Soft Exposure happens on the 4th Wednesday of every month. Frankie Messina has taken over as host for Soft Exposure at Infusion Tea (1600 Edgewater Dr College Park). Naomi Butterfield used to host this open mic night but she recently moved to Gabon. Frankie has added his own flair to this night of poetry and prose. When I arrived, he was still setting up. He had a stack of vinyl records and he spun his favorites as people arrived. Billy Holiday's silky voice greeted me. Frankie runs a local arts support organization called Apartment E. Formed in 1993 it offers local love and support. He came up with phrase "City Beautiful" and he owns the online domain.
Artist Janae Corrado set up a display of her oil paintings and pencil sketches. Her work has a flavor of the surreal while remaining grounded. Frankie asked her to talk about her work between readings. She was hesitant but finally stepped up to the mic. Her work is personal and she tries to keep titles and themes open as she is working on a painting. She has been painting for five years now but has been an artist since she was a child. She feels the Orlando art scene has plenty of talent, much of it unrecognized. The Florida art market tends to be driven by tourism with the exception of Miami which might be its own country. The largest painting she brought was of a woman with horns in front of a bare tree. The model for this painting was Kassandra Kharis. Kassandra was an amazing local artist who took her own life several days ago. I was shocked and humbled by the news from her friend Tracy Lulu Brown. Kassandra's work is dark and mysterious. She appeared in an isolated sketch I did in Blank Space. I spoke to Janae briefly about Kassandra and her eyes lit up as she talked about how Kassandra wore antlers to an opening to look just like her painting. Laughter and joy in memories masked the loss.
Joe Rosier started the evening off with a poem he wrote at Fringe about a microphone not in use on the empty outdoor stage. He lamented the lost opportunity and endless potential that went unnoticed. Frankie read an amazing poem about lines. Like the line in the sand, the line we are meant not to cross. I wish I had heard this poem as I worked on the Mennello Museum line mural. There were emotional sparks flying in the poems. Several times my eyes burned and had to be wiped dry on my sleeve. Several tourists were in the room. They flew from Australia to Orlando to attend an Avatar self help course. They read from a group exercise handbook. I felt a bit uncomfortable as the material had a cult tinge to it, but in the end their message was of compassion and understanding which is what any art form should aspire to. A poet apologized for not writing much recently. He then recited The Love Song of Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot. I love this poem, which I first read in high school. Now that my hair grows thin and grey, the poem has added impact and meaning as I search and scratch out images every day. Curtis Meyer ended the evening with an emotional spoken word piece about the inventor of the inner circuitry in microphones. The thrust of his poem rushed forwards and back like a DJ spinning vinyl to a rap beat. The evening had come full circle.
I left feeling inspired and uplifted, yet sad that talent could burn so bright and often go unnoticed in an indifferent world.