Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Fountain Works

I have been working the grave yard shift till 1:15am at Full Sail. That means most events I usually go to sketch have to be bumped off my calendar for work. I could sketch at some clubs after 1am, but I don't have it in me to sketch after working at Full Sail. For this reason I have been finding myself downtown with no preconceived notion of what I should sketch. I tend to park around Lake Eola since I like to use the public restrooms, before, or after I get a sketch done.

On this day, I sat myself down on the soft pine needles and sketched the fountain which was working after a long hiatus of stillness after it had been struck by lightning more than a year ago. No expense was spared to get this Orlando icon back up and running. Once the sketch was done, I packed my supplies and headed back to work.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Food Truck Bazaar

Mark Baratelli sent me an e-mail letting me know that he had a framed "Best Of" award for the Mennello Museum mural that I did. He was hosting an Orlando Food Truck Bazaar at Fashion Square Mall and he said he would have the award with him. I of course would travel any distance for such a major award. The sun had set by the time I got to the Bazaar. About 35 food trucks were circled up, like western covered wagons. The first two trucks, Firehouse BBQ and Twisted Cuban were the brightest trucks in the bazaar with flashing lights and bright red paint. I sat down in the middle of the "coral" and started sketching.

Unfortunately, by the time I was finishing the sketch, many of the food trucks were running out of food. Viveca Averstedt of "swedeDISH" food truck looked over my shoulder to admire my work. Her blue truck with yellow stripes was also running out of food and they were cleaning up. She offered me an onion and cheese pie dish. I asked, "how much." And she offered it to me on the house. It was absolutely delicious. The crust was light and flaky and the cheese and baked onion pie was sweet and rich. It came with a side salad with a tangy vinaigrette dressing. I might be tempted to come out to the next food truck bazaar to see what else she has on the menu.

Mark Baratelli found me and gave me the award for the Mennello museum mural. He said it was a good turn out with 1,500 people stopping out during the course of the evening. These bazaars are spreading throughout Central Florida and the trend continues to grow. People love to come out on cool winter nights to sample the food and relax in lawn and camping chairs. A few days later, I saw the swedeDISH food truck parked beside Tom & Jerry's Lounge near the Enzian. It seems quite a few food trucks park there in their off hours.

Monday, February 27, 2012

City Arts Factory

As part of ArtsFest, City Arts Factory opened its doors for free. Actually, I'm pretty sure you can walk into City Arts Factory anytime for free anyway, but they were also offering a chance to register for a chance to win gift pack including tickets for two to SAK Comedy Lab and Jazz Brunch at the Grand Bohemian Hotel. Since I had time in the afternoon before going to Full Sail, I decided to go to City Arts to sketch. Of course the place was empty.

The hallways were lined with "Youthful Expressions" from children from the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida. It was fun to see some of the pieces awarded red, blue and yellow ribbons, just like in a Country Fair. The work was from children in the surrounding four counties. The winners of this exhibit would move on to exhibit in the Regional South Eastern competition. Winners from that would move on to a National exhibit. I still remember the thrill I had as a child when I won a blue ribbon in a county fair in New Jersey. Any one of these kids could one day become great artists if their work is valued. Perhaps one day, I can help inspire these kids.

I decided to sit in the hallway and sketch "Orlando Guitartown" created by Munte Olinger. The large Guitar was inspired by Counting Crows and contributed to the space by Ford Keane and Jennifer Quigley. I remembered that Ford Keane is the owner of the building that houses Avalon Gallery and he is the President and CEO of City Beverages. Jennifer Quigley is Principal of WBQ Engineering. Children's art consisted of, a bowl of spaghetti, a sea monster, and a series of colorful circles.

I was most intrigued by hand prints in cement in an indentation in the tile floor. These were hand prints of Mayor Buddy Dyer, Ford Keane and Jennifer Quigley. This must have come about when Orlando had lofty ambitions of becoming Hollywood East. A pair of pliers and some nails were placed on the cement and then the hole was filled with a piss yellow resin. The only people that entered the hall were searching for the restrooms in the back. A husband fingered his cell phone as his wife was in the bathroom.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rite of Spring

As part of Arts Fest, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra opened up the Bob Carr so anyone could see them as they rehearsed Igor Stravinski's "Rite of Spring" as well as Beethoven's Symphony Number 6 "Pastorale". I sat near the front row with a view off into the deep off stage wings. During any actual performance, sound panels are set up which block a view off stage. Cole Nesmith was there with some of his friends seated one row behind me in the center of the auditorium. He looked a bit ragged and worn with exhaustion from having set up and dismantled his 20 foot high "Tree of Light". After a heavy tree branch broke off and crashed to the ground, he is having a 3D model made and getting a structural engineer to check the tree's stability. I admire the huge Live Oak trees I see around town now all the more. Any tree is a marvel of engineering.

Conductor Chris Wilkins introduced "Rite of Spring" to the sparse audience. He said that in the ballet, a woman danced to the music in a pagan ritual to the point of exhaustion and beyond. He wouldn't say more since children might be present. The music war raw and primal. I had never heard it performed live and the dissonance and complexity of the piece were exhilarating and unexpected. I only knew of the music thanks to Fantasia. This is the pop cultural image of primordial creation that has been burned into our collective memory.

Most of the audience cleared out during the break after "Rite of Spring" was performed. They missed the second half of the rehearsal. I had plenty of work still to do on the sketch so I worked right through the orchestra's break. When "Pastorale" began to play, I began splashing pools of color on my sketch. Of course "Pastorale" also was in Fantasia. This music evokes feelings of a much more peaceful time perhaps on a country estate. Walking back to my truck, the music gradually was overwhelmed by honking horns, and the rush of traffic as people hurried about downtown.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dog Powered Fundraiser 2.0


D-D-DOG POWERED ROBOT: UPLOAD DPR FUNDRAISER 2.0, tonight, Saturday, February 25th 2012 from 7:00pm-11:00pm. You have only minutes before the awesomeness begins at Stardust Video & Coffee (1842 East Winter Park Road.)

Dog Powered Robot is returning...and he is bringing the whole robot crew with him! To ensure mega-awesomeness, he has activated the ultimate upgrade of ANDY MATCHETT & THE MINKS! Prepare to have your mind circuits blown!

Join TEAM DPR as we celebrate and raise money for our 2012 full length Fringe show: DOG POWERED ROBOT AND THE SUBSEQUENT ADVENTURE.

Post script: Three prints of my sketches of Dog Powered Rehearsals and performances are still on display in Stardust Video and Coffee through March 15th. Prints sold help raise funds for DPR.

Full Sail Construction

Construction at Full Sail is an on going process as the school takes over store after store in the strip mall where I work. Once the tenants leave, the whole facade is usually stripped of all its brick work and then a new facade is put in place with strips of aluminum and paneling. Birds nest in the stripped facade and they get angry, chirping loudly when their nests are confiscated by construction workers. Glass paneling is decorating the building that used to be an Albertson's Supermarket. All the temporary fencing just means I have to walk further to get to the few remaining restaurants when I want to get some lunch. A new coat of stucco usually polishes off the job before students start filing in.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Drunken Monkey

That clock on the wall must have stopped. I agreed to meet Terry for a Beau Soleil concert at the Plaza Theater. Beau Soleil is a Cajun band and Terry just loves them as do I. I decided not to sketch the concert, so instead I went over to the Drunken Monkey right across the street to eat and sketch. I ordered a hot Portobello mushroom sandwich that was absolutely amazing. To drink, I ordered a mango slushy. A guy seated on a couch in the corner of the room was reading his iPad. Hear no evil and speak no evil wooden monkeys were squatting on a bookcase full of board games. The woman seated at the table in front of me had the intriguing habit of holding her index fingers over her lips when she wasn't speaking.
A heart made of broken mirror shards was mounted on four colorful panels next to the door. As I sketched, someone approached and said, "You're that artist!" I didn't quite know how to respond. It was Banjo Bob. He showed me a painting of an owl on a wood panel he was working on. He had been painting outside, but it had started to drizzle. Banjo works at the Drunken Monkey and he said I could exhibit my sketches there any time. I just might take him up on that offer sometime. Hot soup, hot coffee, warm heart. I always enjoy returning to the Drunken Monkey.
The Beau Soleil concert was amazing. The crowd was older than I expected with plenty of gray hair. When I glance in the mirror however, I realize, I fit right in. Terry and I danced quite a bit. Since I wasn't sketching, I soaked in the music and drank. After two beers I was dancing like Fred Astaire. Terry suggested we show off our best Cajun dance moves. Another couple had some really smooth moves as well. Between sets, I talked to the woman, Joanne Conero. She and her husband Al teach dancing up in the Villages. She was also a member of the Clearwater environmental group. It was at a Clearwater festival more than 20 years ago where Terry and I first met. Incredibly small world. When Terry returned with another beer, we were shown a new move which we now have to try out sometime. I miss the Clearwater, a community with a heart and a cause.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

American Shoe Repair

American Shoe Repair (616 North Bumby Ave) is one of the few if not the only place to get your shoes repaired. I went based on a reader's tip. The room where repairs are made is segregated from the rest of the store. When I told the store manager that I wanted to sketch, he seemed very leery. His wife was intrigued however so I was allowed to sketch from behind a glass partition. The large red machine was a burnisher. A large cylinder spun to polish the leather. High heeled women's shoes were piled up everywhere. People must be repairing their shoes in this economy rather than buying new pairs. I do have some shoes at home that are a bit worn in the heel. Now I know where to bring them.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Traditional Irish Music Session

Every other Wednesday, Vicki Gish and Scott Vocca host a Traditional Irish Music Session at Claddagh Cottage Irish Pub (4308 Curry Ford Rd) starting at 7:30pm till whenever. Vicki and Scott are from the band "Crooked Road" and I had recently seen them perform at the Mennello Museum Folk Festival. The bar is a real hole in the wall with dark oak booths, tables and chairs. There is a sign near one table that says, "Reserved for Musicians." The electric piano was set up and there was an accordion a fiddle and some bows on the tables. A few patrons were eating dinner but everywhere there were tall glasses of dark Guinness.

Natalie Doyle the groups pianist offered me a pint to sip as I sketched. I couldn't refuse. She explained that the accordion player was Gerry Hanley from Galway, Ireland. She explained that he had given up playing for a while but now he was back into the swing of things. Kathleen Cavanagh on pipes entered a little late and she let everyone know that she had Girl Scout cookies back in her car if anyone was interested. Soon the magical traditional Irish music filled the bar. The musicians closed their eyes as in a reverie and swayed to the beat. The two women having dinner beside me were ecstatic. They had wandered into this hidden gem by chance.

An Irish Session is a gathering of musicians playing traditional Irish music (occasionally including other Celtic genres such as Scottish, Brittany, Cape Breton, and French Canadian) on traditional Irish instruments. Traditional Irish music is made up of dance tunes such as reels, jigs, hornpipes, slides, and a few other miscellaneous forms including polkas, set dances, airs and songs. It is not so much a performance but a sharing of traditional tunes among the musicians and those who care to listen. The instruments might include fiddle, flute, accordion, uilleann pipe, concertina, tenor banjo, whistle (a.k.a. penny whistle, tin whistle), mandolin, bodhrán, guitar, and sometimes piano. An Irish Session is not a "jam session".

An Irish elder gentleman named Shawn wanted to meet Gerry from Galway. They shook hands and told tales of the homeland for a bit. Then Shawn sat down and began to sing a traditional Irish ballad solo. Scott shushed the room trying to silence the loud talkers at the end of the bar. Then everyone joined in on the chorus singing, "I met her in the garden where the praties grow." With his second song, I sang along, "Come down from the mountain Katie Daly." I'm Irish on my mothers side and warmed by the beer and music, I glowed. A woman dropped off a small Teddy bear holding a heart beside the old gentleman singing. When he was finished singing, someone explained, "You have a secret admirer." The sketch ebbed and flowed with the music taking form almost on it's own without any second guessing from me. After I drained my Guinness and finished the sketch, I had to go. I needed to start fresh on a new job in the morning. I shouted good night to Natalie and Vicki who stood and shook my hand. I owe these amazing musicians a beer, but I know I'll be back. If you haven't been to one of these sessions, you have to go.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Night of Fire

Crealde held an event called "Night of Fire" at the school campus (600 St. Andrews Blvd. in Winter Park). Tiki torches lined either side of the long gravel path leading back to the school. I wandered around trying to decide what I should sketch. There was a huge kiln about 8 feet tall that filled a shed. It was burning hot but there was little activity around it. I then found this little garbage can kiln in action. The garbage can glowed red hot, sitting on top of fire bricks. The flame was fed by a propane gas tank. This is referred to as Raku firing.

Lynn Warnicke would remove a properly heated ceramic pot with long metal tongs and place it in a garbage can with newspapers. The newspapers would smolder and then burn. I was blinded quite a few times by the smoke, finding myself downwind of the cans. A garbage can lid would be lifted and then the tongs would be used again to drop the pot in a vat of water to cool down. The finished and glazed pots would then be lifted by hand and placed on a bench where they were all lined up.

There was a constant flurry of activity and I was never certain if I was catching the right moment. I learned about the process as I sketched and now that I better understand it, I would probably get a better second sketch. There was no time for a second sketch. I walked around searching for Terry. There was a cool sculpture behind the school, lake side, that shot up a blue flame into a tall glass tube. There had been a bronze pour but it was finished before I got there to sketch. A story teller waved her arms as she spoke to enchanted children and parents.

Inside the school, Ken Austin was demonstrating his watercolor techniques and Megan Boye was in the print department showing people the process. There were prints and paper hanging and lying everywhere. It was an amazing event. I probably cold have learned a thing or two had I lingered.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Orlando Improv Festival

On February 6th & 7th, Mark Bartelli of the Daily City hosted the Orlando Improv Festival at Urban Rethink as part of Arts Fest. When I arrived, Mark used a bright red sharpie to write "sketch artist" on my name tag. I was rolling with the big boys now, an official sketch artist. This was a smaller, more intimate Festival than last year but Mark still had a plethora of posters.

I set up my artist stool next to a speaker and started blocking in the space. I was sitting next to a college student with a camera around his neck. He had "Press" written on his name tag. He confided that this was his first time using the camera. My inflated ego shrank. The two young women seated in front of me were from the same school. The woman in the stripped shirt asked several audience members questions. "So, what do you hope to gain from tonight's performance?" "Well Missy, I hope to laugh!"

The evening consisted of long form Improv. The audience would supply a few cues and the performers would keep the Improv going for the duration of an hour. The first group, Offsides Improv is the one I sketched on stage. The performance centered around the strained relationship a couple had developed with someone they had kidnapped. For the longest time we were left to assume this was a typical insular family. The audience was packed full. Mark actually had to squeeze a few more chairs on the sidelines to fit in late comers.

Once the first improv group was finished, the room had to be cleared so people could pay to see the next group. I believe there were five performances each night. The second comedy troupe was "Nobody's Sweetheart." This was a notable performance since Peter Murphy had returned to Orlando from LA to be in the show. Peter played the part of a corporate executive speaking with lazy employees. He kept the action lively and his irony brought plenty of laughs. After two hours of Improv, my sketch was finished. I decided to head out to the street with the second audience and head home.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lace Makers

Terry and I returned to the Mennello Museum of American Art for the second day of the Folk Festival. Our first order of business was to go in the museum since admission was free for the day. On display was "Style & Grace, which was a magnificent collection of paintings from the Michael & Marilyn Mennello collection. There was a large golden statue of Marilyn in a gorgeous long flowing dress in the room to the left of the entry. I felt a bit sad since she had passed away, yet this sculpture was beautiful as was all the art she collected. There were so many paintings from artists whose work I love and respect. There was a whole wall full of John Sloan landscape paintings and a Robert Henri portrait right in the entry. Robert Henri was a fantastic teacher as well as a painter. I studied his color theories in detail and he is still teaching me today.

On display in the gallery to the right of the reception desk was, William H. Johnson: An American Modern on loan from the Smithsonian Institution. Arranged chronologically, the paintings begin when he was a student in France as he experimented in different styles. His later work, started in Harlem, New York, showed his hard edged maturity. As Terry and I walked around, I pointed out how some of the paintings focused on important details in certain spots while letting bold brushwork fill the remaining canvas. This is something I'm just beginning to learn with my sketches. A lesson learned over hundreds and hundreds of sketches. She let me know that it is this kind of insight into the process that she appreciated me sharing. I need to learn to share my thoughts verbally more often.

Before going to the Mennello, I brought Terry to Avalon for a couples Valentine Tarot Card reading. My aura was bright yellow with a candle flame flickering. Terry's aura was filled with presidential figures. Between us stood a totem pole. Two column of Tarot cards were dealt out with one card between at the top. Terry picked the column of cards closest to her. She was blown away by her reading. Things said about her mother were spot on. My column had the death card in the mix. That implied change is coming my way. The common card between us was a heart pierced by three swords.

In college, I copied a painting of a Lacemaker by Vermeer in the first painting class I took as a freshman. Perhaps for this reason I decided to sketch Peggy and Anne as they clicked their small wooden bobbins, creating intricate lace patterns. A small lace pattern was started on a red pillow on a card table and occasionally Peggy would coach someone on the intricacies of the craft. A young Spanish man sat down and tried his hand at the Mundillo process, Peggy coached him calmly. She said, "I've been doing this longer than you have been on this Earth." When she saw my sketch she said, "I've never been sketched before doing what I love to do."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Crooked Road

At the Mennello Museum Folk Festival music stage, Crooked Road played its blend of Celtic folk music. Natalie Doyle was on piano, Kathleen Cavanagh on pipes, Vicki Gish on fiddle and Scott Vocca on banjo. A slender wisp of a girl did Irish dances to the music, kicking her feet up with her arms straight at her sides. Mothers and their children played in the grass. It was a cool and very windy day. The large mobile sculpture in bright reds, yellow and blue moved slightly in the breeze. Children clamored up on Its cement base and tried to crawl through the hole in a blue shaped pyramid. One of the artists tents started to take flight and people rushed in to help keep it grounded. As I walked past the artist was ripping off the tent panels until only the skeletal structure remained.

When the band finished playing, Kathleen told me that I had to add the bands new byline, "We prevent murders." Vicki explained. A woman had gone to their concert and she had been having a really bad day. She approached the band after and said, "I was ready to murder someone, but after listening to your music, I feel great!"

Friday, February 17, 2012

Kids Day at the Folk Festival

The Mennello Museum Folk Festival was three days this year. The first day on Friday was set aside just for kids. I arrived in the early afternoon to see what was going on. The place was quiet with a small encampment of white tents set up under the overcast sky. I decided to lean against a flag pole to do a sketch. Dawn Schreiner and her husband, Eric, arrived to set up her tent. Dawn did the poster for this year's festival with a nice painting of Earl Cunningham whose folk paintings comprise the main focus of the museum's permanent collection. I always look forward to seeing Dawn's colorful and whimsical work.

Genevieve Bernard pulled up in her VW Bug and she explained to me that there were about 50 school children running all around that morning. Ibex puppetry was there with puppets from "Panther and the Crane." Frank Holt, the museum director, pointed out that there was a new puppet of a manatee. These puppets were life sized and a few children were scared, but when they were allowed to touch the puppets they were OK. There were crafts activities using recycled cardboard. Kids could paint a Valentine heart or lace a cardboard disk with an intricate pattern of yarn.

Unfortunately my mural was hidden by go carts, cars and mobile storage units. Very few people attending the festival would ever know it was there. Regardless, I made my way through the maze of machinery and signed the mural with a sharpie above the list of school children and parents who had helped. It rained lightly when I began the sketch but never hard enough to force me to run for cover. Then the sun came out and I sweated and baked since I hadn't thought about shade. When the line work was done, I walked about ten feet back under the shade of a live Oak tree. I'm looking forward to seeing "Style & Grace". These paintings are from the private collection of Michael & Marilyn Mennello. I saw them when I visited his home and they are from some of my favorite "Ash Can" artists, like John Sloan, Robert Henri and George Bellows.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentines

On Valentines Day, I had to work in the evening from 6pm to 1am at Full Sail. That late night shift meant I wouldn't be able to take Terry out to Dinner. I also needed to figure out a daytime event to sketch. I looked in the Arts Fest booklet and the only event I could find was an exhibit at the Holocaust Museum in Maitland. Somehow, sketching at a Holocaust Museum on Valentines didn't work for me. I decided at the last minute to call Terry at work and ask her if she would like to meet for an early dinner at 3pm. She met me at the Grand Bohemian.

The Grand Bohemian main dining room was being decked out with red table cloths and linens for the evening's festivities. We were offered a table in the bar area. Terry had accepted the fact that I had to work late and didn't expect any special Valentines treat. When I called, she realized she did appreciate the chance to spend time together. The orders took a long time to come out but we relaxed in the midst of a busy work day. Terry was hungry and her order came out first. We shared her dish of eggs and ham on a thick slab of toast until my chicken dish came out. The waitress put on an extra piece of chicken to make up for the wait. My dish was delicious with a sweet caramelized glaze and plump potatoes with greens.

A woman at the bar was showing off a new line of flavored vodkas to the bar maid. As we finished our meal, the bar began to fill. Several of Terry's co-workers sat at another table and ordered drinks. Late afternoon employees in business suits drifted in from work. The sun light sweeping in through the windows got warmer as the sun set. I kissed Terry goodbye and she marched back to her office in high heels, a bright red blouse and a vibrant black and white stripped skirt that looked like it just came off a model's runway.

I trudged back to my truck to head off to work. I had an hour to kill so I stopped into Avalon Gallery to look at a group show of watercolors from members of the Central Florida Watercolor Society. I brushed past work that was too pedantic and sweet but I did find some inspiring work. I studied a rough landscape by Ken Austen, and I really liked a painting called "American Craftsman" of an old Orlando home. I learned a thing or two from the paintings on display, leaving me itching to splash some color around. Jeffery Shonkwiler, the gallery director, was seated with Donna Dowless in the cushy gallery seats. Donna is Orlando's ambassador of love. Much of her work incorporates a heart shape. As I left, Donna said to me, "Beautiful day, isn't it?" I replied, "It sure is!" Walking towards Lake Eole I realized it truly was a gorgeous day.

Walking around Lake Eola, I stopped at the swan boat dock and realized, that I had to sketch. The light was golden. Couples walked out on the dock in a constant stream. No one used the black mini Venetian Gondolas. As soon as a swan boat returned to dock it would fill with another loving couple looking for adventure. A black and white swan swam near where I was sketching. A couple was shooting photos. The boyfriend suggested to his girlfriend that she get a shot where the swans necks formed a heart shape. She waited behind the lens for that magic moment. The white swan reared up in the water flapping its wings. It honked loudly and then lunged forward at the black swan, snapping it's beak. The swans weren't lovers, they were two males competing for territory.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Charles Eisenstein on Sacred Economics

Charles Eisenstein, the author of Sacred Economics, gave a talk at the Timucua White House. Harlan Wallner got on stage to introduce Charles. He stood there for a long while beaming. He said he had planned a long time on how he might introduce Charles but instead he just wanted to smile. He said, we were in for an enlightenment.

Charles stood at the very edge of the stage his toes reaching towards the audience. He began by saying, "This is the first talk I have given at the White House." Which broke the ice with laughter. Behind him two spot lights created a heart shaped pool of light on the painting in the corner. I began by sketching that pool of light.

He outlined how our society today is surrounded by product, not true nourishment. Most people feel that community is missing from our lives. Money tends to block us from the natural expression of our gifts. Community is something that is woven from gift relationships. In ancient societies, wealth was a matter of how much you shared. If a hunter brought down a large catch, he couldn't eat it all himself before it spoiled. He would share the catch with the community. Today, financial independence means you don't need others. The dissolution of community to a shallow consumer society relates as well to the high number of divorces today. Community comes from creatively producing together.

Existence is a matter of giving. Our default state is gratitude. The world is a web of gifts. Growing up we accepted the gifts of our parents. When we are older we seek to give those gifts in return. Joint consumption doesn't create intimacy. Only joint creativity and gifts create intimacy. Anything we do has significance. Perhaps our society doesn't place a high monetary value on someone sitting with a person in hospice. But a shared moment of forgiveness at the end of life has an immense value. How will that change the world?

Look for gifts in the unspoken. Bow in service to what you need to create. You have to be in service of something. Everyone wants to live a life of meaning. Something wants to be born, to be created. It's light will bring up pain. You might think, "It's impossible" or "I'll be left behind." Pay attention to that pain, give it space, then move past it. The logic of the heart wants to be of service. Love is the felt experience of connection to another human being. An economist feels, more for you is less for me. But a person in love knows that more for you is more for me as well. If you love someone, then their happiness is your happiness. Your sense of self expands to include others. That is a different kind of revolution. We want to create a more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible. A sacred world. A world that works for everybody. A world of peace. "You can't evict an idea whose time has come."

After the talk, I spoke with Dina Peterson who had recently lost her job and is considering moving to Indiana. Regardless, she wanted to buy one of my calendars. I was touched. I realized I only had a single dollar bill in my wallet. Rather than take the money, I suggested she "gift" the money to Charles. I felt good knowing I had made a contribution. When she came back, she said she felt rich being able to give the extra cash to the speaker. This was our shared experience in Sacred Economics for the evening.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Yoga Matrix

Terry planned to go to a yoga class with Sarah Austin. Sarah was running late so Terry didn't take the class. It was an oven in the place and she decided that she would rather go home and relax. Terry and I used to go to yoga together several years ago. At dinner, Terry asked if I would like to go to yoga again with her. I agreed.

Yoga Matrix (7601 Della Dr. Suite # 5 at Dr. Phillips Marketplace) is right in our neighborhood. We went to a Saturday morning Hatha Yoga class being taught by Edely. We entered the studio through a back door. People were crowded into the small office. More people arrived and crowded in. A Yoga class was winding down and they were in a quiet meditative state so we all remained silent. When the prior class let out, we shuffled in. There was square shelving for our shoes and socks just like in kindergarten. The room is kept at a comfortable 76 degrees.

Terry and I ended up placing our bright pink mats right in front of Edely who faced the full room of participants. Edely has an adorable accent that made me feel I was practicing some exotic ritual. "Yoga is about undoing, shacked out your legs until they are relaxed." When we went from downward facing dog to a position where we sat back on our heels and leaned forward with our forehead on the mat and our hands spread above our head, my head started to swim. I was dizzy. I shook off the sensation as we went into warrior poses. Warrior poses involved keeping our arms extended as we reached towards opposite walls. In grade school, I remember this being a form of punishment as the teacher asked us to keep our hands extended until it hurt. My aching neck muscles tensed.

My favorite part of yoga is when we lie down and relax at the end. Edely asked us to imagine a point of bright white light inside our skull. All my muscles were "relaxed". Calming music filled the room. Someones breathing deepened sounding like they were asleep. For the rest of the day, my shoulders and neck ached. I still don't know if this is a good or bad sign.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Human Library

The Human Library at Urban Rethink was brought to Orlando by Tisse Mallon. She asked 30 or so individuals to act as "Human Books." I was asked as well, so I packed a few sketchbooks in my bag and headed down to Urban ReThink. The Human Library is part of Arts Fest and therefore free to the public. When I arrived, Tisse gave me a Library Card which I had to fill out with my name, the title of my "book" and a brief description. The sketchbooks I brought along were filled with "incidents", which are cases where I was asked to leave an event because sketching was considered inappropriate. The library card was then placed on a board for people to "check out".

I wandered upstairs to start my sketch. A video was being shot of someone relating their story and I slipped quietly by. Seats in Urban ReThink were arranged in pairs with a number labeling each discussion space. I was told to prepare a 20 minute "book" so I knew about how long I had to sketch each person. Some "human books" talked for much longer than 20 minutes. A reader expecting a short story might find they were offered an epic.

Myk Freitag was the first person to check me out. We sat upstairs and I related my stories about Anarchists at Lake Eola, getting kicked out of the Holy Land and Needless Markup. I should have timed myself because I felt like I rushed certain story points. I'm not a person to stretch out a story. Regardless, he seemed pleased enough. With my stories told, I returned to my sketch. One fellow had a whole photo album and was wearing a sports uniform. His story lasted a long time. Tr3 Harris was relating a story that involved a knife. He handed the knife to his reader and she admired its length. I really wanted to learn more about his story.

Dance choreographer Linda Eve Elchak arrived and she cleared an area on the carpet. A beautiful dancer began to interact with Eve. Their bodies stayed connected as they moved gracefully. The dancer leaned back and Linda shouted, "I got you!" The movements were improvised and required trust. My sketch was done and I decided this was the human book I would have to check out. Linda's library card read... Communication Without Words, using improvisational dance to communicate. Linda and I sat Indian style facing each other. She told me to place my palms against hers. She knows I'm an artist and she suggested I close my eyes to heighten my other senses. She had a blind fold but we didn't use it.

She moved her hands and I followed. Her hands moved in fluid quick arcs and she always offered enough pressure so I could follow her lead. She told me to lead and my hands moved but with a stuttered deliberateness. She asked me to loosen up and feel the flow. My hands started moving rhythmically, fast then slow, a jazz improvisation of motion. She shouted, "Now your speaking to me!" The next conversation happened as we sat back to back. She asked me to follow as she rocked on her hips. Then I lead the "conversation" rocking gently at first and then the motions build in a spiraling motion upward. From the seated position we rose sometimes just arms touching as the action and widening arcs guided us up. It was thrilling!

I checked out Ryan Price who spoke to me about Open Innovation. Netflix offered a one million dollar prize to anyone who could improve the types of movie suggestions offered by 10%. Coders from around the world collaborated to solve the problem. In the end Netflix got more than it bargained for. The results were raised by more than 10%. Ryan is helping organize a Drupal Camp where participants hack for a cause. Hack is another way of saying modifying code. Not all hacking is evil.

After this book, I relaxed in the conference room for a bit. I had been checked out 5 times that day. There were snacks for the books, so I grabbed a few cookies. At 6pm I went to meet Terry at the Abbey to watch the Superbowl. Walking over, I bumped into Brian Feldman who is leaving town soon. He spoke about a paper and ink book he wants to see created called "Digital Feldman Analog Thorspecken." He was on his way over to the Human Library. I told him the books were just lounging around and he should check a few out. The Human Library is happening again on February 19th from 11am to 7pm. Stop in, check it out and learn from our community's limitless potential.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Orlando Philharmonic Sneak Peek

This is the 20th anniversary of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. A sneak peek event was held at the brand new Full Sail Live facility on 436 and University Boulevard. The event was for Friends of the Philharmonic and the Press. I made the mistake of putting my Full Sail lanyard around my neck thinking it would make me blend in. It must have made me look like a lost student instead. One of the women at a reception table asked if she could help me. When she realized I wasn't lost, she offered me a press pass.

All the front row seats had purses, programs and persons seated in them. A string quartet was playing and I decided I should start sketching right away. I wandered back stage a bit and sat down in my artists stool to sketch. When the music stopped, David Shillhammer, the executive director of the Orchestra, addressed the crowd. The 20th Anniversary season will kick off on September 29th with Mahler's Symphony # 3, the Pastorale Symphony. On October 13th "Wicked Divas" will hit the stage with Andrew Lane conducting and Broadway stars Alli Mauzey and Nichole Parker singing songs from Wicked, Gypsy, Chicago, Ragtime and Phantom. November 17th Bronfman & Beethoven will come to the Bob Carr. Yefim Bronfman will perform on the piano. Local composer Stella Sung will unveil a new piece commissioned by Lynn & Chuck Steinmetz, the recipients of the 2o12 John Blackburn Distinguished Service Award.

David Shillhammer made an announcement that Sharon & Marc Hagle donates $750,000 that morning to the Philharmonic. This was the first gift towards establishing a family foundation endowment fund to continue endorsing the orchestra going into the future. The Bryce West foundation also supports the performing arts in Central Florida. Harriett Lake is Sponsoring "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying." This show about corporate ladder climbing will be on May 11th at 2pm and 8pm Saturday.

Opera is being kept alive as the Philharmonic joins forces with the Florida Opera Theater Company to stage, Rigoletto on March 2nd & 4th, The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart on November 9th & 11th, and Madam Butterfly by Puccini on April 5th & 7th. Frank McClain is directing these productions which are semi staged featuring the music by having the orchestra onstage as the actors sing. Cirque De La Symphonie on March 30th at 2Pm & 8pm Saturday sounded thrilling. Featuring the music of Bizet, Saint Saens, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak and others along with acrobats, contortionists, jugglers and strongmen. Aerialists will sour overhead as the orchestra offers suspense.

For the first time the Orchestra will be collaborating with the Shakespeare Theater to bring "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to like. There is also "The Summer Series", "The Focus Series" and "My Funny Valentine" featuring Michael Andrew & Swingerhead on February 9th. There is plenty happening as the 20 year old Symphony forges forward into its mature years.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

15 Views of Orlando

I was asked to exhibit several of my sketchbooks at Urban ReThink. The opening was on the Third Thursday in January and the work will be up through February 16th. Artists include Barry Kirsch, best known for his Murder City Photography, Ashley Inguanta, whose local photography had a surreal edge to it, Lesley Godeck Silvia, who had a bright neon ice cream swirl photo that looked great next to my sketchbooks. All the work depicted scenes from the City Beautiful. The two sketches of mine on exhibit are, Musical Mondays, and There Will be Words. Dina Mack, the curator, explained that she wanted work with a local flavor to accompany a Burrow Press' 15 Views of Orlando Book Release Party. The book features 15 short stories written by local authors. All of the scenes in the book happen in different neighborhoods of Orlando.

Dina invited me to bring along a box of calendars to the art show opening. Urban ReThink is a bit removed from the downtown galleries that act as the hub of the monthly Third Thursday Downtown gallery hop. Dina and I sat outside Urban ReThink and she had a natural knack for inviting passers by inside to look around. Ashley was there to meet anyone interested in her work. Her pieces were hung clothes line style and they were very affordable. One young man expressed his interest in buying a piece. He insisted that she would have to frame the work however. Quite honestly the frame would cost more than she was charging for the art. I rolled my eyes. He was probably haggling because he was more interested in the artist than the art. In my sketch, Patrick Greene, Dina Mack and Ashley Inguanta were relaxing in the "living room" setting at Urban ReThink. I sketched fast with few interruptions since few arts patrons wandered in.

The gallery was a ghost town. A few people glanced at calendars but they couldn't afford the $12 to buy one. The highlight of the evening for me was meeting Heidi Behr and Mark Egeland. Mark owns a bicycle manufacturing facility in Winter Garden. He showed me a few photos of the process and it would be an exceptional sketch opportunity. There are seven stations from metal entering the factory until the final product rolls out the doors. These are seven sketches I now want to capture. Who knew that bicycles are being made right here in Central Florida? Heidi is involved in Scooters for Hooters, a breast cancer fundraising event. We talked about how I might get more involved in this cause this year.

Friday, February 10, 2012

David M. Roth

Folk singer David M. Roth performed at the White House. Artist Ed Sanderson stood in the corner and did a quick impasto landscape painting as David played. Ed was one of the first visual artists to paint live at the White House and he had returned several times. Davids mellow tunes all had uplifting hope filled lyrics. What made the performance special for me was the way he wove his family history into monologues between his music. His father came to this country to make a better life for his family and he had hopes that his son would one day be a success as a doctor or lawyer. David did find success doing something he loved and sharing that love of music with others.

David was asked to perform at a NASA conference and he suggested in an off hand way that he could write a song especially for the occasion. Months passed and he forgot about the promise, but the organizer called him right before the conference to let him know how excited she was to hear his song. He panicked but just happened across an article about Sputnik, the first Soviet satellite. That mysterious orb sent fear into every American heart and the space race began. His inspired song pointed out that if future explorations were fueled by love rather than fear, then we could accomplish anything.

A race to the furthest star
A race to the galaxies above
If a little bit of fear can go so far
Imagine what a world could do with love

The song he wrote was later taken into space by a shuttle astronaut. When he told his father the amazing news, that his music was orbiting the earth, his father asked, "So how much does that put in your pocket?"

Later when his father was sick and in Hospice care, David would sit bedside and play his music for him. His father wasn't very responsive, slipping in and out of consciousness. As David was leaving hospice with his sister, he suddenly had a feeling he had to return and speak with his father. He asked, "Are you aware that I have been playing music for you?" His fathers eyes flickered open and he said, "Yes, it is beautiful." Rob was a bit choked up as he said, "That was the only time he acknowledged that he liked my music." A few days later, his father died. When Rob thinks of his dad, he always has that moment to treasure.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Titanic of Trees

Cole Nesmith and a small group of dedicated artists have been working on an interactive sculpture called "Tree of Light." The tree's inner structure is made of light weight aluminum welded together. Cole and Josh Owen had screwed hundreds of wooden boards, from discarded pallets onto the aluminum frame. The resulting tree must stand at least 20 feet high and must weigh several tons. It was a marvel of engineering. When I first sketched it, I referred to it as the Titanic of Trees referring to the shear size of the sculpture. Cole laughed. The tree's unveiling was scheduled for February 2nd in Seaside Plaza on the corner of Church Street and Orange Avenue downtown.

On the evening before the unveiling, Cole and Josh worked all night long to get the tree built. A short interview done at 3:3oam that night showed the Tree of Light nearing completion. On the morning of the unveiling however, I got a Facebook message from Cole on my wall, "Unfortunately, due to damage to the structure this morning, the opening has been postponed." I wondered what happened. Had a car hit it? Did the whole trunk just topple? I decided to drive past Cole's place to see if they were doing work on the tree in his yard and then I drove downtown to Seaside Plaza to see if the structure was being fixed there. The only hint that the tree may have once been there were some orange cones and a small strip of electrical wire. The Tree of Light had vanished.

The next evening I went to an Orlando Philharmonic concert and Cole was there as well. He informed me that the owners of the plaza had called him the day before the tree was to be set up to express concerns they had about letting him place the art in the plaza. Though they had doubts, fearing litigation, the tree was erected anyway. The tree was near completion and the electrical wiring was being installed. Chris Clatterbuck was on a ladder working on the wiring. He shifted his weight and leaned on a branch. The welds gave way and the the heavy branch of aluminum and wood crashed loudly to the ground. No one was hurt. The owners of the Plaza now had their worst fears justified, so it is unlikely the tree will be set up there. They probably imagined someone gently pulling a chord to turn on a light bulb and then being crushed by a falling branch. Now that is interactive art!

Cole lamented the fact that he had contracted out the welding work for an exorbitant fee, and it was the welds that gave way. He said, "It was a punch in the gut when we lost the branch that morning. My greatest concern is that we'd lose the momentum we had gained. But, in reality, the pictures and video we got are actually generating more excitement than before. I have an architect working on a 3D rendering of the Tree right now. After that, we'll be handing it off to a structural engineer to approve the changes and make sure we don't run into this again. Then back to the metal shop to make the changes. My hope is that we'll have it up before the end of the month."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Phoenix from the Ashes

Sixty five years ago, Bill Palmer's grandparents first established the Palmer Feed Store at 912 West Church Street in Parramore. The business was passed down from generation to generation as the city of Orlando grew and developed. I remember driving past several times when I was sketching the Police Equestrian Unit heading downtown for a parade. I heard chickens clucking in front of the store. The place had a nostalgic feel.

On March 28th of 2011, the Palmers got a phone call in the middle of the night. The store was on fire. There was a firehouse only a block away and firemen smelled something burning and began patrolling the neighborhood. They called in the blaze. Bill rushed to the store. He could see the flames from many blocks away. An electrical socket had caused the blaze which burned out of control. It was a two alarm fire with chemicals and fertilizers feeding the intense flames. Everything was lost. The computer which had all the costumers and years of information was burnt as well. They had backup disks but they were also on site and burnt. Anything below the one foot high mark only had smoke damage.

Michelle Palmer related how over one hundred friends, neighbors, costumers and bible study group members showed up after the blaze. There were tears of hopelessness but friends held them and volunteered to begin moving things out of the burnt shell. Although overwhelmed by the monumental task of starting all over again, they found that assistance and unexpected aid kept them moving forward. When she got home after that first day, she found that friends had left flowers on her kitchen table. She still gets choked up just talking about it.

The fire occurred right after their peak inventory time. They had to pay off inventory that had been burned while trying to start fresh. Once the burnt product was moved out to the yard, the Palmers drove a mobile home into the parking lot and they sold items like dog food, bike tires and insecticides to local residents who relied on them. The first new product to arrive at the store were fresh green vegetable plants.

Friends and neighbors shared their gifts and talents to help the Palmers rebuild. Doors opened that they didn't know existed. They were told to apply for a grant from the City of Orlando and they got the grant. Thankfully the walls of the building were structurally sound. The front porch was rebuilt to look just like it did in 1947. Michelle was a full time mom before the fire, but now she is helping built and shape the business as they move into the future. The family had to re examine their hopes, dreams and passions. Merchandise that didn't move is no longer being stocked. They are carrying more organic insecticides and more modern, sustainable farming practices like hydroponics. She said the store plans to “honor the past while embracing the future.”

Folk art is now gracing the walls of the store. Behind the checkout counter there is chicken wire framed in reclaimed wood with photos from the store's long history held in place with wooden clothes pins. Each clothes pin has the year that the photo was taken written on it. A 500 pound concrete chicken will soon be perched in the yard next to the store. Michelle is now searching for rusty hand saws to decorate the store clock, and old vintage Orlando post cards.

Michelle and her family feel blessed. Friends and neighbors offered endless gifts and emotional support to keep her family's spirit lifted after the fire. The love shown was overwhelming. The outpouring of community support is something that has changed her family forever. Now she wants to give back and share the same gift with others. The store is celebrating its Grand Opening on March 3rd. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Buddy Dyer and a City Commissioner. A local neighborhood choir will kick off the event and there will be music all day. There will be a food truck and free product giveaways. This business is back and better than ever.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ruby Darling

The dressing room at Theater Downtown is small and cluttered. The walls are covered with actors signatures from shows throughout the years. The mirrors are mounted on a wall with exposed two by fours. Odd items like plastic doll's legs and birds were also stapled to the walls. All the visual chaos left me wondering where to look.

Ruby Darling, the mistress of ceremonies for the Vaudeville show sat down to get her makeup done. She had a duel leveled lime green make up box filled with theatrical makeup. Her hair was already beautifully shaped to give her a vintage 40's era look. The hair style contrasted against her Led Zeppelin T-shirt. High heels were clustered here and there on the counter. A box of "light gloves" would probably be used in one of the acts for the Video Game themed show that would follow right after the Vaudeville show let out. They are now gearing up for a Burlesque Mega Show on Friday February 17th, 10pm, at Sleuth's Mystery Dinner theater during Megacon!

Susan Woodberry was putting on pasty green makeup and spattering blood on her clothing for her part as "Little Sister" in the Portal themed video game show. I wanted to sketch but I was also nervous about going on stage to do my sketch. I paced around and peered through the thin translucent red curtains to see the acts proceeding the circus act. The audience was having a blast. From back stage we clapped and laughed the loudest.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Video Game Burlesque Rehearsal

Rehearsals were running late at Theater Downtown. After the Vaudeville acts had been rehearsed, the second show, a Video Games Burlesque was run through. Chan Sterling worked as the MC in a white lab coat, a deep grey ascot and big black rubber boots. Ruby Darling appeared at the end of the runway in a sultry black and white dress that came down tight at the knees forcing her to walk like Morticia from the Addams Family. 0n the day of the show, she would be entangled in wires and deliver a menacing monologue. I'm not sure what video game the scene is from, but the burlesque dance that followed was easy enough to understand.

Jolie Hart and her boyfriend cuddled in the front row. Jolie performed an amazing high energy retro dance routine that had her gasping for air when she burst back stage. The blood covered chair at the end of the runway was for Cory Violence and Shy La-Buff's Bio-Shock burlesque number. Shy wore a strange bunny's mask and wore a tattered green dress that Violence would later rip off her in shreds.

My favorite number of the rehearsal was when Ruby Darling sang "Soon or a Later" to Nekkid RoboJoe. As she sang she got some Duct tape and taped him to the chair he was sitting in. When the number was over, she dragged him off stage. This routine would certainly have the audience roaring.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Vaudeville Rehearsal

After a full run through of all the Vaudeville acts, rehearsals started on the second show on the bill, a Video Game themed burlesque. Shy La Buff and Corey Violence had a number based on a creepy game called Bio Shock. The two of them share sensual sips from a syringe full of Adam, a blood like substance. Seductively Shy pushed Violence back into a chair. He ran his hands up her legs as she dug her high heel into his chest. They were rehearsing in the Lounge of Theater Downtown while the other burlesque numbers were being rehearsed in the main theater.

Of course I had intended to get Shy interacting with Violence but as soon as I sat down to sketch, the director had notes and they didn't continue rehearsing. I gave up on the idea of including Shy, so now it looks like Violence is relaxing in the lounge. I was distracted as well because my tablet PC had crashed that morning. Damon Natch Burke, my tech guru wasn't sure of the problem yet. I needed the tablet to do the quick digital sketch of Poodle Murphy on target for the knife thrower. For this rehearsal, I brought a video camera and tripod, hoping I could shoot video as I did a traditional sketch but I was missing a video connector. I tried to set up the equipment in the dark but failed. I needed the tablet. I sat sullenly on the stage, much like Violence is sitting in the sketch. Being unable to perform, I felt like so much ballast.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Vaudeville

Thanks to Shy La Buff, I found myself as part of a Vaudeville act at Theater Downtown. The lobby of Theater Downtown felt like a large cluttered living room. There was a pool table in the corner and a small piano in front of a makeshift stage. Theater posters and large photos littered the walls. I didn't see any theatrical sketches. I planted myself in a comfortable leather seat. Actresses arrived one at a time, listening to iPods and swinging their hips.

There was a rehearsal wrapping up on the main stage so, Ruby Darling started blocking out the Circus act of which I was a part. Cory Violence stood in the center of the red carpet and began reciting "Live Circus" by Tom Waits. He had to read the lines off his iPhone at first but soon he was off script.

Every actress in the room was soon recruited to be in the act. Ruby herself became One Eyed Myra, the queen of the galley. Cherry Bob-omb took the role of Horse Face Ethel and her 'Marvellous Pigs In Satin'. She wore a dark beard and moved with a dancers grace. A-manda Lorian had a petite frame draped in an over sized mans outfit. The floppy hat was a size too large and it always kept half her face hidden in shadow. She swayed and staggered like a drunk sailor. She reminded me of a feminine version of Charlie Chaplin. Siber Digit was Yodeling Elaine the Queen of the air. She moved with languid and heavy depression having lassoed and lost another tipsy sailor. Shy La Buff was on target as Poodle Murphy. She held her arms high and arched her back so I could sketch. Chan Sterling as Funeral Wells stood prepared to throw his hardware. He tested the sharpness of the blade with his thumb.

I only had five minutes to do the sketch on my digital tablet hooked up to a projector. I had to plan everything out in advance so I could finish in time. Each knife was on its own layer in Sketchbook Pro, so when Violence shouted, "Leave the bum!" I could flick a knife layer on and it would appear on the sketch. No physical knives were thrown only digital hardware.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Day 99 of Occupy Orlando

It had been 99 days since demonstrators first Occupied Senator Beth Johnson Park on South Ivanhoe Boulevard. The 99% planned to celebrate the 99th day with free music in the park. The crowd was sparse, perhaps forty people but their spirits were high. There were setbacks but their voices were not silenced. I sat down and sketched during the sound check. Someone had a bunch of those New Year's Eve noise makers. A car alarm went off and there was a call and response that happened where the alarm would sound and then the demonstrators would follow with the noise makers. There was a festive atmosphere, a feeling that this was an important anniversary. I felt good being among people who were passionate about the Democratic process.

I stayed for the first set. The performer with the Greek hat and orange shirt sang folk songs about the 99%. The sun was getting low on the horizon and the warm light made dry pine trees down by the lake glow a warm orange. Shadows grew long on the lawn. Photographers wandered about shooting photos. When the music stopped, the sketch was done. It is encouraging that voices are still being heard. I packed up and hiked back to my truck on Magnolia. Time to get back to the grind to try and make ends meet. The 99% are still standing strong.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Albannach

I heard a commotion at the other end of the grounds and I headed that way. I grabbed a vanilla ice cream cone since there was no line. The gas powered churn sputtered and the belts shook on the machine making ice cream the old fashioned way. I cut through crowds at the craft vending tents and I finally stood at the top of a large bowl shaped hill. Hundreds and hundreds of people lounged on the hill, some in camping chairs and others seated in the grass. The Music tent was set up at the base of the hill and as Albannach played, children danced.

I stood eating my cone and scanned for a spot I could sketch from. I walked behind the tent where little boys were playing with their dull toy arrows. A woman in a Scottish dress walked back, her breasts hoisted high with a corset. I found a spot right next to the speakers where I leaned back and sketched. Albannach's music is energetic and sparking full of life. My lines danced quickly full of the music's energy and drive. Drum sticks twirled and moved with such speed that they were just a blur. There was something primal and raw about the performance. People on the hillside started to dance. Children spun in front of the stage until they became dizzy and fell. A drummer shouted out, "I'm thirsty!" When a woman walked down the hill with a cold pint of beer, the audience applauded.

I was buzzing when the performance was over. I knew that experience could not be topped so I decided to hike back to my truck to get home. I bumped into Sarah Purcer who is now engaged to Marco Bojorquez III. Her step daughter who is maybe 10 years old shook my hand. It was obvious they were having a great family day out. Time to get home.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Her Majesty's (Scottish) Forces

I went to the Scottish Highland Games up in Winter Springs. Terry didn't want to go, so this was a solo mission. The games were more crowded than ever this year. Police waved my truck along until I was just about in the next town over. I parked behind a MacDonald's and hiked the half mile or so to the entrance. A blood donation truck was offering a pint of beer for a pint of blood.

The air was filled with the sound of bag pipes. I ran into Chad Bruce and Dana VanZandt who were perched on a hill top overlooking a medieval Scottish encampment. Chad was smoking a pipe which he said, indicated that they were upwind of the cow dung and downwind from the smell of the food vendors. He blew a puff of smoke that drifted behind them. I walked to the food vendors since I was starving, but the lines were too long.

Rather than watch the caber toss or sheep throw, I immediately went to the tent village full of family clans. There was no Thor Clan. I'm pretty sure there was some Scottish blood on my mother's side of the family. Even if there wasn't, I figured I'm Scottish enough for the day. What caught my eye was the World War II weapons on display with His Majesty's (Scottish) Forces in Florida. The sergeant standing in front of the table became curious about my sketch and he informed me that he was an artist himself. It was a difficult spot to sketch since people kept stopping right in front of me to have long chats. The Reenacting Unit was representing the 51st (Highland) Division and the 5th (Scottish) Parachute Regiment.