Porch Dogs played their blend of Cajun Zydeco tirelessly. Terry was invited up to sing "The Battle of New Orleans" and play the washboard with some spoons. Amazingly she knew all the words. Half way into the sketch I ordered a Mojito and it was tangy, sweet and strong, just the way I like them. As I was finishing a second Mojito the sketch was nearing completion. The lead singer, Antonio Bolet shouted out, "Looks like we have a serious artist in the audience! Let me see what you been doing." I lifted up the sketch to show the band members. He then suggested I hold the sketch up for folks at the bar, which I did. The waitress came around and offered another round of drinks saying, "It looks like you do your best work with Mojitos!" Later he asked me for my card saying he would love for me to work on a cd case cover.

During another set Terry and I danced around the bar area practicing our Cajun moves. We have been to a few Cajun concerts and picked up the basics along the way. Terry whispered to me, "Every woman in this bar is jealous right now since their husbands don't want to dance." A few couples in the back of the bar also started busting some moves. We ended up staying in the outdoor porch area for over five hours listening to music and relaxing. This was our first time stopping into thus new development of restaurants that cropped up on Sand Lake Road in the last year. I am glad we did and I am sure we will return again son.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Emotions Dance Fundraiser

Terry had tickets to attend the Emotions Dance Fundraiser at Urban ReThink (625 E. Central Blvd). I got to the venue early since I drove straight over from Full Sail. Terry was having drinks with coworkers so she would arrive later. I was hoping I might catch the dancers warming up or rehearsing. As I walked through Thornton Park I recognized a couple of the dancers dressed in nice gowns as they entered a woman's clothing store to shop. When I entered Urban ReThink, I immediately said hello to Larissa Humiston who is the founder of Emotions Dance. She was excited and nervous not having any idea how many people might show up. Tisse Mallon was helping by draping fabrics here and there. Tisse had some really sexy photos of Emotions dancers in the silent auction area. The photos were taken in Wekiva Springs and each shot featured an Emotions dancer floating semi nude in a stream with delicate fabrics flowing off of them. Dina Mack showed me around the new space. She had this wonderful fundraising idea where people could buy a piece of ribbon for $5 and that ribbon would be tied in with all the other ribbons into a continually growing mosaic symbolizing the interconnected nature of the community.

The band, The Forefathers, were setting up on the upstairs balcony. I decided to go upstairs. I stood overlooking the railing to do my first sketch. Dancers were grabbing a bite to eat before people started arriving. As people arrived, I included them in the sketch. The old Urban Think Bookstore logo was still boldly painted on the floor. Amanda Chadwick arrived and I interrupted my sketch to go downstairs and give her a hug. When Terry arrived, they talked for the longest time while I sketched. When I finished my first sketch I texted Terry to let her know I would have to wait till The Forefathers finished their set since I couldn't get to the stairs through all the band equipment. I started sketching the band. Downstairs the Emotions Dancers improvised to the music.

Terry managed to win two raffle prize items. When I finally got back downstairs, Tod Caviness was reciting some of his poetry. Kristy Six listened from one of the couches intently. Terry and Amanda had gone for a walk outside and I suspected they would be back soon so I sat quietly and simply listened and enjoyed. The festivities were far from over, but Amanda wanted to go to SAK Comedy Lab to talk to Denna Beena who works there. Outside we briefly bumped into Brian Feldman and Sultana Ali who was going to drive him home. It seems Brian's performance piece, "The Skill Crane Kid" has found a permanent home in the SAK Comedy Lab. In his hand, Brian held out the Florida Fellowship Grant check he had been waiting for. They had plenty to celebrate that night as they hugged to stay warm. Terry, Amanda and I went upstairs and gossiped with Denna. Amanda seems to always play the roll of peacemaker among friends who just don't get along. Denna and Amanda were going to Bananas after SAK closed but Terry wanted to get home to our pet cockatoo so we went home.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Skill Crane Kid

As part of ArtsFest, Brian Feldman purchased a skill crane machine, stuffed it full of plush toys and then crawled inside where he remained for 16 hours. The machine was set up in Stardust Video and Coffee. When I arrived with Terry, Brian had already been inside for over six hours. Children especially loved the performance, often begging their parents for more change so they could try the skill crane again. Some people took pleasure in dropping the metallic skill crane claws on Brian's head. For me the performance once again had a Kafkaesque quality reminding me of the Hunger Artist. Brian's presence also reminded me of carnival barkers at the fair whose main objective is to keep the rubes from winning a prize. Brian acted as a sort of anti-carnie, actually placing a plush toy in the claws of the feeble skill crane to satiate each child's greed and desire.

I seldom had an unobstructed view of the skill crane. More often than not families blocked my view as they took pictures and stuffed quarters in the machine. A friend of Brian's named Helen Henny was shooting photos the whole time I was sketching. Sultana Ali, Brian's girlfriend, was in the next room and she seemed to be updating Brian's Twitter and Facebook accounts as the performance progressed. I heard the performance was streamed live. Terry and Sultana had lunch while I sketched. Several hours later when the sketch was finished, I walked up to the skill crane to say goodbye to Brian. He gestured from inside saying I had to try my hand at the skill crane. I refused, until Terry lent me the dollar to play. Several people in the room egged me on so I gave in and decided to play. I maneuvered the crane over a small teddy bear right near the exit chute of the machine figuring that if the crane didn't grab the bear, it might just get knocked loose. I really didn't need a teddy bear, and I didn't want to play the game, but once the machine took the money, then the stakes were high. I had two tries and both times the poorly designed claw picked up nothing but air. With this failure I suddenly realized I was upset, not at the machine but at Brian. I had seen him coax the toys into the claw for child after child as I sketched. He even coaxed a toy out for Genevieve Bernard. Everyone was a winner but me! His passivity as I played made him just like any loud mouthed carnival barker who coaxed money from people at the fair using insults and dark sinister humor. I felt robbed.

As a child I once dreamed of getting a huge balloon that was for sale on an ice cream truck that wandered my neighborhood. Inflated, the balloon was larger than me . By the time I had convinced my mom to give me the change needed, the truck was long gone. I ran down the street for many blocks before finally giving up. I was devastated. The next day the balloon was forgotten. I had new obsessions. The night after Brian exited the skill crane, I met him in Stardust video and coffee to get my video camera back which had recorded most of his performance. Brian took me out to Sultana's truck and presented me with the palm sized bear I had tried to win. I refused at first, but he insisted. At home my pet cockatoo was scared of the little stuffed bear at first, his crest rose in surprise, but then he ripped out its eyes and eviscerated its stomach playfully.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring Swing!

I was offered an opportunity to show my sketch books at the Spring Swing Ball held in Maitland at the Bahia Shrine Ball room. I took the eighteen sketch books from the last two years and packed them in an egg crate. I also brought along my scanner, printer in case anyone wanted to order a print. When I got to the ballroom, I found that Tracy Burke who is an amazing local artist, already had some of her huge portraits set up and she had an amazing number of large abstracts lying on the table. My tables were a few yards away and I got busy setting up my make shift display. Once everything was arranged, I sat on the table and started sketching. The dancing started slowly at first with a few couples testing out their moves. Tracy told me that the dance floor had talk powder sprinkled on it which gave just the right amount of slip for the dancers shoes.

Within an hour the dance floor was packed. George Gee and his Swing Orchestra from NYC started to play and the place blew up with dancing. Terry was with me but she knew I couldn't leave the table. I had to watch my work like a hawk because I didn't want any work dancing away. A woman walked up to me and asked me about my work but then she got to the point, saying, "So you aren't a dancer?" when I said, "No" she turned on her heal and within minutes was spinning wildly on the dance floor. In the sketch I focused on a blond woman with a large white flower in her hair. I sketched her a second time as she danced with a very talented dancer. Later in the evening after the sketch was done, I left the sketch book open. I was delighted when she lifted the sketch book to look at the work closely. I heard her say, "Hey that is me!" She ordered a print on the spot and I fired up the printer. Tracy Burk's mom bought a second print of the same sketch. George Gee was awarded a painting by Tracy Burke.

I was told that this dance was just one of many being held this weekend as part of ORLX4 Lindy Exchange. These people had already been dancing all day and now they were dancing into the night. One male dancer had one of those shot sized high energy drinks. He explained to the girl he was with that she should only take a small sit. He sipped his drink all night. A large group of dancers gathered in front of the stage. Using a microphone so everyone could hear, a man asked his girlfriend for her hand in marriage. As he continued talking about how he knew she was the one from the first day they met, she shouted "yes, yes, yes!" Then everyone inside the circle started to dance. There must be a Swing dance tradition of keeping the newly engaged couple apart because different men kept stepping into dance with her and women jumped in to dance with him. It was quite the celebration! I never did get out on the dance floor, but Terry and I did do some slow dancing in front of my display.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Investiture

The investiture of the honorable Frederic M. Schott as County Court Judge of the 18th Judicial Court of Florida was held at the Lake Mary High School Auditorium. I arrived a bit late but thankfully the many presentations and commentaries left me plenty of time to sketch all the judges lines up on the stage. From everything that was said, Frederick Schott would make a well balanced and impartial judge. Lawyers pointed to the endless research he put into his cases. He was presented with a bible, robe, desk plate and the all important gavel. His wife Deana was the one who helped him into his robe for the first time.The administration of the oath was conducted by the Honorable Mark E. Herr.

The most emotionally charged moments in the ceremony came were when Frederick Schott made remarks on his own behalf. He pointed out that he gained his moral obligation to seek out truth and justice from his father who was a survivor from a Nazi concentration camp. The camp his father was in was notorious for experimenting to find out how much pain a human could endure. His father made sure that his son grew up with a strong sense of right and wrong. I was struck by the warmth of his remarks about his father and amazed that the horrific events of the worst of mans inhumanity to man might temper and inspire good in the next generation.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

1st Fridays Art Stroll of Ivanhoe Village

Every first Friday of the month there is an art stroll in Ivanhoe Village. The exact location differs from month to month usually taking up one city block near Lake Ivanhoe. When I arrived I saw Angela Abrusci as she was setting up spot lights and folding tables. She had sent me a Facebook invite to come out to this months stroll. She was looking quite bohemian with a dark Beret perched rakishly on her head. She was very busy so I didn't interrupt her. As Executive Director, she seems to be doing an amazing job keeping Ivanhoe Village a vibrant neighborhood. I strolled down the block as artists hustled to get their work set up for display and sale. I bumped into Brad Briggs who told me there was an empty slot if I wanted to display work. I don't have much patience for sitting behind a table and waiting for people to view my art. Throwing it online is less nerve wracking for me. I was there to sketch. I walked across the street and sat up on a retaining wall for some railroad tracks. It was a chilly night so I sketched fast. The wind kept flapping the pages of my sketchbook.

When I finished the sketch I had to leave immediately. Jeremy Seghers was celebrating his birthday at Ethos down the street. I strolled Ivanhoe Village one more time and looked at all the new artwork that had been set up. This time I greeted Angela and she informed me that Capoera, a Brazilian art form that combines martial arts, sports and music was going to be performing soon right outside Vibe. I have wanted to sketch Capoera before, but they keep eluding me. I had to go. I thanked Angela and walked down the street to Ethos.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

2:22 Devising Lab

Aradhana Tiwari invited a core group of actors to her home to discuss continuing the experimental work they had been doing in a less focused and more playful atmosphere. 2:22 stands for two hours and twenty two minutes of time spent bi-weekly exploring themes and topics that interest the artists, actors, dancers and musicians participating. As an example of a prompt she suggested a word as arbitrary as "stain." A dance, scene, music or image could all be created using that prompt.

Five actors arrived and sat around the dining room table discussing theater and modern day divas. When the time was right we all went into the studio space which was a room perhaps 15 feet by 20 feet. I joined the actors in doing viewpoints which began simply with everyone walking the room in a grid pattern. As we progressed I became more aware of how the people around me were moving through the space. When we were asked as a group to form either a clump or a line, we began to think as a group. Imitation and repetition had me mimicking dancers moves and at times we all moved as a flock. Two people had never done this exercise before and I had only tried it once, but we all learned fast. The important thing was to get past the notion of right or wrong. What was important, was that the six people involved became an ensemble.

The second half of the evening was more challenging for me and it involved improvising scenes. The more people involved in a scene tended to make it harder to expand and explore the possibilities. What often resulted was an individual facing a crowd. The scenes that flourished when improvised were usually between two people. The number of scenarios explored was mind boggling. We became children, Navy Seals, criminals, campers, shamans... It was fun and playful but put me way outside my usual comfort zone. I am an observer, someone who takes time to quietly sketch. Thus initiating some conflict or dramatic interpersonal exchange isn't what I am used to. I am certain that by interacting in the experience, I learned much that might not have been gained with a simple sketch.

2:22 is an ongoing theatrical experiment. If you are interested in experiencing the fun, contact Aradhana Tiwari at Play the Moment Productions. There is no cost and you will experience an evening of childlike playful creativity.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Albin Polasek Museum

On the final day of of Arts Fest, the Albin Polasek museum was open with free admission for a day. I was informed that some plein air panters would be on the property painting that day. The painters were there to help promote the Winter Park Paint Out which will be happening between April 23rd and April 30th. I decided that was my cue to sketch some painters at work. It was a beautiful sunny day and the gardens surrounding the historic building were in full bloom. I walked around hunting for artists at work. There was one artist set up on the large lawn behind the home but as I approached he started to dismantle his easel. Just my luck, he was finished. I walked down to the benehes which sat right on the lake then walked back to the house. When I passed the chapel, and stood in the portico, I noticed that Hal Stringer was set up in the driveway working on a small painting. An Albin Polasek sculpture titled "Mother" stood with its back to me. Something about how the warm light filled in the shadows appealed to me.

Guests of the museum often approached Hal and he was very generous with his feed back. For instance he asked a little girl if she liked to make art. When she said she did, he told her to never stop making art if she enjoyed it. I later discovered that Berto Ortega was working on a painting inside the museum. He stopped out to say hello and unfortunately was called away because of a family emergency. I never got to see the painting he was working on. When I finished my sketch I rushed over to Rollin's College's Annie Russel Theater hoping to get into a play that had just started. There were no Arts Fest tickets left so I abandoned the idea of sketching the play.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fabulous Fringe Fundraiser

The Fabulous Fringe Fundraiser took place in the Shakespeare Theater patrons room. All around the edge 0f the room tables were set up with silent auction items. More than half the auction items were framed photographs of naked men. Margaret Nolen let me know that I should have sketched the little old ladies who stared at the photos in amazement. I recognized several of the die hard rabid Fringe Fans. I remember that several of these fans try to see every Fringe show during the course of the one week festival. This is a near impossible task requiring requiring split second decisions and serious planning. Everyone attending was asked to dress as if they were going to their high school prom. Bonnie Sprung wore the actual prom dress her mom had made for her. It was light blue with a plunging neck line.

Chase Padgett was playing guitar as people lined up for food. Many people stood outside in the hallway not wanting to stand in front of Chase. Beth Marshall assured them that it was alright to come in. Then Dog Powered Robot and a small army of DPR supporters all entered the room at once. They all wore blue tee shirts with the team DPR logo on it. Chase changed the lyrics to the song he was performing and he sang about Dog Powered Robot's return. People laughed.

After everyone ate, they began to file into the Goldman Theater to see previews and excerpts from upcoming Fringe shows. I couldn't stay for the program since I had a hot date with Terry at Paxia.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fringe Overview

Producers and directors for this years Orlando Fringe Festival piled into the circular Patron's Room at the Shakespeare Theater to get a crash course overview of what they could expect from this year's festival. The meeting lasted for several hours. My ears perked up when Beth Marshall started to discuss the issue of Bloggers. It seems everyone and their mother is a blogger these days. Last year some bloggers wrote scathing reviews and members of the cast wrote back equally scathing comments in return. It seems these "Flame Wars" only manage to discourage people from going to see the show. She instead suggested that producers put a positive spin on any review.

Beth pointed out that Fringe is always a "Fun, lively, hot mess." This year, Pepe will be promoting shows at the outdoor stage. Brian Feldman will be offering awards picked lottery style. TheDailyCity.com will again have its Audience Choice Awards, and then there are the "Fabies" awarded on the final day of the festival. A show titled "Fringe Abridged" will recap all of what happened, highlighting shows in a break neck spoof. She advised producers to comp fellow artists into the shows as word of mouth will quickly spread if the show is a runaway hit. The second best way to attract an audience is through Facebook. Beth went on in detail about how the city of Orlando would not tolerate any posters or fliers taped on light poles, trees or any form of municipal property. It seems this had been a problem in the past and it resulted in fines.

The 20th Annual Orlando International Fringe Festival will be happening between May 19th and 30th in Lock Haven Park. The Festival is 100% uncensored, 100% Unjuried, 100% accessible, and 1OO%o of ticket sales goes to the artists. I had the best time sketching and experiencing the Fringe with friends last year. It truly highlights the best of what Orlando has to offer.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dog Powered Robot

Dog Powered Robot took the Orlando International Fringe Festival by storm last year. It began as a short three minute show as part of the Creative Mind Project. The premise of the Creative Mind Project was to have many different artists interpret the same music. I was there opening night since I had edited a short video using my sketches to the music. A small cardboard city cluttered backstage and when Dog Powered Robot made its appearance the audience went wild! They were laughing, screaming and shouting. I had to stay back stage, but I peaked out through the curtains. Fisher, the dog behind Dog Powered Robot was an instant star.

I went to Evan and Christie Miga's home where they had set up a mini sweat shop making Dog Powered Robot tee shirts. Doug Berger was dabbing blue silk screen ink on the stencil and using a squeegee to force the ink through the screen onto the shirts. His wife Carla Stanton used a hair dryer to quickly dry the inks and then the shirts were hung from the rafters.In the living room hundreds of buttons were being assembled.

A few days later I returned and the garage had been converted into a robot manufacturing plant. Joey Corcoran was there helping assemble a huge robot. He was using pvc plumbing pipe to create arms which would be maneuvered by the operator like the controls inside a tank. Light flexible tubing hung above the work bench and it blinked brightly with rainbow colors.

The bright pink Lollybot was finished. Her life's mission is to dispense candy for children. Large blue foam DPR letters stood ready to announce this phenomenon at Fringe. Music is being composed by David Traver for the show with lyrics supplied by Britt Daley. Josh Sales edited the Dog Powered Robot teaser and he is responsible for all the special effects. With the simplest of supplies and plenty of ingenuity, Dog Powered Robot is bound to make a huge splash at Fringe and beyond. A fundraiser is being held at Blank Space (201 East Central Boulevard) on March 10th starting at 8PM. Trust me, you don't want to miss it.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mozart

I went to Rollins College Knowles Chapel to watch a rehearsal of Mozart's Grand Mass in C minor. The music starts softly at first and then builds in intensity. I imagined a small ship lost at sea caught in a tempest, the waves swelling and the ship tossed about like a cork. A refrain of hope, a ray of light, wove it's way through the music

I sat in the nose bleed section since I didn't want the tablet's glowing screen to distract anyone in the audience. Even the balcony became packed. This Bach Festival rehearsal was open to the public and free to attend. A couple in front of me cuddled the entire performance.

When the chorus joined in, the music became heavenly. At one point a trains whistle sounded repeatedly in the distance. Amazingly the sound fit in perfectly with the performance. The conductor, John V. Sinclair, commented on the accompaniment and the orchestra, chorus and audience laughed. This was different than most performances in that the audience was asked to remain silent. As a working rehearsal, the conductor offered notes and suggestions to the performers. By remaining silent the audience had a chance to learn more about how the conductor viewed the music. When there was a break in the rehearsal, most of the audience left. I remained and continued to play and experiment with color.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shipyard Emporium

Shipyard Brewery just opened up January 28th in Winter Park (200 Fairbanks Avenue). I knew about the opening night, but was unable to attend. I was told over twenty five hundreds people were there opening night. What a mob scene that must have been!

A few days after the Grand opening I was going to a free concert at Rollins College. Walking down Fairbanks, I couldn't resist going inside the brewery to see how everything came together. The young man at the door explained the layout to me. The place is part Deli and gourmet grocery store then there is seating for the restaurant. Finally there is the bar which overlooks the micro brewery where specialty beers are made by brewmaster Ron Raike daily. I sat at the bar and looked at the description s of the wide variety of beers. I decided to try the Alligator Braggot. I was given a small sample to taste and I loved it. It turned out that Ron had just finished brewing this new brew that morning. above the bar there were many rows of blue mugs hanging from the ceiling. They belong to people who joined the mug club. Each time they return they are served their favorite brew in their own personal mug.

I decided to order a grilled Portobello sandwich with zucchini, roasted peppers, herb goat cheese all on a toasted ciabatta. Along with a second beer, the sandwich was fabulous. Seriously this was culinary heaven. Allison Stevens tapped me on the shoulder to say hello. She is responsible for all the back breaking work that helped make this brewery a realty. She offered me a hot chicken wing dip along with pita chips to scoop it up.The dip was hotter than I am used to, but it had the advantage of making me want to sip more beer.

The owner of Shipyard Brewery, Fred Forsley, had flown down from Maine and he was with a video cameraman shooting footage. By the time I left to walk the rest of the way to Rollins College, I was feeling great. Shipyard Brewery offers delicious food, great beer and a chance to talk to the master brewer himself. I know I will find many reasons to return.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Name is Rachel Corrie

"My Name is Rachel Corrie" was presented by John DiDonna and Seth Kubersky and was an Empty Spaces Theater production. The play is part of The Dangerous Play Series. When I made my way inside Studio B of the Shakespeare Theater, I found Rebekah Lane, the star of the show, seated in the front row seat checking her iPhone. This was the first time I had seen her since rehearsals for "Project F." The assistant director Alex Richmond was lying across the bed and I included her in the sketch thinking she must play a small roll in the play. I was wrong. Before the house was opened, Rebekah crawled under the covers and pulled the sheet up over her head as she sprawled out with hands and feet dangling awkwardly over the edges of the mattress. The room was a mess with books and clutter everywhere. The walls are covered with pictures of Rachel Corrie's childhood idols like Picasso and Spiderman. Cinder blocks, sand and construction wire was haphazardly piled up against the back wall.

From the moment she woke up, the show was a non-stop high energy monologue. All the thoughts, reflections, silly girlish banter and growing mature convictions were taken directly from the writings and journals of Rachel Corrie. The opening act presents Rachel's fun playful side as she talked of silly matters like going to clubs in slutty boots. She was a beautiful idyllic 22 year old who was a dreamer. Thanks to the International Solidarity Movement she ended up going to Palestine where she hoped she could make a difference by helping children in the region. Living in a Palestinian home she discovered a growing conviction that she had to help the people suffering around her. Change can happen in life suddenly.

In the end a bulldozer operated by an Israeli threatened to demolish the home of a pharmacist named Doctor Shamir. Rachel spoke of the Doctor often in her journal entries. This was a personal battle for her. Just as in Tienanmen Square she hoped to stop the demolition by acting as a human shield. The exact details of what followed varied depending on eye witness accounts. The bulldozer did not stop. She climbed up on the mound of dirt that was forced up in front of her and then she was sucked down under the bulldozer and rolled over. She died shortly after in a Palestinian Hospital.

I was impressed with Rebekah Lanes performance. Being able to internalize, memorize and perform the whole show alone was an amazing accomplishment. It took three directors to help find the humanity and reasoning behind everything Rachel did. She often had to balance conflicting directors notes to find her character. Director, Emily Killan had performed in 9 Parts of Desire which was another play that dealt with women who had to live in a violent world. She used the experiences and depth of those characters to help shape Rachel Corrie's actions in this show.

The talk back, conducted by John DiDonna, following the play was just as enlightening as the play itself. Some people consider Rachel a martyr while others demonize her. Her memory was used by both sides in a violent struggle. The play tried to present her humanity. Anytime someone takes a stand with honesty and integrity, they open up a dialogue. One member of the audience felt the directors were tarnishing Rachel's memory since they would not acknowledge her death as a murder. John countered that the case is still being tried and the only person who truly knows the truth is the bulldozer driver.

Another audience member felt that we are loosing intimacy in this world, yet we still have the need to gather together in a dark room and listen to controversial stories which force us to think. The only danger is when people no longer feel the need to have an open debate. We had listened to one girl's view of a very complicated issue for an hour and a half. You might not agree with her convictions, but as long as people are willing to try and understand both sides of an issue then there is hope. Amy Richmond, the assistant director, admitted that because of her involvement in this production she went to a demonstration for the first time in her life. This play reminds us that we all have to find our strength and passion and use it for good. Do that with every single ounce of energy you have and you may awaken that passion in other people. Childhood ideals should never be ignored. This is an amazing lesson to learn from a quiet evening of theater.