Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jazz on the Green


Bank of America was the host for Jazz on the Green held on Saturday October 20th at the UCF College of Medicine (6850 Lake Nona Boulevard). Terry had VIP passes since Merrill Lynch had paid for a corporate table. VIP parking wasn't much different than regular parking since the event didn't seem to be very crowded. Food trucks and their loud generators crowded much of the lot. Corporate tables were arranged on either side of the stage. The Merrill Lynch table was empty. There was no shade and it was hot, so Terry and I abandoned the table and sat in our lawn chairs in the shade cast by the stage. We had to move several times as we lost shade.

We were offered a free bottle of wine and a large cheese and fruit platter. Each table got one of these platters and since we were the only ones at our table, there was too much to eat. The Lake Nona Middle School Jazz Ensemble was performing on the Travistock Green when we arrived. It was hard to listen to all the missed notes. The audience, baking in the sun on blankets, loved them however. They all must have been parents of the kids in the band. Next up, on stage, was Jeff Bradshaw and his band. Their jazz had a subtle taste of Cajun Zydeco. During one number, the folks at the table next to us started dancing as they waved their napkins above their heads. Jeff came off the stage and marched up to the table still playing his saxophone. He lead them in a Cajun march through the audience and more people joined the line. Terry got up and joined in. Last to perform was Ken Navarro. He played gentle, smooth jazz as the darkness rolled in. Ken is the act I managed to catch in my sketch. It was a relaxing way to spend a Saturday afternoon. All the money raised from the event benefited the Lake Nona YMCA and the UCF College of Medicine Scholarship programs.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Road To Mecca


After returning from France, I quickly tried to arrange to sketch a rehearsal of Road to Mecca. That night was a final dress rehearsal and performance preview of the show. Unfortunately I was already scheduled to sketch a fundraiser that night. The director, Aradhana Tiwari, suggested I get there early to sketch last minute touches being done to the set in the new Mad Cow Theater (54 West Church Street, second floor)

When I got to the theater, I met Lisa Buck, the set designer. She explained that the lights that had been ordered for the new black box theater hadn't arrived yet. A company had agreed to lend the Mad Cow their lights.  There was a last minute rush to get these lights hung and aimed properly. A stage hand would climb a ladder and then shout out to the person in the lighting booth to get the light turned on. Lisa briefly explained to me that the show was about an elderly English South African woman who sculpted owls and filled her home with candles and bottles. Her home had a quirky folk artists feel. Lisa told me that when the set was properly lit, it would sparkle magically. All the candles would be lit and the light would reflect off of all the bottles. Bottles hung from the ceiling forming a dense chandelier. Lisa knew that a neighbor had an old weathered door in his back yard. She borrowed it to use as the headboard to the bed. Characters in the play tried to convince the old woman to leave the home and go into assisted living because she was living outside their idea of the norm.

Aradhana arrived when I was half finished with my sketch. She quickly started working on the music and lighting cues for the show. There were only a few hours left before an audience would enter the theaters. One scene which had already been worked out was much brighter than Aradhana remembered. A stage hand was cutting gels for the lights and those gels would change the color and intensity of the lights.  They had to go on faith that everything would be in place on time. I finished my sketch as the frantic work continued.

The show runs through November 11th. Get your tickets now.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Paris Pickpockets

Walking along the Seine River in Paris, a woman leaned down in front of Terry and she picked up a big gold wedding ring. She offered it to me, not knowing what to do with it. We had been warned about pickpockets so I kept my hand in my pocket on my wallet. I checked for an engraving and handed it back.  I told her she was a lucky lady. A half hour later a man pulled the same stunt. I watched him lean down with the ring in his hand which he pretended to pick up. He moved with slow deliberateness and he could have won an Oscar for his performance of concern. This time we moved away quickly.  I was curious to find out the next step in the ruse. I think the idea was to get in a heated discussion about the ring and then a second person would approach from behind to pick the rubes pocket. Terry figured the stunt was an attempt to get people to offer money for the ring. The ring looked like gold to me however. We joked about walking along the Seine again to collect more rings.


The Metros in Paris are clean and run like clockwork. Pressing into a crowded car, I again had my hand in my pocket covering the wallet. My art supply bag was on my chest and the artist stool acted as a nice lock to keep hands off my paints and sketch pad. Some guy dropped his keys as he was supposed to be getting out. I ignored the keys stepping around him. He grabbed the inside of my calf firmly but as I moved around a central support pole,  the back of his arm got pushed up against the pole and his arm might have broken if he didn’t let go. I figure there must have been someone behind me as that guy’s keys distracted me. Luckily my back pockets were empty. Then again the guy might have just wanted to check out my calves. For the rest of my time in Paris, if I saw someone drop anything, I felt the urge to push them over.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Eye Rinse

On Sunday October 21st, Terry was doing her laundry, trying to remove a stain from a white garment. She was using some bleach and she dropped the jug on the washing machine. The bleach splashed up in her face and some went in her eye. She rinsed her eye under the sink faucet and then started reading  medical internet sites to be sure she was alright. The site said that you should always go to a doctor if you get bleach in your eyes to be sure there isn't any permanent damage to the membranes. She asked me to look at her eye to see if it was blood shot and it was.

I drove her to a Centra Care Florida Hospital Urgent Care a mile or so from her home. A sign above the receptionist desk read something like, "We continue Christ's tradition of healing ministry." Terry said there was a similar sign blessing her from above the toilet. Apparently chemical spills like this take top priority in triage so we went right in after filling out some paper work. Thankfully the place was fairly quiet. Terry sat on the examining table and a male nurse took her blood pressure and asked her a few questions. She was asked to put a hand over each eye and read an eye chart. I'm not sure how she did on that test.

The doctor gave her eye drops which numbed the nerves in the eye. He then put a little red dye in her eye and inspected her eye with a magnifying glass and black light to look for abrasions or damage. He then advised that she have an eye rinse. A saline bag was hung above her head as she lay on the table. A white plastic contact lens was fitted with a clear plastic tube. Terry wears contact lenses sometimes so she was brave as the doctor put the device in her eye. I don't think I could have done that.

She had to lie there for about 20 minutes or as long as she could stand the procedure. The saline solution ran from her eye an then down her face soaking the pillow. It was a forced one eyed cry. Most people get very uncomfortable and call out to stop the procedure. Terry went for ten to fifteen minutes before she stopped. A fifteen minute rinse is what the internet site advised so she felt it was enough.

Finally, she was given an ointment which she was to squeeze out onto her lower lid. She would have to use the ointment three times a day for seven days. After this we went to see the movie Argo. I loved how Alan Arkins character would say, "Argo f*ck yourself" when he spoke about the movie. It was a very suspenseful film and really well made. We both gave it a 9 out of 10. That night, I watched The Walking Dead on AMC. Zombies died when  crowbars, machetes and re-bar were shoved into their skulls through their eye sockets. This happened again and again as zombies were slaughtered. Terry refused to watch.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mystery Sketch Theater



Every month at A Comic Shop on 436 near University Boulevard, there is a sketch session called Mystery Sketch Theater. The models are usually dressed as super heroes or Henai characters. Quite honestly I seldom know who the model is portraying. It is a great chance to loosen up and it is a luxury to have a model pose for 5, 10 and sometimes 20 minutes at a time.  I keep a small sketch journal for these quick academic poses, but I can’t resist drawing the artists around me. About ten to twenty artists gather each month. There always seems to be just enough artists to fill the available art desks.

Towards the end of the evening the organizers ask the artists to shout out a strange character or theme for the drawing. All the drawings from that pose are then put on the model stand and the model picks her favorite sketch. That artist then wins a prize which is usually a book about comics or movies. I seldom win this fantasy sketch round since I’m usually still working on my one overall sketch. I did win once, and I recall getting a plastic cup with blinking lights in the base.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Grand Palais Paris


The twelve hours of flying over the Atlantic was tough. I didn't manage to get any sleep while Terry slept the whole way. Walking the streets of Paris for the first time made it all worth while however. It was fashion week in Paris which meant that every supermodel in the world was there to strut the runways. We were on the lookout for famous people as we walked down Avenue Des Champs Elysees away from Arc De Triomphe. The Grand Palais is where I stopped to do my first sketch. Terry explored inside the Petit Palais behind me while I worked. She said the interiors were magnificent. It was late in the day towards disk and it was uniformly cloudy.

I assumed all the trucks parked in front of the Palais were there to set up for a fashion show, but it turned out that one art exhibit was being removed while a huge Edward Hopper exhibit was being installed in the Galeries Nationales. There were police everywhere. Hopper is one of my favorite painters and unfortunately I was here a week to soon. Paris never runs short of amazing history and lavish architecture to draw from. Terry went to Les Editeurs Cafe for an amazing meal that first night. We sat outside and enjoyed the three course pris fix meal. The waitress helped me pick out a wonderful sweet white wine to compliment my meal.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Musee de Cluny


Walking around our hotel in the Latin Quarter of Paris, Terry noticed a poster for a Medieval concert. Terry loves Medieval music having sung with a Medieval chorus when she lived in New York City. The next day we returned to go to the Musee de Cluny for the concert. The concert took place in the Notre Dame Room which was filled with sculptures from the cathedral's various stages of construction. 21 monumental heads originated from the gallery of the Kings of Juda (circa 1220-1230). They were buried during the French Revolution and discovered by chance in 1977.

The Musee de Cluny  is housed in two Paris monuments. The Northern Thermal Baths of Luteria, the only Gallo-Roman monument surviving in Paris, were probably built in the late 1st century and were active for about two centuries. The complex consisted of cold, tepid and hot rooms devoted to baths, physical exercise and underground rooms for administration, laundry and wood storage. The baths can be seen today from the street from behind black iron gates. They are an quiet open ruin with the hectic city life bustling around them. The one elevated room, the frididarium (cold room) was recently restored. The Hotel de Cluny was built on the site in the 15th century replacing the Parisian residence of the Cluny abbots that existed on the site since the 13th century. The museum today houses art from as early as the Roman Empire (51-58BC), the Middle Ages, Romanesque and Gothic Eras. Most of the sculptures, paintings and stained glass are religious in theme. The most stunning room is filled with the The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry set. These tapestries were lovingly restored and they cover every wall acting as huge cinematic storyboards.

The musicians spoke in French more than they played. I'm sure it was enlightening banter, but I didn't understand a word. When they did play, the music filled the ancient room transporting the audience back in time. There was another artist sketching in the audience. I suspected he was local, so I didn't get a chance to talk to him. I was in a city where sketching is the norm.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sunday in the Park With George.


I had too step out of an artist talk back with United Arts President and CEO, Floria Maria Garcia, at Urban ReThink about the state of the arts in Orlando. It was a hot topic on which I have plenty of opinions but little time to express them. I rushed over to Church Street and sat in the very back row of the brand new Harriet Theater to see the Mad Cow Theater production of Sunday in the Park With George.  The lobby is magnificent with a large plate glass window view overlooking Church Street. The new theater offers roomier seating but the low office building ceilings offer a challenge since it limits the height of the stage sets. The stage was a blank canvas. White panels were arranged accordion style across the back of the stage. Executive Director, Mitzi Maxwell, introduced the play which she called Stephen Sondheim's tribute to creativity. I first saw the play in 1983 in New York City, and I fell in love with it. I would often play the cassette tape soundtrack as I painted until the audio tape eventually stretched and broke. Change is inevitable as we move on.

When George Seurat, played by Matt Horohoe, started sketching, Dot, played by Hannah Laird, the white panels were removed by actors in period costume to uncover Lisa Bucks wonderful painted rendition of the Island of La Grande Jatte. The play follows George's life and creative process as he creates a huge canvas celebrating a Sunday in the park. His relationship wit Dot becomes strained as he looses himself in his work. This stage production brought back all the joy and emotions from the show I first experienced in New York City. Now that I am older and obsessed with capturing life, I better understand George Seurat.

In my sketch, I tried to assemble the cast in a fair approximation of where they were in George's final composition.  Since the composition was finalized for only a short moment, I didn't catch every character. Like any urban sketch done on location, I placed figures where they best balanced out the composition I was assembling. I placed George Seurat where the monkey would be found in his painting. The second act isn't as strong as the first, but it features my favorite song, Art isn't Easy! I absolutely loved this show, and the cast did an astounding job of keeping up with Sondheim's fast paced lyrics. The show continues through October 28th. Performances are selling out so get your tickets now! As I got up to leave my pencil sharpener fell out of my lap and crashed to the floor. It popped open spilling pencil shavings everywhere. Embarrassed, I picked up a few with my fingers but decided a vacuum would hopefully pick up the delicate curled shavings with little effort.

"White: a blank page or canvas. His favorite - so many possibilities."
- George Seurat

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Orange, White and Blue Gala


Devin Dominguez invited Terry and I to Evening in the Grove, was an Orange, White and Blue Gala honoring the Orlando Magic with proceeds benefiting the Art and History Museums of Maitland. I wore a blue and white striped shit,with a blue tie and jacket. The event was at the Sheraton Orlando North Hotel in Maitland. I had sketched a wedding reception here once. As soon as guests entered the hotel. they were greeted by Ashley and Amy, two of the Orlando Magic dancers. I wandered around the lobby looking at all the silent auction items but I couldn't find a spot to sketch. Dawn Schreiner was doing quick portraits for anyone who wanted to sit for a bit. There were several Orlando Magic players, Bo Outlaw and Nick Anderson, sitting by themselves but they looked bored and so I decided that the chipper dancers were my best bet for a decent sketch during the cocktail hour. They posed with people and waited patiently between photo shoots. They didn't quite know shat to make of me and they peeked at the sketch in its early stages.

They wandered off and I debated about abandoning the sketch. I figured they were creeped out by the loony with the sketchbook. I decided to focus on features of the room and before long, the dancers were back. Amy peeked again and said, "Moving on the ink, this is getting serious." This time I nailed down the dancers slender proportions. Raffle tickets were being sold by the arm length. Bidding on the silent auction items involved downloading a program on the smart phone where bids stacked up digitally, and you were even warned if someone outbid you. I tried to limit my palette to blue, white and orange. When I finished the sketch, I found my way to the dining area. The salads had just been served, so my timing was perfect. Speed painter, Tony Corbitt was on stage doing a painting of Paul McCartney of the Beetles. Tony usually takes his shirt off when he paints but event organizers insisted he keep his shirt on. I'm always impressed with the speed in which he nails a celebrity face using just white paint on a black board.

The live auction was lively with one of Tony's paintings bringing in over $300. Henry Maldonado,  president of thee Enzian Theater, acted as the Emcee. Speakers pointed out that the Orlando Magic Youth Fund had distributed over $17 million dollars through the Orlando Magic Youth Fund. Programs like, Journey to the Arts, help bring culture to at risk youth who might never get that experience otherwise. A young woman named  Mercedes Beaudoin got behind the mic to talk about her experience as an intern working for the Maitland Art and History Museums. She spoke of how much she learned and how grateful she was. The arts offered a long lasting meaningful purpose. Then she choked up as she said, "especially since my mother died recently." The room grew quiet as she regained her composure and spoke about how important the arts are in our lives. Everyone stood and clapped as she left the stage. The evening brought in a net total of $48,200. All monies raised will support art and history programming at the Art and History Museums of Maitlnd.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Flash Spooktacular Spoken Word #2


I went to Urban ReThink, (625 E Central Blvd, Orlando), on October 9th, for readings by local authors.This edition of There Will Be Words featured eight writers reading horror stories or ghost stories that are 500 words or less. The event is held on the second Thursday of every month starting at 7PM.  Jesse Bradley was the moderator so I sketched him since he stepped up to the mic between readings. 500 words fly by mighty fast when you are sketching. Authors included, Karen Best, Teege Braune, Arnie Ellis, Brendan Earl, Whitney Hamrick, Sam Lamura, Rafael Lancelotta, and Michael Pierre. John Hurst, a former Disney Feature Animation colleague, entered the event wearing a knitted beard and mustache. Walked up to a redheaded man with a beard and cap. They looked like twins. Everyone laughed as they posed for pictures together.

A small iPhone was on a tripod recording the authors. Some stories were funny while others were downright gory. One author imagined what it was like to be eaten alive. In this agonizing moment, he hoped they wouldn't ruin his looks making it hard for him to pick up zombie chicks. One of the more horrifically truthful stories was written a half hour before the event. The author went back into his family history to talk about an uncle who was murdered by a male lover. There was little consequence for the crime. Handmade, limited edition chapbooks featuring prose from each night’s readings are sold on site for $5 to support the event and its authors. Burrow Press will soon be selling 5 box sets of the There Will Be Words’ first year of chapbooks, all copies signed by the authors, as a fundraiser for future book projects.  After the event, John invited me out with his red headed buddy for some Mexican food. My sketch was done, and I felt I should get home, so I thanked him for inviting me, and then slipped away into the night.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dia de los Muertos


I went to the City Arts Factory for the opening of Dia de los Muertos, the day of the dead themed art show and block party. Pine Street was blocked off around the City Arts Factory with a large stage set up, art vendors, and a food truck. Large skeletal figures surrounded the entry way. Inside it was already packed and all the art in the hall and left gallery had highly ornate day of the dead skulls. I saw a flash of pink. It was Denna Beena ducking behind some black curtains. I followed and we entered a hectic backstage dressing room and makeup area. I recognized many of the Yow dancers and Denna graciously introduced me. Carolina Suarez Garcia came in and did her own makeup. She is the public relations manager for Tacatantán Records, one of the events producers along with The Orlando Downtown Arts District and Pink Hair Productions.I tried to find order in the chaos and clutter.

There was a mad rush to get the makeup done for all the performers before the 8PM Yow Dance, Thriller Flash Mob.  I thought I was sketching Yow dancers, but it turned out that these performers helped with Dali Live's painting performance on stage. Dali was dressed like the joker with a shock of green hair. He quickly painted a large portrait of the joker while dancing to loud techno music. Poison Ivy and the other characters danced as he painted. They were all characters from Batman movies and eventually Batman did a cameo walk on stage. The crowd loved it. There was a costume contest and day of the dead parade.

Yow dance lead the assembled crowd in the Thriller line dance. A few people joined in, but it was hot and most Central Floridians are rather reserved.  Children joined in. Terry arrived and I searched for her in the crowd. I texted each location I went to thinking it might help. I was up against the stage watching Dali Live when Terry bumped me in the shoulder. We walked away from the stage to the back of the crowd and sat on some steps behind two girls with large snakes. A guy was coaching them saying they shouldn't let people touch the snakes heads or grab at them. Terry wanted to take a picture, but the girls wanted money.  Terry was tired, having just come from another corporate party, so I walked her back to her car and called it a night. The Dia de los Muertos exhibit at City Arts Factory is up through the end of October.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Interactive Puppetry


At the opening of the Handmade Puppet Dreams exhibit at City Arts Factory, Heather Henson, the founder of Ibex Puppet Company, had just opened a present from a friend. She held a sleek sculpture of a deer or ram or maybe it was an ibex. All the colorful tissue paper was on the floor, and a light breeze from someone passing by caused a sheet to move, begging me to play. I was reminded of a an interactive art performance by actress and puppeteer, Rebekah Lane, on October 16th as part of the Creative City Project. She staged her performances four times at different locations around Lake Eola. When I arrived she was stuffing colorful tissue paper into brightly colored shopping bags. She explained to me that the idea for the performance came about after she attended a recent puppetry workshop. She learned about the work of Albrecht Roser. She explained that there are two ways to approach a story. First you can write a story and then find the materials with which to tell the story. The other approach is to let the materials influence and mold the story.

I was excited at the prospect of a performance in public catching people by surprise. A small foot ladder held a wicker rattle, an iHome stereo player and some thin green wire strands.  The puppet show banner hung from a flaccid length of PVC. She eventually found an existing sign near her staging area to support the banner. She turned on the stereo, playing some Felliniesque music and she approached passers by to try and drum up an audience. First three then five people gathered. Her performance was in mime. She offered the five people the shopping bags with delight in her eyes. They riffled inside the bags looking for what she was offering. All the colorful tissue paper was in the way. Then she extracted a bright blue tissue from a bag. Playfully, she crumpled the tissue into a long worm-like shape. She crouched down and had the tissue crawl about in the grass and then look around quizzically. Others played along. Soon there was a procession of caterpillars in the grass.

They moved to the ladder where a tissue paper cocoon was built and suspended with the silky wire strands. The caterpillars went inside and later emerged. Rebekah took the newly emerged tissue and she lifted it up into the breeze. It floated and danced in the wind. Every one's tissues flew up in the air like graduation caps hesitant to return to any head. People ran after their creatures before they could be blown into the lake. Rebekah then folded her tissue, creating wings and her hand acted as the body and legs of a butterfly. A little girl was delighted when the butterfly landed on her head. There was an innocent Gelsomina joy in this performance that playfully asked people to imagine life in the colorful, and inanimate, while offering them the luxury of play. Sometimes we all need a little reminder that life isn't all about meetings and schedules.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Handmade Pupppet Dreams Halloween


Halloween is coming and Handmade Puppet Dreams is ready to show Orlando, FL its darker side. In addition to a 15-foot display of puppets in City Arts Factory, this ghastly gallery exhibit will feature a 2-hour loop of Handmade Puppet Dreams creepiest, crawliest, Halloween-iest films for the public to enjoy any time during open gallery hours (11:00AM till 6:00PM) through the end of October!

 The 3rd year of the Annual Dia de los Muertos and Monster Factory. Co-produced by The Downtown Arts District, Tacatant├ín Records, and Pink Hair Productions, this exhibit features the work of international, national, and local artists and, this year, will feature a gallery installation by IBEX Puppetry spotlighting Heather Henson's Handmade Puppet Dreams! The Handmade Puppet Dreams segment of the gallery will feature puppets from the films of Ron Binion (AlienCow Puppet Show Redux), David Michael Friend (Moonfishing), Sam Koji Hale (Yamasong), Lyon Hill (Junk Palace and Incubus), Kevin McTurk (The Narrative of Victor Karloch), and Scotty Shoemaker, Tony Giordano, and Jason Murphy(Harker). Screenings will include The Narrative of Victor Karloch, Suck-A-Thumb, AlienCow Puppet Show Redux, Calalilly, Harker, Incubus, In the House of the Sin Eater, Junk Palace, Yamasong, Moonfishing, and Graveyard Jamboree.

Hannah Miller was busy getting the puppets ready for display on the day before the opening.  Midway through the install she turned on the flat screen TV to show the films. Each of the puppets I sketched were in the films. It was like having movie actors pose who are eternally patient. My favorite short film was Moonfishing which had gorgeous silhouetted settings with curvacious Art Nouveau organic curls, and a magical heart warming story. When pizza arrived at 1PM, all the other people who were hanging art disappeared never to be seen again. Hannah called Jack Fields to help as she finished the installation. I admired their teamwork when hanging the posters high on the wall. Hanging a show is hard work.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thriller Flash Mobs

The Creative City Project came about as a result of a conversation between Cole Nesmith and Terry Olson, the Director at Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs. The Creative City Project involves gorilla style performances in public spaces every day of the month in October.

The Orlando Ballet had a Thriller themed flash mob on October 12th in the Plaza Theater Courtyard in Downtown Orlando at noon as part of The Creative City Project. I arrived a bit late and there was a crowd of people in business attire milling around the plaza. A 7-11 which recently opened in the plaza was packed. I was afraid I had missed the flash mob but  Robert Hill, the company's artistic director let me know that there would be three more performances about every 15 minutes. Each performance would be just three minutes. That would be a challenge to catch an entire cast dancing in three minutes. I felt I had bit off more than I could chew.

I climbed the stairs for an aerial view of the staging area. Suddenly I was surrounded by the entire ballet cast all dressed in black. They were posing for a photo in front of the Plaza Theater marquee and resting before the next performance. In the bright noon light they tended to look more like cheerleaders rather than zombies. I considered sketching them, but they went back downstairs just as I started. A woman's piercing scream shifted my attention to the courtyard. She ran to the center of the courtyard, screaming the whole time. People turned to look concerned. Then Michael Jackson's Thriller boomed from the sound system. The entire cast danced as zombies and ghouls. People kept gathering to watch. Then as Vincent Price laughed, the performers disappeared. The flash mob was used to help promote Vampire's Ball which will run from October 19th to the 21st. The show is advertised as being frightening, erotic, and campy. I saw a preview from last year's show and it looked amazing.

Tonight after 6PM at the City Arts Factory, Yow Dance will also be performing a Thriller Flash Mob as part of Dia Des Los Muertos and Monster Factory. At this flash mob, everyone is being encouraged to join in. So put on your best zombie attire and get out and dance! There will be makeup artists at City Arts Factory in case you need some extra gory wounds.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Room with a View

Terry and I took the Paris metro from the airport to Hotel Pantheon. We were delighted to find out that out that we had been upgraded to a room with a view. A municipal building in the square in front of the Pantheon had a wedding ceremony going on.  Colorful confetti was thrown over the coulee as they left the building. A crowd of guests stood in the street afterwards. A wedding photographer took pictures of the couple with the Pantheon as a backdrop. There was no mad rush to get to a reception. A large vintage sedan with its chauffeur was waiting at the corner.

This view was from the hotel window and it was the first sketch I did in Paris after I opened the window shutters. It was obvious from the start that there would be no shortage of interesting subjects in this city. Terry and I went inside the Pantheon to look around. In the basement there were catacombs with crypts. One room held the remains of authors Victor Hugo, 1807-1885, and Emile Zola, 1840-1902. The Pantheon had a huge pendulum suspended from the large central dome. There was an exhibit of original manuscripts from Jean Jacques Rousseau. Terry and I looked through but didn't linger. Murals and statuary decorated every corner and alcove of the interior. One huge room housed a scale model of the Pantheon itself.

It was good that our hotel was near this major landmark since it helped us navigate back after we got lost on the myriad of angular rooked streets of Paris. Inevitably we were always lost since there was no grid pattern to follow.  Streets would often end at public places and only a few of thee street names ever seemed to actually be on the map. Once while I was trying to read the map, a little old French lady walked right into me to push me aside. She was like an ant unable to consider the notion of walking around. The country celebrates youth even more than America, so perhaps that is why the older ladies seem so bitter. I eventually abandoned the maps and wandered the streets by instinct and feel. Every turn would result in another stunning find so that is when the adventure begins. It only became important to get a feel for where the River Seine was in relation to where we were.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Skill Focus Burlesque Presents: Classis Horror


I went to a Skill Focus: Burlesque rehearsal of Classic Horror at the Peacock Room. Skill Focus is Orlando's premiere nerdy burlesque troupe. The Peacock Room has been lavishly decorated for Halloween with life sized ghouls, demons and plenty of spider webs. The rehearsal was just getting started and Ruby Darling, the troupes director, had the performers run through their numbers in the order they arrived to the rehearsal.  On stage Andy Matchett was setting up for the live performance by The Continentals. Andy Matchett, Matthew Mendel, and Shawn Bryant - are Orlando's hippest trio of musicians, who bring you all your favorite hits from the past with tons of style and a whole lot of rock and roll. The other members of the band hadn't arrived yet so Andy was flying solo. At one point Andy asked if anyone knew how to play guitar. One of the girls knew a few chords, so he handed her his guitar and showed her the chords he needed her to play. Then he asked for anyone who could drum. Count Dracula got on stage and pounded out a beat on the snare drum. Andy had an instant band.The other performers did arrive after a break and the Continentals gave a hip edge to each Burlesque act.

This nerdy burlesque tribute will pay homage to everyone's favorite classic movie monsters of the past, with live music by The Continentals! Come watch Dracula, the Bride of Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and more of your favorite creepy creatures take it off to the hottest songs of yesteryear. Skill Focus is made up of hot nerdy ladies (and guys!) who love geeking out and sequins, performing saucy, sassy, sultry striptease while portraying their favorite characters from comic books, video games, sci-fi, anime, horror, fantasy, you name it. Hosted by the illustrious Chan Sterling - human encyclopedia and master of dick jokes - Skill Focus is proud to present a lineup of seriously talented, seriously nerdy burlesque performers from Orlando: Ruby Darling, Cherry Bob-omb, Rickabilly Bond, Syber Digit, Shy Labuff, Fifi Latio, Nekkid RoboJoe, and Rosita "Queen of Offensive Burlesque" Sparkles.

The rehearsal was insanely fun with satin capes, baubles, glitter and plenty of flirtatious bump and grind. An eight foot stage runway will be added to the room allowing the ladies and guys to walk out into the audience. Guaranteed, this will be a standing room only show. Don't miss the HORROR!

The show is TONIGHT, Tuesday, October 16th at 10pm. The doors and bar open at 9pm. 18+ only, please!  The Peacock Room 1321 N. Mills Ave., Orlando, with plenty of parking in back and on the side streets.
Tickets are $12 at the door. $2 off for Halloween Horror Nights team members! - If you are an Halloween Horror Night team member, please bring your work ID to the show to avoid extra charges at the door.



Monday, October 15, 2012

Tijuana Flats


On my way to Urban ReThink, I decided to stop by Tijuana Flats, (8 North Summerlin Ave.), for some Mexican food and a sketch. I ordered a Chimichanga and a Coke. Anytime I eat alone I end up sketching. Two men sat at a table opposite me having an animated conversation about sports. The walls were covered with quirky murals of aliens in UFOs. The murals had an urban graffiti quality to them.

I’m writing this post on a flight back to Orlando from Paris. I was surprised by how much graffiti there was in and around Paris. Of course there is always more graffiti along railroad tracks. It was odd that most tags were crossed out with a single spray painted line. Only tags that were precariously high had any hope of lasting. I suppose graffiti is an ephemeral art. In a city with so much beautiful art, architecture, and history, the graffiti was just an eyesore.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Phantasmagoria

I went to a dress rehearsal for Empty Space Theater Company's, Phantasmagoria III in the Patron's Room at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center. The circular room was magically transformed into a circus ring. Suspended below the circular dome was a circular screen which was used for projections. The rehearsal began with a 7PM fight choreography session. Even rehearsed at 1/4 speed, the sword fight was strangely menacing in the small space.

John DiDona, the director, then circled up all the actors to hold hands before a complete run through of the show. He told the cast, "Every story is important. We are dangerous, we have seen to much." Someone shouted, "Merde!", or was it "Murder? The room went dark as actors took their places. Two clowns in simple black suits began wrestling with boxes in the ring to comic effect. John let me know that this was the 13 minute pre-show that went on as the audience filtered in.

The Phantasmagoria cast tells some of the classic horror stories incorporating music, dance, puppetry and drama to sinister effect. The Tell Tale Heart, by Edgar Allan Poe made great use of projections on the overhead screen with chipped wall paint patterns and then  giant eye as the narrator discussed the cold blooded, highly thought out plot to kill his neighbor, an old man. The whole cast recreated the sound of the heart with guttural verbalization. It was creepy. The Cold Embrace told the tale off an artist who fell in and out of love with a cousin. Heart broken, the cousin died and then returned to haunt the fickle artist, embracing him with her invisible cold fingers.

The dark show was filled with dancing skeletons, a giant bloodthirsty wolf and beings in the darkness that were hard to identify. The ringmaster was barefooted, because corpses are barefooted in the morgue, Brittany Wine explained. Characters at times stood behind me as they whispered their lines sending a chill down my spine. The circular room is intimate, small, with no room to escape. These were classic tales told with drama and effect. Now in it's third year, the show keeps growing and evolving along with it's characters, each of whom had a dark painful back-story.

When: October 12-31st,  8:30 p.m.
Venue: Lowndes Shakespeare Center, Patron's Room
Address: 812 E. Rollins St.
Phone: (407) 328-9005
Price: $20

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Creative City Project


Sarah Lockhard invited me to participate in a Creative City Project she was organizing in Lake Eola Park with Brie Hinman. The Creative City Project was birthed out of the belief that artists can change a city for the better by making it a more beautiful, meaningful and interesting place to live.
The original plan was for me to do a digital sketch projected live while Brie danced to a Tom Waits poem. Creative project have a way of morphing and we didn't have any opportunity to rehearse, so I decided to simply sketch the dance event like any other event. Sarah told me the morning before that Brie would be dancing on the grassy peninsula beside the Japanese pagoda. I arrived a half an your early to start blocking in the composition.

Ducks, geese and swans populated the peninsula and the was bird droppings everywhere. I don't think they had planned for this so I fired off a text to Sarah that simply said, "Bird Poop!" I found a spot near a tree stump and started sketching. I planned to put the dancers in when they arrived. The tree stump ironically had a brass plaque that said thee tree was planted in dedication to the patients that suffered from Cancer at Florida Hospital. That scarred stump was an odd form of education.

I finished the sketch and started populating it with geese. The dancers were late. I saw a girl on the dock next to the pagoda and I figured she was the dancer. The sky's were overcast and it rained lightly several times but not hard enough to stop me. My sketch was finished when Sarah, Brie and Genevieve Bernard showed up. Genevieve set up a picnic blanket to relax and watch the dance. A small boom box was used to play the sound track from Amelie. Brie was dressed in a light flowing blue skirt and she flowed with the music. It began to rain and Sarah joined the dance with her umbrella. I quickly sketched them into the scene. The rain grew heavier but Brie continued to dance. It was a magical moment.  Soon my umbrella started leaking sending large drops onto the watercolor. II had to pack up and go in order to save the sketchbooks from getting permanently damaged. as I left, Brie and Sarah were still spinning in the torrential rain. Some creative endevours last but a moment.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Disney Security Kiosk


Before leaving Orlando, performance artist, Brian Feldman wanted to produce a second performance of Thor sketches the Audience for the United Arts, Arts Fest in February . He had the idea of using the theater at Disney University as the venue. I drove down to Disney to meet him and Tommy Wingo. Tommy handled all the tech details the first time around with the projectors and screens. I changed into my nice pants since I figured I needed to fit the Disney look as we met the theater promotions folks.

When I got to the Disney Institute the security guard at the entrance asked me for my driver’s license. I searched my pants and wouldn’t you know, my wallet wasn’t there. I had left it in the old pair of pants. Fay, the security guard couldn’t let me onto the Disney property. I sat with her in her little security kiosk as I called Brian and the Disney folks to try and get in. I think one of the promotions people went out to the wrong kiosk to get me. Security has been this tight ever since 9/11 and I just might be a terrorist. I know I’m an anarchist.


The theater is absolutely gorgeous with plush theater seats and an old school look, reminding me of the Ford Theater where Lincoln was shot. We discussed lighting and the position of screens. The Disney folks were a pleasure to talk to. The first time, I rented the theater space at the Shakespeare Theater for about $300. In the parking lot near the Disney Theater, Tommy, Brian and I joked about how expensive it would be to rent the Disney Theater for the night. We placed bets and I believe I had the high bet at $5000. Much later, we found out it would cost $30,000 to rent the space. That included renting several Disney Buses to transport audience members from a distant lot. The invoice did say that they world throw in a folding table for the evening at no extra cost. Needless to say, we didn't rent from Disney.