Sunday, September 30, 2012

Full Sail GPS


As a Studio Artist at Full Sail, there are certain classes that I am required to take. Dan Riebold told me about this class on GPS so I agreed to go. Most of the instructors hunkered down in the back row like deviant students. I sat in the second to last row with a fair view of the room full of instructors.

The GPS program was started after Full Sail students were sent to help out a local production company. Of the ten students sent to help, only two were considered hire able by the company. The students knew how to use the equipment, but they lacked motivation or that extra spark of knowing how to solve problems even before they cropped up.

When a student starts their studies at Full Sail, they are given 100 GPS points. If they are tardy they can loose 5 GPS points. If they fall asleep in a lecture they can loose points. Each teacher decides if point reductions are needed. On the flip side, points can be awarded if a student goes above and beyond by assisting other students or volunteering in the classroom or community. It was this community volunteering that perked up my ears as I imagine it might offer sketch opportunities and good human interest stories.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Jack Kerouac Project Yard Sale


Each year, the Jack Kerouac Project holds a yard sale to help bring new talented authors to the Kerouac House in College Park. Jack was living in this home with his mother when he found out his novel, On the Road, was being published. That novel shot him towards a fame he wasn't prepared for. He had to borrow money for the bus ride to New York to sign the publishing deal.

Now, every few months, a new author goes to the Kerouac House for uninterrupted time to write.  I like to meet and sketch the authors when I can. They usually have a reading of the work in progress which is a great time to meet the authors. The Kerouac Project is a real grassroots group that does an amazing job supporting authors by covering room and board during each authors stay. More importantly, they offer time which is a rare commodity in this day and age.

Caitlin O’Sullivan has landed for this year’s fall selection. She is currently working on The Kiss-Off, a historical novel about a small waitress in 1931.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Peacock Trivia


I decided to go to the Peacock Room following a lead in the Orlando Weekly that said there was going to be a trivia night. Believe it or not this was the most sketch able event that evening. Someone suggested I call such events Thor-Able. Anyway I arrived right after work, ordered a beer and started sketching the five or so other patrons. By the time I finished my sketch, I realized there wasn't going to be any trivia.

A Rob Leaman flower was outside on the sidewalk, a remnant of The Corridor Project. The bartender let me know that they had to take it inside several times when it rained. Some of Rob's day glow green branches were also above the bar. Art on the walls was all by tattoo artists. Some work looked like what you would expect to see on skin, but some was highly polished black and white oil paintings that I thought were great. One showed a rabid Easter Bunny attacking screaming children.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sunday in the Park with George


I went to the new Mad Cow, Blackbox Theater (54 West Church Street) where Lisa (pronounced Li-za) Buck was working on a huge set painting for Sunday in the Park with George. The painting was based on the large pointillist canvas now hanging in the Chicago Institute of Art in Chicago. The painting leaves out all the figures which will have the cast stepping in to fill the roles.

Lisa used long bamboo poles to hold her paint brushes. Painting was like an act of ballet with Lisa in constant motion. She had slated two hours to paint in the water. She was using old scenic paint which was chalkier than she was used to. This meant her brush dried out quickly with each brush stroke. This kind of forced her to work in s semi-pointillist manner. Overall she takes about 22 hours to finish a piece be it this large, or small. Lisa will be doing the set design for an upcoming Mad Cow production called The Road to Mecca.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sunday in the Park with George Rehearsal


The Harriet Theater stage was a blank canvas waiting to be painted. George Seurat, played by Matt Horohoe, turned away from Dot, played by Hannah Laird, to return to his painting. Dot followed him angrily as he climbed the ladder to work on his immense painting, The Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. She shouted at him, "Yes, George, run to your work. Hide behind your painting. I have come to tell you I am leaving because I thought you might care to know-foolish of me, because you care about nothing."
(George) I care about many things.
(Dot) Things-not people.
(George) People, too. I cannot divide my feelings up as neatly as you, and I am not hiding behind my canvas-I am living in it.
(Dot) What you care for is yourself.
"Tell me that you're hurt, Tell me you're relieved, Tell me that you're bored. Anything, but don't assume I know. Tell me what you feel!"
My fatigued eyes watered up as I sketched the heated argument in song. I knew every word.

Having seen the original, Sunday in the Park with George on Broadway, I was excited when Mad Cow Theater announced that this musical would be the first show to open in the new Harriet Theater (54 Church Street, Orlando). The space was still raw and unused when I walked in to sketch a rehearsal. All the theater seats were still covered with bubble wrap.  Director Timothy Williams sat in the front row watching the actors perform. Everyone was still, "on book" but the performance as Seurat and Dot argued was vibrant and hit home. I was shocked at how much Hannah Laird, with her cherub-like face resembled Bernadette Peters. Robin Jensen on piano slowed down the beat in one scene so the actors could keep pace and then speed up.The actors did an amazing job keeping up with Sondheim's fast paced lyrics. Their voices were warm and full.  Robin kept stressing that everyone needed to clearly enunciate each word.

A square cut out stood in place for a dog. George interacted with the dog as he sketched, personifying how his life might be. No one knew if the dog would face stage left or right once cut out and painted, so Tim shouted out for someone to look at the painting to find out. It turns out that George had been addressing the dogs rump. I liked that Tim suggested to Matt that he think about the old Disney animators and the way they would act out how a deer or a dog might behave.

When all the actors assembled on stage to recreate the finished painting my heart swelled with the music. It is easy to see why this show won a Pulitzer prize. As I left, Tim noticed I was carrying an artists stool and he pointed at me saying to the prop man, "Look! That is the kind of seat we need for George!"  The ladder will later be "pimped out" with a shelf where George keeps his palette, paints and beer. The music and Lyrics are by Stephen Sondheim and the play is based on a book by James Lapine. The opening Night performance in Orlando will be October 6, 2012 and  the show runs through October 28th. The gala, which will take place on October 6, features a pre-show dinner at  the Rusty Spoon, followed by the Opening Night performance of Sunday in the Park with George, and a post show cast party at Kres Chophouse (17 West Church Street, Orlando). Gala tickets are $125. Regular show ticket prices are $25-$32.

"A blank page or canvas, his favorite. So many possibilities."


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pisa Pizza


I had intended to do a sketch of a film maker's panel discussion as part of the Global Peace Film Festival at the Cornell Fine Art Museum on Rollins College. When I entered the museum however, the receptionist didn't know anything about a panel discussion. She said that a film would be shown and she directed me towards a table behind me. On the table was an admission price of $8 which I didn't know about. The receptionist then shouted at me, "I don't think you are allowed in with that artists stool!" She started to call security and I just turned to her and said, "Don't worry, I'm not going in." I didn't feel like fighting to get the sketch.

On the drive home, I decided to stop at Pisa Pizza (7058 West Colonial Drive, Orlando). For me this hole in the wall establishment is where I go when I'm craving the comfort of a steaming hot slice of cheese pizza. There was only two other people in the joint, seated over by the Push Bus Plush Toy Claw Machine.  Periodically the claw would drop and the machine would let out a loud mechanical wheeze. Talking heads on the TV discussed politics. A circular mirror distorted the room.

Half way into the sketch, The Lion King started up on the TV behind me. My heart still swells with pride during the opening sequence. When Simba tucked his head under his dead fathers paw, I wanted to shout out, "I worked on that scene." The guy that was flipping pizza dough when I walked in, was now lounging in the seat behind me, chuckling as he watched the film. My sketch formed as I listened to a very dear and familiar story. Someday I'll find my way on the path unwinding.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Occupy Orlando 2.0


September 17th marked the one year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. An open forum was held at the Administration Building (201 South Rosalind Avenue) in downtown Orlando. Last year the Occupy Orlando demonstrators camped out in Senator Beth Johnson Park on Lake Ivanhoe for about two months. Some demonstrators were arrested for  petty actions like writing on the sidewalk with chalk or sleeping on the grass. Personal items were confiscated by police. The group was ejected in December and they then moved down to City Hall. The demonstrations then slowly lost ground.

About 25 people at most gathered for this one year anniversary. One news van was parked nearby. I was surprised to find the Occupy leader in a stiff pressed, collared dress shirt with a black tie. One speaker felt that the anarchist principles of some members of the group undermined the cause. Another speaker felt the movement wasn't dead but was now regrouping and working within the system to bring about change. The Occupy movement has been used by advertising and the "We are the 99%" slogan is now a part of popular culture.  More than once, the importance of getting people registered to vote was pointed out. Many of the young demonstrators were new to the disappointments that came with little or no change. Change never happens fast however. Lives were lost in the battle to bring equal rights to all men and it took decades for women to gain the right to vote.

I sketched Jim Howe of the Communication Workers of America as he spoke. Hundreds of thousands of petition signatures were gathered to get a sick time initiative on the November ballot. County Commissioners seem to be doing all they can to stall the initiative which would require employees to offer sick time to employees. If approved by voters, the sick-time initiative would require employers with 15 or more workers to provide paid time off to employees who are sick or caring for a sick family member. Both full- and part-time employees would earn one hour of sick time for every 37 hours they work, to a maximum of 56 hours per year. In a service industry town, I can imagine many businesses wouldn't feel they profit from a sick time initiative.

One speaker who is running for public office, said elections should not be about raising the largest amount of campaign money. He felt elections should be about reaching the most voters online. A young demonstrator said that since the movement broke up, he has been occupying a MacDonald's where he talks to people about change. The important thing is that he remains out in the community sharing his thoughts and opening a discussion. A speaker shouted out, "Mic check!" everyone shouted back, "Mic check!". "It's good to hear your still out there" he said. After the last speaker was finished, the grey sky opened up and it began to pour. Everyone scattered for cover. I wrapped my sketchbooks in plastic and walked back to my car huddled under my umbrella in the deluge.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Jammin Tuesdays


Every Tuesday there are classes at Thee Jammin Drum School Studio (1216 N. Bumby Avenue, Orlando). Martin Greywolf Murphy greeted me at the door of the small suburban home.  His grey T-shirt was covered with the  calm expression of a lone wolf. The classes take place in a small room on the side of the home which might have once been a garage. Now the room is filled with dozens of exotic drums and other percussion instruments. I started blocking in the room on my sketch before students arrived.

Mark DeMaio taught the first class which focused on West African Dununba technique and rhythms. Three students and Mark sat in a tight circle playing the large handmade drums between their knees. Wooden dowels were used to set the beat. There is something primal and inspiring in the ancient rhythms. It was an opportunity for everyone to really focus on the syncopated patterns and to become more deeply immersed in the cooperative practice that generates the deeply melodic basis of these rhythms that the Djembe parts are accompaniment to.

Greywolf taught the next class in poly-rhythmic Afro-Brazilian rhythm Samba! The class began with old school Samba de Roda, "Samba in a circle", and worked towards Rio style Carnival Samba with a broad range of percussion instruments and incorporating unique Jammin! The two students were rather well versed in rhythm and poly-rhythmic structure. In the end they were playing dual cone shaped cow bells. Well, I doubt they were cow bells, but that is how they sounded. The endless rhythm and beats were a joy to sketch to. Greywolf showed a short U-Tube video he had worked on and explained how it mimicked  the beats and structure a drum circle. Classes are $12 a piece or 6 classes for $60.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pirate Day!


I was running late getting to the Orlando Science Center (777 East Princeton Street, Orlando Fl)  to attend and sketch Blog Con. It was raining so I sucked it up and paid $5 to park in the parking garage across the street. Walking across the glass enclosed walkway to the museum I passed children in costume as pirates. The place was packed full of pirates. The conference I was there was informative but I played hookey long enough to sketch the pirate at the entrance who quickly made balloon sabers, swords and cutlasses for the kids. The second two kids got their swords, they would be fencing and stabbing each other in the belly.

Leonardo Da Vinci's flying machine was suspended from the ceiling. Made of wood, I highly doubt it would fly, but the pirate seated next to me said the pulley systems would multiply the force applied to the winch six times.  Any time folks would walk by this friendly pirate would say, Arrrrre ye having a good time. I heard this said so often that I wanted a saber to run me through. Pirates behind me were rolling dice to pick crew mates. A wench informed me that quarters below deck were quite cozy.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Trends with Friends


Wendy Wallenberg told Terry about a fashion show at Bloomingdale's and I decided to tag along. Terry was worried that we might not get in since our names weren't on the list. I was going straight from work and felt under dressed with jeans and a five o'clock shadow. The event wasn't crowded and anyone could get in. We arrived long before people got seated on either side of the runway. I decided to stand at a table facing two manikins with a sweeping view of the runway. I noticed when the models arrived with their small roll along luggage and slender figures like flight attendants. Terry scouted for food and drink while I sketched. She brought back some smoked salmon on a slice of bread. It looked delicious. I'm not sure what drinks were offered, but she went back for more.

Wendy hadn't arrived yet and Terry was getting bored. When Wendy did arrive, just before the show started, she texted me, "I'm here, don't forget to put me in the sketch". I looked up and waved to her seated next to Terry. Ten percent of all sales that night would go to MD Andersen Cancer Center of Orlando thanks to the efforts of Women Playing for TIME. Melanie Pace who was the wardrobe stylist, announced the models as they went down the runway. The runway presentation involved transforming "Daytime Wardrobe into Evening Chic". I focused on Hope each time she strutted down the runway. I mixed and matched her wardrobe each time she modeled. Fashion models seldom stand still.

I was still applying color as the fashion show wrapped up. A server offered me a peach cobbler and man was it delicious.  I finished up the sketch so I could leave with Terry. Wendy wanted to shop. None of the outfits modeled appealed to Terry.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mystery Sketch Theater


Tonight, Mystery Sketch Theater will have a special session specifically focused on figure drawing with a long pose. Christie will be back as the model. Christie will be wearing a Galadriel dress from Lord of the Rings, also requested by the artists! The event will last 1.5 hours. We will do a few sample poses at the beginning for everyone to get warmed up and figure out which pose they like best, and then we will continue with the selected pose for the rest of the evening with breaks in between for the model, and the pose re-established after each break. Please take note that this event is on a THURSDAY and starts promptly at 7PM. We wanted to be kind to our hosts and not keep them at the shop on an evening they are not open late.  The entry fee is $5 for the event (no games or prizes this time, but we'll still pick up some snacks), and it will still be held at The Geek Easy, located inside of A Comic Shop (114 South Semoran Blvd # 6 Winter Park, FL 32792-4433 (407) 332-9636). As always, outside food and drink are welcome, and come early for a good seat. Those drawing tables go quickly!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Models Rehearsing


Artist and designer Lynne Polley gave me a tip to sketch a rehearsal for the models that will take to the cat walk for Harriett's Park Avenue Fashion Week. The rehearsal was in the small Wedding Chapel (301 West New England Avenue, Winter Park). I was a bit early approaching the chapel, but I saw a young man go in. As I approached the door, I heard a driving, hip, pop beat from inside that seemed out of place. Gorgeous models were lined up along a wall. Church pews were lined up on a diagonal line creating a runway. The modeling coach was at the end of the runway for a view of each models strut.

The darn pews kept me from sketching the models sinewy legs. The angular poses and relaxed walks are all highly rehearsed. The line kept moving and the models walked for many hours. The instructor shouted out that they all needed to relax. Arms were stiff and tense. She was a bit upset that one of the male models had shaved the hair on his head leaving a Mohawk. She warned everyone to keep their looks. They were picked by clothes manufacturers because of their hair color and looks. Photos of models taken at the last session apparently weren't that good. Showing the photos to fashion designers, she had to reassure them. "She is pretty in person, really!" She warned everyone, "If you trip on the runway, I will find you." I sat with several moms who were there to support their young budding models.

Later in the rehearsal, a leggy, blonde 16 year old model joined the group. She wasn't used to wearing the high heels she had on and when she walked down the isle, her heels clomped down, sounding like a bull in a china shop. She leaned forward like a stilt walker loosing her balance. The modeling coach worked with her extensively trying to get her to relax. Another model offered her another pair of heels and she improved but still walked with an imbalanced awkward grace. I smiled inside. One of the models looked over my shoulder and asked, "Are you an artist?" I cringed, never looking up from the sketch and barked back, "Yes!"

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Grand Opening Celebration at the Obama Volunteer Office


The Obama Volunteer Office held a FREE Grand Opening Celebration on Friday Sept 7th, starting at 5:30PM. The office is located at 200 North Denning Drive in Winter Park right behind the Winter Park Village. I saw police cruiser lights flashing as I drove down Denning towards the event. I figured parking might be a problem so I drove into a Publix parking lot and walked the half mile or so to the event. Sure enough, cars were parked on lawns and all the street parking spots were full.

 Tables were set up in the parking lot and musicians were setting up in the performance tent. The John Valeri Quintet began to perform and Miss Jacqueline Jones sang with them later in the set. I began my sketch by studying an elder man wearing an American Flag shirt. Four food trucks were set up in the back of the lot. As I sketched a dark sinister cloud pushed in from the west. I rushed my line work fearing rain.

There was a deluge. Everyone ran for cover. Most people, including myself, crowded under the performance tent. A large puddle began to form where I was standing so I lifted my art bag off the ground onto a cement curb. I went inside the volunteer offices thinking I might have time for a second sketch. People were pressed tight together. Former Sentinel theater critic Elizabeth Maupin seemed to be working in the office as a volunteer. An acapella quartet broke out in song in the hallway.  I had to pick Terry up from the airport so I vetoed the notion of a second sketch. I opened up my little umbrella and braved the walk back to my car.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Red Fox Lounge


Mark Wayne and Lorna Lambey were an Orlando Lounge act legends. Sadly Mark passed away last spring. I've often wondered what act could possibly follow their brand of Vegas style kitsch. The urban legend was that Mark and Lorna's act inspired a Saturday Night Live bit where two teachers perform for students. Part of me hoped Lorna would continue to perform although I knew that wasn't likely. I had to return to get another sketch.

When I got to the Red Fox Lounge in the Mount Vernon Inn (110 South Orange Avenue Winter Park, ) the room wasn't as packed as the last time I had been there. The sixties era room sported prints of horse riders on the hunt. Bathed in blue light, Patty and Michael were performing behind a poster sized caricatures of themselves. I found it odd that Patty and Michael's business card and website didn't once mention their last names. Perhaps this first name branding makes them seem as big as Sonny and Chere. I liked their covers of Norah Jones  songs but they couldn't match Norah's silky voice. They played a wide selection of covers but the music never had the energy or conviction to get people dancing or singing along. The music was kitschy and sweet but an empty caricature of the energetic originals. There is another act performing on alternating evenings and perhaps one day I'll return.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Melinda Wagner

Composer, Melinda Wagner, gave a talk about her music and creative process at the Timucua White House (2000  South Summerlin Avenue, Orlando). She won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for music. Her laptop was open so she could play her compositions for us. Besides composing music she is also a house wife in New Jersey. The other house wives don't really understand what she does. When Melinda explained to one woman that she was a composer, the woman responded, "I thought all the composers were dead."

Melinda explained that anytime she starts a composition, there is a period of angst and worry where the music is in absolute chaos. Then the piece reaches a stage where she realized it is all going to fall into place. Then she can relax and enjoy the process. When she played her music for us, she closed her eyes and listened. She explained that an artist's roll is to take risks for the sake of beauty. She is listening and looking for a piece with heart. As she said, "Music offers composers an immeasurably rich and generous sonic landscape in which to explore the 'life story' of each musical idea — its dramas, intrigues, joys and sorrows — a life. I strive to find various and persuasive ways of moving through the resulting temporal narrative, and to traverse a wide spectrum of expression and color on the way. Ultimately, I want listeners to know me; I want them to hear that while I enjoy the cerebral exercise, I am led principally by my ear, and by my heart.”

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Blur


I went to the final run through rehearsal for Emotions Dance performance of Blur at Turning Pointe Dance Studio (470 E Lake Brantley Drive, Longwood, FL). Rehearsal started at 9PM so I had time to eat dinner with Terry at home before I left. The dance company's founder was on a conference call to California when I arrived and she told the dancers they had five minutes to warm up before starting to dance "full out".

Using contemporary dance, Blur examines social networking, consumerism, the corporate world and reality television and asks "Are we really connected to one another"? Energetic, heartfelt and also playful choreography came together to look at our habits in today's hectic world! Things are not always black and white. My favorite dance number involved all the dancers moving in a grid like pattern on the stage as they tapped out text messages. The driving techno music by Draft Punk Techno Logic set the fast paced beat to messages sent with little heart. "Buy it, use it, break it, fix it, trash it, change it, melt - upgrade it, charge it, pawn it, zoom it, press it, snap it, work it, quick - erase it, write it, get it, paste it, save it, load it, check it, quick - rewrite it, plug it, play it, burn it, rip it, drag and drop it, zip - unzip it, lock it, fill it, curl it, find it, view it, code it, jam - unlock it, surf it, scroll it, pose it, click it, cross it, crack it, twitch - update it, name it, rate it, tune it, print it, scan it, send it, fax - rename it, touch it, bring it, pay it, watch it, turn it, leave it, stop - format it." I love the lyrics! They seem to document my mad struggle to keep up with a digital world.

Tonight, Saturday September 15th, is the last performance so get to the Orlando Repertory Theatre Blackbox (1001 E Princeton St, Orlando) by 8PM. Buy it, charge it, rip it, then prepare for some truly thought provoking dance! There is an opening act by Turning Pointe Elite. Go!

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Sketchbook Project


The Sketchbook Project has been touring the nation and it made a stop at Urban ReThink (625 East Central Blvd., Orlando). The Sketchbook Project sells small sketchbooks to artists around the country, asking the artists to return the book full of art. I participated the first year I heard about the project but it was painful to give up a full sketchbook. I learned from fellow Urban Sketchers that the Sketchbook Project retains all reproduction rights to the sketches. It is nice to have the one sketchbook in the Brooklyn Sketchbook Library but I'm not tempted to do it again.7000 sketchbooks were neatly stored in bookshelves on wheels. They can be quickly rolled off a truck to be moved to a new city. Dina Mack sat flipping through sketchbooks. As she put it, "I'm in sketchbook heaven."

Urban ReThink which was formerly a book store seemed perfectly suited to house the collection. The first step in checking out a sketchbook was to get a library card. I already had my card from the previous year, so I skipped to step two, which was checking out a book. There was a laser bar code reader to scan the card and then you used a computer to pick out sketchbooks by theme, location or artist's name. I picked two local sketchbooks to start. The sketchbook from Orlando was dark, brooding and full of angst. The next category I searched was "This is a sketchbook."  I figured I'd get to see some quality sketches. One artist did catch my eye. Cheism was an artist from London and his sketches were light hearted and fun. Larry Lauria an animation instructor from Full Sail stopped in. Larry had submitted a sketchbook this time around so I tried to check out his sketchbook. It wasn't available. Someone else must have checked it out. I seemed to keep checking out duds while the young couple next to me kept getting fun creative sketchbooks. One of their books was taped together accordion style and the whole book was one big colorful Dagwood sandwich.

Artist Mary K. Shaw sat with friends at the table in front of me flipping through sketchbooks. Blank post cards were available for artists to sketch on. If you sketched on a postcard, it would be sent to the next stop on the sketchbook tour. Robin Maria-Pedrero completed a postcard sketch and in return, she was given another artists postcard. The postcard sent her warm wishes for a beautiful day. The next step for the Sketchbook Project is a mobile library, similar to a food truck.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Artists Process

As part of the Corridor Project's first show, Walk on By, Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz, a UCF art instructor, sat in a thrown outside Urban ReThink starting at 6pm on September 5th accepting trash offerings. That evening artists gathered at ReThink to talk about their art and process.

Wanda was dressed in a tight red corset and had a huge wig of purple hair which was woven and balled up. Red and white jewels glistened in her hair. From the moment I entered, I knew I wanted to get close to her to sketch. Wanda's regal performance piece had previously been done at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

She began her discussion by asking the audience what they felt her performance was about. I hadn't seen her performance, so I kept quiet. Her question rang forth like a challenge. The room was dead silent. A little boy started shrieking and complaining in the corner. With a regal flair Wanda raised her hand and shouted out "Excuse me!" The mom ushered her son out the door. Wanda explained that people often dump their shit on the people closest to them. She said her performance art was about intimacy. In one performance piece she invited people to lie in bed with her. In the quiet moments, some people cried.

Jessica Earley who yarn bombed the front of Urban Rethink discussed her art. She is soft spoken and began her talk by warning us of her shyness. As she discussed her art, she was never at a loss for words. She gazed at the far wall of the room as she spoke. Her thoughts and passions rang true. The projector wouldn't work but Dina Mack helped her get it running. Jessica showed us some of her more controversial paintings that she had done. One painting she did was actually censored by a costumer in a local restaurant. Her paintings often visualize woman's issues. Some show a woman's longings to someday have a child. A painting showing a nude woman and child couldn't be hung. The woman had some knitting covering her lap and a single strand of yarn lead to a baby who had on a knit cap and diapers. Black crows then flew up from the child's head towards a flaming blue cell. Jessica has been painting for the past three years and her work is astonishingly intimate and sincere. A common thread through the evenings discussions was that artists love to experiment and explore different mediums. Jessica wants to continue performance art, music, dance, installations and visual art. Self expression can come in many forms.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Red Chair Affair


The Red Chair Affair is held once a year in Orlando at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center, (401 W. Livingston St. Orlando), to introduce the upcoming theater season. It is a opulent crash course celebration of Central Florida's arts and culture. John DiDonna directed this intricate evening showcasing an army of Orlando talent. The logistics of just getting everyone on and off stage on time and in order must have been mind boggling. Thankfully John allowed me to sketch a rehearsal, since I had another sketch outing planned for the night of the performance.

I entered the stage door and made my way through the back stage maze of dressing rooms to get to stage right. Crowds of actors, dancers, singers and acrobats were in the halls. John shouted my name and welcomed me. Both he and Jennifer Bonner advised me to sketch from out in the house, so I abandoned the notion of sketching from back stage. Besides stage lights were blinding.  In the back rehearsal room, all the decorated IKEA Red Chairs were on table being inventoried for auction. Each arts organization decorated a chair.

YOW Dance was on stage going through a dance routine for staging. I turned my attention to the TV camera operators who were filming the rehearsal. The NuLook School of Performing Arts students performed a lively and stylish Indian dance called "Redolare." I caught one of the dancers sinuous lines. Comedic actors from the Orlando Shakespeare Theater performed a hilarious fast paced history of Shakespeare using a sports commentators pacing. I recognized actor Brandon Roberts who always makes me laugh. Since I'm no Shakespeare expert however, some of the analogies were way over my head. I heard that the Enzian Theater was going to screen "Notes on Biology" which we now screen every month in the Full Sail 2D Animation course to help inspire students.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

National Night Out


I went to the Winter Park Police Department (500 North Virginia Avenue, Winter Park) for National Night Out. This was a free family community event that offered food, fun, raffles and prizes. I arrived straight from work on a cloudy grey Tuesday. The street in front of the police department was blocked off and a food vendor had just set up a tent. A Monster Energy Drink pickup truck pulled up behind him. Volunteers in red T-shirts helped get things set up. A blue armored vehicle backed onto the sidewalk with several officers spotting him. I sat on a stone bench and sketched the September 11th Memorial. A woman approached to see what I was doing. She said the police chief was going to display a broken fragment from the twin towers at this event. She then offered me the opportunity to buy one of the memorial paving stones. I never did see the tower fragment but part of me really didn't want to see it.

It began to rain and I had to run for cover. I added color to the sketch from my new vantage point under an awning. Since my car was many blocks away and I didn't want to walk in the rain without an umbrella, I started sketching the assault rifles, hand guns and battering rams being exhibited by members of the swat team. People could try on the heavy green flack jacket and even lift a rifle to see how heavy it was. There were always people in front of this table.

I experienced a sudden hot flash and I lost feeling in my finger tips. My arms were soaked with sweat and I dropped my sketchbook. I put my head in my hands and willed the pavement into focus as a woman got her hair caught in the Velcro of the flack jacket. Friends were laughing at her plight and shooting pictures. I got a bottled water out of a cooler next to me and used it to cool my neck and forehead. I began to panic. I didn't want my last sketch to be of fire arms. Then I realized there must be a half a dozen EMTs at the event. If I was going to pass out, this was probably the best place to do that. I slowed my breathing and drank the bottle of water. I realized walking in the rain might cool me off so I packed away the sketchbooks and walked back to my car. The rain did feel good. I managed to drive home but I wasn't feeling great. I crashed on the couch and didn't get up till the next morning.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Casa Feliz


Casa Feliz (625 North Park Avenue, Winter Park) hosts free musical performances each Sunday from Noon to 3PM. Jack Fannigan invited me inside prior to a performance with a theatrical flourish. Jack used to work for James Gamble III who designed Casa Feliz. The building was slated to be demolished but Winter Park citizens wanted to save the historic building. The entire building was lifted and moved to its new home next to a golf course.

Matt, The Sax Man, Festa and Michelle Mailhot were performing on this sunny Sunday afternoon. I had sketched Matt once before at a First Thursdays event at OMA. As a matter of fact, when he opened his laptop, my sketch of him was being used as his screen saver. Michelle also performs with Toxic Audio, a talented acapella singing group. I know they have performed at the Orlando International Fringe Festival and I've heard plenty of good buzz, but I've never seen them perform. Regardless, Michelle's voice is stellar. She sang Nora Jones' "I don't knew why" with incredible heart.

The evening before, I had sketched at the Red Fox Lounge where the incomparable Mark Wayne and Lorna Lamby used to perform their kitschy and fun musical lounge act. After Mark's death earlier this year, there has been other performers trying to fill those shoes, but there is still a void. Matt and Michelle have that extra magic turning a performance into an all out party. Michelle's daughter dressed in pink, danced in the front row. Every seat was full and the room was alive. As I packed up to leave, I noticed another artist working on a sketch. What a great way to start a Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Taste of the Nation


Share Our Strength’s 23rd Annual Taste of the Nation was a huge success, raising $248,785 to fight childhood hunger! Local beneficiaries are Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, along with the statewide Florida Impact. More than 2,300 people enjoyed delicacies prepared by 37 of Central Florida’s leading restaurants, bubbly and other beverages from 18 top providers, and live music by local band, Crash Reality. The night included a silent auction presented by Neiman Marcus, chance drawings for Jet Blue tickets and an island getaway, a live auction, and an instant “wine cellar” of 100 prime bottles to the lucky person whose key opened the lock. Emceed by DJs Scott McKenzie of MIX 105.1 and Paco of 1059 SUNNY FM, the event featured the Creekstone Farms “throw-down” cooking competition rematch. Honorary Event Chair Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orlando Restaurant Guide’s Scott Joseph, and WFTV anchor Bob Opsahl were the judges. Winning for the second year, by just two points, chef Dan Nester of Rosen Shingle Creek Resort had the privilege of signing a generous check to Taste of the Nation Orlando from Creekstone Farms.

Terry and I arrived an hour early and my sketch was blocked in before the crowds grew thick around the Orlando World Center Marriott's food stations. I worked from a round table while Terry scouted out all the food choices. Waves of couples joined me at the table as I worked. I noticed that if I sketched someone in line for food, they would invariably walk to my table to eat. When the sketch was finished, I looked for Terry and started sampling the amazing food offered. After several small meat dishes I was already full. I knew from last year's event, that Chef Jean-Louis of the Royal Plaza Hotel served an amazing Bananas Foster. The line was long but I braved it since I knew it was worth it. Fresh bananas were sliced length wise in half, coated with a fine mist of nuts and fried in butter. The chefs worked with amazing speed keeping the line moving. A scoop of vanilla ice cream topped off the fried bananas along with a rich glaze. I asked for a second serving for Terry. That single serving made my evening complete. I washed it down with a Magners Irish cider.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Marshall Ellis Dance Company


ME Dance, Inc. is the Newest Professional Dance Organization located in the heart of Central Florida. On September 8th and 9th, they will be presenting Première. This performance will mark the company's first performance showcasing a diverse repertoire from Guest and Resident Choreographers, live music by Central Florida Composer's Forum, and innovative collaborations with other local artists. I contacted William Marshall Ellis the dance company founder and president. Thankfully he knew of my work and he invited me to sketch a rehearsal.

The rehearsal space was in a large warehouse that was gated.  I punched in the gate code several times and the gate rolled open. I couldn't spot building numbers so I decided to park in the lot with the most cars figuring they might be dancers cars. The front door to the building was locked. As I pulled out my cell phone, a young woman who had to be a dancer walked up and offered to shew me how to find the stage door out back. I explained that I was a sketch artist and she said, "Oh yes, Marshal told us you were coming." She explained that they had been rehearsing for four months now. The rehearsal space was cavernous. I noticed Universal Studios costumes hung out back. I noticed a lion's head from Madagascar. The space is also used by Aerial Adrenaline and long fabrics hung from the ceiling.

Marshall sat at a table controlling the lights and projections. Childhood photos of the dancers were projected on the screens as they danced. There were a wide variety of dance routine from red, primal dance to light, flowing, and carefree. At one point the dancer who lead me in from the parking lot, had a solo dance. She was dressed in a light flowing dress that had some form of open loop in the skirt. As she danced, her leg got caught in the loop causing her to trip up. When it happened a second time everyone realized the costume would have to be changed. One dancer did an energetic dance number and then immediately sat down next to a guitarist to sing. She was huffing at first and then sang beautifully. Marshall assured her that she would have more time to get ready at the Première performance. I am excited to see the final results from all this dedicated hard work.

You will be sure to enjoy Première. To reserve your tickets please visit ME Dance, Inc.
Show Times:
September 8, 2012 at 8pm
September 9, 2012 at 7:30pm
Ticket Prices: $20 General Admission Venue: Winter Garden Theatre 160 West Plant Street Winter Garden, Florida 34787

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Corridor Project - Walk on By


The Corridor Project's  first show, titled "Walk on By" was spearheaded by Patrick Greene, the events coordinator at Urban ReThink. Over night almost 100 art installations popped up all over Orlando. The largest concentration of artwork appeared along Mills Avenue in the Mills 50 District. I knew that artists were out between 4AM and 7AM installing their work but I wasn't sure where the pieces were being installed. I set my alarm for 5AM but swatted it off and fell back to sleep. The next day I decided to sketch this sculpture installation by Bethany Mikell outside Wills Pub (1042 N Mills Ave, Orlando). Painted silver, this modern looking couple is covered in metallic nuts and bolts. The piece exudes fashion with a chic industrial flair. Even the chains holding the couple to the site have an industrial fell.

Walk on By functions as a temporary, clandestine art museum with no fixed location. The works are site specific using empty storefronts and public spaces. In the past, Orlando has promoted public art in the form of decorated fiberglass Gibson Guitars and lizards.  These juvenile displays limit artist expression, forcing the work to be decorative. Even the decorated Mills 50 power boxes seem to lack any bold artistic vision. When public art is needed, as in the case of banners to hide the Dr. Phillips Center of the Performing Arts construction site, children's art is used. If you have ever gotten a ticket in Orlando then you have been blessed to see the children's art decorating tiles outside the parking ticket payment office. Walk on By has finally allowed local and international artists the ability to openly express themselves in an urban public setting. Finally the art is meant for a mature, enlightened, adult audience. It isn't watered down for a Disney, white bread, homogenous, world view. This seems like a bold first step towards a city that can take spontaneous chances.

The art isn't just for high society gallery gawkers. It is for anyone walking or driving by. Keep your eyes open and be prepared to be surprised. Some art performances happened only at 8:30AM on September 5th while other art pieces will remain on site until they decay. So turn off the cell phone and TV and get out to Walk on By. This gallery has no walls.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Rocket Garden


I went out to the Kennedy Space Center to see what was new on the Space Coast. A building is being constructed to house the retired Space Shuttle Atlantis. The structure is perhaps half built but when finished it should look awesome. The plaque on one of the historic rockets said that the rocket was "Thor-able".  The Thor-Able was an American expendable launch system and sounding rocket used for a series of re-entry vehicle tests and satellite launches between 1958 and 1960. The rocket garden was of course blazing hot. Luckily one of the support buildings had large plate glass windows that looked out onto the rockets. A flat circular fountain squirted water up periodically to cool any younger more playful space explorers.

The space program had a journalistic art program that was founded by James E. Webb around 1958. "The NASA Art Program uses the medium of fine art to document America's space program for 'the expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space...for the benefit of all mankind." Artists from around the world helped document the race to space. Art work was on display in glass cases. But only a fraction of the artwork was on display. There was artwork upstairs but the staircase was blocked for some unknown reason. A huge wasp buzzed against the window panes in the NASA building I was sketching from. It seemed desperate to get back out to the hot humid air.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

RV’S Going Away Studio Art & Yard Sale!


Robin Van Arsdol, (RV), was preparing to leave Orlando. His Orlando Studio, Realm 54, (54 W. Illiana Street Orlando, FL) was open to the public and anything was for sale to help him make the move to Miami. I met RV only once before when we were both applying to United Arts for Artist Development Grants at the same time. RV has been a working artist in Orlando for the past 40 years. He has had studios in several places in town and his studio hosted an International Graffiti Conference once a year. The studio I visited was a large industrial warehouse accessed by a large garage door. There was a pile of bibles for sale as well as a sporty red Corvette covered with his art. Wendy Wallenberg and Brian Minnich showed up to show RV some of the photos they had shot and to get a release signed.

RV graduated from Georgetown College in 1972. In 1973 he began his masters at NYC.  He was very active in the NYC graffiti scene and in the 70's he worked with some of the city's most active and prestigious artists. His family lived in Orlando since 1972 and in 1977 he moved here. He always bounced back to NYC whenever he could, spending six months in NYC and six months in Orlando. RV's work has been in 70 exhibitions in European city's in Italy and Paris France.

In 1983 RV became obsessed, creating public graffiti art inspired by the following biblical passage, "Woe unto them that are with child and suck in those days." The passage reminded him of Hiroshima.  Any prenatal baby is instantly affected by any radiation. He began clandestinely to cover building with images that suggested radioactivity. Large pink tulips resembled mushroom clouds. Gun boats and airplanes covered exterior walls. He was a man on a mission. His art defied the lie that war is a necessary evil. Thinking back to my student years in NYC, I do think that I saw some of his work on a parking lot wall. When I mentioned Keith Haring, RV rummaged in his studio and showed me two of Keith's subway chalk drawings. RV's work covered sections of the Berlin Wall.

In Italy in 2004 RV began painting his Pinocchio Screaming Man series. In some images the screaming man is seen in front of mushroom clouds. He is still creating work at a break neck pace, functioning on just four hours of sleep. RV was a director of the Orlando Museum of Art's Associates Program from 1979-1986. Miami should be a great fit for RV. There an entire neighborhood is covered in graffiti. It is a shame that Orlando's arts scene isn't vibrant enough to hold onto him.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

RAW: RADIATE

Ashlie Rolfe, the Orlando Showcase Director of RAW suggested that I sketch the premiere showcase event of RAW called Radiate at the Abbey. RAW is an International indie arts organization created by artists, for artists. It features local emerging artists in fashion, music, art, film, performing art, hair, makeup, DJs and photography. When I arrived the place was packed with a line down the block to get in. The first artist I noticed was Parker Sketch and next to him was Shannon Holt of Bombshell body Art. I know Shannon from critique sessions where she showed oil painting which had evolved over many layered iterations. I didn't realize she did body art, but now that I think back, I might have seen her working at an event a year ago. Shannon is applying for a grant for her body art. Vote to help her out. Her model was already covered with an intricate pattern of lime green and orange. A scarab beetle was firmly painted on her chest. The Batman logo was painted by Parker.

Libby Rosenthal, who worked at the Mennello Museum on weekends, and some of her friends were there and we chatted for a bit, but I couldn't hear much over the music. I quickly made my rounds looking at all the art and then I found a table that I could stand at up close to the stage. One artist amused me because he was dressed to the nines and worked so hard to look like an edgy artist. I'm not sure the work justified the outfit. Thinking back, I really should have sketched him, but he was busy promoting his image. The band playing was called Stockholm and they had plenty of energy. The guitarist was spinning and gesturing in all directions. It started raining outside so I decided I had to do a second sketch. A videographer was busy shooting footage. When my second sketch was done, so was the rain so I headed home.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Artist Critique Series Led by Josh Garrick


 I was running late getting to the Art and History Museums of Maitland, (210 W. Packwood Avenue, Maitland), for the free monthly art critique series hosted by Josh Garrick. The critiques are held on the fourth Tuesday of every month. Guest Panelists Robin Maria-Pedrero and Terry Hummel joined Josh for at the Germaine Marvel Building. When I got there, the room was packed with people standing behind the back row of folding seats. These critiques seem to be quite popular and gaining momentum. I sat in my artist stool leaning against the wall. Artists of every medium and skill level are encouraged to participate. Josh graciously acknowledged my blog and welcomed me.

Lynn Polley was the artist who was showing her work when I arrived. I quickly blocked her into the sketch but by the time I sketched the work on display on the easels, I had to incorporate other artists pieces. Lynn showed landscapes done in oil. One piece had a very forced perspective. She described the day that she did the plein air painting. She was worried about the angle but then she relaxed and enjoyed the process. Another piece was of the historic Casa Feliz in Winter Park. Another artist, Laura Bates showed a very similar painting of an archway at "The Casa." Her paintings were filled with warm light. The guy seated in front of me seemed to be the time keeper. He kept waving a sheet of paper that said, one minute to go. All of the critiques were constructive. The point hammered home most often was to keep at it. Some artists had long periods in their life in which they weren't creating and Josh stressed that they had to work at art even if they weren't feeling inspired. All the artist's paintings were on a table against the far wall. I looked at them all to get artists names, but none of the art was signed.

Most of the art shown was representational. The last artist to show her work, Barbara Koepell, had a brown and white painting which she did as she studied the patterns in a tree's bark. She began to see figures and shapes and she free associated as she worked. Terry Hummel loved the piece as did Maria and Josh. Josh related a story from his time in NYC when he was a teacher as the School of Visual Arts. He was looking at an abstract painting and he didn't really appreciate it. Silas Rhodes, the founder of SVA, was standing behind him. Silas said, "Why don't you like abstract art?" Josh was taken aback since he hadn't voiced his opinion. Silas then told Josh, "Let the painting wash over you like the waves in the ocean." It was a defining moment for Josh on his road to art appreciation. I attended SVA but never met Silas. Now I wish I had. It's never too late to change your perspective..

Several times, the importance of using social media to promote art was mentioned. Josh however ran into a case in which he had a cyber stalker. He used to "friend" anyone but now he is more careful. After the Critique was over, Josh walked up to me as I was packing up. He reached out to shake my hand. Without thinking, I reached up to shake his hand. I forgot I had a pencil in my hand and I managed to stab his palm. I shouted out, "Oh my god, I'm sorry, I'm like Edward Scissorhands!"

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Intrinsic Impact and the Value of Art


We make art because we believe it makes better human beings.
We make art because we believe it makes being human better.

So why do Arts Organizations spend so much energy quantifying the economics of what they do and so little quantifying the impact? The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Central Florida held  a special workshop, presented by guest speaker Clayton Lord, at the Orlando Science Center (777 East Princeton Street, Orlando). He discussed a new book, Counting New Beans: Intrinsic Impact and the Value of Art, that examines the ways artists, administrators, patrons and funders value and evaluate the art they make and consume. Attendees came from just about every arts Organization in Central Florida.

Clayton discussed the results of a two-year, nationwide research study called "Measuring the Intrinsic Impact of Live Theater" that looked at 18 theater companies across the country, 58 productions, over 20,000 survey responses-all in an effort to increase the field's understanding of what seeing a piece of theater actually does to someone emotionally, and intellectually. Along with this new book on the national study, the conversation included a discussion of the 24 interviews with artistic leaders and patrons included in the book about the changing relationship of artists and audiences, including an overview of tools all cultural organizations can use to measure their intrinsic impact. One of the funniest moments in the presentation came when Clayton talked about a rather esoteric Shakespeare production. Surveys of the audience resulted with responses like, "What the heck was the play about?" and "What was happening?" Obviously the director missed the mark in getting an emotional response from the audience. When a production does hit the mark, people want to return again and again to experience the emotional impact. In this case the art becomes like a drug, or a great relationship that the audience craves.

This research, a comprehensive and expansive attempt to understand and quantify the impact of a piece of art on an individual (and the impact of that individual on the art), has the potential to really change the conversation about evaluating art. A new way is needed to measure and talk about the intrinsic impact of an arts experience on an individual. Arts organizations need to articulate their value to themselves, their patrons, their funders and society-at-large. A bridge needs to be built between anecdotes and numbers.

 The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Central Florida seeks to increase awareness of and engagement in Central Florida's arts and cultural offerings from residents and visitors through collaborative marketing and sales efforts. The Alliance serves over 360 arts and cultural organizations in the seven counties of Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia. The Alliance envisions Central Florida as a vibrant, dynamic arts and cultural community recognized as a creative community and destination.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Yarn Bombing

Jessica Earley hosted a Craft Society Meeting at Urban ReThink, (625 E Central Blvd, Orlando), where she introduced participants to the elusive craft of Yarn Bombing.  Yarn Bombing is a global urban phenomenon in which crafty people are covering urban blight with colorful knitting. It is a soft comfortable form of colorful creative graffiti. A hardcore group of four or five women and one man showed up to knit or crochet the pieces that would ultimately be used to encase the bike rack outside Urban ReThink. As Jessica said in her invite, "Come get your granny on."

Each person knitted and/or crocheted individual granny squares, or rectangles and then those pieces would be sewn them all together to make one large collaborative piece to cover the earth with. She had a yarn bombing book which showed entire trees covered in a tight warm cozy. The guy was taught a way of knitting in which he simply looped the yarn around his fingers. The result was a loose knit square. Jessica had strips of fabric which were given to each participant so they knew the correct width for each knitted section.

With my sketch done, I went outside where Jessica was sewing the pieces together around the rack. There was a light drizzle which discouraged me from starting a second sketch. A couple had stopped to ask Jessica about what she was doing. He joked, "It would be hard for anyone to complain about what you are doing. Of course if you were feeding people, then you might get arrested."  Knitting is a slow process but by the time I decided to leave, at least a quarter of the bike rack had been converted into a colorful piece of urban art. Jessica will continue bombing in preparation for "The Corridor Project" which will be sweeping into various Orlando locations soon. Details to come...