Thursday, June 30, 2011

Turkish Festival

The Turkish Festival was held near the Lake Eola band shell on a steamy hot afternoon. Food vendors were lined up along Robinson Avenue. Terry joined me on this sketch outing. She wanted to see the menu for each food vendor. I of course was hunting for my sketch. While she went booth to booth, I stood in the shade and surveyed all the activity. Kids were bouncing on the inflatable fort which had been set up on the grass. Dancers were performing on stage but the sun beat down on the audience. I finally found a spot near this vendor who offered to shoot photos with the ornate middle eastern garments. There were several tables full of robes and turbans.

Perhaps three different families got dressed up as I sketched. Ismail Altintas wearing a large turban coached people on what they should wear and he shot the photos. A mother got her daughter to wear a bright red robe. I wondered were the father was. A young couple dressed up as royal sultans, then stood arm in arm for the photographer. Turkish and American flags fluttered in the breeze along with red and white balloons. When I finished sketching I found Terry so we could order some lunch. We got several gyros and sat in the food tent to eat. A large Turkish family was seated next to us. Little children pressed in to get close to a little baby cradled in the cloaked woman's arms. The children made faces at the baby and had him clutch their fingers. Terry was hot and tired. I agonized about doing another sketch of the folk dancers on the stage but decided I couldn't bake in the direct sunlight for the sake of a sketch.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

United Arts Annual Meeting

The United Arts Annual Meeting was held at the Orlando Museum of Art. I arrived a little early and tried to enter the auditorium but it was locked. The front gallery was set up for a buffet lunch and there was a podium. I started sketching in there until someone let me know that the meeting was in the main auditorium as I first suspected. On the stage were canvases on easels and painters supplies. Ironically most of the supplies were for house painter's rather than fine artists. I know very few artists who use a roller to paint with. No wonder it is hard for Central Floridians to pay market value for art. They just want the walls covered.

Cory Warren showed slides from a new M.D. Anderson Cancer Center artist in residence program that he helped spearhead.Funded in part by the Livestrong foundation this program brings working artists into the hospital to help cancer patients express themselves through art. Patricia Charpentier is helping patients write their life stories and Andrea Canny is helping patients create art. Art can inspire, enlighten and be a comfort when faced with so many overwhelming issues of mortality.

Elaine Hinsdales campaign report was funny, light hearted and to the point. Her first slide of Eduard Munch's "Scream" showed the challenge of raising several million dollars. "Dogs Playing Poker" showed the committee dealing with the hand they had been dwelt. The end result was that they met their goal raising over two million dollars and raising o.8% more than last year.

Several $5000 awards were handed out. One went to the Enzian Theater. They plan to use the money to purchase a new screen for the free outdoor screenings they do on the sloped lawn beside the theater. The second award went to Dario Moore who is the choreographer for "Slave Stories", and he teaches children the importance of expressing themselves through dance. This was the second time in two weeks that I had watched him accept awards.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dandelion

I went to Dandelion Communitea Cafe after work with the notion that I would sketch their weekly potluck dinner. There was no potluck when I arrived so I ordered a chili and a cinnamon apple tea. I sat in the corner and surveyed the main dining room. I had just started the sketch when my chili and tea arrived. The chili was sooo good and piping hot. My iced tea was good as well. I always get intimidated when there are so many teas to choose from. I dread getting some weird hippie blend that tastes like dirt. Not that I have ever tasted a dirt tea mind you. The point being, I was pleasantly surprised.

Beside me a young college girl was talking to her mom about the challenging classes she was taking. She is also a DJ at the school radio station, playing music at some ungodly hour. I sketched the two couples, a child and young man seated around the table in the center of the room. I love the orange and yellow fabric ceiling which slopes up like a tent towards the globe shaped light fixture. I was delighted to see that one of my invitations for models to join the Mennello Museum mural line was up on the bulletin board in the hallway.

All the art on the walls was by Brian MacGregor. There were waves inspired by the Japanese wood prints of Hokusai, and exotic women floated in surreal skys. Brian described his work as figurative surrealism. The paintings looked like oil on a smooth surface like wood. They all had a high level of polish and they were very affordable.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Community Open House

On the day after the groundbreaking at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, I returned to the tent set up on Magnolia Street. The road's yellow center dividing lines ran down the length of the tent. There was no huge crowd this time around. People lounged on the couches enjoying the free entertainment. Heather Alexander one of the owners of the Winter Park Playhouse introduced featured players from her theater. She joined three other women dressed in stylish 60's mini skirts. They sang a hilarious medley of James Bond theme songs using their voices to mimic the flashy trumpet blasts.

The sparse audience was once again shown a flashy computer animated fly through of the proposed performing arts center. Stiff limbed computer generated zombies wandered the halls and sat stiff and erect in the theater seats. Superimposed shots of the Lion King being performed on Broadway in NYC made it seem like Orlando could become a cultural mecca overnight, and shots of children being taught about the arts made it seem like there could be a creative, vibrant, inspiring school of the arts associated with the project.

A photographer was shooting photos of the acts on stage constantly and occasionally people wandered up to the velvet ropes to shoot video on their iPhones. My wife texted an urgent message so I walked over to her office building a few blocks away.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Groundbreaking Celebration

A large tent was erected on the site for the groundbreaking celebration for the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Located across from City Hall, the tent's entrance was right where Magnolia bumps into South Street. I was directed to the media check in table where Jordana Lipkin gave me my press lanyard. The tent was air conditioned, but it was so hot out that everyone was waving their programs to stay cool.

There were rows of white folding chairs, all of which had "Reserved" signs. I bumped into Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com. We took photos of ourselves shoveling the dirt. His face popped up periodically on video monitors so I was hanging out with "the talent." We joked about all the reserved seats. No one was sitting. It seemed that, like the Emperor's new clothes, the event was so exclusive that no one would be allowed to park their butt. The first act on the stage was a string quartet from the Orlando Philharmonic which is ironic since the performance hall will not benefit the Orchestra since it isn't an acoustically designed hall. It will only be good for traveling Broadway shows that use microphones.

The second act, "Sovereign Brass" also had performers from the Orchestra. I wondered if any local performer at the groundbreaking would ever benefit from the new stage. A little girl in a black dress watched the musicians mesmerized.

Andrea Canny
joined Mark and I in our prime viewing spot. By now the tent was crowded full of several hundred people. Mayor Buddy Dyer started his speech with a quote from Michelangelo that I rather like...

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” He said that over 200 businesses have opened since the Amway Center opened. Many of them might be the bicycle driven handy cabs. He stressed that Arts and Culture are the soul of any city, and I couldn't agree more. The tourism industry helped put the whole package together. I just hope they sprinkle enough pixie dust to somehow make the financial numbers work out. In three card Monti we eventually find the Ace of hearts if we bet enough money. Don't we?


Davis Gaines sang "This is the Moment," and for a moment, I believed. There was an orange band of sand in front of the stage. Several people walked on it and the orange crust broke showing the white sand beneath. We speculated that it might be some Tibetan sand art or perhaps it was an indication of the front wall of the new building. Our questions were answered when Buddy Dyer and city commissioners all lined up with shovels to break ground in the orange sand. Cannons fired sending streamers over the crowd and two tent panels were torn open showing huge bulldozers which fired up ready to work.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Food Truck Bazaar


On Father's Day I met Terry and Amanda at the Food Truck Bazaar. The event took place at the Fashion Square Mall (East Colonial Drive and Maguire). I couldn't find the event at first so I drove aimlessly through the Mall parking lot circling around the Mall as best I could. Anytime I am near a mall I feel like I am out of my element. I finally spotted a tent and then the trucks.

I sat in the shade of a tree and got to work. It was blisteringly hot. The Winter Park Fish Company truck was elaborately decorated so that became my focus. Mark Baratelli who organized the event came over to say hello. He was a bit nervous that attendance might be down. He suggested I sketch a few more people. The trucks were lined up on opposite sides of the parking lot. In the center of the lot Ford was offering test drives in a program called "Drive with Purpose." Mark explained that they were giving away $8 vouchers good for any food truck if you took a test drive.

An RV full of friends and children drove from Coco Beach to experience the Bazaar. People sat in lawn chairs and folding tables they had carted from home. One family had their own tent set up in the parking lot. They kept angling the size of the four legs as the sun dipped lower toward the horizon. A large group of bikers sucked down water and calories.

Mark went back to a table where he was selling water. He must have been coaching his volunteers on how to best sell water because he started doing a hilarious jig and he tossed a water bottle in the air like a baton. He missed and the water crashed to the pavement. Terry and Amanda arrived and I finished up my sketch. We ordered several Salvadorian meat filled pupusas. Then we tried several fish tacos from the Winter Park Fish Company truck as well as a delicious Tuna kabob. Baxter, Amanda's dog was a nervous wreck. His tail was curled under between his hind legs and he wasn't happy unless he sat in her lap like a cat.

Just as I finished my fish taco it began to rain. We all dashed to our cars for cover.
If you want to catch a Food Truck Bazaar, here are future dates...

June 26 | 6-10pm | Parliament House

JULY
July 10 | 6-10pm | Oviedo Mall
July 17 | 6-10pm | Fashion Square Mall
July 24 | 6-10pm | Parliament House

AUGUST
Aug 14 | 6-10pm | Oviedo Mall
Aug 21 | 6-10pm | Fashion Square Mall
Aug 28 | 6-10pm | Parliament House

Friday, June 24, 2011

Shut Up and Play

Last year the organizers of "Shut Up and Play", Jeremy Birdsall and Thuan Nguyen, invited me to sketch at the all day all acoustic concert. The next week must have been a busy one since those sketches never made it to the blog until now. This year's "Shut Up and Play" concert presented by Presented by Kavode Entertainment & 11/12 Lounge looks like it will pack a punch. More than 20 bands will perform on three indoor stages. Headlining the event will be the jaw-dropping Regi Wooten Band from Nashville, and there will be an all-star jam at the end of the night! The variety of acoustic music on the menu is astounding. There is fusion, funk, jazz, new age, rock, groove, hip hop, blues, Latin, new age, 70's progressive, ambient, world, flamenco and classical! Obviously there is something for any musical taste and palate.

I had so much fun sketching at the event last year. First I got to meet and work with Louise Bova and Dawn Schreiner, several visual artists whose work I respect and admire. Louise and Dawn worked live on stage as the bands performed. Dawn worked on a whimsically decorated room divider while Louise painted a portrait. I sketched from the wings of the stage and then from the open area in front of the stage. The music from "Bucket of Shrimp Ears" was energetic and a blast to sketch to. This amazing music festival will leave you dancing in the aisles. I intend to sketch till I drop while enjoying the music.

Some of the bands I have seen before, like the Absinthe Trio, Shak Nasti, and the Forefathers. I look forward to hearing them again. There is body painting, live art, massages and prizes. Come on out to "Shut Up and Play" Saturday June 26th from 2pm to 2am at 11/12 Lounge (843 Lee Road Winter Park).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Attack of the Jellies!

Over the Memorial day weekend Terry and I met Elaine Pasekoff and Derrek Hewitt at Coco Beach. We stuffed quarters in the parking meters and hiked over the small boardwalk to the beach. We were surprised that the strip of beach we were on wasn't crowded. A huge sea turtle lay on the dry sand its shell broken. The stench of death overpowered us and we moved up the beach. The umbrella and chairs that Derrek had carried were set up. I was the first to walk to the water's edge. There I was shocked to find billions of jelly fish being washed up in the surf. These were mauve stingers which are usually native to the Mediterranean. The wet sand was littered with jellies each one being the size of a ping pong ball. There was no way I was going in the water. When I looked up and down the beach I realized that there was no one in the water. The pink blobs had taken back the ocean on one of the busiest weekends of the summer season.

Lifeguards treated over 1,800 people for stings. Though not as potent as the sting from a blue Portuguese man-of-war, the stings were painful. Local convenience stores ran out of Benadryl and vinegar. We joked that we might have to pee on each other if we got stung. A few people were sent to local hospitals after suffering from allergic reactions. It wasn't safe in the water. The four of us huddled under the beach umbrella. I sketched the view to the north.

The attack of the jellies was unprecedented. This species of jellyfish had never been seen on these beaches. Jellies are flourishing in the warmer ocean waters, being washed up on beaches more often. After invading the beach for the weekend, the smack of jellyfish disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Casey Anthony Case

A little more than two years ago, when I first started doing a sketch a day, I found myself sketching at the damp uprooted woods where Caylee Anthony's body was found. I also attended a memorial service in her honor at the First Baptist Church. For me the endless media coverage of the trial seems ridiculous in the face of the human tragedy that is being flaunted for profit.The empty lot across from the courthouse was over run with TV media trucks with their satellite disks pointing to the heavens. As I approached the site I bumped into Louise Bova who bikes past the courthouse every day on her way home. She pointed out that there were even more trucks parked in another empty lot across from where we stood.

I nestled myself in the shadow of the Bank of America building. In the courtyard behind me a musician was setting up the amplifiers for his guitar to sing to patrons at the bar. He began singing "Let it be" by John Lennon. For me the music was soothing, appropriate and somewhat comical relating to the scene spread out before me. A homeless man who I had just seen sleeping under an I-4 overpass walked on the sidewalk in front of the media trucks. He saw some trash and picked it up and put it in a trash basket attached to a light pole. Peter Murphy waved to me as he biked by. Moments later my phone vibrated and there was a tweet from Peter announcing that he had just seem me sketching. "Keep Orlando awesome" he tweeted.

To be honest I am not following the constant TV coverage of the trial. In the morning I asked a teacher who was watching all the TV courtroom drama what she thought. "Guilty" she said. There are lines of people that start forming at 4am and yesterday a fight broke out when someone tried to cut into the line. This kind of spectacle certainly doesn't make Orlando look good. People keep suggesting I should sketch the trial. That would involve getting up at 4am and standing in line with those lunatics. I think not. If any media wants to issue me a press pass then I'll be there in a heart beat.

As I sketched a tourist stood taking photos. He became curious in what I was doing. He told me his girlfriend used to live right next to the JonBenet Ramsey home. That was a case where a little girl who competed in beauty pageants disappeared. He was annoyed that such cases become a media circus while many other children go missing with hardly a headline and other children go hungry.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

24 Hour Embrace (after Young Sun Han)

On Father's Day, conceptual artist Brian Feldman vowed that he would hug his father for 24 hours straight. “24 Hour Embrace” was first performed by artist Young Sun Han at Swimming Pool Project Space in Chicago, Illinois on December 31, 2008. 24 Hour Embrace (after Young Sun Han)” marked the first time that Young Sun Han had granted permission to re-perform this piece, as well as the first time that Brian Feldman had re-performed another artist’s work.

I arrived at Orange Ave Gym (1616 North Orange Avenue) just before midnight on the eve of Father's Day. Brian was a nervous spinning dervish. He kept knocking over his "Best of Orlando" award plaques as he adjusted them. He coached volunteers David Mooney and Christin Carlow on admission prices and the media press comp list. I was thankful that I was on that list. Admission was $10 for an all day wristband. Christin slipped the wristband snugly around my wrist. I asked where the boxing ring was and she directed me to a cavernous back room to the left. When I entered the back gym, Brian's dad Edward was getting changed by a locker. He asked me to shoot several photos on his iPhone when he and Brian first embraced.

This was going to be one of Brian's last major projects of 2011. I felt a sense of urgency and wanted to fully document this piece. I considered doing 12 to 24 sketches, staying with Brian and his dad through the whole embrace. After talking to Terry, I altered my plan, deciding to just sketch the beginning and end of the hug. As I was filling my watercolor brushes with water in the bathroom, Brian and his father entered the ring. Edward opened his arms and said, "I love you Brian." and the hug began.

The event rules stated that I could enter the ring at anytime. I took off my boots and crawled under the ropes. I set up my stool and leaned back in the corner. Brian and his dad shifted their weight leaning back and forth into each other. They twisted and rotated always searching for a new more comfortable angle. David shouted, "Good night!" and soon Al Pergande came in and shot some digital photos. Orlando Live had a video camera set up to record all 24 hours. Two videographers shot cutaway shots constantly during the first hour. Halfway into my first sketch I was alone with father and son. One of the rules was, "No talking inside the ring." The embrace continued in silence.

I began my second sketch around 8pm on Father's Day. Brian looked green and exhausted, relying of his father's blocky solid stance for support. Omar Delarosa and his mom Virginia Brown sat and watched for a while. Then they crawled into the ring and embraced for perhaps 15 minutes before leaving. In the final hours, a crowd began to gather. A rowdy young man put on some boxing gloves and danced around the ring like a gorilla to his girlfriend's delight. His antics actually caused Brian to laugh. A freelance photographer shot endlessly. With my second sketch finished, I exited the ring and laced up my boots. I didn't need to see them exit the ring. The drama was not in the smattering of applause but in the long tedious moments of pain and reflection that happened when there was no audience. I was a proud witness.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sam Flax Grand Opening


Sam Flax moved into a new building just a few blocks east of the old store on Colonial Drive. The building was painted to look like the paintings of Piet Mondrian. The bright red, blue and yellow painted building looks like it is built from Legos. Andrew Spear and business partner Chuck Marklin executed the colorful conversion. To help commemorate the opening day, three mural artists were asked to paint murals on the side of the building in three panels that faced the parking lot. . Since I have to paint a mural myself now, I decided to go to the opening and talk to the artists.

There seems to be less parking available at the new store. I drove around the block to finally locate a spot right on Colonial Drive in front of a martial arts facility. Swamburger was working on a bold panel with a distorted circular fish eye view point. His under drawing was done with bold green brushwork. The face resembled an African mask. Andrew Spear was working on a crosshatched vision of an elephant. I was fortunate that Andrew introduced himself while I was still working on my sketch. I asked him what he used to do the bold line work on his murals. He handed me a Krink marker and explained that he had to order them online since few people carried them locally. I found it ironic that Sam Flax doesn't carry them. Mother Falcon sometimes has them.

I went to Mother Falcon the next day to locate the markers. They had a much thicker marker than the one Andrew showed me but I bought it to try out. I inked in the largest figures on the Mennello Museum mural using that fat marker. I decided to order the thinner marker online and I used that for the next few figures. I am continuing to experiment and play with the ways that work best for me.

The Yum Yum Cupcake truck was there offering free cupcakes to anyone who bought art supplies in the store. A vendor saw me sketching and he offered me several General's sketch and wash pencils along with an art training DVD and several erasers. Score! Maisy and Ron Mars said hello. She was shooting photos of one of her shirts discarded on the ground. This was supposed to be the end of the world and she wanted to leave photographic proof that she had ascended to heaven. The end of the world never came and the next day I had to face my 50th birthday.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

FAAE Leadership Lunch

After the first summit session all the arts teachers filtered out into the hallway outside the main ballroom. There was just a fifteen minute break before the Leadership Lunch. I pulled out my tablet and began a quick sketch. I use the tablet when I know there isn't enough time to finish a sketch. I feel less guilty deleting the image from memory rather than throwing away paper. Next to me I thought I heard a familiar voice. I couldn't quite place his face so I went back to the sketch. He recognized me and started telling a story about how he came to know Margaret Hill through one of my drawings of her. His name is Dario Moore and I last spoke to him when he sat on the review board for the United Arts grants this year. I remember him asking pointed questions that got to the heart of how art could affect and inspire a community.

At the morning session Mrs. Edna entertained the teachers with her puppets. William Shakespeare was the puppet in her lap and a grandma puppet had people laughing as she dozed off between sentences. Mrs Edna's voice was a bit shaky at first but she rallied. She will be graduating from Full Sail University this year with a masters degree in music business management.

When Jennifer Coolidge got to the podium, I found a place to sit at the front of the room. The tables were full so I ended up using my camping chair. Jennifer is the executive director of the Museum of Florida Art, a trustee of the Florida House in Washington DC, and she was a past Executive Director of the Florida Alliance for Arts Education from 1995-2001. More important she has a face that was designed for smiling and a curious spirit. She was the only person who noticed I was sketching that morning. She introduced Frank Brogan who announced the Leadership Awards. A principal received an award and she talked about how her father now has to live with Alzheimer's disease. At this late stage in his life he began making art. He was never interested in art in the past but suddenly it became his passion. She stressed that it is never too late to embrace art and she loves that she can help inspire and motivate children, making art important and meaningful to them. I started to well up with a broad smile as she walked back to her table and she was embraced by her staff.

Then Dario Moore was awarded the Doris Lieber award. Doris was an accomplished artist and the award acknowledges artists' contributions to the arts community. Dario stressed that the community brought him to this place. He stressed that everyone should have the chance to fully express themselves. As a young boy he would excitedly shout "Moma, moma, moma!" and get a slap on the back of his head when all he wanted to express was, "I love you." It was through art that a poverty stricken boy like himself could rise to a moment like this. He is a choreographer and I have heard good things about his "Sacred Slave Stories" which was performed this year as part of Arts Fest. After the awards ceremony I congratulated Dario and I asked if I could sketch rehearsals for "Sacred Slave Stories." He said rehearsals are starting up again this August. I left the FAAE Summit inspired and fired up to continue to explore the arts with my humble sketches.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Arts Integrated Learning

Walking into the Double Tree hotel (formerly the Sonesta) downtown near Lake Lake Ivanhoe, I was greeted with the sight of the collaborative mural I did for a downtown arts district fundraiser. I was here to report on the 2011 Leadership Summit for the Florida Alliance for Arts Education. After a brief welcome and introduction in the main ballroom, the art teachers in attendance split up to attend various learning and inspirational sessions. I went to the Delaney room to listen to Eric Booth speak. I had to finish up a sketch so I entered Eric's session a little late. I was surprised that everyone in the room was standing as Eric spoke. He then immediately had all the teachers doing pantomime. I couldn't see anything from the back of the room so I marched down the aisle amidst the chaos and I sat next to Eric looking out at the teachers.

Eric had everyone engaged involved and excited throughout his discussion. He acknowledged the value of anything that was offered for thought. He feels most students are taught to only provide the answer a teacher is looking for. Americans hate not knowing the right answer. He encouraged asking questions that have multiple answers. What matters then is the quality or inventiveness of the answer. Students become more creative after many small successes. Reflection is something that is missing in arts education today. 80% of what you teach is who you are. Passion and really engaging with the students in new and unexpected ways is vital.

He has found that when a student creates something he truly cares about then learning becomes essential. What is taught should have real life relevance for students. He stressed that a prime role of a teacher is as a witness. Every student must be acknowledged and encouraged when they think creatively. The student then can reflect and learn something about how they best learn.

Another activity was offered where teachers were paired in groups of two. One teacher stood and they were given the assignment to convince their partner to give up their chair. The energy in the room soured. There was begging, bribing cajoling and plenty of unexpected fun. There was certainly no room for boredom. When the exercise was over he pointed to several methods that had worked in NYC. One person acted like they might vomit. Another took the seated persons purse and put it out on the sidewalk. The seat was immediately given up. Mean yet creative sometimes works.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mystery Sketch Theater

The model at this month's Mystery Sketch Theater called herself "Arsenic". She talked about a body painting convention that had happened last month and it sounded like a choice sketching opportunity. When she entered the "Geek Easy" in the back of "The Comic Shop" she was carrying a tray of home made cupcakes. The red haired wig was large and cumbersome. As it shifted around on Arsenic's head, it made her seem extremely young. The two artists next to me were comic book artists and their work had a polished look.

After finishing off a sketch of all the artists at work, I started doing isolated studies of Arsenic. Her poses were not particularly dynamic since the focus seemed to be on the costumes details rather than any one story point. I began blocking in my sketches immediately with ink. I skipped the tentative spidery pencil work I usually do and I think the sketches were stronger because of that.

There were the usual artist complaints that the drawings were not "on" or that the pose wasn't working from their viewing angle. I don't get bothered by the little details anymore. I was just happy she didn't walk away. Kristen shouted loudly giving us all a one minute warning. Several artists groaned that there wasn't enough time. I'm slowly learning to let go since sometimes an unfinished sketch has more charm and appeal than a finished piece.

The cupcakes were light and fluffy with no icing. Where else do you get to spend a relaxing evening drawing where the model offers treats? On the way out I thumbed through several graphic novels. I keep searching to see if there is an artist whose work feels like it was sketched on location. I keep toying with the idea of working with a small cast of actors who would be sketched at various locations around town to create the panels needed for a graphic novel. The huge response I got from people willing to pose for the Mennello Museum mural made me realize that my idea might not be a pipe dream.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Comic Shop

"A Comic Shop" is hidden in an innocuous strip mall on 436 just south of Aloma. It is located right next to a tattoo parlor. The shop is located right across the street from Full Sail where I work. I arrived early right from work and decided to sketch the humble strip mall architecture. After I finished my sketch I ordered some fried rice at the Chinese restaurant in the mall. The rice tasted old and I could only eat half of it. I come here once a month for "Mystery Sketch Theater" which is held in "The Geek Easy", a lounge hidden away in the back of the shop. There was an assortment of desks and chairs scattered around the lounge.

Kristen Pauline and Adrienne Frankenfield started moving the model's stage into place and I helped out. Adrienne had a little map that showed where to place each desk. Ten to twenty artists show up to sketch a model who is usually dressed in a comic themed outfit. This month we were sketching Arsenic Arson...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jeans & Jewels Speakeasy

The Jeans & Jewels Speakeasy was a fundraiser put on by the Friends of the Philharmonic at the Winter Park Garden Club. An old vintage Ford Model T was parked in front of the clubhouse entrance. Terry had gone all out wearing a gold sequin dress she had borrowed from Genevieve Bernard. With her gold turban, gold high heels and long gold necklaces and brooches she was a hit. I was not half as flashy in my black suit. I sketched the band before dinner.

After dinner I decided that dancing was more important than sketching. Terry and I mixed it up with all the other flappers on the dance floor. The room was kept mysterious thanks to a theatrical fog machine. Flappers and gangsters mingled and talked. In the men's room bullet hole stickers punctured the stalls and doorway. There was a wide assortment of silent auction items, the most tempting one being a kitsch oil painting of a monkey dressed as royalty. Many revelers thumbed their noses at prohibition.

When the band began playing again after a break, Terry lounged on the steps in front of the group like she was part of the act. A group of people got up and started shooting photos with their cell phones. Terry blocked her face with her black gloved hands but the photographers persisted. She finally had to retreat off the steps. For the rest of the night we danced to the point of exhaustion. Rainbows End played tirelessly. I recognized the saxophone player from sketches I had done at the Monday Night Jazz sessions at the Grand Bohemian. I kept wondering when police would raid the party.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bay Hill Invitational

Once a year the Bay Hill Invitational golf tournament caused all sorts of traffic in my neighborhood. Our neighborhood association issued parking permits to residents so they can get into the neighborhood. Policemen directed traffic for people trying to get to the golf tournament. I decided to go for a walk to see what traffic was like at the golf course. The walk there and back was perhaps three miles. Glancing between the quiet suburban homes I could see that there were plenty of cars parked on the green grass of the golf course itself. Some homes charged people to park on their front lawns and they then shuttled fans to the entrance using golf carts.

I ended my walk in front of the Bay Hill Club House. It was late afternoon and there was a long line of Buses waiting to transfer fans back to their cars. I believe a large empty lot near Universal Studios was being used as the overflow parking lot. Since all the buses were blocking the street, event staff and police had to use walkie talkies to be sure that cars could go down the single lane without a head on collision.

Walking home I realized there were several spots where I could have walked on the golf course to do a sketch. It was hot however and I didn't feel like watching grown men hit a ball with a stick.

Monday, June 13, 2011

McRae Art Studios Open House.

I went to a McRae Studios open house (904 Railroad Avenue Winter Park). This hallway in the back of the building was full of the quirky art of John Whipple. Built from odd antiques each sculpture has its own unique personality. I really like the mannequin head on a tricycle following a carrot in the foreground. Another head had a megaphone for a mouth. A peacock had a barren wire tail as it waited to roll away on it's single roller skate.

I stood in a doorway that opened out onto the railroad tracks out back. A small gaggle of girls rushed past me periodically as they played. I joined Dina Mack who was singing as Chip Weston played guitar. Lining the walls of Chip's studio were luminous seascapes, some large and some shockingly small painted gems. Tu Tu Tango catered the event and I ordered some Tapas. I always like visiting Larry Moore's studio. I identify with his plein air oil paintings. He had a larger painting hanging outside his studio which was more abstract and playful. It was a hot summertime image and it really caught my eye.

Don Sondag had started a series of nighttime paintings done around Winter Park. There is a quiet mystery to these nocturnes and it made me want to get out and experiment at night. Several musicians had gathered in Lynn Whipple's studio. They jammed for a while, then talked endlessly. From the quirky and unexpected, to the more traditional art, a trip to the McRae Studios always inspires me.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Casa Feliz

Every Sunday from noon to three there are performances by talented Orlando musicians at Casa Feliz (656 Park Avenue, Winter Park.) Angela Roark who organizes these Sunday concerts said hello and welcomed me to the Casa. I stopped in as harpist Catherine Way was tuning up her golden harp which she named Elizabeth Marie. The music ranged from "Phantom of the Opera" to "Here Comes the Sun". Catherine is a huge fan of the Beatles and she pointed out that "Here Comes the Sun" was chosen by astronauts multiple times when they televised space missions. Elizabeth Marie had a golden peaceful tone that filled the room. There were perhaps six rows of chairs set up and quite a few people showed up to enjoy the music. If you ever find yourself exploring Park Avenue on a Sunday, I would certainly make sure to stop in at Casa Feliz for a taste of old Florida history and music.

As I finished my sketch I remembered that Terry was at home being a weekend warrior and pulling weeds in the hot Florida sunshine. Feeling a bit guilty I quickly packed up my supplies. Catherine wanted to see the sketch and then she shared it with the audience. Several people asked me for the name of the blog so then could type it into their cell phones or make a note on a scrap of paper. I never seem to have business cards when I need them. I pass them out faster than I can print them.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lousy T-shirt

The theme for an art exhibit at Orlando Museum of Art's 1st Thursdays event was "Fashionista." In the beginning of 2010 Brian Feldman had met with 10 Orlando artists to discuss collaborations in his "Swan Boat Talks." This project with Johannah O'Donnell was the first project to be realized from those talks. Johannah and Brian had created 20 T-Shirts that read, Lousy T-shirt using a simple silk screen press. This was the first time that either of them had done silk screen printing so the printing was a bit spotty in places.

People could get a Lousy T-Shirt if they traded in the shirt they were wearing. I went into the men's room, changed into one of my paint rag T-shirts and traded that for the fashionable black Lousy T-Shirt. I didn't step behind gallery wall to do the exchange. As I removed my shirt Brian said, "Hey everybody, this is your opportunity to see Thor half naked!" Once I had on my brand spanking new T-shirt, I found a spot to sit and started sketching. Brian and Johannah were constantly posing for pictures. By the end of the evening, every Lousy T-Shirt had been given away and the rack was full of a wide variety of shirts and tops.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ellie Watts-Russell

I went to visit the Kerouac House writer in residence, Ellie Watts-Russell, on a warm sunny afternoon. When she writes she cuts herself off from all distractions. The cell phone is turned off the night before and the computer is off to avoid the distraction of Facebook. She was getting close to the end of the novel she was working on, entitled "The Lodge", and and she didn't want to rush to the finish line. Usually when she writes she shares her work with another writer to get his opinion while she reads his work. Since she was working alone at the Kerouac House she spends more time proof reading her work. This is what she was doing when I joined her on the porch to sketch.

Born in 1979, Ellie is a graduate of Andrew Motion's Creative Writing course at Royal Holloway. In 2006 she was appointed Writer-In-Residence at HMP Ashwell, an all male prison in Rutland. She speaks with a charming British accent. A petite hummingbird necklace adorned her neck. We sat quietly for more than an hour as she worked. Her Oxford dictionary and thesaurus were on hand and she occasionally consulted with them. Her Moleskin notebook seemed to bulge at the seems. Her keys, attached to a mountain climbers clasp were partially tucked into her notebook. The glass of ice water sweated as she worked. I can't wait till "The Lodge" hits book stores.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Denna Beena's Wedding dress

Denna Beena is engaged to Travis Fillmen. The wedding is being planned for fall of 2012. Amanda Chadwick arranged for Deena to try on wedding dresses. Now Deena isn't someone who I would consider to have conservative tastes. Her hair is bright pink with purple and yellow highlights. I am more used to Deena wearing bright colors and black leather boots.

I got lost trying to find the Bridal shop. I thought it was in the Millenia Mall but Amanda texted me to let me know it was in a strip mall near a Super Target. Deena had already tried on a dress as I scrambled to find the place.

The Bridal shop was a flurry of activity. Tony Bennet crooned. I walked past row after row of white dresses toward the back of the store, then Amanda flagged me down. Deena was inside the dressing room. When she came out she was wearing this simple elegant dress with a brown sash around the waist. She liked it but wasn't sure it was "the one." The shop only allowed the future brides four dresses to try on. The dressing rooms had to be booked in advance. After four tries Deena had not found the perfect dress. This was a major step forward towards making the dream wedding a reality. Amanda offered some advice but was mostly there for moral support.

At lunch afterwards we had a long discussion about whether I should post this sketch. After all Travis shouldn't see his blushing bride in the dress until the wedding day. It was decided that since this wasn't "the" dress, it would be alright to post it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Signing CDs


Terry got tickets to hear world class violinist, Joshua Bell, play with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra at the Bob Carr Theater. We were seated far back away from the stage so I didn't attempt a sketch. Terry pointed out that my name was in the program twice, probably because I had donated a sketch for a fundraiser. The house lights dimmed and I snuggled back into my seat. The music was soothing so I closed my eyes and drifted away. Periodically my head would bob forward and I would shake myself awake before drifting off again. The violinist performed after the intermission. He played admirably with bravado and flair. He stood the whole time shifting his weight often, swaying with the flow of the music.

For an encore he performed "Yankee Doodle" which he spiced up with so much intricate showmanship that it was always a surprise when the simple tune became recognizable. Christopher Wilkins the conductor let everyone know that the violinist would be signing CDs in the lobby after the performance. He joked that if you had your own sharpie, you might be allowed to sign the violin. Apparently the Stradivarius violin has a long colorful history.

I have been searching for lines to draw and there was a huge line of people waiting to get their CDs signed. As soon as I started sketching the line started to move. A handler hurried people along making sure they didn't speak to the musician for long. "Please keep it moving" he kept saying. As I sketched one of the ushers approached me and said I would have to leave the floor. There were hundreds of people in the lobby and I didn't understand why I was being asked to move, but I complied. I continued to work on the sketch from a vantage point on the stairwell to the lobby. When I saw the usher was gone, I returned to my original spot and continued to work. By this time I was in a foul mood. I wondered if the violinist's handler had considered me some sort of threat. Was my sketching causing a disruption? Honestly few people noticed what I was doing. This incident made me feel like sketching events at the Bob Carr is more of a hassle than it is worth.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Crealde

On Sunday mornings from 10am to 12:30pm there is a figure drawing class at Crealde. I go periodically to play with new materials and to experiment. The drawings I have been doing for the Mennello Museum mural are being done on larger sheets of bond paper with pencils, prismacolor and watercolor. There is a good chance that sketches done for future blog posts will be done in this larger format. The bond paper I have started using accepts watercolor washes with ease. I love being able to throw down loose gestural washes and then putting line work on top of it. The pens I usually use tend to clog up if I sketch over a wash. What I need now is an 11 by 17 inch hardbound bond sketchbook.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Costume Contest

Terry was at the bar with a co-worker when I arrived at Taste for the Anime Masquerade. When I started a second sketch of the cast of characters at the end of the bar, she decided to head home. Neither of us were in costume, so we kind of stuck out from the crowd. After the burlesque, there was a costume contest on the main stage. There was a cat lady with flaming red hair, that masked guy from Vendetta, some hooded guy who was perhaps a hangman, and some guy who I think was a Cheshire Cat. Lets face it, I don't know enough about Anime or video games to know who was who. There were some choice prizes however from "A Comic Shop." Next time I should make more of an effort.
The evening was a challenge. Everyone was constantly on the move in the tight space. Every sketch swam in a sea of uncertainty. I am starting to realize that I should ask people to pose. Some of the costumes were so complex and beautiful that I am certain that the creator would be honored to pose. I need to stop trying to catch the big picture sometimes and instead go in for the close up.

This was a very crowded and successful event. I've been told that these kind of costumed events happen fairly regularly in Orlando. If you know of such events please contact me here or on Facebook. I would love to keep sketching these types of events.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Anime Masquerade

The Anime Masquerade was held at Taste to help raise funds for Japanese relief. At the bar people gathered in costumes to drink. Apparently there is a new phenomenon in which people dress as their favorite video game or anime character and then go places where others do the same. In the back room Anime themed paintings lined the walls. This was a difficult event to sketch since the people in costumes were constantly on the move, voguing for one camera and then another. I sat on the steps to the stage. On the table in front of me, a man and woman in kimonos, named Hai and Nhi, were displaying art work. A sketch that reminded me of self portraits by Egon Schiele was lying on the table along with a tip jar. A woman dressed like Speed Racer wandered the room.

A woman climbed past me to get on stage. She announced a burlesque show. Behind her a blue satin bolt of fabric hung from the ceiling. Honey Malone took to the stage and wrapped herself in the fabric. What followed was an aerial act and burlesque that had me mesmerized. I stopped sketching and just watched. She held herself suspended by just wrapping her legs in the fabric.

The woman dressed as Speed Racer also did a burlesque. She began in a car seat acting like she was driving. She got up took off the helmet and let her long blonde hair flow free. It wasn't long before her blue costume was lying on the stage and she danced with tasseled pasties decoratively spinning on her chest. My reflexes weren't quick enough to catch the action. Actually as I think back, I wasn't paying much attention, since I was engrossed in finishing another sketch. Yes... That's right, I didn't see a thing.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Austin's Coffee

Austin's Coffee (929 West Fairbanks Avenue) has become a spot where I can wind down after work. I often have an hour or two to kill before heading off to sketch an event and it would make no sense for me to drive all the way home. I usually order a Yak which is a cold coffee with caramel and chocolate. 0h, it is so good. That is my coffee with the plastic domed lid and a straw in the lower right corner. I like to sit up on the staging area in front of the front window. The wooden tables and chairs are fancifully painted. Then, as I sip my coffee, I start sketching fellow patrons.

This fellow was using Austin's as his office. There is free Wi-Fi. He complained to a buddy about the job market and he refused to go back to an office where he was asked to work overtime with no extra pay. The odd painting behind him caught my eye. Larvae or grasshopper people were caught in a violent looking copulation embrace. The colors dripped and splashed with few features to define pleasure or pain. Each brick on the wall is individually painted in the entry area. The place is a constant visual feast.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Andy Matchett & The Minks


I had seen Andy Matchett & The Minks perform once before at a RIFF fundraiser at the Cameo Theater. They performed late that evening and I had put away my sketchbook. I had so much fun at that concert just dancing and jumping. It was a playful rave experience. Ever since then I have been looking for a chance to sketch this band in action. Andy told me about a concert at the Social and I leaped at the opportunity to see them again.

I had just finished an afternoon of sketching people for the Mennello Museum mural. Angela Abrusci had posed in a beautiful vintage dress as she applied lipstick and James and Jasmine Barone had me in stitches, joking and teasing as I worked. She held a parasol and he was in a kilt. When the sketches were done, I walked across the street to the Fringe festival's green lawn of fabulousness to get some dinner. I bumped into Jeremy Seghers who was also going to see Andy Matchett & The Minks that night. He told me the group would be performing around 11pm so I had time for a Fringe show. He told me all about the show he had created called "Squatters" and it was about to begin so I rushed over to the theater. Jeremy told me the Social was on Orange Avenue just south of Colonial Drive.

I parked downtown in my usual "supersuprimo" spot and started walking towards Orange. I passed a cheesy mural which offered no inspiration. When I got to Orange I made the mistake of turning right to walk north towards a club I had been to before. After five blocks I realized I was lost. I looked up the Social address on my cell phone and went the other way. I was a sweaty mess when I got to the Social, where I was issued a green wrist band and ushered inside past the bouncer. I immediately saw Betsy Dye and Emma Kruch and my spirit lifted. Another band was performing and they were LOUD! I shouted a greeting to Betsy and she shouted out that this was a rare night out for her. Jeremy waved me over and I gave up trying to shout over the music. I found a spot where I decided to plant myself to sketch. I used the band on stage to block in where the Minks would likely be once they performed. Then I sketched the dancing crowd.

As Andy Matchett & The Minks set up, I continued to sketch. Before they played, a band member handed me some confetti. Jeremy found some seats and I joined him. The performance was pure unbridled fun. The second they started playing, confetti cannons sprayed vast clouds of heart shaped confetti over the crowd. Hair driers kept the confetti and streamers airborne through the whole show. Blowers sent streams of toilet paper into the crowd. Betsy collected the paper and wrapped herself into a fashionable cocoon. The lights flashed various colors on my sketchbook page. I imagined the Japanese animation that caused seizures in children. A parachute was unfurled over the cheering audience. Britt Daley had performed earlier that night and she introduced me to her mom, Gazelle. Jeremy kept getting bonked in the head and we laughed. Robbie Senior, a giant red robot from "Dog Powered Robot" invaded the stage. An epic laser and confetti battle followed. The crowd went wild. A wine glass crashed to the floor. A woman who had been sitting demurely all evening, was now dancing up a storm. The next day when I opened my sketchbook to see what I caught, a pink confetti heart fluttered to the floor.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bitches of the Kingdom

I desperately wanted to see "Bitches of the Kingdom". The show had won a Patron's Pick Award and so it had one last performance on Memorial Day. I had met the producers Fiely and Dennis and they were so incredibly gracious. When Terry and I arrived at the Shakespeare Theater lobby, there was already a long line. This time around there was no problem picking up tickets. The line stretched from the entrance of the Margeson Theater all the way to the entryway. A volunteer split the line behind us and then had it wind back down the length of the building down a ramp. Every time someone entered, the volunteer would ask them if they had their tickets and a Fringe badge. He would then direct them to the end of the line.

When we got inside the Margeson, we looked for seats on the side lines so I could be close to the performers. Fiely Matias, the show's producer and director pointed to two seats that were being saved with yellow programs taped to the seat backs. Terry was pleased and the seats were in a great spot for me to sketch from. I hooked up a book light to my sketchbook so I could sketch when the house lights went down.

The show was a delight from the start. It plays upon the princess complex that is so prevalent in the Disney Animated films. These princesses look beyond "Happily Ever After." They had attitude. Snow White played by Michelle Knight started things off with a stunning solo. I have seem her perform twice before. She knows how to grab an audience's attention and hold it from the first note. Her voice is hypnotizing. The music and lyrics were written by Dennis Giacono who sat behind the piano. The lyrics and performances were always laugh out loud funny. Snow White held a note for so long that the audience started to clap. Cinderella played by Brittany Berkowitz LeNoir waited excitedly to begin her song. Snow White hogged the spotlight by extending her song with flashy vocal acrobatics, interrupting Cinderella every time she stepped forward. Snow White sang to a pretty bird on her finger then she gently tossed him in the air and he dropped like a rock. She tried to kick him aside like nothing happened. lt was hilarious.

One of my favorite numbers was "All I want to do is Eat!" Cinderella was on the thin side and any Disney princess seemed to always have a pencil thin waste. At the end of this number Cinderella is so lost in the thought of food, that she shivered orgasmically. Belle covered her eyes while the other princesses raised an eyebrow. The song ended with Cinderella getting close to the microphone and taking a rapturous crunch of a potato chip.

Another funny number was "Big Tits." Snow White dominated this number with a sassy, sensual performance that stressed the power she held over any Prince Charming. As she put it, "Do I look like I have to wait for my prince to cum?" After a moments pause the audience roared. Early rehearsals demonstrate much of the charm and magic that was brought to life with today's cast. I can't brag enough about this production. I hope it has a long life in increasingly larger venues. These bitches rule!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Pal Izzy

I met Melanie Galle, the actress from My Pal Izzy, on the green lawn of fabulousness. She was handing out flyers to her show and when I told her I needed models for the Mennello Museum mural she was glad to help. She handed out more flyers and then met me to head across the street to the museum. As I sketched her outside she was enchanted with all the lizards that scurried among the leaves. She had a constant childish delight that made for a fun sketching experience.

Melanie channeled that delight in her performance as Rebecca Rosenstein, a childhood friend of Irving Berlin. She related details from Irving Berlin's early carreer as she also related details of her carreer as a show girl. She dressed conservatively in the beginning of the show, keeping herself wrapped in an elegant purple kimono. When she sang "If you don't want my Peaches" she let the kimono slip open showing her vibrant yellow dress. She shook her shoulders and sang, "you better stop shakin' my tree!" Most of the Irving Berlin songs had this fun playful spirit.

Dorothy Goetz was a young singer who approached Irving Berlin with the hopes of singing his next hit. Another singer was there and the two women brawled over the sheet music. Izzy quickly fell in love. His romance with Dorothy Goetz however ended tragically when Dorothy died when she was just 20 years old. In his grief he was unable to write. Friends finally pulled him aside to convince him that he had to go on. The song he wrote next, called "When I lost you" was heart wrenching.

My Pal Izzy was a a nostalgic look back at the heart felt joys and sorrow of a great songwriter. Melanie's well trained voice delivered the songs with warmth and humor. The performance combined fact and fiction to unravel the secrets of an amazing talent. The music is still fresh and vibrant today.