Monday, April 30, 2012

Women in History

Candy Dawson from Altrusa International, invited me to sketch a fundraiser for Pace Center for Girls. Pace is a nationally recognized prevention program for adolescent at-risk girls. The program understands the impact that gender responsive prevention services have on decreasing juvenile crime and in helping adolescent girls turn their lives around. The program integrates social services, education and career development in an individual manner. Pace is recognized as the most effective program in the country for keeping adolescent girls out of the juvenile justice system.

The fundraiser featured the usual silent auction items. When it was time for the main show, a valiant effort was made to get the women to stop shopping and quiet down. The girls from Pace had been rehearsing for weeks on this show. They were each dressed as a woman from the past and they had lines about how they helped forge and shape history. Candy introduced “The Supremes” with a flourish. Rather than the singing group, girls came out in black robes. They were the first women who were elected to the Supreme Court. Abigail Adams came out in a gorgeous white lace dress. Amelia Earhart came out in a vintage leather flight jacket. She forgot her lines but was helped out before she crashed and burned. Chief Warrant Officer Mia Perdue of the US Army spoke humbly of her service overseas. Her ship was the first at the front lines when the U.S. became involved in Iraq.

I was told afterwards that the girls didn’t have much confidence going into the show but they all rose up to the challenge when it was show time. I thought they seemed like seasoned actors. It warmed my heart to think theater could offer such an important lesson in Confidence to these girls from Pace.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dog Powered Robot Rehearsal

Dog Powered Robot is gearing up for action at the Orlando Fringe Festival in May. Rehearsals are happening twice a week at the Jewish Community Center. When I arrived, the cast was standing in the center of the room in a circle. There were lots of new faces indicating that the show would be bigger than ever. An actor got in the center of the circle and started acting like an orangutang. Once people started to laugh, he walked back out and stood in the circle. The person who laughed first had to stand in the middle. He acted like a giraffe, regal and slow. He looked over at an actress and started to curl his long tongue the way giraffes do. She couldn't help but laugh. So she was next. I laughed non-stop since I was safely outside the circle.

 This evening was to be devoted to choreographing several dance and fight scenes. Darci Ricciardi was in charge of the choreography. Katie Green, the DPR director asked all the froggers to rehearse their part right after the dance scene. The scene was run multiple times without the costumes. I drew all the actors in pencil and was about to ink them in, when everyone was told to "suit up".  Lollibot, played by Serafina, wandered bewildered. She came upon this gang of deviant froggers lead by a  frog with a large fedora and a cigar. Grace "Scully" Nolan was high above everyone else on her stilts. The head frogger entered the scene between her stilts. Part of his his costume got caught on her stilt. They had to stop the scene and untangle him. "Good to know!" Katie shouted, "That's why we rehearse." "I was so excited when I saw his head made it between my legs!" Scully shouted back. Everyone started laughing till they were red faced.

Christie Miga sat beside the director working non stop on a moving set piece. Evan Miga entered the scene as Dog Powered Robot when needed but he didn't suit up. New ideas playfully sparked up throughout the rehearsal. Fisher, the dog behind Dog Powered Robot, kept track of everyone. Some robots are still being constructed and refined at the Dog Powered Robot Labs.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

ReFresh

ReFresh was a two-day art sale giving local artists an opportunity to showcase their artwork as well as providing art lovers with affordable, original art. The event took place at the Orange Studio, (1211 N. Mills Avenue) on Saturday April 21st and Sunday April 22nd from 11:00am - 5:00pm. Food trucks, including KBurgers, Fork in the Road, Yum Yum Cupcake Truck, Gastro-Truck, Fro2Go, and The Flattery will be on site during the event.

The Orange Studio is a cavernous one story building which is used for photo shoots. The last time I was there, Voci Dance was performing a Valentines themed show. There were three food trucks in the parking lot behind the building. The back door to the Orange Studio was open so I walked in. All the walls had framed artwork neatly framed and hung. I had expected an informal fair like setting but was pleased to see the work hung gallery style.

There were large three foot photo prints and splashy serigraph prints that depicted the start of a marathon and the Prix de France. Orit Ruben is the one Orlando artist who's work I recognized. She does pastels of the nude figure. There were quite a few very large abstracts, both warm and cool. I was surprised I didn't recognize more of the artists. I didn't linger too long. I wandered back outside and decided that the food trucks were the main attraction at ReFresh. The Gastro Truck seemed to offer cheesy delights. Some people ordered food and never went inside to see the art. No one ever seemed to order anything from the Gourmet Flatbreads truck. The Fro-2 Go Truck did a brisk business. Even the woman taking orders at the Gastro Truck ordered a Fro-Yo. I hope there are more places that will open their doors to artists like this.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Way of the Cards


"The Way of the Cards" is a new play written and directed by Aradhana Tiwari. It will have its World Premiere tonight at 8:30PM in the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, Mandell Theatre (812 E. Rollins St, Orlando). I went to a tech rehearsal a few days before the opening. Aradhana welcomed me warmly and introduced me to Tom Mangieri, the set designer. This was the first time the cast saw the set, so stage manager, Brenna Nicely, gave them a walk through. Apparently the steps could be hazardous. The set wasn't complete yet, but the sink had running water. Everything was a bit off kilter, giving the domestic scene an unsettled feeling

Aradhana said to the cast, "Don't let the largeness of the space take away from your power." She pushed the actors repeatedly to project to the back row. As the scenes were rehearsed, she moved to different seats in the theater, getting a feel for the scenes from all angles.  She handled the music cues from her iPhone.

The play is about the dysfunctional Arlington family. Tip, played by Anthony Pyatt, narrates the plays opening, structuring his narrative around a single hand of Texas Hold ‘em. He teaches cards in order to relay the most tragic hand of his life. He spends much of the play munching cereal trying to remain disconnected from the drama swirling around him. His mom, Sass, played by Kate Ingram may have been the “First Lady Of The Vegas Strip” at one point in her poker career, but now she is simply a tired hack who plays on a riverboat. Tips sister Tally, played by Olivia Richardson, tried to bring some order to the home but she never could fulfill her absent mothers expectations. The youngest member of the family, Lucky, played by Gabe Patrick, dreamed of someday being a "Mechanic" which is someone who knows how to cheat at cards.

Sass needed to convince Lucky that cheating at cards was disrespectful to the game. "In life there are players and there are dealers, you don't want to look back and wish you had played a hand. The way of the cards is in the people that hold them. There is always some sucker hoping there is a special card that will save the day." "Don't worry mom, I'll earn my wins." Lucky replied.

This is a powerful heartfelt drama born right here in Orlando. Get out and experience this show for yourself. Be a player, not a dealer. We all have to work with the hand we have been dealt.

When:
April 27th through May 6th
Fri 4/27- 8:30PM
Sat 4/28- 8:30PM
Sun 4/29- 2:30PM
Mon 4/30- 8:30PM Industry Night
Thu 5/3- 8:30PM
Fri 5/4- 8:30PM
Sat 5/5- 2:30PM(Matinee, no night show)
Sun 5/6- 2:30PM

Cost:
General Admission: $15
Industry Night: $10 (Guaranteed seating with previous reservation, we are also offering a walk-up admission of pay what you can, it's not guaranteed seating, but you can pay whatever you want!)

Time:
Fri/Sat/Mon- 8:30PM
Sun/Sat(5/5)- 2:30PM

For tickets and more info: Visit PlayTheMoment.Com.
(Tickets are now on sale )

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Creative Village


The old Amway Arena was imploded at 7am several weeks ago. I didn’t get up that early to see the devastation, but a week later, I drove past the site as I was weaving my way through side roads to avoid a back up on Colonial Drive. A large banner declared the wreckage to be the “Creative Village” and I had to sketch the ironic sight. The wind caused sheet metal to flap sounding a bit like thunder. Clouds of dust rose and danced among the exposed beams. The four corner structures remained intact with dark red interior stairwells looking like bloody eviscerated flesh.
I enjoyed the Orlando Magic games I saw in this arena. I never understood why an extra large arena had to be built to house a basketball court. But what is done is done. According to a site online, The Creative Village will be a magnet for knowledge workers to live, work, learn and play – a place where high-tech, digital media and creative industry companies integrate with residential, retail, and academia in a neighborhood that is connected to the surrounding community and plugged in globally. Innovative in its architecture, thoughtfully mixing living and working spaces, the Village will be designed to enhance the lifestyle of creative people and become a supportive, business-friendly environment in which digital media and related companies can thrive. Hopefully the Creative Village will live up to its name, but for now, it looks like a war zone.
I had a wrapper from some peanut butter Girl Scout cookies in my art bag. Half way into the sketch, an ant bit my leg. I slapped it off and looked around to be sure I wasn’t sitting on a fire ant mound. I noticed ants swarming around my bag. I pulled out the wrapper which was now covered in ants and I disposed of it. Slowly the ants dispersed but some still chose to bite me occasionally.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Acoustic Eidolon

The Timucua White House hosted Joe Scott and Hannah Alkire who are a tour-de-force of acoustic music, described as “World Music for the Soul.” In February 1998, Joe Scott and Hannah Alkire founded Acoustic Eidolon. What began as a musical adventure turned quickly into a life adventure, for both Hannah and Joe. Joe described how he builds his own double-neck guitjo. He described the intricacies of designing and playing this one of a kind instrument. His long impassioned description was followed by, "Oh, yea, Hanna plays a cello. Hanna and everyone else laughed.

It might have been fate or destiny that brought these talents together but this couple from Colorado had a unique and heart felt sound. Hannah told a story about how she checked her cello in with luggage for a United Airlines flight and what she got back was splintered and destroyed. United never accepted responsibility for the damage. Scott wrote Hannah a song called "In Your Cathedral" of condolence for the instrument which she called, her lost voice. It was the first of many love songs. This couple who made beautiful music together eventually got married on October 14, 2001. Hannah wrote a song called "Hurricane Hannah" that expressed the whirl wind of emotions as she searched to regain her voice. A cello repairman had a large slab of wood that came from the same tree Hannah's instrument came from. The repaired cello had just as rich a sound when repaired.

Terry, my wife arrived late, but when my sketch was done, she sat beside me and rested her head in my lap.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

View from Ivanhoe

When I was at the Palmer Feed Store Grand Opening, Brian OHalloran suggested I do a drawing of the Orlando skyline from a spot on the far side of Lake Ivanhoe. There were no big events going on, or I just didn't know about them, so I drove to the spot he suggested after I got off work at Full Sail. It was a quiet suburban neighborhood off Princeton near the Shakes, OMA and Science Center. A street circled the lake and the homes had this wonderful view from their front yards.
There was a park bench, so I sat down and started sketching. The sun was setting so the light grew warm. The quiet peaceful scene was shattered for a moment by a speed boat pulling a water skier. A cormorant swam by on the near shoreline. I felt completely relaxed. Now I know why artists do so many landscapes, they don't have to worry that people will move or just walk away.
Yesterday at the Florida Film Festival I saw an animated clamation film called "Venus". In the short, a young couple, Caroline and Rasmus, had a passionate relationship, but years later find that they haven't made love for over four months. Rasmus feels they can remedy the situation by going to a swinger's club. Caroline is reluctant to go and embarrassed. She is about to leave alone, when another woman in the locker room describes the thrill she feels when men lust for her. Caroline looks at herself in a mirror, then goes back inside and meets a man seated alone who is a bit shy himself. They quietly, then passionately make love. In the meantime, in another room, Ramus finds he can't perform. Embarrassed, he looks for Caroline and finds her in the throws of passion with a crowd watching. Rasmus sees how beautiful she is and when they get home, the passionate spark is re-ignited between them. This is a very European ending. In America if you knew your partner was with another man, it would end the relationship.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Relay for Life

Marilyn Wattman-Feldman suggested I go to the Sanford Zoo to sketch the Relay for Life. My wife Terry arrived before me and I looked for her in the crowd. Tents were set up in the area in front of the zoo entrance where the zip lines are set up. There was a makeshift stage set up and I noticed a llama wearing a diamond studded tiara. A radio personality asked all the cancer survivors to come forward and stand in front of the stage. A large group of survivors, all dressed in purple T-shirts stood in front of the stage. There were young and old alike, people from all walks of life.

The Relay was an all night fundraising walk. The first lap was for the survivors lead by Clarissa the llama. The announcer didn’t realize Clarissa was a llama. “It wasn’t in my script!,” he shouted and he laughed. I saw Marilyn among the survivors as she did the first lap. Children were selling wristbands with passion. Terry and I got some bratwurst for dinner and we watched the girls make up new chants as they tried to sell the wristbands.

For $5 you could go on an evening tour of the zoo with a zoo guide. Marilyn said that the animals were more active at night. Guests were given flashlights with red gels which wouldn’t disturb the animals as much. We saw kangaroos, gators, a porcupine and some monkeys but most animals were either very well hidden or they were backstage asleep. After the tour, Terry left and I started searching for a sketch. I settled on this young zoo employee selling stuffed snakes and letting people know about the zoo tour. The snakes were cheap, like $3, and she sold quite a few. As I started putting in color, the lights all went out. I thought there had been a power failure, but someone finally explained that there was going to be an hour of silent remembrance for friends and family who had died to cancer. Paper bags with candles inside were placed all around the relay track. Some bags had photos of loved ones and many had loving tributes. Even the girls selling bracelets quieted down. It was a solemn, quiet time. The lights all flickered on, and the carnival-like atmosphere resumed. I splashed colors on my dark sketch, losing the gorilla and rhino in the dark of the night.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jane Goodall

Anthropologist Jane Goodall gave a talk at Rollins College about her research into the behavior of chimpanzees. The talk took place in the Alfond Sports Center. I arrived an hour or so early. There already was a huge line of people waiting outside to get in. Lauren Bradley, the PR Director at Rollins met me at a side door and she was gracious enough to help me find a seat with a good line of sight. The first two rows of the bleachers I decided to sketch from were reserved for the ushers and staff, so I sat in the third row and got to work.

Ushers were dressed in black and they had a meeting with the Fire Marshall before the doors opened. He wanted to be sure that everyone remained seated once they got inside. Student seating was in the bleachers across from me and of course VIP seating was up front on the floor of the basketball court. The doors opened and the crowd rushed in. Just about every seat in the cavernous room was filled. Footage of baby chimpanzees flashed on the screens.

Jane was announced and she stood at the podium with quiet dignity. She spoke with a sweet British accent as she recalled how she ended up pursuing her life's dream. Jane read, "Tarzan" as a child and she imagined herself in the exotic jungle setting. When she was even younger, she wondered how a chicken could lay an egg. There was no hole big enough! She sneaked into the hen house and waited there for about 14 hours. Her mom didn't know where Jane went, so she was sick with worry. Finally a hen layed an egg and Jane rushed to her mother to share the experience with her. To her mom's credit, she didn't chastise her daughter. When she saw the look of excitement and wonder in Jane's eyes, she put aside her worry and listened. When Jane first went to Gambe in what is now Tanzania, her mother joined her, and encouraged her, since it was close to impossible to find or get close to the primates in the beginning. Sadly her mother left right before the moment an alpha male chimpanzee accepted Jane. The rest of the chimps then decided that, if he accepted her, then she must not be a threat.

Jane encouraged everyone to go to see "Chimpanzee", a Disney nature documentary that opened in theaters April 20th. If you see “Chimpanzee” the week it opens—April 20-26, then for that one week only, Disney Nature will contribute 20 cents per ticket to the Jane Goodall Institute to protect wild chimpanzees. The funds will help, protect their home—the tropical forest, educate the next generation and Care for orphaned chimpanzees.

Jane spoke about how similar chimpanzee's are to humans. It was assumed, back when she began her research, than only humans used tools. She found that chimpanzees not only used tools, they created tools. Both chimps and humans display sorrow, grief, joy and paternal love. She was shocked to discover that, like humans, chimps have a dark side. Humans are better at spoken communication and yet they are destroying their own resources. The environment is being destroyed for the next generations. Jane began a program called Roots and Shoots, which encourages children and young adults that they can take steps to help make the world a better and more sustainable place to live.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Earth Day at City Hall

In the plaza in front of City Hall there was a small Earth Day Celebration with about ten tents promoting conservation and green initiatives. There were two large circular plague where all the world land masses were covered with green grass. Terry was there with her co-worker Sy. She picked up a free green earth day reusable shopping bag. In the Orlando Wetlands tent there was a baby alligator in a blue tub. People could hold the gator while having their picture taken in front of the Earth Day plaques. Red flowers decorated the edges.

There was a miniature golf course with bleach bottles and other garbage as the sand pits. Half full water bottles were being tossed into a recycling bin as a carnival game. New energy efficient light bulbs to a new totally electric car from Nissan were on display. There is now an electric outlet for a car right on Orange Avenue outside City Hall. The same gray electric car has been plugged in there the two times I've walked by. Todd Morgan was there representing Comprehensive Energy Services. I know Todd for his work with Harmonious Universe which helps brighten the town with colorful interactive murals. Anyone can help in the painting so long as they can hold a paint brush.

It started to rain as I was sketching so I rushed under a palm tree for some cover. Mayor Buddy Dyer walked out of City Hall and paused to look at the makeshift Earth Day Celebration, then he walked across the street toward the Grand Bohemian with two other men in suits. Be sure to stop by Lake Eola today to see all of the activities throughout the day.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Search for the Holy Grail

My wife, Terry, agreed to meet me at the Florida Film Festival to see the Animated Shorts. I got to the Enzian a little before Terry and ordered an Orange Blossom Pilsner. There wasn't anyone in the box office so I sat at a table and sipped my beer, watching people as they arrived. I waved hello to Kim Robinson from the Mennello Museum. She sat down at my table and began knitting the tiniest baby slipper I have ever seen. She had seen at least ten films already although she stopped keeping count. She essentially takes the week off and sees all the independent films she can. A line started forming for "Single Ticket Holders." I wondered out loud if there was a line for "Married Ticket Holders." Kim decided she had better stand in line so she could get a good seat.

Terry arrived and she checked with the box office. The Animated Shorts program was sold out. A woman in blue was at the head of the "Standby Line." We sat down in the second and third standby spots and waited. The group of people behind us all knew each other. Director Sari Gilman approached from the Eden Bar. She recognized these long lost friends and her face lit up. There were hugs and a quick flurry of conversation as they tried to catch up before the line started moving. Sari is a film maker from San Francisco. Her film "Kings Point" is about the need for companionship and the difficulties of growing old in America, of being alone. Terry and I looked at each other and our eyes grew large. Sari spends most of her time alone in a dark room cutting and editing scenes together. Between screenings of her documentary short, which is half an hour long, she hopes to promote the film. Promoting the finished product is difficult for any artist. The film is being screened one more time on April 21st at 1pm at the Regal Park Village. I will not have a chance to see it since I have class that day.

The line started moving and we made it into the Enzian Theater in Siberia at the back of the theater. An announcer asked someone from Lure Design to stand up. Lure was the sponsor of the Animated program. She then thanked Full Sail and asked Full Sail staff to stand. I remained seated. My favorite animated short was "Notes on Biology." With stop motion jitter, children entered a classroom, sitting at their desks. Notebooks are opened, some neat and tidy and some a mess. A student starts animating a wheel turning as the teacher drones on about Biology. The notes spark to life when he draws a robot elephant. I learned a new word, ectoecology, which is how an organism abopts to its environment. A Film Festival staple, Levni Yilnaz, entertained with his "Random Observations about Sex." Animator Bill Plimpton was in the audience and he had two shorts in the show, my favorite being "Summer Bummer".

After the screenings, there was a free screening of Monti Pithon and the Holy Grail, outside on the brand new inflatable movie screen. The thing looks something like one of those inflatable kids romper rooms or slides. I've actually never seen "The Holy Grail", so I was excited. The film had already started and the hillside lawn next to the Enzian was packed to overflowing. I sat right next to the screen, and looked up the hill at the audience. I couldn't really see what I was doing but at least I caught an impression of the couples lying on blankets enjoying the show. Terry found me and shouted in my ear that she was going to go. That morning I had my heart carved out with a dull knife. Luckily, it was just a flesh wound and my hand can still put marks down on a page. I finished the sketch in no time flat since I couldn't see any detail. I looked up at the thin elongated knights on the screen which billowed in the wind. A few drops of rain fell and I left before the movie was over. Someday I hope to see the whole film.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

To Kill a Mockingbird

As part of the Florida Film Festival there was a free outdoor screening of "To Kill a Mockingbird" in Winter Park's Central Park. The film is 50 years old, which makes us both the same age. I drove to the park straight from Full Sail when it let out at 5PM. The movie wasn't going to start till around 8PM when it got dark. That left me a whole lot of time to sketch before the movie started. I invited my wife, Terry, to the screening but she was swamped at work. She then changed her mind saying she would meet me for a drink or dinner. I started this sketch to see how far I could get before she arrived. When she did arrive, I abandoned the sketch and we looked for a bar or restaurant. We ended up eating at a Tai restaurant a block away on Park Avenue. The price for a cup of wine was too high so the idea of a drink was abandoned. I ordered Pad Tai and I didn't particularly like the dish. I had 3 cups of Coke so I would be buzzing like a humming bird when I returned to finish the sketch.

Film Festival staff and volunteers were on the stage setting up the portable movie screen. A series of aluminum struts were pieced together as the outer framework for the screen. Several ropes were threaded over the band shell roof supports and the ropes were pulled tight to raise the screen. The vintage black and white movie was actually a DVD which was inverted and then projected onto the back of the screen. When my sketch was done, I moved closer and watched the movie from backstage. A policeman, two stage hands and later a waitress were the only other people who watched from this vantage point. On the Central Park lawn, couples had picnics with wine and candle light. It was actually chilly and I rubbed my bare arms for warmth.

When the 14 year old Atticus Finch was given a gun by his father, he was told that the urge to shoot at birds would become too great. He could shoot all the Blue Jays he wanted, but he should never shoot a Mockingbird. "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy... but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

It felt good knowing this film about racism and courage was being shown in Central Florida. When I first moved here over 17 years ago, I went to a counter demonstration, because the KKK were demonstrating at the Jewish Community Center in Maitland. I ended up face to face with the Grand Master or Poo Bah, whatever he was called. He held a huge can of mace, aiming it at my face. Angry, I muttered, "Go ahead." There were a few police on hand and it would have been nice to see him arrested. Turning the other cheek doesn't always work but never throw the first punch.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Olive Garden Italian Cinema Night

This Florida Film Festival staple tasting night has become a beloved ritual for Festival attendees. The tasting reception was preceded by "Marriage Italian Style", with Sophia Loren, inside the theater. People arrived at Eden Bar for a tasting of Italian treats and delights courtesy of festival supporter Olive Garden Italian Restaurant. Film tickets were $10 each. The tasting reception was complimentary.

I arrived an hour early to block in the sketch composition before the crowd got too thick. I ordered a Orange Blossom Pilsner and sat at a metal table on the sidelines. Volunteers at the Festival this year are wearing bright red shirts that say "Scan me", with a giant QR code on the back. One volunteer weaved through the crowd with a questionnaire to find out where Festival attendees came from and how much they planned to spend. Another woman approached me and asked if I had a program yet. I didn't, and I assumed she was going to give me the one she was holding. She had a program and was given a second one. She wanted to sell me her second program, I declined.

Mary Ann De Stefano arrived and she was kind enough to get me several tiny sampler plates. There was a crispy toast with crushed tomatoes on top, a sharp white cheese and some olives. As people arrived there were hugs and compliments. After the tasting there was going to be a screening of "Dead Dad" which is the premiere feature film of FSU student, Ken Adachi. Ken developed an urge to complete a feature length film while working primarily in short formats. New to Los Angeles with limited funds, he and his collaborators embraced a grassroots approach and worked tirelessly to make it happen. The result is "Dead Dad", Adachi’s feature film debut. I believe that Ken, his family and friends were at the table next to mine judging from the hearty congratulations.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Artist

It was a crisp cool evening when I went to see "The Artist" at the Enzian Theater. Since I arrived early, I decided to get a beer at the Eden bar before the screening. All the propane space heaters belched out their blue and yellow flames that then turned the protective grid a bright orange.

Couples slowly arrived as I sketched and I quickly worked them in so my sketch didn't look too desolate and cold. Invariably people seem to look at their phones more than they look at each other.

"The Artist" was a magnificent black and white film that harkened back to the age of the silent movies. The male lead, named George Valentin, looked just like a young Walt Disney. He was charming and absolutely at home as a star in the silent films. His dog who also made appearances in the silent films was just as much of a ham.

Peppy Miller, a young actress trying to break into the film industry has a chance encounter with him and there were sparks and instant chemistry, they both loved dancing and putting on a good show. The talkies brushed silent movies aside and the George's career floundered while Peppy rode the new wave. The entire film was silent and it flowed wonderfully, not missing a beat. The one line at the end of the film felt just as iconic as "Rosebud" from Citizen Kane."

Anyway, the Florida Film Festival is running now through April 22nd. Be sure to get out and rub shoulders with some of the amazing directors and producers from the crop of this years films. It is ten days of film, food and fun. Sadly, like George Valentin, I seem to be out of the loop this year but I will try and get a sketch if I can.

Monday, April 16, 2012

McRae Open House

I always like visiting other artist's studios. Several times a year a McRrae artist Studios in Winter Park opens their doors to the public. This warehouse space is split up into sections to accommodate a variety of artists. Above the entry was a Christmas Reindeer decoration with two strategically placed red Christmas ornaments. Larry Moore's studio is right up front and he had some wonderful large oil paintings on display of other artists at work in their studios. They were absolutely inspiring.

I feel a little uncomfortable sketching when there is an open house. I decided to sit outside in a lawn chair that had been set out to keep people from blocking the entry. Julie Koran who I once mistook to be the curator at the Tiffany museum was waiting on some friends. A police woman asked if I was in charge. I had to explain that I was only sketching. She marched inside the studios to see if she could find someone who was in charge. The studio opening had drawn quite a crowd and people were parked up and down the side streets near the event. Julie trailed the officer, the trouble was that some of these cars were in no parking zones and others were parked with the wrong wheels towards the curb. Getting no answers inside, the police woman started writing tickets. It would be a banner day generating plenty of income for the city thanks to the arts. Thankfully I was fine where I parked, although I was ready to sprint ahead of the officer leaving my sketch if there was a need.

Don Sondag has been doing some wonderful nocturnes and he gave me information about a once a week plein air evening painting outing. I think I'd like to try that. Since Florida is so hot, painting at night makes plenty of sense. I explored all the studios and there was plenty of inspiring work. Outside, Bistro Babes food truck offered up dinner options. I ordered a "Mother Clucker" simply because it was fun to shout out. The lady taking my order feigned shock. The chicken sandwich tasted great. Food trucks rule.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Downtown Credo


Credo Coffee House is located in the heart of College Park, right across from Taste. I went to sketch one evening after work but I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to draw inside before it closed, so I sat across the street to sketch the building. What is unique about Credo is that you pay what you want for your coffee. I listened to the founder of Credo speak at a TEDx Conference and he gave an inspiring talk about how any individual can make a difference to improve the community.
Half way into the sketch, I realized I didn’t have any water in my brushes. I had used up all the water the night before. I realized I’d have to fill the brushes at Credo. I went inside and paid $1 for a cup of water, then I realized I would spill water everywhere If I tried to fill the brushes by pouring water from the cup. The young woman behind the counter filled the brushes I gave her using the sink. I left my untouched glass of water on the counter and rushed back across the street to finish the sketch. Downtown Credo is the open door to make an impact for good. The business of coffee is one place where things aren’t what they ought to be: big companies, bigger profits, exploited workers. They’re doing what they can with downtown credo coffee. They’re running the donations only coffee shop at 706 Smith St. in College Park, and you can buy coffee to brew at home. You won’t find a better tasting coffee or one that makes a stronger impact for good. The coffee is shade grown on the rugged and remote hillsides of the Ixil Triangle in the Quiche region of Guatemala. This area, once ravaged by a 36 year civil war, now produces a treasure, Cafe de la Esperanza. Grown and sun-dried at 3,500 to 5,000 feet, Cafe de la Esperanza is a sweet, citric coffee with balanced body and acidity. Each coffee plant is hand-cultivated and every bean is hand-processed at “Finca La Perla.”
It was the golden hour, just before sunset and the light grew more orange. Posters for local events filled the front window. I have to return someday and try the coffee. Funds raised go to a good cause. The credo reads, “Life is worth living. I refuse to merely exist. I pursue a life of meaning and purpose, fulfillment and joy. The world is not yet as it ought to be. Neither is my city. Neither am I. Yet, I reject apathy and despair. I engage the world, my city, and myself to make an impact for good. I am not alone. I press through narcissism, isolation and self-sufficiency striving to live in authentic community.”

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Flamenco

Inside Casa Feliz, I hear feet stomping and hot Spanish music. People were seated in the intricate old wooden chairs facing the dancers who were in front of a bay window facing the back. A large sheet of plywood had been dropped on top of the Casa’s floor boards. It was a full house, so I decided to slip through the kitchen to a side room. That looked in on the dancers. Unfortunately several other people had same Idea. This still offered the best view, so I started sketching.

The woman in the fiery red and black dress was performing a solo dance with castanets. Three of the dancers were students of Alborea Entertainment. The other man and woman were the teachers. Besides teaching flamenco, Alborea teaches, Bolivian Folkloric Carnival dances, Persian dances, Belly dance, Bollywood, African Rhythms, folkloric Mexican dance, Latin Rhythm and Fusion Rhythm. They perform at private parties, educational programs, theater productions, television programs, corporate events, and conventions.

Artist Bernie Martin stopped in and sat on the floor close to the stage. The man in front of me kept shooting photos and the woman seated at the same table did the same occasionally. Between performances, I was still splashing color on the page. A female artist introduced herself. I was still distracted, as I was getting close to finishing my sketch. She has been going to Casa Feliz every week and sketching the performers. She asked my advice on how she could improve her drawings. I took a sheet from her sketchbook and made suggestions on how she could use perspective to improve on what she was already doing. She knew of the Urban Sketchers site and of Analog Artist Digital World. As she left, she said E was her artist muse. That was definitely the best compliment I got in a long time. I feed good knowing that the next time she sketches, she will have the compositional tips I offered as a new spring board. I admire her tenacity in returning to the same place to sketch each week. Over time it could become a great series of sketches.

When my sketch was done, I went back outside to finish the sketch I started of Casa Feliz’s exterior.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friends Meeting And Spring Fling

The Friends of the Orlando Philharmonic had an informal meeting hosted in the home of Lael and Duncan Wahl. People were standing out in the sun room and living room and the meeting was in full stride. The United Arts Campaign was the item on the agenda. The next item was a call for volunteers for the friends gift show which is set up in the Bob Carr lobby for each concert. There wasn't a mad rush of new people wanting to volunteer.

Upcoming Friends of the Orlando Philharmonic events include...
On September 29th there will be a Philharmonic 20th Anniversary Season Opening Night Gala at the Sheraton Downtown, starting at 5:45pm. Tickets are $90 for friends and concert subscribers.
Symphony in HD will be a Concert Gala at Full Sail University on April 21 starting at 6pm. This event will be a unique marriage of music and technology. The $250 ticket includes a reception, concert, dinner, cocktails, silent and live auction s and a post-concert party.
Casino Royale will be an evening of gambling at the tables for a good cause. This event hosted by Connie and Roy Brand will be at Villa Conroy starting at 5pm. Tickets are $60 for Friends members.
This year's Jeans and Jewels gala goes Hawaiian at the Winter Park Garden Club, Mead Gardens starting at 7pm. This is the Friends most popular party. For $65 Friends members enjoy plenty of music, cocktails, great food and fun.

After the meeting, Nicolay Blagov, the principle clarinet player for the Orlando Philharmonic performed several stunning solos. Friends gathered in the living room, lining the walls, crowding in the hallway, and sitting on the couches. Some friends even sat on the floor to soak in the music closing their eyes in a reverie.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Casa Feliz

Every Sunday, from 12pm to 3pm, Casa Feliz in Winter Park hosts musical events. I’ve sketched here before and honestly it would be a worthy spot to sketch every week. I arrived early on this weekend when Alborea Dances was going to perform flamenco. It was a gorgeous, cool day, so I decided to walk around the old historic home. For the first time I slipped under an arch into the back of the building. The sun blazed bright on the brickwork and there was a large shady oak tree under which I decided to sketch. There was only half an hour or so before the flamenco dancing was to start inside, so there really wasn’t enough time to sketch. I couldn’t resist and I started anyway.

Several people approached me to see what I was working on and they were both artists. Is everyone in Winter Park an artist? One girl arrived early for a wedding that was going to happen at the Casa that afternoon. She took a multitude of photos of the building and garden for a painting she planned to do of the building. Her eye was drawn to the bright colors of the scene. I suspect the painting might be a wedding present. A tail stately woman let me know that she had painted almost an identical view to the sketch I was working on. She lived right across the street and she went back to her place to get the painting. She brought back a panoramic three foot wide canvas. The painting was done in oil with a Burnt Sienna under painting which she wiped away the lights. She said she had forgotten to paint one of the chimneys but a fellow painter pointed out the apparent flaw and she added it back in. I let her know that we were on the same page doing panoramas, since I am often bringing out the panoramic sketchbook. She let me know that there was a plein air painting group that got together every week in Winter Park. I wish I had written down the information. All I remember is that they meet at Panara’s. There is another Plein air group that meets once a week in the evenings, and they do nocturnes of the businesses on Park Avenue.

Before I could start adding color to my sketch, I heard the Flamenco Music flair up inside Case Feliz. I couldn’t resist the draw of the music. I quickly packed up my supplies and then slipped into a back door to see what was going on inside. After sketching the flamboyant flamenco dancers, I returned to my spot under the tree and I started splashing in colors.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Artists@Work

First Thursdays, Third Thursdays, it seems like Thursdays are the only day that art happens in Orlando. Now on every Wednesday
artists gather in SODO to create art outside OLV Cafe (25 W. Crystal Lake St. Suite 175) which is located in that new Super Target street mall in SODO. The address is misleading. I walked down Crystal Lake watching the numbers get smaller. I found out that the restaurant is located half way around the block inside the shopping area.

When I arrived, Parker Sketch was setting up his work area. He was setting up right outside the entrance and I immediately knew that I had to sketch him at work. It was getting near sunset with the sun just an inch above the Super Target. I wouldn't be adding any color until it got dark. The square canvas Parker was working on once depicted a blue meanie. The canvas changed quickly as he applied paint straight out of the tube or jar. A pink mass began to take the form of a splash. When that paint dried, blue was quickly layered on top. Zinc white was layered over the background and later a light ocher was slapped over that. It was a delight to see colors and forms change so quickly. He is working on a series of paintings that depict splashes which ties into the splashy spattered look of his playful work. He pointed out that he couldn't sling paint quite the way he could in his studio because no matter how big a drop cloth he used, the paint would always find a way to get on the pavement or brick work.

Parker organizes a monthly Artist critique session and he is pivotal in getting people together to make and talk about art. He said that he promotes other artists because it helps elevate the Orlando art scene. If there is a vibrant art scene then that helps him. His reasoning is identical to the reasons I often give for why I report on the arts scene daily. It was Parkers Facebook announcements that had me out sketching at OLV and considering what a great time I had, I'm bound to want to go back. What artist wouldn't?

Parker let me know that artists can get a cup of wine for free when they worked outside the restaurant. Now that is a true motivational perk! I ordered a tall glass of Pino Noir. It was sweet and tasty and helped keep the lines flowing. In all about eight artists set up and worked the evening I stopped by. A mom was out walking her toy dog with a girl friend and her two children. After they admired my sketch "It's righteous", they started talking about how they would have to come back. They liked the bohemian vibe of being around artists. The mom was being flirted with most of the evening. Her ten year old daughter took an interest in what I was doing and she wanted to play, so I gave her a sheet of paper and let her borrow a brush. She eventually filled the sheet with vibrant colors which is essentially what I was doing. Another artist hard at work.

Kelly Stevens,who organized Nude Nite each year, was there having dinner. She stopped over and thanked me for putting Nude Nite in my 2012 Event Calendar. We discussed the months of work that goes into the show and perhaps I will get to document the behind the scenes process more this year. inside at the bar, Todd Morgan and his wife, Laura were having a drink. Todd founded "Harmonious Universe" which does murals with the help of anyone willing to pick up a brush and help. I sketched the progress of a mural done in the beer garden behind the Milk Bar down in the milk district. I found out the restaurant was closed and that entire wall was white washed.

D.J. Mo'Negro
was mixing music outside right next to the entrance. I was tapping my foot to the beat. Parker pointed out that one beat reminded him of "Time keeps Slipping Away." Once I heard it, I couldn't help but sing the lyrics out lout. Parker and I were both singing as we painted. Late in the evening the DJ started mixing frenetically. Parker shouted out, "Stop punching buttons!" The toy dog started barking at the D.J. He shouted back, "What?" He stopped the music and the barking stopped. Once he flipped the music back on, the dog started barking again. I shouted out, "Everyone's a critic!" Shortly thereafter the D.J. started packing up.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Downtown Pour

I was invited by Jesse Newton, the director of operations and partner at AURA bar & restaurant, to sketch the downtown pour between two and six p.m. Parking was hard to find in the neighborhood around South Eola Drive and Central. I dropped my wife Terry off near the event then wandered up and down the blocks looking for an open space.

The event was surrounded by fencing and each opening had a guard. Since we were trying to get into 101 South Eola Drive rather than the free booze on the street, the guard let us in. In the lobby of the building, the guard was hesitant to let us up to the fifth floor. After a phone call, we finally got into the elevator.

There is a pool, bar and lounge on the fifth floor and twenty somethings relaxed soaking up the sun. There was just one spot which gave a decent view down the street. A potted tree offered partial shade. Terry was arranging to get our press passes and she decided to go down to the street while I sketched.

Each tent offered free beer and liquor from different bars in town. People were given cups on lanyards that could be worn like necklaces. The Broadway across America tent had a Lion King poster. I texted Terry when the sketch was done and went down to the lobby. When she saw me, she shouted, "Downtown pour rocks!" She had been having a good time going from tent to tent.

She introduced me to the folks at the Orlando Weekly tent and she explained that a DVD of the movie "Tinker Taylor, Spy" was being raffled off and she just asked for it and got it. She told me I had to try a blueberry beer and I got in line at the red tent to get my cup and a taste. The beer was sweet and delicious, tasting more like a soda than a beer.

We decided to relax and sat on a curb. A guy dressed all in white said to Terry, "Looks like you found your other half. I saw you walk by before in those hot boots but then I saw your wedding band." The back of his shirt had a black dragon on it and it said, "Master of the grand dragon." Terry was flattered. We couldn't decide if he meant she was hot or just her boots. Either way, the compliment made her feel like a school girl. A little compliment can go a long way.

There was only drinks available for the four hours of the Downtown pour. We decided to get some dinner after I tasted a second blueberry beer. We walked up to a fish and chips restaurant right next to Urban ReThink. As we ate, people began to pour past the restaurant. Some were happy and a few staggered. The restaurant grew loud fast.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Printmaking Workshops for Adults

Work with “Artist in Action” Cara Pentecost, UCF Print Collective, in the Mennello Museum’s Printmaking Studio. A group of industrious UCF students helped Cara with the workshop. Inspiration for the workshop came from the large-scale work by artist Tanja Softic. In A Morning of the World, 2006, Softic pairs images from the natural environment with an image from the man-made environment to provide a study in contrasts. Using “tools” from nature, such as plants, we’ll emulate Softic’s soft, blurry flowers and branches to create personal prints of our own. Later, you might wish to add a photograph of a man-made object to complete your artwork. Enjoy wine and cheese as we enter the world of printmaking. Printmaking is not just for kids!

The exhibition of "IMPRINTS: 20 Years of Flying Horse Editions" was in the entry hall with three dimensional prints housed in glass cubes. Large prints were to the right of the reception desk and then the back gallery was converted into a working print studio. Students started by doing loose watercolors on paper. These watercolors were then used as a background for a collograph print. The collograph print plate was a sheet of corrugated cardboard. Creating the plate was an additive process. Faux plant materials were hot glued to the surface creating an organic floral pattern. Anna demonstrated the inking process. She used a rubber roller to spread the ink out on a plexiglass sheet. The ink took on a velvety look as the roller thinned it down. The ink was then spread onto the plate touching all the high points. When the prints were done, then were hung on two strings with clothes pins.

Wine and cheese was on the reception desk for print-makers and patrons. No previous experience is necessary. I actually think I might go back to experiment with the process myself. Cost is $12 per person. Each class will have a different focus, so join us for all of them if you like!

Other dates and times are as follows:
April 17th, 9pm - 10:30am with coffee and pasty
May 1, 6pm - 7:30pm with wine and cheese
May 15, 9pm - 10:30am with coffee and pastry
June 5, 6pm - 7:30pm with wine and cheese
July 17, 9pm - 10:30am with coffee and pastry

What a great opportunity to create art and treat yourself!
Call the museum to RSVP: 407.246. 4278

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Urbanized

Urban ReThink hosted a collaborative event between Rollins College Urban Planning Department and the Congress of New Urbanism. The room was packed full of scholars, students and urban planners. The evening began with a screening of "Urbanized" a documentary about urban planning. The film highlighted the pit falls and triumphs of how people use urban spaces. The success of bicycle transportation in cities that plan for and support such an efficient mode of transportation was highlighted. I remember reading once that Orlando is one of the most dangerous places to bike in America, but now bike racks are appearing here and there. I believe there is even a "bike to work day" once a year.

New York City was horribly designed because developers literally cut off access to the waterfront on all sides of the island. A rusty old elevated rail line on the lower west side was slated for demolition. Citizens banded together and the idea was proposed to turn the Highline into a park in the sky. The citizens won and an amazing vibrant green elevated park is the result. In contrast the film showed how a developer wanted to redevelop a rail yard in Stuttgart Germany. This project known as 21, involved building a modern terminus in which the rails would be underground. The problem was, the development would involve cutting down several hundred very old trees in an adjacent park. The city had suffered devastating destruction from bombings in World War ll. Fuel shortages meant people had to scavenge for anything that would burn to stay warm in the winter. No one even considered cutting down those ancient trees. With the trees threatened by the 21 Project, people demonstrated in force. The protests turned bloody when the first trees were cut down. The project was approved and financed. Citizens had mobilized to late.

As an art project, an artist printed name tag labels that said, "I wish this was." She posted these name tags on abandoned buildings along with a sharpie to get feedback on what people thought of the blight. In a talk back after the film a local suburban planner pointed out that the labels had little hope of affecting change since the buildings were abandoned. He pointed out that such feedback is actually beneficial when development is proposed. I was intrigued by the premise that the American dream of owning a suburban home on a 1/4 acre plot was actually a way to sell more cars. Rather than give up on the suburban dream, cars are simply being redesigned to be more fuel efficient. I need to bring my bicycle to the repair shop.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Toyota Prius Test Drive

My bright yellow 2000 Nissan Xterra has over 150,000 miles on it. I brought it into the dealership for an oil change and was given an estimate on repairs that was over $2,000. I brought the truck to Zembower's auto repair to fit a wiper that wasn't working. They gave me a similar price. Seems the CV joints on the front axle are broken which means grease isn't being kept in its proper place. They both suggested I replace the front axle. The Xterra gets 15 miles per gallon when it is in good shape. The price tag at the pump hurts each week. I do an awful lot of driving going from event to event to sketch.

The bottom line is I need a new ride that gets better gas mileage. Why not try and get the best possible gas mileage? I decided to test drive the 2012 Toyota Prius. I walked into the Toyota dealership on Colonial Drive and told the receptionist I wanted a test drive. She informed me that I was the first person to walk in that day without an appointment. I don't plan ahead much, I just act on impulse. A young salesman wasn't busy, so he walked me out to the lot to introduce me to the 2012 Prius.

He popped open the hood to show me the engine. I've never seen anything like it. It is part electric motor, part generator and part gasoline engine. A hybrid system indicator shows the flow of energy every moment you drive. I expected the interior to feel cramped compared to my large SUV, but I had plenty of head and leg room. It actually felt more spacious than my Xterra. I felt like I was seated in a shuttle craft with the digital data display and LCD on the center console. The tiny tires made me nervous and there is no spare tire in order to conserve weight. The advantage gained is a neat storage compartment under the floor in the back. The back seats were also more spacious than my truck and folded down, the seats lie flat leaving just enough room so I could lie down in back if needed.

The vehicle started up with the push of a button. The stick shift is more like a video game joy stick on which you gesture the transmission into forward or reverse. The small stick then returns to the central position. The ride was much quieter than the roar of my trucks off road tires. When we stopped at a stop light, the engine literally shut down to conserve energy. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. This was one high tech sexy (well, practical) beast.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Egg Hunt

Bill Stevens the Aide to Commissioner Patty Sheehan of District 4 sent me an e-mail informing me that Easter Egg Hunts are popping up all over Orlando. There two hunts on April 7th, The Colonialtown Neighborhood Association's Annual Easter Egg Hunt will take place at 9 am on the playground at the Neighborhood Center, 1517 Lake Highland Drive, and another at Lake Como in Lake Como Park at 10:30 AM. This sketch was done at an Easter Egg Hunt in Langford Park. That Easter Bunny seems to be everywhere at once. This little boy was searching for eggs around the picnic table I was sketching from. His mom helped keep him motivated but when he couldn't find any more eggs, he started to cry.

Photo opportunities were the main order of the day. The bunny waved incessantly as children scampered and ran around him. It must be hot in there. I don't know how people survive in the boiling sun dressed as Disney characters for the tourists. I once heard that Winnie the Poo was thrown into a bush by a gang of teenagers. What did Poo ever do to deserve that? There is no way they are paid enough for the sacrifice. A bunny might get an attitude. Happy Easter.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Palmer Feed Store Grand Opening

The Palmer Feed Store was established 65 years ago at 912 West Church Street in Parramore. 0n March 28th of 2O11 an electrical fire gutted the building. Bill and Michelle Palmer were devastated but thanks to the support of friends, neighbors, church members and long time costumers, they rallied and brought the business back from the ashes.

Days before the grand opening, a one ton, six foot high cement chicken was painted bright red adding an unmistakable new landmark to the Parramore business. The kids who painted the huge chicken got covered in paint themselves. The chicken is just one example of the many folk art touches that now grace the store. The grand opening took place in the parking lot next to the business. A stage was set up and a gospel singer was performing when I arrived. My goal was to sketch that one ton chicken but it looked lonely all by itself in the corner of the lot. Chicken hen houses lined the back of the lot full of doves, ducks and chickens. I sat behind the stage near the hen houses and decided to sketch the line of people waiting for some barbeque. A small grill puffed out sweet smelling smoke as burgers and hot dogs were flipped. Members of The Rock Church helped keep the food rolling off the grill.

I bumped Brian OHalloran and his lovely wife and child in front of the food truck parked in front of the store. Brian suggested I sketch a view of the downtown skyline from across Lake Ivanhoe and I actually did that sketch last night. There is a perfectly placed park bench with a gorgeous view of downtown. People were breaking down the sound equipment as I finished my sketch. The grill was dumped over and the coals raked into a metal garbage can. A teen touched the still hot grill lid. He shouted out and the two adults with him laughed. He wasn't burned bad. In a matronly tone, one adult said, "So, what did you learn today?" "Not to touch anything that is hot." the teen responded, then he laughed.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Political fundraiser for Martha O. Haynie

My wife, Terry, suggested I come out to sketch a political fundraiser for Orange County Comptroller Martha O. Haynie at the Abbey, (100 South Eola Drive.) The scene didn't look that much different than sketching in any bar except folks were dressed in business attire and they all had name tags. Martha was very cordial and introduced herself to me. She immediately found common ground with me when she said that she missed former United Arts CEO Margot Knight.

Terry arrived and waved to me. She moved around the room from one conversation to the next, meeting everyone as I sketched. Janet and Geoff Benge, who lead the Silver Fern Writing workshops sat down at a central table. Terry started attending these workshops after one of my sketchbooks was used as a writer's prompt. She sat with Janet and Geoff and the laughter grew louder.

As Comptroller, Martha keeps an eye on Orange County finances and she makes sure that money spent is accountable. This doesn't stop politicians from miss spending money, but it does mean their actions are accountable come election time. Marthe joked that it might not be wise to check the finances of the sheriff's department since they carry guns. She checked their books anyway. There is someone running against Martha in the upcoming elections so she has to be diligent in letting people know she is doing a good job. Her address to the gathered crowd was short sweet and to the point.

Terry was hungry, so she went down the block to Mucho's to get some takeout tacos. She returned with two boxes of tacos and we shared with Janet and Geoff. By this time, my sketch was done and most everyone else had left. Martha stopped over and she had a taco with us as well.