Friday, September 30, 2011

Ivanhoe Village Art Stroll

Angela Abrusci the executive director of Ivanhoe Village, has helped turn the neighborhood into a vibrant artists hub. On the first Friday of every month artists gather as the sun sets and they set up display tents to showcase their art. The September gathering took place on Orange Avenue between New Hampshire and Princeton. I arrived after spending the day working on the Mennello Museum mural. I was sweaty and tired but the air cooled as the sun sank to the horizon. This was the first sketch I did outside in a long time. I realized I had left my artist stool at the museum, so I leaned against a real estate sign and stood to do the sketch.

The Washburn Imports antique shop had old furniture on the sidewalk. Artist's tents quickly sprang up and artists relaxed in lawn chairs waiting for people to stroll by. A girl waited on the corner for a friend. The girlfriend arrived with two hula hoops. A small folk group set up speakers and began to sing. The hula hoopers shook their hips to the music. This Art Stroll is a great relaxed place to go on a date night.

Angela stopped over to say hello. A mechanical voice announced how much time pedestrians had to cross the street. It counted down, five, four, three, two, one. She beat the mechanical countdown by one second. She told me all about Ivanhoe village. I've been to events that Angela attended and helped organize but I haven't had much time to talk to her since I am always sketching and she was working. It was nice having the time to talk. My sketch was complete.

Angela volunteered to help with the painting of the Mennello Museum mural over the weekend. She had posed for the mural, adding some Hollywood glamor. She brought along music and it was great to paint to disco beat. Several children showed up to paint that day as well, and Angela helped me keep them on track. She is a gifted artist as well and once I explained my working methods, she applied them with confidence. Over the course of the day I got to learn so much about her. She is a true advocate of the arts and active in charitable work. Orlando and Ivanhoe Village are lucky to have her.

Tonight there is a Mayhem Street Party on Virginia 2 Blocks west of Mills Avenue starting around 6pm to 10pm this event happens every 5th Friday. Be the first to catch a sneak peak of Orlando’s most talented performing artists and their upcoming shows. Be inspired, awed and amazed by a myriad of local performers: dancers, singers, musicians, actors, and other talented wonders. Enjoy the carnival atmosphere while exploring Virginia Drive’s array of shopping and dining. It’s a ballet, a play, a concert, a party, and it’s all on Virginia! Food, activities and amusement for all ages. Admission is FREE.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Andy Matchett

A long line of actors stood in a hallway of the Orlando Repertory Theater. They were waiting to audition. Britt Daley with her boom box strutted down the hall. The cameraman used a steady cam to go down the hallway and then he backed out the stage doorway and crouched framing Andy Matchett who was strumming his guitar. Andy did a double take when Britt walked past and he involuntarily strummed a twangy wolfs call on the guitar. His T-shirt read, "Popular" and he wore a Dog Powered Robot button on the guitar strap. 0ne of the lyrics in Britt's "One and Only" song pointed out,"You're wearing that T again." Andy's hair swelled to an Elvis styled wave in front. He wore a neat little hip amplifier.

The shot was executed again and again until it felt right. One of the stage hands tested the hallway's light levels, fortunately it was already perfectly lit. I couldn't sketch in the hallway without getting in the shot so this doorway was my only option to sketch the scene. My back was up against some stage curtains and ropes and wires snaked all around me. Andy of course is the lead singer in Andy Matchett and the Minx. This local band puts on a show that will rock your socks off.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Mennello Museum Mural

It was brought to my attention that some readers haven't seen any sketches relating to the Mennello Museum Mural. The mural is 48 feet wide by 7 feet high on a wall outside the museum. I have been sweating away for weeks getting this mural painted. High school and middle school students were invited to help. There was a show in the museum of paintings done during the "New Deal." During the depression, artists were commissioned by the government to create murals and paintings for government buildings. The idea behind this mural came about when Genevieve Bernard and I traveled to a high school out in Narcoossee Florida. There were cows just beyond the parking lot fence. In the art classroom an animated discussion happened when Genevieve and I asked, "What defines Orlando to you?" One girl said, "I'm always standing in lines when I go to clubs downtown, theme parks or even the bathroom." The discussion then changed to, "Who stands in lines and why?"

I created an event page on Facebook inviting people to come to the museum and be drawn in line. At first groups of people showed up and I sketched them all at once. Since each sketch took at least an hour however, I usually sketched people one at a time. The watercolor sketches were then assembled and blown up on the wall. At least 60 people ended up posing in line. People from all walks of life were bought together.

It was a challenge keeping the rough spontaneous look of the sketches when the wall was painted. I used acrylics and exterior house latex paint. I found a wonderful gel medium that thinned the acrylics down making it transparent and thin like watercolors. It is a shame I couldn't step outside myself to sketch the mural in progress. People who stopped out to help shot plenty of photos of the work in progress.

The mural will be unveiled October 14th between 6 and 8pm. All of the sketches will be on display clothes line style outside. I can see the end of the tunnel but right now I need to head out and work on the mural for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Scherenschitten

Lesley Gondeck Silvia offered a free after hours course at Full Sail explaining the art of Scherenschitten. She pointed out that in America very few people carry on traditions and crafts from their home country. She began exploring the art of paper cutting as a way to re-find her roots. Recently Lesley did a cover for the Orlando Weekly using Scherenschitten. She showed preliminary sketches and explained her process. I always learn something when another artist explains how they work.

As Lesley wrote, "Scherenschnitte means 'scissor cuts' in German, and it is the art of paper cutting design. Founded in Switzerland and Germany in the 1500's, it was brought to Colonial America in the 1700s by immigrants who settled primarily in Pennsylvania. I am enjoying working with paper. It's cheap, hands on, less commonly seen, and makes me feel like I'm learning a bit about my German/Swiss heritage. Cindy Ferguson's style is a big influence as is the works of Rob Ryan."

The art studio was a room I had never been in before. I felt immediately at home among all the drafting tables and the wide assortment of art on the walls. Tom Buzbee, Grace Kurth, and Hugo Giraud were also in the studio as instructors and backup. Tom said hello and explained that the art lab is made available for students who want a place to be creative. It is a place they can escape to if they are tired of writing code and taping keyboard commands. He said that the Dada artist ideals are promoted.

After Lesley's talk, all the students were given xacto blades and black construction paper. I cut out paper in the shapes of the black metal struts to the art desks. I flipped the black paper defining the shapes already established in the sketch. I glued the bold black shapes to the sketch. It was fun playing with a new medium. I think it is time for me to add black to my palette.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Jubal's Kin

Jubal's Kin consists of the home grown talents of Eric Jaskowiak, Roger Amundsen and his sister Gailanne Amundsen. Roger and Gailanne harmonize beautifully. They were on tour in Alabama but returned to Orlando to perform after a reading by Deborah Reed at Urban ReThink. Deborah wrote a book about a Central Florida musician who floundered after her husband cheated on her. She lost her will to sing and sequestered herself away. Julie Norris's baby girl, named Maya, danced to the sweet Appalachian folk music.

My favorite song was called "Everything is Free."

Everything is free now,
That's what they say.
Everything I ever done,
Gotta give it away.
Someone hit the big score.
They figured it out,
That were gonna do it anyway,
Even if it doesn't pay.

Gailanne's voice is absolutely beautiful and the harmony with her brothers voice reminded me of the simple sounds of early Simon and Garfunkel. Their sweet melancholy songs seeped straight into my soul. I had to buy their CD and it has been playing every time I drive to a new sketch location this week. They are a rare, young and talented group, and we are lucky they call Orlando home. After the book signing performance, Jubal's Kin headed right back to Nashville Tennessee to continue their concert tour.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

One and Only

I sketched all day in the Orlando Rep at the video shoot for Britt Daley's One and Only. In this scene Britt is on stage performing her audition. You can just see her leg and the loose shirt slipping down her shoulder. I was fascinated by the dolly and boom which allowed the camera to be moved smoothly all around. Britt and Andy Matchett, who was also auditioning, enter a dream sequence together. They dance together to Britt's song. They spun around, their outstretched arms extended. Extra fluorescent tubes and fill lights were set up to illuminate the couple. Britt told me the camera man was whispering to himself enthusiastically during this shot. "Yes, that's it, good." Luckily the audio is being replaced in the final video edit. Everyone enthusiastically volunteered their talent and time to bring this gorilla style video shoot to life. The One and Only music video will premiere on October second. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Town Hall Meeting

Urban ReThink hosted a town hall meeting. I assumed based on the invite that the meeting would be about discussing ways to make Orlando more culturally vibrant. There was a good turn out. People do want to see a positive change. Patrick Green introduced new comers to the venue. Tisse Mellon ran the meeting. She wanted everyone to brainstorm on ways to help make events at Urban ReThink more successful. People were split up into groups where they would brainstorm ways to make Urban ReThink an important cultural hub.

There was a marketing group, promotions, archiving and pre-show entertainment. I have been sketching many events at Urban ReThink lately. I go right after work lets off at 5pm so I end up going somewhere else to grab dinner and to sketch. ReThink has a small cafe, but the place is frighteningly empty before an event begins. Since I was still working on my sketch when everyone broke up into groups, I found myself seated closest to the archiving committee. I listened in. They need a central place to store all the photos, videos and audio recorded at events. I chimed in and said I would administer an Urban ReThink blog if needed. There was discussion of creating a book for sale but I doubt ReThink has a budget to create self published books that would have a limited number of readers.

Urban ReThink has had some amazing programs that were poorly attended and mediocre programs that pulled in a huge crowd. It seems the word isn't always getting out. Some of the points covered at this meeting should help the word spread that Urban ReThink is bringing a vibrant alternative cultural experience downtown.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Drum Circle

I put in a full day painting the Mennello Museum mural. Angela Abrusci helped with painting most of the day. I'm learning as I go and it actually helps to relate my thought process to the people who assist me. We also had two middle school aged assistants. Libby Rosenthal put out ice cold water and granola bars for everyone who helped paint. About mid-afternoon I found myself alone with the wall again. As it got dark, I packed all my art supplies into my truck.

Although I was exhausted from painting all day, I decided to go to Orlando Brewing (1301 Atlanta Avenue) to sketch a drum circle. I believe this is a monthly event which coincides with the phases of the moon. I had never been to this drum circle. When I arrived a bit early, there were just a few people seated in the parking lot setting up their drums. I realized I hadn't eaten anything all day. I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich from a food truck parked in front of the brewery, then I went inside to order a beer. I always feel invisible standing at a bar waiting to order. The bar maid was having a long discussion with a couple at the far end of the bar. I sat down and took a bite of the grilled cheese. Oh, it was so good. Let her take her time. I ordered a Pale Ale that was brewed there. Outside I found a spot to sit near a spotlight on the side of the building. I used a wooden pallet as a table. A grilled cheese washed down with a delicious Pale Ale is heaven.

The parking lot was surrounded by beer kegs on palettes stacked three stories high. Wood was piled in a fire pit and ignited. People kept arriving with drums. A woman named Sybille introduced herself. This was her first time to the drum circle. Moments later I called her Libby. She laughed saying, "You must be dyslexic". "Libby is Sybille backwards" she said. I'm terrible with names. Moments later a young man walked by with a drum. He said, "Hi Sybille." She said, "Hi". She turned to me and confessed, "I can't remember his name, It's something simple like Mike." She went over to hug him. After speaking with him for a while, she walked past me and said, "He's Jim." I laughed saying, "You were close!" "No I wasn't" she replied. I laughed.

The drumming started sporadically at first with Appalachian styled call and responses of rhythmic beats. As it grew darker the air filled with improvised resonant rhythms. A train roared close, its horn punctuating the ongoing orchestration. It was hard to tell where the train stopped and the music began. A man stood by the fire, his arms raised in supplication as he arched his back and gazed up at the sparks rising towards the stars. There was a wild crescendo. Belly dancers began to dance around the fire their belies glistening. Sybille was dancing with them. A male dancer leaped over the flames. Lauren E. Lee swept out with a hula hoop spinning from her hips up to her neck and back down. She spun and rotated her hips in perfect unison to the beat. One of the belly dancers threw her flip flops off so she could feel the ground beneath her feet.

A young man sat in a trance with his eyes closed for well over an hour. He swayed ever so slightly to the beat. A friend of his crouched down beside him. The friend just stared at him probably wondering when he would be noticed. After half an hour of staring, he touched his friends sleeve and was acknowledged. With the sketch finished, I relaxed and felt heavy. There was no way I was about to dance. I realized I had left my pet cockatoo alone all day alone. On the drive home I left the radio off. The ebb and flow of the drum circle was still echoing in my head. My clothes smelled of fire and sweat. When I got home, I was to tired to sleep.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Double D Incident

Britt Daley and an amazing army of talent were shooting a music video for her new song, "One and Only" in the Orlando Repertory Theater, Katie Peters in he bright yellow dress stood on her mark for the audition. John DiDonna and Jennifer Bonner were in the audience seats acting as the director and his assistant. For this shot the video camera was way in the back of the theater pointing at the stage for a long shot. There was a nervous tension in the room. Everyone wanted to get this shot right.

Katie sang the last note in her song, "Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home" She then lowered her arms. Jennifer barked, "Thank you" with disdain and disinterest. Dejected, Katie walked off the stage. Britt entered the stage with her huge 80's style boom box. She waved to get the directors attention shouting, "Hello, HELLO!" Then she marched over to the piano, her high heels clicking loudly and assertively. She slammed the boom box on the piano. The battery compartment sprang open sending the double D batteries flying. They tumbled down striking the keys of the piano making a loud cacophonous clamor of notes. The room fell silent, then everyone laughed. Someone shouted out, "Keep those double D's contained!" I was in tears, because I couldn't stop laughing. I couldn't breath! Finally calm returned. I just hope the final edit is as entertaining as the shooting process.

Any tension was broken. It was decided the batteries weren't needed since the music would be added in the edit anyway. The next time Britt strutted on the stage the atmosphere was lighthearted and care free. She was ready to storm the audition. The scenes were shot in rapid succession. Then there was a break for lunch.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lowe's Paint Department

I needed outdoor house paint for painting the Mennello Museum mural. I painted small one inch squares of color using each of the 11 colors I carry in my pocket sized Winsor & Newton watercolor set. The plan was to get one quart of each, which should be more than enough to paint the mural. When I got to Lowe's, the paint department was deserted. I considered leaving and going up to Home Depot up the street, but I needed to start painting immediately. I approached two store clerks who were standing near the self checkout registers. One of them, named Tyrone, said he could make the paint for me. He told me to find color swatches that matched my sample palette colors.

After searching for the proper color chips for sometime, I finally asked him to make a quart of each in outdoor house paint. As he worked, I sketched. A woman was ordering paint to touch up a room in a house she was going to rent. She became curious about the sketch and took a peek. Her father is an artist so she respected what I was doing. I gave her a card hoping to gain a new reader.

Tyrone worked quickly and deliberately. The number on the paint chip card was entered into the computer and various pigments squirted into the base paint matching the colors exactly. The cheapest paint was Olympic brand so I ordered that. Cheaper paints simply have a higher water content. I planned to thin the paint down even more to recreate a watercolor look to the mural, so the cheapest paint made sense. The cans were each hammered shut and placed in a plastic shell of a holding case which fit snugly into a paint agitator which shook the can like a mechanical bull. He would dip his finger in the paint and dab a bit on the label on top of the can. A hair dryer was used to quickly dry the sample. I checked each of the colors to be sure they matched. I proudly shot a picture sending it out on Facebook announcing that I was ready to paint. Christie Miga had offered me endless advice on what type of paint to buy. She saw the photo and made one more suggestion, "Double check and make sure it is outdoor house paint." Of course it is, I thought, that is what I asked for. I went out to the truck to check anyway. She must have ESP, because sure enough, it was indoor paint. She let me know that indoor paint would fade quickly in the intense Florida sun.

The next day I returned the 11 cans of paint I had ordered, and I reordered outdoor paint. Apparently the folks who usually staff the paint department were instructed to check inventory on the day I first ordered my paint. No harm done, the mural is now progressing at breakneck speed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Framing Your Fear

I went to the world premiere of "The Pink Ribbon Project." Terry volunteered to help sell tickets and wine. I ordered a cup of white wine from her and then wandered to draw. A large canvas was set up in a side room where audience members were invited to consider the following question... "What am I, or what have I been afraid of." Thick permanent markers were on the floor under the canvas. I wrote on the canvas twice, writing, "I am afraid of loosing the ones I love, and, Mortality."

Cole Nesmith, the show's creative consultant, devised this canvas of fears. He was one of the first to write something, scrawling out, "Judgement." I sat in a dark corner of the room and started to sketch. People had a tough time reading the directions on the back of the program. They hunched over trying to illuminate the pink lettering on the black page using the lone spotlight. The first people were nervous and joked about their fears rather than facing them. A woman wrote "Spiders" and got a laugh from the rest of her family. Then a breast cancer survivor walked up and wrote, "I fear my cancer might return." The idea of the interactive piece was to confront fears, expose them, so that they could be overcome.

It was a sold out house. Terry told me to go back to my truck and get my artist's stool, I might need it. Volunteers were seated after everyone else. I tried to find two seats together but there were none. I found a seat for Terry and then was prepared to sit on the sidelines. Then I noticed one seat open in the front row. I asked the lovely lady from Eden Spa if the seat was available and it was. I couldn't believe my luck, front row! Aradhana Tiwari the director, introduced the show and she gave a bouquet of flowers to the woman from Eden Spa. I was seated next to a VIP.

The entire cast jogged onto stage in bright pink t-shirts, moving to "Walk this Way." They stretched and posed for photos. It was a scene typical of a breast cancer awareness walk or 5k. It was an energetic and humorous way to begin the show. Lindsay Cohen gave a monologue about her mom. When she found out her mom had breast cancer, she rushed to her. She leaped into her mother's arms, sobbing. Ironically her mom had to comfort her. "Your father's an ass man anyway." Laughter turned to tears.

Marty Stonerock's monologue hit closest to home. She was seven when she lost her mom. Having her mother die was her "brand" growing up. When introduced to a new class, she was the girl whose mother died when she was little. At pity parties it was an ace in the hole. A grainy black and white photo showed her dad along with the kids. Her mother stood in the background leaning against a chair. She was bleached out by the bright window behind her, a ghost of herself. "This is her post mastectomy." Marty said. Why didn't she write a letter? The type of letter that could explain everything." Like Marty, as a child, I felt abandoned without warning. I was mad as hell.

My mom knew she was going to die when her breast cancer spread to her lymph nodes and then her liver. We hoped they would find a liver transplant that never came. She had six children and she knew Arthur, her husband, wasn't emotionally going to be able to raise them himself. From her hospital bed, she told her lifelong friend, Joyce, to introduce him to Ruth when she died. Ruth, who went to the same church as my mom, had just lost her husband to cancer. She knew Ruth would make a good mother. Sure enough nine months after she died, Art and Ruth were married. What kind of strength and sacrifice was involved to imagine and hope that the love of her life would find a new love after she died, and to play matchmaker from her death bed? I didn't know this about my mother growing up. I learned it many years later when I interviewed Joyce. My mothers heart held many secrets. She was, and always will be my hero.

I searched my pockets for a tissue. Finding none, I laughed and cried with abandon. The theater was dark anyway. No one could see. Behind me a woman breathed with shallow deliberateness. She must be fighting cancer. When the large canvas was wheeled in, the artist began painting away the fears, my fears. As a ten year old, I made a pact with God when he took my mother. I said, "If you guide my hand, I will use my art to celebrate and praise your great work." I felt he owed me. Art has to be able to heal any wound. In the end, I hope I give enough. I left the theater feeling love, hope and faith. My heart overflowed. The three shows raised over $5000 for breast cancer.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Painting the Set

I stopped into the Orlando Shakespeare Theater's scenic shop to see the progress on the set for "The Importance of Being Earnest." Things move fast in the scenic shop the entire set facade was build and ready to be painted in three pieces. Jeff Ferree and Adam were painting when I arrived. Robbin Watts was in the theater itself painting the floors. She created an impressive speckled marble effect with the paint. Another woman slapped the floor with a long rag. This was a painting technique that was new to me.

I got to see the completed set a few nights later at the Shakespeare Fundraising Gala. The impressive Victorian architecture helped set the mood for the scene that was previewed. Gwendolyn and Cecily met in an outdoor garden. They were instant, affable, eternal friends. As Gwendolyn said, "Something tells me that we are going to be great friends. I like you already more than I can say. My first impressions of people are never wrong." Cecily responded, "How nice of you to like me so much after we have known each other such a comparatively short time." I see this sort of flippant instant friendships all the time in this age of social networks. What makes the scene so endearing and funny is how these two women politely turn against each other when they discover they might be engaged to the same man. Gwendolyn had a turn of heart, "From the moment I saw you I distrusted you. I felt that you were false and deceitful. I am never deceived in such matters. My first impressions of people are invariably right." I rely on my first impressions, usually gained over the course of a sketch to guide me on my daily travels.

I had painted the Mennello Museum mural all day. Libby Rosenthal let me know there was a shower in the museums basement so I spruced up only moments before the gala and then drove right across the street. The shower was divine after working in the hot parking lot all day. Then, I couldn't turn off the hot water in the shower. The knob was stuck. I dressed quickly and ran to my truck for a screwdriver. My glasses fogged up as I struggled with the knob and my dress shirt got soaked. Thankfully, I finally managed to fix the knob. Even taking a simple refreshing shower is a drama in my struggle of a life.

At the Gala, I got to rub shoulders with Orlando's rarefied socialites. Terry declared the evening an official date night, and I wasn't on assignment, so for the sake of marital bliss, I kept my sketchbook tucked away. My fingers itched but I resisted temptation. My bag of art supplies rested heavily on my shoulder just in case. Though physically exhausted, I followed as Terry flitted about the room, a social butterfly. Art isn't easy.

The Importance of Being Earnest runs through October 9th.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Christie Miga's Mojo

Christie Miga let me know she was working on a mural. I of course wanted to sketch her at work. She gave me an address of a building near the Fashion Square Mall. I arrived at a corporate looking brick building. I suddenly realized I didn't know where to look for Christie. I fired off a Facebook message explaining I was looking for her. I decided to walk around the building thinking she might be outside. As I walked out back, she rounded the corner and waved to me. We walked in a back door. The offices were gutted with new drywall going up in places. Thankfully the air conditioning was on. We walked up to a large 55 foot long wall that was isolated from the rest of the construction with a long floor to ceiling plastic tarp. We stepped inside.

The mural is for a company called Mojo Interactive. Mojo is redefining the way businesses survive, sustain and grow. From day one, the Internet has been their chalkboard and imagination their chalk. The mural, which was more than three quarters complete, was gorgeous. It's vibrant flat colors reminded me a bit of the fanciful world of "The Yellow Submarine." It was called "The Wall of Wonder." It was interactive. Black fish functioned as black boards where employees could write messages in chalk. Large white shapes would be covered with white boards which could also be written on. Purple mushrooms under a tree were three dimensional sticking out from the wall. The moon was going to be covered with Legos so employees could constantly update the shape. Christie was painting the negative shape around an evil looking dragon whose wings morphed into a tree's leaves. The dragon, which represented negativity or laziness, lunged towards a Mojo Imaginaut who held a ray gun that battled the beast with creativity. A light bulb illuminated the muzzle of the gun which was going to be covered with gears that would rotate when a button was pushed. Christie educated me about the supplies she used for the mural. I learned what I could to help me complete the Mennello Museum mural.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pink Ribbon Project

The Pink Ribbon Project directed by Aradhana Tiwari incorporated all the art forms to dramatic effect. Her mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Aradhana felt she had to do something, anything, to help. She called together artists of all disciplines to create a show that deals with the physical, mental, and emotional realities of dealing with breast cancer. Though dealing in harsh realities the show also has light moments where I found myself laughing out loud. Ironically when laughing, the deeper emotions have a chance to percolate and surface. Multiple stories intermingle and unfold. Life's mosaic is sifted for gems. Actors and artists stories are real and told from the heart.

Dancers took to the stage seated in four chairs. Holly Harris choreographed a dance routine which began with nervous anticipation and waiting. When the chairs were in position, they were spiked, meaning glow tape marked where they would be placed in the show. Mundane everyday movements were ignited and intensified. Dancers bit their nails and shook their legs with nervous energy. Heads ticked to the side in beat to the music. At one point the dancers walked as if through quicksilver, lines crossing center stage. A dancer twirled and fell then was lifted by a male dancer in scrubs and taken off stage. The dance was energetic sensuous and vibrant. Everyone in the rehearsal shouted and clapped.

When audience members enter the theater they walk past a large canvas that is lit from behind. People are invited to write their fears on the canvas. In the final moments of the show, the canvas is rolled out center stage. An artist begins to paint white over all the fears. Fear transitions to hope. Art is used to heal. Each of the characters in the play enters and they watch the transformation. A married couple whose relationship was strained by the emotional challenges of fighting breast cancer end up walking away hand in hand. Perhaps together they can fight and win.

There are only two performances of The Pink Ribbon Project left, tonight and tomorrow night at 8pm. Performances are at the Orlando Repertory Theater, 1001 E. Princeton St., Orlando. Admission is $20 for general seating and $150 for a “giving seating” ticket. Purchasing a “giving seat” ticket will fund one mammogram for an uninsured woman. To purchase tickets, go to www.playthemoment.com or call 321-662-0611. Proceeds will benefit the Breast Cancer Fund at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute, which provides diagnostic testing and treatment for uninsured and under served women in Central Florida.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Satchmo at the Waldorf

I went to an open rehearsal for Satchmo at the Waldorf on the evening before its world premiere. The play was written by Terry Teachout perhaps best known as the Wall Street Journal theater critic. The play, directed by Rus Blackwell stars Dennis Neal. The play was based on 650 reel to reel tapes that Satchmo, Louis Armstrong, made over the course of his career. A tape to tape recorder was on set and a few times Dennis spoke directly to it. Circular tables were arranged cabaret style around the stage.

During the course of the play Dennis plays both Satchmo and his lifelong manager Joe Glaser. He transformed instantly and believably on a dime. It is through this relationship that the hidden details of Armstrong's life were revealed. Although fellow performers referenced him as an "Uncle Tom", singing and waving a handkerchief mistral style for the white folks, he was actually quite a bad ass with a sharp tongue. Talking to a reporter about whites spitting at young black children going to desegregated schools, he called them out for what they were, "Mother f*ckers!"

Looking down at his trumpet, he remarked about how lucky he was to find Lucille, the love of his life. "She know this trumpet come first, even before her. That's my livin' and my life." He had never had a Christmas tree growing up and she set one up for him as a surprise. He looked at the lights all night. He wouldn't let her shut it off.

Dennis Neal gave an inspiring performance. He never played the trumpet but his monologue slowly unraveled the inner spirit of a great performer. Tech for the show broke down at one point when a sound effect was lost and had to be tracked down. Dennis sat quietly on the stage, waiting. He said, "Bad scrimmage, great game." It was like Satchmo himself waiting for the world to catch up to his inner driving force. Terry sat on stage with him. Photographer Kristin Wheeler took the opportunity to photograph the actor and playwright together. This was a historic moment. A great show was about to be born.

Performances are at 7:30pm Thursday through Saturday and at 2:30pm Sundays through October 2nd at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Tickets are $20 general and $16 for seniors and students. Call 407 405-8091 or e-mail SatchmoWaldorfAstoria@gmail.com for more information.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pink Ribbon Project Rehearsal

I went to the Orlando Shakes Black Box Theater expecting to find the Pink Ribbon project rehearsal. A group of teenage girls were tap dancing in a circle. Three of them had pink shirts on but the mood felt wrong. I checked my calender again, I was supposed to be at the Black Box Theater at the Rep. I slipped out and dashed across Lock Haven Park to the Rep. When I arrived, Matt McGrath was getting several brooms and a bicycle pump out of his car. I wondered how these props would tie in to the show.

In the first scene I sketched, Marty Stonerock and Mikki Scanlon sat on stage each bathed in a pool of light. They both spoke on cell phones. At first it seemed like they were speaking to each other but then it became clear they were speaking to their respective spouses. Mikki shifted her position in her chair, leaning forward and twisting, "Can you hear me now? I'm at the hospital. No I wasn't in an accident! I'm fine, really I'm fine. Well, no, I'm not fine. I have breast cancer." Marty was having a similar gut wrenching conversation trying to comprehend the impossible. "I have it, I have breast cancer... Are you there? Hello?"

Large pink ribbons were hung from the rafters. They will be used in a dance number early in the show. Aradhana Tiwari was directing and the show carries her signature. Multiple stories overlap and bloom during the course of the production. There is brutal honesty as women confront their own mortality. The show's mission is, "To raise awareness, educating people about the physical, mental, and emotional realities that dealing with breast cancer entails. The aim to offer a therapeutic and cathartic experience for women and their families who are in the midst of the fight, touching them in the unique way that only the arts can. Lastly, our vision is to bring hope, champion faith, and ignite inspiration that will empower women as they walk forward and continue to battle on.”

I was unexpectedly moved when a young boy excitedly tried to keep his mother engaged and entertained although she had breast cancer. He was a live wire running circles around her. He showed her card tricks, dance moves and offered her brownies. She was unable to eat after chemo. Dejected he looked at the pan of brownies in his hands and muttered to himself, "Your so stupid, you know she gets sick after chemo. I have to keep her going, I just have to keep her going." I welled up, thinking of my own mom's battle with breast cancer. At ten years old, I was to young to even know how sick she was. But something was wrong and I just wanted to see her laugh again. I couldn't visit her in the hospital. I suppose they wanted to keep me safe from the reality of seeing her slip away.

Though I only saw the show in fits and starts at the rehearsal, I can tell it will be a multi layered and emotionally inspiring production. The Pink Ribbon Project will be run September 16-18th at the Orlando Repertory Theater, 1001 E. Princeton St., Orlando. Admission is $20 for general seating and $150 for a “giving seating” ticket. Purchasing a “giving seat” ticket will fund one mammogram for an uninsured woman. To purchase tickets, go to www.playthemoment.com or call 321-662-0611. Proceeds will benefit the Breast Cancer Fund at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute, which provides diagnostic testing and treatment for uninsured and under served women in Central Florida.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Music Video Shoot

In the Rep Theater, actors John DiDonna and Jennifer Bonner arrived on the set. They were told which theater seats to sit in. Scott Wilkins, who wrote the Britt Daley music video script, stood in front of the actors and described the scene. Scott was boldly silhouetted against a fill light that illuminated a scrim. Both actors were to be preoccupied not paying attention to the audition. John was to be turned away talking on his cell phone while Bonnie fingered her cell phone surfing the web or checking Facebook.

The camera began to roll and the director called, "Action!" John started arguing with the person on his cell. "I'm not having this discussion with you now." He repeated the point again several more times raising his voice till he was shouting into the phone. Jennifer stared vacantly at the screen of her cell phone. In the next shot Katie Peters sang the final note of her audition song. Jennifer glanced up from her phone and shouted, "Thank you!" with disdain and disinterest. Katie walked off screen, crushed.

The next shot was to come after Britt Daley had sung her song, "One and Only". John and Jennifer were locked together in a passionate kiss. Of course when shooting for a quality production you never shoot a scene just once. John and Jennifer kissed again and again. Scott suddenly realized that they should still be holding their cell phones and he asked John to move his hand lower for the next shot. They kissed again and when Britt's music ended they were startled back to reality. Jennifer struggled to straighten her disheveled hair.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Britt Daley Music Video

Inside the Rep Theater there was an all day shooting marathon to complete Britt Daley's "One and Only" music video. The camera crew set up the tiny digital camera so it was on stage at the Repertory Theater pointing out at the theater seats. They were setting up for a shot of the Director played by John Di Donna and his assistant played by Jennifer Bonner. Britt's dad sat in the seats so the cameraman could frame the shot before the actors arrived. Fill lights and spots were adjusted to light the seats. The director kept checking how the shot was framed by looking at the laptop. Scott Wilkins looked through the script and storyboards so everyone was on the same page.

A small crate was set up Katie Peters to stand on. She is the female singer in the local band CIRCUS. She stood in front of the camera facing the theater seats. She was instructed to sing the final note of the song she was singing for the audition and then step out of frame. The song she was supposed to be singing was an old minstrel/vaudeville tune, "Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home". A funny choice since Britt Bailey and Britt Daley sound so similar.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Free Jazz, Improvisation

The thing that I find fascinating about the Accidental Music Festival is that each evening is truly unique. I never know what to expect when I walk into Urban ReThink. This evening was unique to say the least. As sound technicians scurried and adjusted mics, I started blocking in my sketch. I was impressed by the drum set which was covered with decals. In itself it was a visual treat. Kris Gruda performed on guitar. He wrestled with the instrument contorting his body to the sounds produced. He experimented with how to create music. A glass was pressed against the frets, a drum stick banged against the strings. The water bottle at his feet became an instrument as he twisted it creating sharp plastic sounds. I loved when he used a kazoo and played it in a cup of water. That was music any dentist could appreciate.

Jill Burton performed vocals. I can't say she was singing since there were no lyrics. Her vocal chords were just an instrument to create experimental sounds. At one point she sounded like a whale at another like an Indian princess speaking in tongues. Part of me wanted to laugh and yet some passages were quite operatic. Lord knows I don't understand opera, yet it is considered art. Her throat howled like the wind, filling the empty room.

My favorite performance came at the end of the evening with Michael Welch on drums and Daniel Jordon on saxophone playing a close approximation of Jazz. Drum Talk was a solo performed by Michael and it sounded very much like a beat generation mantra. The sets were long and uncharted. Daniel introduced himself slyly saying, "It has been a long time since I've been the corniest cat at a gig." When the song ended, he thanked Urban ReThink for, "bringing real musical expression to Orlando in what is otherwise a f*cking wasteland. This evening allowed the artists to perform something new rather than reenacting what happened in the past."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

ReThinking the City

At Urban ReThink, several local activists and organizers were invited to give presentations about how they are helping reshape the city. Each was allowed to show 20 slides for 20 seconds each. John Rife spoke about organic food growers in Orlando. A few years ago there were just 12 organic growers in the organization, at the last meeting there were 150 people. They arranged to sell organic food boxes in Orlando and 400 have been sold to date. Their catch phrase is, "local is lovely". They are helping bring sustainable food products to Central Florida. A public garden is being planned in an empty lot on the corner of Eola and Robinson. On November 19-20 John is hosting the first Harvest Festival in Winter Park. The two day event will focus on celebrating local food and the farmers, chefs, entrepreneurs and non-profits that bring that harvest of their fields to our plates.

After the local presentations, Dawn Silensky was Skyped in from Pittsburgh. She told us about the storefront project. Together with Jon Rubin, Dawn turned an abandoned store into a waffle shop and a mini talk show TV studio. The shop was between two night clubs and they wanted to attract the club kids as costumers. Locals that frequented the waffle shop were interviewed. Dawn is an artist and she said, "conversations are my process and people are my medium." The sales of waffles keep the conversation alive. She feels that culture is a personal thing. An intercontinental dinner party was held where skype projected on a large screen was used to make it seem like Iranians were seated at the same table as the American diners.

A portion of the building seemed to go unused and it was converted into the Conflict Kitchen, which is a walk up restaurant where you order food from countries America is at war with. This walk up window is reinvented every six months featuring another countries cuisine. The food wrappers have commentary about the countries culture, helping start discussion and debate. Each meal is a cultural exchange. Dawn feels art needs to move outside the studio and out into the streets. Food helps facilitate that. Food is something comfortable, something everyone needs. The point that Dawn and all the presenters made clear is that we all can help bring culture home. When you have a vision, just go out and do it. Start small and let the idea grow. Don't over think. Each of us can make a difference.

Contemporary Chamber Music

The Accidental Music Festival hosted an evening of contemporary chamber music at Urban ReThink (625 E. Central Blvd). When I arrived, musicians were milling around and there was the usual mad rush to get everything in place and working by show time. Violinist Eric Smith introduced himself. He knew of my work since I had sketched a string quartet he played with in Winter Park last winter. He said someone shot video of the performance and there I was in the front row of some chairs set up in the street sketching away.

For the first piece Brandon Clinton played piano and Christopher Belt, the festival organizer, played guitar. I decided to sketch from halfway up a staircase. Each chamber music pieces was short and to the point. Eladio Sharron performed with Carrie Wiesinger on flute. Their piece elicited a standing ovation from the 30 or so attendees. On a trip to Germany, I discovered that a very distant relative, Cornelia Thorspecken, is a professional flute player in Wiesbadden. She gave me a CD and since then I've become infatuated with the pure sweet tone of the flute. Thad Anderson performed last doing a drum solo. He warned people sitting close that things were going to get loud. If people needed to shield their ears, he wasn't going to be insulted. Bravely people stayed where they were. It was a stunning way to end the otherwise peaceful evening of music.

On the outer edge of each step of the staircase I was on, there were small candles in glass jars. I was careful to avoid them when I rooted around in by bag for art supplies. When the concert was over, an old man came down the steps cradling his empty dishes from the salad he ate during the concert. He had a cane and it dragged next to him as he walked down. The cane knocked over every candle on the way down. A sound technician followed him down, righting each candle as it tumbled. He turned to me and said, "Unbelievable." Luckily they were not lit. It was hilarious simply because the guy had no clue about the havoc he was causing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Accidental Music Rehearsal

The Accidental Music festival held an open Rehearsal at Urban ReThink. I spoke to Christopher Belt the festival organizer, and he let me know the performers were being paid for their time. Juan Trigos composed and conducted "Ricercare VI" for guitar and chamber orchestra. There was no guitar player at the rehearsal. I recognized the flute player, Colleen Blagov, from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Benoit Glazer's son sat up front playing violin.

I can't tell you much about the flow or overall structure to the music. The percussionists clapping out the beat reminded me of a Spanish Flamenco dancer. When the drums joined in, I was reminded of a scene from the Planet of the Apes as humans were hunted. The rehearsal was very staccato with short bursts of music followed by many conductors notes. The piece will have its Florida premiere on September 11th at the Timucua White House (2000 S. Summerlin Ave) at 7pm. The acoustics in the White house are perfect. Benoit Glazer designed the space from the ground up to make the perfect performance space. As always the concert is free. Bring your own bottle of wine if you care to sip a drink during the show. Arrive early this is going to be a big one!

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Big Bang

On the second day of the Accidental Music Festival, there was an open rehearsal at Urban ReThink for a big band orchestral work titled "In the Beginning". Composed by John Alvarez this was a new work that referenced what the beginning of the universe might have sounded like. Chris Belt conducted the piece which was organized in three movements, Before Time, the Big Bang and the Expanding Universe.

A computer crash held up the electronic sounds associated with Before Time. After the computer was re-booted, the piece began with the a gentile rise and growing unrest of pure electronic noise. Big band members who did not have to play began to shield their ears from the high pitched sound.

In one punch the whole big band attacked a note announcing the Big Bang. Alto, tenor and barl saxophones mingled and fought with the trumpets, trombones and percussion. The drummers each had bright day glow flexible tubes they waved over their heads like lassos. This created a mysterious hollow tone like wind singing in a cave. Much of the composition is cacophonous and aggressive yet every note was planned. Several times players got lost in the chaos and everyone would begin again.

On September 11th at 7pm the world premiere of "In the Beginning" will be held at the Timucua White House (2000 South Summerlin Avenue). With September 11th also being the ten year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the sounds of the Big Bang will likely evoke emotions tied in to another chaotic moment that continues to cause unrest. As always the concert is free just bring wine or a snack if you would like to imbibe.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Accidental Music Festival

The Accidental Music Festival will feature 10 nights of concerts, lectures and films celebrating creativity in music. The festival was started by Christopher Belt. He asked to use the space at Urban ReThink and it just happened that The Civic Minded Five, another music group had scheduled concerts the same week. He said to Patrick Green, "It's like an accidental music festival." The name stuck. On the second day of the festival, I stopped into Urban ReThink to see Jason Kahn and Bryan Eubanks perform.

I arrived sweaty after a full day of painting the Mennello Museum Mural. I waved to Pat Green in his office and headed straight to the bathroom. Opening the men's room door, I was startled to see two young women. The woman directly in front of me had her shirt off, wearing a black satin bra. She shouted raising her hand up. Time slowed down. I responded, "Whoops, sorry!" as the door slammed shut. I sat on a small stack of chairs in the hall which shifted awkwardly under my weight. I waited for a while, then I decided they might need privacy, so I went to grab a beer.

The instruments were a huge tangle of wires. Jason sat behind mixing boards, coils, contact microphones, and a sound recorder that played back ambient sounds of the room. A synthesizer processed and modulated sounds, creating feedback loops. Bryan who built many of his instrument components, used guitar effects pedals, a master mixer to mix sources like radio frequencies, ambient room noise and sound clips he randomly collected over the years. He used Super glider,a computer program, to generate sound. All the sounds were generated live in real time.

Initially the sounds generated reminded me of the THX sound system audio played at the start of movies. Brian described their music as a collaborative structure with both players seeking a balance to fill it out. The music generated was unpredictable. Both musicians sought control but the form was complicated by movements or unexpected shifts. This would knock the musician out of the ring, out of control, as he adjusted. Lisa Bates shouted out, "Just like in life!" Jason agreed feeling their music corresponds to the vast barrage of information generated by social networks today. The music was completely intuitive with balance and disruption. It is not your typical acoustic sound. The sound generated inspired me to attack the drawing aggressively my hand moving in syncopation to the changing, unpredictable modulations.

Two young college girls inspected my sketch. One was an artist herself. She did a pencil sketch of Bryan during the performance and gave it to him. The artist seemed annoyed at me, but her friend was enthusiastic and affable. I told her about Urban Sketchers and said she should take a look at the sight. I wondered if these were the women I had interrupted in the bathroom. I couldn't be sure. In shock, I forgot to look at her face. The Accidental Music Festival will continue through September 13th. Admission to all the events is free but donations are accepted.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Britt Daley Music Video

I went to the Orlando Repertory Theater where a music video was being shot for Britt Daley for her newly released song, "One and Only." Scott Wilkins wrote and directed the video shoot. When I arrived, Full Sail interns were setting up tripods and lighting outside the doorway to the greenroom. Wires snaked everywhere and they had to be ducktaped down so no one would trip. A small SLR digital that shoots high definition video seemed out of place mounted to a bulky tripod. A laptop was also mounted on a tripod so more than one person could see what was being shot. The hall was already bright thanks to large plate glass windows. The lighting was enhanced by mounting lights up near the ceiling.

The story that anchors the music video is built around an audition. Britt is in the audition and shakes things up. In this shot she enters the scene by opening the purple door at the end of the hall. She then struts down the hall carrying a huge 1980's style boom box. The cameraman told the intern to dismount the camera from the tripod. Instead of a steady shot, he wanted to dolly back keeping Britt in frame as they both moved down the hall. A wheelchair was brought in and the cameraman sat down.

They shot the scene multiple times. Some takes were full body, while others focused on closeups of Britt's lethal high heels. An intern had to quickly coil in the video cable as the cameraman was backed down the hall. The setup and shooting was time consuming. Everyone felt they were falling behind on the shooting schedule. There was a mad dash to strike everything and they rushed off to the next shooting location.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Orlando Shakes Scenic Shop

Jeff Ferree suggested I stop by the Orlando Shakespeare Theater's scenic shop. I wasn't sure exactly where it was so I asked a woman at the ticket booth where it might be. She seemed unsure but suggested it might be behind the Goldman Theater. I wandered around a bit until I saw a woman whose clothing was spattered with paint. I asked her and she walked me back. Jeff was working on some wooden columns. Jeff introduced me to the other folks in the shop.

Work was being done to assemble the set for "The Importance of Being Earnest". Jeff showed me the blue prints. The set resembled a British country estate with a quaint outdoor garden patio. I believe the set would allow for interior and exterior scenes. The play, written by Oscar Wild will run from September 14th through October 9th. The Red Chair Affair had a scene from the play where Ernest is asking a matronly British woman if he can marry her daughter. The matron was played by a man in an ostentatious red gown. He, she held a notebook checking items off her list as she interrogated the suitor about his credentials. Things seemed to go well until he reveled that he had been found in a basket at a railway station. Shocked, she advised him to find a family immediately. The scene was hilarious, pointing out the silly notion that your family name is the only thing of importance when establishing ones station in life.

Ron was at a large work table and he mounted a router blade to the machine. Large boards needed a slot routered down the center. Jeff showed me where to get ear plugs since the shop was going to get loud. The ear plugs had flames printed on them. When the router fired up I stuffed the plugs in my ears and started sketching.

Monday, September 5, 2011

IIyse Kusnetz Poetry Reading

I stopped by Urban ReThink for an evening of poetry. I was greeted by friendly handshakes and hugs from many people who I had met thanks to the Kerouac House project. I had seen author Karen Price just the night before also at Urban ReThink. This place truly is becoming a lightning rod to the cultural pulse of this city. I picked up a "Pumpkin Head" beer from the freezer. What a delicious beer! I may just keep sketching events at Urban ReThink until their supply runs out. I'm thinking Pumpkin beer is seasonal but I just realized Halloween is only two months away! The supply is limitless for the next few months.

John Hughes was the first poet to get behind the microphone. I enjoyed the way he spoke about his brother. He claimed his brother is butt ugly yet girls always flocked to him. He couldn't understand the phenomenon since he considered himself reasonably handsome. Lucky in love, unlucky in life the saying goes. Sure enough his brother had the worst luck growing up. He was glad to be near his brother since he would soak up all the bad luck in any room. When John read one poem which was written about his ex-wife, he mispronounced the first word saying "lick" instead of "lit". A Kerouac House regular shouted, "Freudian slip!" John had to stop as he started laughing himself. He finally read the line of the poem, "lit the wick." Every poet in the room burst into laughter as they re-wrote the line in their minds. It took me several seconds before I started laughing as well.

Ilyse Kusnetz explained that her collection of poems were all about bearing witness. I like the premise since I feel my role in sketching is to bear witness not just to the struggle of everyday life but also to the beauty in the mundane. Many of Ilyse's poems were about WWII. Her uncle served in the war and being Jewish he was often called upon to translate. He witnessed the worst atrocities imaginable. One of her poems spoke of bodies piled high like cord wood and native Germans being directed to move the bodies they so long denied. Her father was to young to serve in the war but he did help on the docks. A huge crate being transferred to a ship slipped and everyone else let go of the guiding ropes except for her dad. She wrote a wonderful analogy about how he held tight just as he later did to keep his family together and secure.

The next day Terry was leaving me for ten days over Labor Day as she visited her sister in Washington State. Rather than mingle with all the writers after the reading, I immediately slipped out like a phantom. It was important to get home to Terry.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fill the Grill Cook off 2

The second "Iron Chef" style Cook off at Whole Foods matched chef Tuan Tran from Crave against chef Steve Saelg of the Crooked Spoon Food Truck. The chefs were given $2o to spend and 20 minutes to shop. They then had 20 minutes to prepare a healthy summer meal using an electric grill. The event was again held at Whole Foods Market at Phillips Crossing (8003 Turkey Lake Road). When I arrived the chefs were arranging their respective cooking areas. With a minute to the start of the throw-down, two shopping carts were rolled out for the chefs. An announcer began a countdown to the start of the competition. As the chefs shopped I sketched the grilling area.

Chef Tuan Tran arrived at his grilling station first. He prepared a Korean grilled beef marinated in soy sauce with a pepper paste, sesame seeds and sugar. He also made cellophane noodles marinated in soy, sesame seed oil and garlic, all grilled in butter. He also grilled tomatoes with olive oil, garlic and minced cilantro. The crowning touch was that he also bought several bottles of Vietnamese beer to serve with his dish.

Chef Steve Saelg was busy preparing a chili crusted chicken thighs with ginger, fennel served with couscous. He also grilled avocado and sliced orange wheels sprinkled with a ginger fennel vinaigrette. The chefs moved with swift deliberation. Before I knew it they were done.

I continued sketching as the three judges tasted the dishes and deliberated. Chef Steve Saelg was declared the winner. He will go to the final competition against the winner of the previous throw-down, Alec Cheak of Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hot in the City Party

Alchemy (2812 Edgewater Drive) is a hair salon in College Park. Together with TheDailyCity.com they hosted a summer party in the lot behind the business. The first thing I wanted to see was "Sea of Green" by Doug Rhodehamel. Cardboard fish with green fluorescent eyes were hung every where from the metal roof beams of the shop. The shop interior was pitch black and black lights illuminated the fish creating an hypnotic and playful deep sea space to swim through. Thankfully the shop was also air conditioned.

Outside in the alley between shops there were several cardboard boxes full of vinyl records. There were always people searching that music treasure chest. Other vendors and artisans had vintage clothing and jewelry. Mark Baratelli of theDailyCity.com arrived and handed out swag bags to the first people to arrive. A photo booth was set up by EnnaAnne Photography under a red tent behind Alchemy. Drawing the graffiti I tried to decipher what the tag spelled out but I never did figure it out. Several people introduced themselves to me. Steph has been reading for some time and she was honestly thankful for what I do. Meeting people like that really helps keep me going.

Several food trucks were on the far end of the lot and a stage was set up. Stage lights were sand bagged to the roof tops aimed at the stage. At one point a guitarist was playing musical chairs. When the music stopped everyone sat down. Two people were sitting on one chair neither one giving up. A judge had to be called in to see who had the highest cheek to chair ratio. When Terry arrived we considered getting a bite at the food trucks. One truck was sold out and the other had a long line. Wendy Wallenburg and Carl Knickerbocker and Mark Baratelli also were considering getting a bite. We all decided to go across the street to Paxia alta Cocina Mexicana (2611 Edgewater Drive), a Restaurant with really good Margaritas. The ice cold Margaritas were a great way to cool down after being on the hot asphalt for so long.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Red Chair Affair

Terry and I arrived early to the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre for the VIP main stage food, drinks and silent auction bidding before she show. Food was provided by Charley's Steakhouse, Moonfish, Johnnie's Hideaway, Vito's Chop House, Fish Bones, and White Wolf Cafe. Organic draft beer was provided by Orlando Brewing. Terry headed for the food but I wasn't hungry. I hunted for a choice sketching spot. I decided I had to draw the IKEA Red Chairs which had been decorated by different arts groups in town and were now perched on tables to be auctioned off. The lighting technicians were still testing all the stage lights and the stage and all the red chairs went black on occasion. I paused thinking I might not be able to work under such uncertain conditions. I sketched anyway and as guests arrived the stage was bathed in a warm red light. Most women wore sleek red gowns. I struggled to keep my tie from getting in the paint.

I focused on the chairs. My favorite chair was decorated by the Winter Garden Theater like the plant from Little Shop of Horrors. I'm thinking it would make a great toilet bowl seat. The plush red plant lips would be a pleasure to sit on. I might just remove the sharp teeth from the design. Another chair had an entire doll house built around it. Fairwinds Broadway Across America had an Adams Family chair that was built like an electric chair with "Thing" perched on the seat.

When the sketch was finished, Terry and I were the first in the Theater and we found a group of seven seats just behind the VIP seats. Sarah Austin and Wendy Wallenburg had won tickets by answering an Orlando Cultural Arts question online. The question was, "Who is the artistic director of Voci Dance?" The answer was Genevieve Bernard. I guarded the seats while Terry searched for our friends in the lobby.

15 different arts groups performed. The Florida Opera Theater performed a hilarious "Complete History of Opera (Abridged)". They began with a guttural caveman grunting and quickly moved to a Renaissance harmonizing. All the subtle shades of operatic romance were sung to hilarious effect. My favorite performance was "I love you, I can't live without you although I might kill you." All sung in classic Italian. Since Terry and I used to attend the opera all the time before it went bankrupt, we were laughing out loud at this tongue in cheek irreverent view of opera history. Frank McClain the company's Artistic Director has helped raise the phoenix from the flames.

The Orlando School of Cultural Dance had the packed theater clapping in unison as they danced to the African beat. Orlando Aerial Arts featured three beautiful women who climbed way up near the stage lights, wrapping themselves in the white silky material and then spinning down like yo-yos. I was to nervous to enjoy the performance. There were no safety nets or guy wires. The evening ended with the Power Chords singing "I got the music in me!" 16 energetic youthful singers danced and sang their hearts out causing a standing ovation. All of the performers crowded on to the stage for one final bow.

Back stage VIP's and performers mingled behind the closed curtains enjoying cupcakes provided by Sugerbuzz Desert Company and Barnies Coffee. The crowd dissipated fairly quickly except our group, who had to be chased out with the flickering of lights. We decided to go to the Imperial bar behind Washburn Imports for after show drinks. I left the sketchbook in the truck and laughed and talked with friends until we were the last to leave the bar. I love the Red Chair Affair because it introduced to me some new and exiting new arts groups that I hope to visit for more sketch opportunities.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Spring Awakening

The Greater Orlando Actors Theater is presenting "Spring Awakening" at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater through September 4th. This is a musical based on a play written in the 1892 by Frank Wedekind in Germany. Having seen the play in its original form I thought I knew what I was to expect. Entering the Mandell Theater I was surprised to find it had been turned into a theater in the round. Seating bleachers lined all four walls creating an intimate square staging area in the center of the room. A single wooden chair with a young girl's night gown draped over its back sat in the center of the stage as the audience filed in. The house went dark and then actress Melina Countryman stood on the chair and she was bathed in a spotlight wearing only her turn of the century undergarments. I was hooked from the moment she sang "Mama Who Bore Me." She was soon joined by a chorus of girls who stomped to the lyrics in a sensual anger. The shows over riding theme was shouted to the rafters. These were women in full bloom who had to deny their sensuality.

I resisted the urge to sketch these young actresses and instead focused on the boys in their school uniforms who were being forced to learn using rote memorization. Adam McCabe as Moritz began to doze off. When the instructor prodded him awake he came alive as an electric live wire, frenetic and disheveled. He began to sing "The Bitch of Living" and all the boys joined him as they expressed their yearning and sexuality which was repressed and as of yet only a dream. I was surprised when audience members stood and started dancing. The choreography by Jessica Mariko was driven and sensual. During the course of the show several members of the audience changed into turn of the century garb becoming part of the cast. Simple effects like using a flashlight to illuminate a singers face were beautifully understated and intimate. Sarah Villegas as Ilse reacted against the sexual abuse of her father by running off to an artist commune where she posed for artists. She was attracted to the quirky Moritz but he was to blind to see her advances. When she sang "Blue Wind" it became clear she was to beautiful for such a cruel world.

Melchior played by Anthony Pyatt Jr. wrote a long scientifically accurate and occasionally illustrated description of the sexual act for his friend Moritz who was experiencing tortured sexual dreams. When this document was discovered by authorities he was accused of warping his friends mind and hastening his suicide. I've been told I avoid intimacy, yet when I write, I tend to express myself without inhibition and more than once what I wrote was unearthed and used as evidence against me. Yes, I wrote that. My soul is not my own. I am "Totally Fucked." "Lets discuss what you meant in paragraph two, sentence five." Blah, blah... blah, blah... blah, blah, blah.

The director Paul Castaneda and assistant director Jeremy Seghers did an amazing job of bringing this show alive in such an intimate setting. Simply stated, I was bowled over by this show and the young talented cast. There are only three performances left. Friday and Saturday's shows (Sept. 2nd & 3rd) are at 8:30pm and Sunday's show (Sept. 4th) is at 7:30pm. GoatGroup.org for tickets or call 407 872-8451 for information.