Friday, November 30, 2012

Art Reach Orlando





At Urban ReThink, Brendan O'Connor started telling me about several mural projects he is helping spearhead.  He spoke excitedly about a mosaic mural that was in the planning stages in Apopka. Migrant workers were being asked to contribute items that came with them when they moved to Florida. QR codes and micro chips might also be embedded in the mosaic so that anyone with a smart phone could scan the mural and listen to interviews and history behind the items. He then invited me to Corner Lake Middle School in Bithlo the next day to sketch the beginning stages of a mural being started there. Christie Miga is the artist in residence who created the mural image.

When I arrived, the hallway was crowded with kids. Two young girls were tracing lines on an image projected on the wall.  The rest of the kids were sitting in the hall doing their homework or playing tag. Brendan O'Connor quickly introduced me to everyone. Brendan and Sarah Zimmer work for Art Reach Orlando as project managers. Marsha Selby is a teacher from the school. She's a science teacher that does art on the side in her own free time since the school doesn't offer it. Unfortunately the traffic on Colonial Drive got me to the school about half an hour late. All the kids were packing up to get back home.

I decided to try and get a sketch anyway. Do to a minor glitch, Christie needed to readjust the image.  Those adjustments gave me time to finish my sketch. Sarah and Brendan helped her make all the adjustments.  The work went quickly now that the hall was quiet. I remember similar adjustments had to be made the first day I had students help me with the Mennello Museum Mural. I asked them to cover the wall with pencil grid lines every foot. I went inside the museum to sketch several people for the mural. When I came back out, I  found the grid started out good but then the grid lines arched upward by the time they got to the other end of the wall.

Christie Miga's mural image was developed in Illustrator on the computer. She explained that they were just projecting the background elements today. Later other elements will be layered on top. The image to start had large arching shapes that looked like hillsides. Time will tell what the final image looks like. Christie wanted to keep the image simple to start.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Arles


I was excited when we got to Arles, France which was the home base for Vincent Van Gogh when he did hundreds of his vibrant post impressionistic paintings. We went inside the asylum where he was interred after he cut off his ear. The inner courtyard  garden was supposed to be planted exactly as it was when he painted it a hundred years ago. It was instead ripped up with all the soil in chaotic piles. It was a depressing sight so I decided to settle instead in a bustling public square called Place de La Republic. The street to my left was full of shops which Terry explored as I sketched.

In the center of the square is a fourth century Roman Obélisque. It was first erected by the Roman Emperor Constantine II in the center of the a large open-air venue used for public events in Arles. After the circus was abandoned in the 6th century, the obelisk fell down and was broken in two parts. It was rediscovered in 14th century. And it was re-erected in its current location in 17th century on top of a pedestal designed by Jacques Peytret. A fountain at the base was designed by Antoine Laurent Dantan in 19th century.

Diet Coke was being offered for free from a tricycle with a portable refrigerator on the front of it. Large groups of boisterous school kids sat at the base of the of the Obélisque. Empty coke cans littered the ancient paving stones at my feet. It is a shame I don't like Diet Coke, I was offered some every fifteen minutes or so.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Palais Des Papes

When Terry and I arrived in Avignon, we immediately took a walking tour to the Palais des Papes, or the Pope's Palace.The entire city of Avignon is surrounded by a fortified stone wall. We followed the wall and winding cobbled streets to the Palais. I settled in and sketched from the public square while Terry explored the gardens. The sky turned slate blue and threatened to rain. I considered sitting under a cafe umbrella but it blocked my view. I got half way through the sketch before it started to rain. My compact umbrella got me through the rest although the page still got soaked.

 When Terry got back, we climbed the steps to explore the gardens together. I walked the streets of Avignon often since I needed to find an internet cafe from which to post. I was exploring back alleys and narrow roads like an expert by the end of our week long stay. We discovered some really wonderful places for dinner but we also discovered that reservations are always required.

Terry witnessed a woman at the Palais church who was screaming during the recessional, and had to be forcibly removed.  We later saw the same woman at a restaurant and Terry said to me, "Hey, that's the crazy lady I told you about." Unfortunately, the woman understood English. And she told Terry that she wasn't crazy. She does however have conflicting viewpoints from the church. I thought for a minute that the woman might be the owner of the restaurant. The Maitra d asked us if we had a reservation, which unfortunately we didn't. As he walked us to a restaurant around the corner he did relate that the woman was a bit of a character.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nimes France


After a week of exploring Paris, Terry and I traveled south to Provence to explore the smaller, and warmer cities. We used Avignon as our home base staying in Lumani, a bed and breakfast inside the ancient Medieval city walls.  One of the owners was a working artist and her studio was at the back of the public courtyard.  One evening it was illuminated and I sneaked in to catch a glimpse of her abstract paintings. Grape vines covered the old stone walls. Nimes was a short ride in our rental car, an automatic Porche, which was a hybrid car that unfortunately lurched whenever the foot was removed from the accelerator. When we got to Nimes, we parked in a shopping district but after examining the street signs, we decided to drive into an underground parking garage.

We walked to this historic Roman Amphitheater, Arenes Colosseum, built in 70AD and remodeled in 1863 to be used for bull fighting.   The ring is used twice annually today for bull fights. Pablo Picasso was inspired to create many bull fighting themed paintings after attending a fight at the Colosseum. The bull fighter in my sketch is a bronze statue and I didn't catch the name of the artist. One woman approached me asking for a donation for her cause. She would have made a good Public Relations professional. Terry explored the inside of the Colosseum while I sketched the outside. It has seen plenty of wear and tear through the ages, but is just as functional as the day it opened.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sacred Slave Stories


"Sacred Slave Stories," created by Dario J. Moore, tells the stories of actual slaves through original music and the emotional impact of dance. The Center for Contemporary Dance has received a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which it will use to produce Moore Dance Project's "Sacred Slave Stories" for Orange County schoolchildren. This is the second year that "Sacred Slave Stories" has received a grant through the program. The contemporary dance program will be presented to 1,000 students from Orange County Title I public schools throughout February in partnership with the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center in Sanford. Student presentations of "Sacred Slave Stories" are further supported by funding from United Arts of Central Florida, the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs, Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation and Target Stores.

I went to the Center of Contemporary Dance to sketch a rehearsal of "Sacred Slave Stories." The personal stories gathered are harsh and real. A woman related how severe a beating she got when she ate some bread she found while she was cleaning a home. The contemporary dance was narrative and powerful. A dancer raised a fist in anger but was held back by his lover. Male dancers moved huge imaginary loads on their backs, pausing under the weight. The dance is meant to convey hope while acknowledging the harsh and brutal realities of slavery.

The Center for Contemporary Dance  presented its 2012-2013 Season Preview, which took place  on Sunday, November 18, 2012 at Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park.  This season preview introduced  the organization's Eleventh Annual Season of Dance, and included sneak-peek performances of upcoming works in the 2012-2013 event season.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Eiffel Tower

Terry and I eventually make it to see the Eiffel Tower. We had seen it in the distance from the other side of Paris from the Pantheon. The whole tower lights up with blinking flash bulbs. We decided to go to the tower at sunset to catch the light show. Neither of us wanted to to go to the top of the tower. Large crowds stood in line at the base of the tower to get in the elevators that go up into the lattice work. The structure was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair, it has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world.

Police were walking along the hedges keeping an eye open for abandoned packages. In the park across the street vendors hawked metal models of the tower hanging from metal rings. I never actually saw anyone buy one of these tourist trinkets, but there were dozens of these vendors aggressively selling their wares. As the sun set, the tower caught the warm orange light as the park turned blue in the shadows.

There must be billions of cell phone photos of the tower. Tourists stood and sat on the stone steps taking pictures of their loved ones with the tower in the background. The steps grew cold as it got darker and we bundled up. Once the sky was dark enough, the tower finally flickered on. The crowd murmured. Terry scrambled to find her cell phone to take a picture. The last time she saw the tower she didn't have enough  time to take a photo. The blinking light show only lasts for ten minutes every hour to save energy.  

When it was built, not everyone liked the tower. A committee of 300, one member for each meter of the towers height, wrote, "We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection…of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower … To bring our arguments home, imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all of our humiliated monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream. And for twenty years … we shall see stretching like a blot of ink the hateful shadow of the hateful column of bolted sheet metal"

Upon the German occupation of Paris in 1940, the lift cables were cut by the French so that Adolf Hitler would have to climb the steps to the summit. The parts to repair them were allegedly impossible to obtain because of the war. When visiting Paris, Hitler chose to stay on the ground. It was said that Hitler conquered France, but did not conquer the Eiffel Tower. A Frenchman scaled the tower during the German occupation to hang the French flag. French hearts in time warmed to the landmark.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Notre Dame Cathedral


The Pont de l’Archevêché bridge over the Seine had thousands of small padlocks, locked onto the iron grating. They sparkled, golden and silver in the sun like so many jewels. Known as Love Locks, the trend took off more than three years ago, thousands of padlocks have been locked to the bridge by lovers looking to symbolize their endless passion. A Paris municipal authority announced that the locks were becoming an eyesore. He further added that the practice "posed the question of preserving heritage, and that in time the padlocks would have to be removed". In May of 2010 all but a handful of the padlocks vanished overnight from the bridge. All eyes turned to the Mayor's office, but he denied authorizing the removal. Some suggested the locks were removed during the night to avoid negative publicity, others speculated that it was the work of scrap metal thieves. But as soon as they were removed, shiny new locks started to reappear. I wasn't about to try and sketch thousands of padlocks, but I felt I had to sketch Notre Dame.

I escaped the crowd on the bridge by walking down the stone steps to the Quai. I set up my artist stool against a tall tree and started to sketch. There was an artist doing an oil painting less than fifty yards away. Restaurant barges dock here and tourists were filing in for lunch. It was rather quiet and peaceful down on the Quai whereas the bridges and the island Notre Dame sat on were a constant mob scene. A group of tourists gathered at the water taxi stop. The trees were turning orange with the first fall chills. I seldom sketch outside in Orlando since is is always so darn hot.  Thus it was a real pleasure to relax in the shade to sketch hundreds of years of Gothic architectural history.

Terry and I did go inside Notre Dame and the Rose windows were gorgeous. The shear scale of the space is humbling. An angry french woman shouted at the tourists in the square in front of the cathedral. In the evening, roller bladers, musicians and performers of all kinds converge on the square to seek tips from tourists. The Île de la Cité on which Notre Dame was built is the true heart and center of Paris.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bella: The Beauty of ME Dance


ME Dance, Inc. is the Newest Professional Dance Organization located in the heart of Central Florida. I went to one of the final dress rehearsals for Bella by the Marshall Ellis Dance Company.  Bella is the second series of performances by this dance company. When I arrived, dancers were stretching and Marshall was sweeping the stage and applying what I'm guessing was a liquid wax to the flooring.  One dancer was wearing a white tutu and of course I felt compelled to sketch her. She was the first dancer to perform a solo. A large screen was set up onto which a video of this dancer was projected. She walked through a park and then began writing in her note book about life's challenges and emotions. Each dance was preceded by one of these video segments in which she wrote about various aspects of life as she grew and matured. The human experience of love is designed for the sole purpose of showing you who you truly are and it is expressed vibrantly through dance.

After a full run through, Marshall Ellis asked the dancers if they could recite the dance company's mission statement. It is, "To introduce innovative ideas through dance to create growth in the arts community. Our goal is to enrich the arts community by providing an outlet to feature talent in art through entertainment."  He felt the first run was technically amazing but he wanted to feel that undefinable spark, the magic and joy of fully expressed emotion through entertainment. It wasn't just about a smile, but about absolute commitment to artistic expression. With another hour to rehearse, the dancers performed a second time. This time they performed "all out". A high energy 80's dance number had all the dancers trying to catch their breath. Marshall has invested so much of himself to make ME Dance, the premiere dance company in Central Florida. That takes plenty of blood sweat and tears. As I left around 11PM, the dancers were still hard at work. Art isn't easy.

Show Times:
November 23, 2012 - 8pm
November 24, 2012 - 8pm
November 25, 2012 - 7:30pm
Ticket Prices: $20 General Admission 
Venue: John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center, The Mandell Theatre Orlando Shakespeare Theater 812 E. Rollins St. Orlando, FL 32803

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Play in a Day, Tech


A flock of 50 artists awake and together at 7AM at the Lake Howell High School Auditorium to start rehearsing for Play in a Day. I got there around 11:30AM or so. I asked Beth where I could find Aradhana's Cast. She didn't know where that cast was rehearsing. Different casts had staked out different class rooms. I asked everyone I met where I could find the cast. I had arrived at an inopportune time to sketch because everyone was about to break for lunch. During lunch I found the female actress from Aradhana's play named Gwendolyn Equality Boniface. She let me know that they were rehearsing in the boys dressing rooms. Of course! Why didn't I think of that! After lunch she explained that they would be doing tech on the main stage.

Beth Marshall was being interviewed by a new video blogger who was asking her questions about Play in a Day. She pointed out that the high school venue had the advantage of offering young aspiring actors the chance to work beside and learn from seasoned actors. The first play on stage for Tech was a CSI themed play that showed a manic, stupefied playwright seated behind a computer with Mountain Dew cans strewn all over the stage. A female officer examined a can by picking it up with a pen. The playwright shouts out "They want me to write another play!" His face twitched. Another officer explained the horrifying specifics of the crime but it could best be summed up as play in a day. A prisoner in a jumpsuit whispered, "No one should try and produce a play in a day, it isn't humanly possible!"

Aradhana's five minute play was the next play on stage. Chelsea Adams Locklear directed the piece. A high school girl, played by Gwendolyn, was doing pleas to stretch before a dance rehearsal with her flamboyant boyfriend played by Cory Price.  She muttered "Owe" after each squat. The boy teased her until she admitted that she shaved herself. He said, "I hope you don't catch a cold." and he made sneezing gestures with his hand pointing at her crotch. "A chew! A chew!" She wanted to go home but he was depending on her. A teacher tried to find out what was wrong and he reassured her saying "It is only natural."  Her friend laughed, saying, "He thinks your having your period!" She was mortified. I liked how the short play resolved itself with the two friends on the edge of the stage blowing bubbles. She had shaved to feel more like an adult but as a result she felt more childish than ever. The two friends playfully chased each other off stage. There was an innocence despite the uncomfortable subject. I was glad I got to see what had been typed out the night before as I sketched the playwright Aradhana Tiwari. I couldn't stay for the show because I had to do a live projected sketch performance at a concert. I packed up to leave once the actors took their bows.

Money raised from Play in a Day went towards first annual Beth Marshall Presents, District 3 Thespian "Wild Card" Scholarship, which will be awarded to an emerging theater student.  Aradhana won the voter choice award for Revolution which was her one minute production at Play in a Day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Play in a Day


Play in a Day involved 12 plays written, rehearsed, and then performed in front of a live audience in less than 24 hours! At 6PM on Friday November 9th playwrights met at Lake Howell where themes are announced and logistics discussed. Producer Beth Marshall announced that the five minute theme would be "High School" and the one minute theme would be "The Aftermath". Then all the playwrights left to start writing. They needed to finish a one minute and five minute play by 6:30AM the following morning. Then all the directors and actors would meet up Saturday Novovember10th at Lake Howell for solid day of rehearsal. In the past, Play in a Day was produced at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, but this year it would use the much larger stage of Lake Howell High School's auditorium. Since authors are often the unsung heroes in this 24 hour production marathon, I asked Beth if I could sketch a writer at work and I was assigned to sketch Aradhana Tiwari. 

I was late to the writers meeting on November 9th. Aradhana texted to let me know she was doing research for her high school themed piece. The parking lot at Lake Howell High School was jammed. I thought to myself, "There can't be that many playwrights in Orlando." Then I heard the piercing screech of a whistle. Aradhana was getting her research and inspiration from a high school football game.  After several texts, I found her in the home team bleachers. She was eaves dropping on a group of four teenagers seated in the bleachers behind her. Then she interviewed the kids, asking them about their teachers, friends and relationships. It was a cold night for Orlando and she had on sandals so at half time she let me know she was ready to start writing. Actually the one minute piece was written in her head as soon as Beth announced the "Aftermath" theme. A character sat at a table devouring Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets as another character glowered at him. This piece turned into a political debate the next morning because Beth refused to allow Chick-fil-A chicken on her stage. She is boycotting the restaurant chain because of their anti-gay stance. Aradhana had to scramble for some other processed chicken sandwiches the morning of the show.

Five minutes may seem like a short time, but for a writer, it is an eternity until the pieces all fall in place. I met Aradhana at a Olive Garden Restaurant on Colonial Drive which is where she began to write. She ordered a bowl of black olives and a red wine. She put ear buds in her ears so she could listen to music as she worked, drowning out the clatter of all the bustling tables around her. At times she smiled and laughed to herself as she wrote. Shattered fragments of dialogue began to form. Most authors write comedy for Play in a Day, but her work tends to be more dramatic. She read to me some of what she had written. "This is either really good or really bad." She said. As in viewpoints, there would be no safe middle ground. The title of the play took me by surprise. A high school girl  stretched for a dance performance, she was very uncomfortable in her leotards. She was rehearsing with a flamboyant boyfriend who teased her until she admitted she had shaved. He teased her about her prickly situation.

Aradhana left to continue writing at home. I lingered, continuing to work on the sketch. I always need to finish what I start, even as life rushes by. At 2AM in the morning, Aradhana panicked and threw out everything she had written. The deadline was just four hours away and she began all over again from scratch. She finished the play with just minutes to spare and rushed the script to the theater. She was awake for 37 or so hours straight. As a student said in the bleachers, "We are fire breathing dragons!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hedwig and the Angry Inch


As Dorothy Massey who plays Yitzhak and Brian Thompson who plays Hedwig sat on the tailgate of the van filled with costumes, Dorothy lamented that the show had a hard run. Some nights they had performed with only 3 people in the audience. The night before closing night they had 15 people. They always gave their all regardless.

After sketching back stage, I settled in at the back of the small Majestic Theatre and Lounge inside the Revolution Nightclub (375 South Bumby Avenue). It is actually the perfect venue for the show, being small and intimate with flaming touches of gold opulence. Hedwig is a Punk Rock princess in search of someone to complete herself, her other half. In search of validation and love, Hedwig had an operation in Germany that left him with an angry inch to express her sexuality. A small group of tattooed punk teens filled the front row. They shouted and talked on their cell phones. Hedwig shouted back, "You came here to see ME, darlings!" I thought they were part of the show at first, but Ally Gursky confided that they slipped in late without paying. They were gone by the second act.

Hedwig treated Yitak as his male side kick whom he berated and joked about as he talked about Tommy Gnosis, a boy he loved who went on to become a rock super star with the songs Hedwig helped him write. Dorothy as Yitzak was sullen and angry for most of the show.  When Hedwig stripped off his woman's clothing standing naked and sweating before the audience they went wild, over his song of acceptance and affirmation. We all hide a part of our true selves but he finally realized he needed to love himself before he could find acceptance and love from someone else.

Dorothy came out, this time dressed in a bright pink form fitting sequin gown and a blond wig. She sang Midnight Radio, a song of love, joy and acceptance. The room filled with an awe inspiring energy. Everyone raised their hands, waving them above their heads. Tears rolled down Dorothy's cheeks as she sang. I turned to look at Director, Tara Corless, who was aiming the huge theater spot light. She was in tears as well. Ally was rushing down the isles with her hands raised and beaming.  The audience was on fire. This was not your average performance. This was an overwhelming emotional catharsis on the closing night of the show. I was swept along with tears of joy and I put down my brush and raised my hands to clap loudly. After the show Tara got on stage to thank the audience. She got choked up as she said, "We've had a tough run, but you were the audience this show deserved." A performance like this affirms the absolute undefinable magic of theater when an audience and cast are one.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hedwig Manifestation

 
Director, Tara Corless, invited me to sketch as actor Brian Thompson got ready for the final night's performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Majestic Theatre and Lounge inside Revolution Nightclub ( 375 South Bumby Avenue). I arrived a bit early and all the doors to the club were locked. A fellow with long dark hair was waiting in the parking lot. It turned out he had left his cell phone in the club from the performance the night before. He had been waiting since 4PM and I believe the performers started arriving around 6PM. The lead actor and actress, Dorothy Massey who plays Yitzhak, and  Brian, who plays Hedwig, pulled up in a van. All the costumes were piled up in the back and they opened the tailgate and started eating their takeout Chinese food. Andy Matchett pulled up, rolled down his car window, and he asked if anyone wanted a drink since he was making a drink run. Dorothy began relating Saint Augustine ghost stories as the sun set. Every fifteen minutes or so, Cessna airplanes would swoop down over the Club on their approach to the Executive Airport.

The dressing room was maybe 10 feet square and the entire cast had to use the space. I found a spot to sketch from, and I checked with Dorothy to make sure I wasn't blocking anyone. It would take a full two hours for Hedwig to manifest and transform himself into a woman. His eyebrows were already shaved which would save time. Dorothy explained that her transformation to a man would take much less time. Stage manager, Ally Gursky, arrived with a container of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. She had skinned her knee the night before and somehow every piece of musical equipment carried through the dressing room managed to bonk her raw knee. Being insensitive, I couldn't help but chuckle.  On her iPhone, she played a wonderful video that pointed out the obvious and hilarious reason to be supportive of gay marriage. Then Tara arrived with containers full of red white and blue cupcakes left over from Veterans day no doubt. Dorothy straddled Brian's lap and started painting decorative swirling eyebrows. Andy arrived with a bottle of Burbon. He said to me, "Care to take that sketch to the next level?" He filled my cup and asked if I wanted some Ginger ale to water it down. I decided to taste the burbon first. My throat lit on fire and I whispered, "Yep, I need some ginger ale." My lines loosened up with each sip. Dorothy started dancing in wild abandon to "Do It With a Rockstar".

One of the Guitar players started to thank every one. "I started this show tentative and unsure, but you all made me feel at home. Thanks you everyone for your friendship and support, I'm going to miss you all when this show is over." Andy said, "No problem, Uhm, what is your name again?" Everyone laughed. Tara circled everyone up for a pre-show ritual. Half of the cast circled up their index finger and thumb creating a cavity in their palms while the rest of the cast inserted their index fingers in the warm cavities. All their hands and wrists intertwined. Ally shouted, "Five minuted to show time!" actors shouted back, "Thank you 5!" There was an electric excitement in the air. Tara announced that they had 30 people in the audience, that was the largest audience they had in the entire show's run. Andy claimed that on some nights they performed with only three people in the audience. This was a case off life imitating art imitating life,  The band went on stage and  a flash of electric music filled the theater with the Origin of Love. These rock stars were ready to raise the rafters!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ghost in the Machine

Timothy Stulman the president of Central Florida Composers Forum invited me  to be part of a concert on November 10. I suggested I could do a digital sketch live of the performers and project it during the performance at the White House November 10th. I figured that a sketch being created with the hand unseen would tie in well with the Ghost in the Machine title. I arrived early to set up. Timothy greeted Terry and myself at the door. He had a square three foot white canvas on the stage with an easel. The problem was there were computers and sound mixers in the way of the projector. I wanted the projection to be bigger, so I took the tablet and projector to the second floor. The projected image filled the ceiling. The color would be a bit off, but the audience could see themselves and the performers appear on the ceiling from this God's eye view. At one point I panicked because I couldn't find the brushes window. In the digital world, things always seem to crash or disappear into the ether. I tend to work slower digitally since I'm constantly trying to find windows and tools. Too much time is spent searching instead of sketching. At least in the real world, I can leave a brush in my lap and I'll know where to find it. I felt I ran out of time before I was done, then again, that is why it is a sketch. Of course it will always be fun to brag that I've drawn at the White House.

All compositions in the concert contained an electronic element, ranging from interactive computer patches, to surround sound, to recorded ambient noises. One composition was affected by people's tweets which scrolled across the top of the flat screen TV. I couldn't help but be reminded of Brian Feldman's performances of TXT. People laughed at the tweets as they scrolled. One read, "This is my first tweet, ever!" The concert featured several premieres, including Charles Griffin’s Enfold Us Beneath Open Wings, John Alvarez’s Fermions and Gauge Bosons, and a new work by Thomas Owen. Other featured composers are Thad Anderson, Keith Lay, and Timothy Stulman. The concert also featured the talents of vocalist Michelle Amato and Julie Bateman, saxophonist Timothy Rosenberg, and percussionist Nick Strange. The concert was part of the Accidental Music Festival, and was free and open to the public. As is the White House tradition, audience members were encouraged to bring a beverage or snack to enjoy before or after the concert. After the concert, several people asked me what software I had used, as if it was the machine that had created the image.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Riker's Ripoff

Terry and I went to the premiere of a brand new venue on International drive. There were valet assistants roadside, but we had been here before and figured, we would find our own parking in back. Terry guided me to a spot right near the entrance. There were no other cars in this area of the parking lot.

The premiere was amazing and we lingered after the show. When we finally left, I got an uneasy feeling as we walked back to the parking lot. The lot was now full of cars that were backed into their spaces. I had parked nose first and my car was gone. I clicked the door remote several times to be sure. "Shit, someone stole my car." What made it worse was that the tablet and projector were worth several thousand dollars combined and they were hidden below the back seats. The walk home might be about five miles.

There was a group of men in the parking lot and we walked over to them. Their car was gone as well. They pointed out a Tow Away Zone sign nailed to a tree. The sign was in a dark corner of the lot and we hadn't seen it. Riker's Roadside Service had their number on the sign and Terry called. She demanded to know what business was responsible for towing the car. She never got a straight answer. We were offered a ride to Riker's by a volunteer from the venue. It was out in the middle of nowhere (1425 Taft Vineland Road). The place was a suburban tract house with cars parked on the front lawn and a large fenced in area in back. A sign on the front door said we had to go to a walk up window on the side of the house. The doorbell was broken and there were no lights on inside. Terry called, 407 855-7776, again, and she was told someone would get to us in half an hour. I started to sketch while Terry sat on the stoop making more calls.

After about forty five minutes Tow Trucks started bringing in more cars. About five vehicles were Towed behind the building and locked behind the fences in short order, and then the trucks roared off to go get more. It would cost $150 to retrieve the stolen vehicle so this place was raking in big bucks. I sighed relief when I found that nothing had been stolen from inside the car. Riker's is an infamous prison right outside Manhattan so the name was appropriate for the lot full of stolen cars surrounded by fencing and razor wire. What is so infuriating is that Terry had looked around for signs when we parked and we didn't see the dark corner in the dark shadow below a tree where the sign was nailed. If the parking lot owner, whoever that might be, wanted to keep people from parking in the lot, he would invest in lights to illuminate the tow away zone signs. Riker's now is on my list of the most despised businesses in Orlando. Trespass towing seems to be a lucrative business and there are a small army of trucks on the prowl. Drivers ethics must wear down fast because a sign on the front door said, "Drivers wanted". Should I ever need roadside service, I'll be calling AAA not Riker's.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Musee d'Orsay

The first museum Terry and I went to in Paris was the Musee d'Orsay. Once a railroad station, the museum now houses an amazing art collection. We were expecting long lines but the line into the museum was surprisingly short. A security guard didn't like the looks of my portable artist stool however and I had to check it. We climbed immediately to the top floor where I started quickly surveying the paintings. I checked myself when I realized Terry was several rooms behind. There were rooms full of Corbet paintings, endless impressionistic landscapes and a fabulous collection of sculptures. The top floor windows opened up to a beautiful vista overlooking the Seine River as a statue stood vigilantly at the precipice. It was in this museum where the fantastic Honore Daumier sculpted busts of politicians was on exhibition. My only regret is that we somehow missed seeing a Vermeer painting.

Museum burn set in after we hit every floor. The museum is compact enough where you can see the whole collection in one day. It felt good to be back outside. Terry introduced me to a Parisian delicacy, the Croque-monsieur at cafe across the street from the museum. A Croque-monsieur is a delicious grilled ham and cheese sandwich. It is much better than any American made grilled cheese and it became a regular part of my diet in Paris. We sat on a stone wall and I did a quick sketch of these sculpture. Artists who did the sculptures were, Mathum Moreau, Aime Millet, Eugene Molie, Eugene Deplaplanche, and Alexandre Falguiere. I'm always annoyed that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC has bare cinder blocks decorating the entry columns of the museum. Why on earth don't they commission an artist to do classical sculptures like these?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

PechaKucha Night


Paul Joachim Thomas invited me to sketch Pechakucha Night at the Orange Studio (1121 N Mills Ave, Orlando) on October 26th at 7PM. He presented Outside the Box Cake, where he talked about his adventure of discovering his artistic passion through cake, chocolate and sculpting. The adventure began when he did a life sized sculpture of a nude model in cake at Nude Nite. Since that sculpture, opportunities kept presenting themselves. W Without a doubt the most memorable talk was given by Without a doubt, the most memorable talk was given by Michelle S. Royal who talked about the formation of an Erotic Museum. She began her talk by removing her animal print shirt to uncover a tight black leather bodice. Crude line art that looked like it was traced from photos were projected showing couples in every imaginable position of the Karma Sutra. Naomi Wilzig started the World Erotic Art Museum by simply asking curators if they had any erotic art. Soon she became known in the art world and the collection grew.

PechaKucha is an entertainment event held several times a year in downtown Orlando. The heart of the event is a set of PowerPoint presentations on a variety of topics, led by some of the most interesting people in the city. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for "chitchat," PechaKucha (puh-CHA keh-SHAW) rests on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It's a format that makes the presentations concise and keeps things moving at a rapid pace. Speakers can present their PechaKuchas on any subject, from the personal to the public. PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo as a chance for creative people to meet, network, and share their work. Since its debut in 2003, it has turned into a massive celebration, with events in hundreds of cities around the world and audiences in the thousands.

Orlando first began hosting PechaKucha Nights in October 2010, quickly gaining an enthusiastic following and positive media attention. Pecha Kucha is an opportunity to listen, learn, engage, and unwrap the hidden brilliance of Orlando! Tickets were $10 at the door. There was live entertainment after presentations by Strings Etc. and food available from Tako Cheena and Charlie's Bakery. There was a cash bar with beer and wine provided by Shipyard Brew Pub.  Gary Lambert Salon, 90.7 WMFE, and Kangagirl Productions offered their generous support of this event.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Monday Night Jazz Jam

Yvonne Coleman, a radio personality at Jazzy103.com invited me to sketch an evening honoring the Founder of the Monday Night Jazz Jam, the late pianist Billy Hall. After a fabulous four year run between Beluga's and the Grand Bohemian, "Jazz Jam" had  a Special Premier Night at Terrace 390, (390 N. Orange Ave), on the first floor of the Bank of America Building, Downtown. I arrived a bit late and the place was so packed, that I couldn't find a place to sit with a decent view of the musicians. I finally noticed a small table next to the keyboard player that had a donation jar. There was no cover, but donated tips would benefit The Steinway Piano Society for Underprivileged Youth. The jar was stuffed full of singles.

Numerous TOP Local and Internationally known Musicians and Vocalists performed. I knew the singer Jacqueline Jones because I had seen her perform at the Barack Obama campaign volunteer headquarters in Winter Park. Trumpet players, saxophone players and flute players stood on the side lines and periodically a player would step up to the mic for an improvised solo. Joseph Jevanni, at the keyboards, had his Intensity Productions business cards on the table. The evening of Jazz had the place jumping with some of the best of Central Florida blues and jazz. Yvonne stepped up to the mic to let everyone know that the owners of Terrace 390 were ecstatic about the amazing turn out, and that the Jazz Jam will be hosted there again on a regular basis. Specifics had yet to be worked out. The next one will be Monday, December 3rd at Terrace390.

On the walk back to my car, a guy on a bike shouted out to me, "Hey Bob!" as he biked by on the opposite side of the road."That was odd." I thought. "He must have mistaken me for someone else." A few minutes later, he biked up quickly behind me and dismounted. "Let me cut to the chase." He said as he walked beside me. "If you give me two dollars, I'll bike off and you will never have to see me again." There was some menace in his voice as he told me, "I've had to rob people in the past. We are all concerned about Democrats and Republicans but we don't help each other out."  He had the high ground since he could get away quickly on the bike. I decided it wouldn't be a good idea to pull out my wallet. Instead I found a fist full of change in a back pocket and I handed it over. I suppose I should have let him know my name wasn't Bob. I'm glad I didn't put all my change in the tip jar, since I needed it for safe passage to my car which was another half a block away.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Functionally Literate


November 3rd was the inaugural episode of Functionally Literate held at Urban ReThink. The quarterly events aims to connect, entertain and enlighten Orlando's growing community of writers, book club nerds and culturally curious. Each event will feature a visiting author along with thee talented local writers. The series is organized by Burrow Press and The Jack Kerouac Project. When Terry and I entered, a bit late, the place was packed. Large holiday lights were strung from the balcony creating a festive canopy over the audience. For some reason people were shy about sitting in the front row so we scored two front row seats.

Jared Silvia introduced the series and pointed out that Don Pomeroy's debut book, Wally, published by Burrow Press last month was available. Don Pomeroy thanked the book jacket illustrator Brian Phillips who had his work on display in the back of the room.  Summer Rodman and Rachel Kapitan then introduced Catlin O'Sullivan who is the resident novelist at the Kerouac House through the end of the month.  Catlin is working on a historical novel called The Kiss Off, involving a gangster on the lamb. She prefixed her reading by letting us know that a petite waitress had rented a room to the gangster. She went out with him one evening and things went from good to very bad. Upon returning home, she heard a raccoon in her attic. She went up to the attic with a hammer in her hand. What followed might upset any readers that despise cruelty to animals so I will end the scene there. If you want to read more, follow this link...

Susan Lilly read some wonderful poems. One was about a summer where she had to go to a camp where she was force fed sermons. A field trip to a rock concert exhilarated her to the point where she said, "If I had been a boy, I would have had a hard on." She and her friend got in trouble for separating from the group. The other authors were John Henry Fleming and Don Peteroy. A reading versed in old English biblical phrasing told the story of Christ trying to win a basketball game to impress two girls. A large pad was flipped with the verses but the moderator unfortunately blocked my view. The audience would periodically respond with an Amen. It was funny but in time felt forced. Don's story began to discuss how messy and gutturally funny human sexuality is when it is real. I will not even try to describe the slick, wet, messy, smelly and noisy details.

Afterwards, a large group of us went to The Wine Room a few blocks west of ReThink for some flat bread pizza and drinks. That morning the Kerouac Project had a garage sale that made over $1,400 which will keep the Artist residence running through the end of the year. There was plenty of laughter and barbed conversation to end the night.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Louvre


The Louvre in Paris is a museum which definitely can not be seen in one day. Vast halls of sculpture and paintings go on and on in this huge palace. It was funny to see the crowds swarm towards the Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo da Vinci. The portrait appeared postage stamp sized when viewed from the middle of the room. Mona Lisa smiled at the endless crowd of tourists who crushed up to shoot photos on their cell phones. Many couldn't get close enough, so they raised the cameras up over their heads to get a clear shot. Her image echoed across every view screen. One tourist decided to shoot a black and white sign with Mona Lisa's likeness that pointed towards the room. In the hallway outside there were several more paintings by da Vinci, but they went largely ignored. One woman almost sat in the lap of a statue's lap when she wanted to rest. Security guards quickly asked her to move.

Terry and I put in a marathon effort, seeing as much art as we could in one day. Terry wanted to see the Napoleonic Apartments which I thought would be a bore, but I was well impressed by the lavish, excessive opulence.  I'm amazed the rooms survived the French Revolution. I didn't sketch until we left the museum. Seeing so much art left me itching to draw. I immediately sat down opposite this Louis XlV statue as the sun set. I should have thought twice because half way into the sketch, the sun burst out from behind the clouds blinding me as I stared straight at it.  In another way it was a blessing because it forced me to only see bold simple silhouettes. Artists seem able to work in absolute anonymity in Paris. I was surrounded once by a Japanese tourist group. I didn't understand a thing they said but I have to assume that the chatter was positive. Terry and I went out for a magnificent diner that night, I believe at Un P'tit Coin Du Cuisine. The fine dining and wine helped us recoup from our museum burn.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hippocrene Saxaphone Quartet


On November 8th at 7PM The Accidental Music Festival kicked off with performances by the Hippocrene Saxophone Quartet at Urban ReThink (625 E Central Blvd, Orlando). The first pieces were solos titled, Calling and Cradle written by Jay Batzner and Alexis Bacon. George Weremchuk on soprano saxophone and Scott Devlin stood behind music stands on stage during their solos. I ended up sketching them again when they sat with the rest of the quartet.

Composer Stella Sung introduced her Tropicana Suite after a brief intermission. She explained that the piece was written for the Prism Quartet. She dedicated the piece to a friend and co-worker named Stephen Levinson who passed away. Stephen collected blue bottles which were quite beautiful in the way the refracted light. She wrote Blue Bottles Groove based on that collection.

The final piece, titled, We Are Star Stuff Harvesting Star Light featured a guest artist, Pandit Nandkishor Muley on the tabla drums. The music had an ephemeral peaceful quality. The Accidental Music Festival has one more performance featuring, Eladio Scharrón and Carrie Wiesinger performing Latin American works for flute and guitar including Cronicas Del Discubrimiento by Roberta Sierra, Fantasia by Inocente Carreño, and Histoire du Tango by Astor Piazzola. Concert begins today Sunday November 11th at 3pm @ The Timucua White House (200 South Summerlin) .

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Round Building Fireside Chat

Inside the Round Building, John Kaiser introduced a short film about the architect who designed the building which was erected in 1963. Early stages of the buildings construction were shown as well. There were audio technical difficulties which resulted in a Skype audio blazing over the architects audio. Out with the old and in with the new.

After the computer was rebooted, Jeff Stein appeared on the movie screen. He noted that his community was affected by hurricane Sandy and that a generator would have to suffice rather than a comfy fireside. His talk was about The Spirit of Organic Design, beyond Mid-Century Modern. 
Stein is an editor, writer and practicing architect. Formerly dean of Boston Architectural College and head of architecture at Wentworth Institute in Boston, he taught at Harvard Graduate School of Design; Technicum Winterthur, Zurich; and at Ecole de Architecture Languedoc-Rousillon, in Montpellier, France. He recently completed an American edition of the Swiss text "The Ecological Aspects of Building" with his wife, art historian Emilie Altemose. The Cosanti Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation started by noted architect and urban planner Paolo Soleri, is dedicated to education and the ongoing development and preservation of Arcosanti in Arizona.

The primary focus of future architecture would be energy efficiency without urban sprawl. Cars tend to separate people in ways that are profound. People don't recognize each other as they commute. People end up living isolated lives of hermits. Any sense of community is lost for many. Arcosanti is an urban laboratory focused on innovative design, community, and environmental accountability. Our goal is to actively pursue lean alternatives to urban sprawl based on Paolo Soleri's theory of compact city design, Arcology (architecture + ecology). Built by over 7,000 volunteers, Arcosanti provides various mixed-use buildings and public spaces where people live, work, visit, and participate in educational and cultural programs.

Tonight at 5:30PM I will be doing a digital sketch which will be  projected live on a movie screen as part of the Accidental Music Festival. The concert is titled "Ghost in the Machine", and it features works from Central Florida Composers Forum presenting new works for electronics by Orlando composers. The concert will be held at the Timucua White House (200 South Summerlin Avenue).

Friday, November 9, 2012

Round Building





The Round Building, also known as the American Federal Savings and Loan, across from City Hall, will stand for just one more year before is is demolished to make way for the Doctor Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The building is still standing today because it is being used by the Doctor Phillips Center of the Performing Arts, Public Relations and Financing staff.  The top floor offices have a magnificent view over the construction site.

The building took form back in the idealistic times when John F. Kennedy was elected President. Man was striving to reach the moon and this building took on the futuristic form of a cylinder. Orlando was just coming of age, as Disney and Martin Marietta set up shop.  The honeycomb shaped cement band around the base of the building acted as a sun screen for the banks windows. This cement honeycomb, reminiscent of "The Carousel of Progress", is known as a Brise Soleil. The glass upper floors were added years later. Today, what is futuristic about the site is that curbside electric car charging stations are across the street.

Commissioner Patty Sheehan is spearheading a privately funded effort to save the Brise Soleil by re-purposing it as sculpture or a sun shield in a public park. A design competition was held that asked local architecture students to envision the re-purposing of the precast concrete curtain pieces. The winners of the competition were, Felix Chad and Jarod Lopatky for their submission "Reflections of Orlando." Their digital rendering showed the Brise Soleil in two pieces standing on end and separated as two identical semi circular arcs in a public park. The students were awarded $360 dollars for the concept.

Patty Sheehan formed the not-for-profit corporation, Strengthen Orlando, Inc. - Round Building Reuse, to raise funds to get the Brise Soleil moved and displayed somewhere in Orlando. She has pledged to match any donations made to the project up to $70,000.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Marriage of Figaro


On election night, I went to a dress rehearsal for The Marriage of Figaro written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This Italian Opera premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on May 1st, 1786. When I entered the Bob Carr Theater, it was virtually empty and I sat in the second row and immediately started sketching the stage. The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra was also on stage behind the limited set pieces. Soprano, Maureen O'Flynn, who played Susanna, walked on stage and arranged a wedding dress she placed on an arm chair. Baratone, Maurian Pop who was playing Count Almavia checked the set door to see how is swung open.

Count Almavia was bored with his idyllic marriage to his Countess, played by Twyla Robinson, and he decides to exert his feudal privilege of  droit de seigneur, the lord's right to enjoy the bride of his servant on their wedding night. His engaged servants, Figaro, played by Robert Gierlach, and Suzanna, as well as the Countess, object to his plan. A comedy unfolds as the Countess, Figaro and Susanna make plans to dupe the Count. Identities are exchanged, oaths of undying love are pledged and even accomplices became confused in this "day of madness."

I didn't understand a word that was sung and since I was sketching and I didn't have time to read the projected subtitles. Some things are so beautiful they don't need to be understood, just felt. The music is memorable and timeless. In the end  there is forgiveness and absolution, every lover finds their mate. There is a performance Friday November 9th at 8PM  and on Sunday November 11th at 2PM at the Bob Carr. Tickets run between $17 and $70.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Basilique du Sacre Coeur

Terry and I took the Metro to the Paris hillside neighborhood of Montmartre. This area has been known to be a sanctuary for artists through the years. When we walked up the staircase of the metro we were surprised to find ourselves in a seedier part of Paris. A Policeman on a bicycle saw us trying to get our bearings and he directed us to a staircase that climbed up the hill. He warned us about pickpockets and sent us on our way.

The staircase went up forever. Several tourists were lugging their luggage up to try and find a bed and breakfast entrance half way up. They were still searching as we passed them. We were completely winded when we got to the top, but this was our view of the Basilique du Sacre Coeur once we reached the top. Terry wanted to explore the inside of the Cathedral so I walked her up the last set of steps to the entrance and then I returned to this spot to sketch. A woman sat half wan up the steps begging for change. Another woman sat at the entrance to the cathedral begging. She looked just like the woman I saw begging at another church and I wondered if she was following us.

The spot where I sat was surprisingly peaceful. About 100 yards to my left, street performers, and musicians were doing their acts for a large crowd of tourists. Terry was annoyed that the musicians didn't have much talent. It was a zoo. From right in front of the cathedral we had a view over all of Paris. Wandering the side streets we found a boat load of artists selling their pallet knife paintings of Paris. We found the art studio where Pablo Picasso first started painting his cubist paintings. Then we relaxed in a cafe as it started to rain.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Toyota Dealership


My Toyota Prius has the annoying habit of reminding me when the car is due for maintenance. The dashboard throws up a message that says "Maintenance Required", blocking the fuel efficiency gauges I'm used to seeing daily. This could be something very serious. Like the boy who cried wolf, I may in time become immune to these warnings. Since it happened at the 5,000 mile mark, and because maintenance is free for the first 25,000 miles, I made an appointment at the dealership. I had to wait outside for about half an hour for a service manager to become available. Once the paperwork was done, I was assured that the service would be a top priority rush. He threw in a complimentary car wash to make up for my wait outside.

The waiting area had a flat screen TV, couches, tables and even a cafe.  This is a brand new Toyota Dealership and no expense was spared. I started to sketch the Toyota Camry parked in the dealership lobby. Sales agents all had on red polo shirts. I sketched quickly. Before I was done, my service manager let me know that my car was ready. That was fast!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sunday in the Park With Voci

Genevieve Bernard, the founder of Voci Dance, gave me a heads up about a croquet game the Voci dancers were going to play on Sunday October 28th as part of the Creative City project. The Creative City Project had free clandestine performances staged at public places throughout the city on every day of October. The croquet game was held on the green beside the Red Japanese Pagoda in Lake Eola. When I arrived, the players, or dancers, were promenading around the court arm in arm in pairs. Each dancer was had on a primary colored dress that matched their ball color. Blue Doug Rhodehamel paper bag mushrooms marked the outer edges of the court. There were orange lines painted on the grass, probably left over from a football practice.

The Park was rather crowded on this Sunday. There were food trucks and tents set up at the band shell for an event I didn't get a chance to make out. There was also a stage set up on Orange Avenue for a concert I wasn't aware of. A large group was picnicking next to the croquet court and they were curious once the game started. A mom and her son sat in front of me to watch the game as well. The dancers circled up when music began to play and they gracefully began to play. I was sitting under the shade of a large oak tree while most of the audience sat on blankets on the opposite side of the court. It actually started to get chilly and I wished I had a sweater to cover my Dog Powered Robot T-shirt.

The performance seemed to be over in a matter of minutes as I struggled to catch each dancers proportions and gesture. More of a dance than a competition, Genevieve informed me that everyone won. Some audience members took to the court after the game was over trying out the mallets for themselves..

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Gloria Steinem


Gloria Steinem gave a talk at Urban ReThink on October 19th at three in the afternoon. Gloria is a well known and respected feminist who founded MS Magazine. I arrived an hour early to be sure I got a good vantage point to sketch from. Police were on hand to make sure that Urban ReThink didn't exceed the maximum allowance for attendees. As people settled into their chairs, I sketched.

Gloria's talk mostly centered on encouraging people to vote. She said that the Richard Nixon presidential champagne was the first to discourage voters by portraying the government as corrupt. The fewer people voted, the better chance he had of winning. Gloria heard stories from people who had trouble getting to polling station,. Buses ran late and police cars blocked access to some poling stations. This tended to happen in under privileged neighborhoods. She highlighted Romney's positions when it came to women's health. She then outlined how women's health issues had been controlled throughout history. The American Indian women knew about contraception using herbs and careful lunar timing to only conceive a child when the season was right. When the settlers arrived, the Indians referred to the European women as "those who die in child birth." Today she feels that poor women are supposed to get pregnant as often as possible to supply young soldiers for the army.

Gloria pointed out the importance of gathering together to discuss common causes. Although we are supposed to be more interconnected than ever thanks to social media like Facebook and Twitter, you get more out of groups coming together. In the question and answer session a young man got choked up as he spoke passionately about a cause he believed in. Gloria pointed out that everyone in the room felt that passion, not just from his words but from every aspect of his presence. There is an electricity that comes from community gatherings like this. She encouraged everyone to mingle after her talk. You might meet a friend or find someone passionate about the same cause. Anything is possible and a single voice can make a difference. Vote.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Pantheon


For much of our time in Paris, we stayed at the Hotel Pantheon which aptly is right across the street from the Pantheon. Most every hotel in Paris was booked up so, later in the week we had to change hotels. We must have been spoiled by our spacious room at Hotel Pantheon. The second hotel we stayed at was modern but small. The bathroom was so small that I needed to open the door in order to lean over and brush my teeth using the dentist size sink.

Being near the Pantheon meant it was a little easier to navigate our way back in the evening. The dome was illuminated and could be seen from many blocks away. One evening as we stood in Place du Pantheon, we looked west and could see the Eiffel Tower illuminated far off in the distance. It began to sparkle with thousands of lights flashing. Terry struggled to find her camera and just as she was ready to shoot, the sparkling stopped. Apparently this light show only happens for a few minutes every hour.

 The Pantheon (from Greek Pantheon, meaning "Every god") was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, but after many changes now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens. It is an early example of neoclassicism, with a facade modeled on the Pantheon in Rome.

The neighborhood around the Pantheon is bustling with young college students going and coming from classed. I saw a sign that pointed towards an animation academy, so we might have been near Gobelins which is probably the best animation school in the world.  The Paris government helps subsidize Gobelins which guarantees the city's prominence in producing talented animators.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Church of Saint Paul - Saint Louis


Terry was using a Foders map to navigate various walking routes through the city. The map of Paris never seemed to show the name of the street we were on. I was almost bowled over by a baby carriage and an elderly lady as I searched for my bearings. We were walking on Rue Saint Antoine when we happened across this church which I recognized from Ronald Searle's sketch from 60 plus years before. I pulled his Paris Sketchbook out of my art supply bag and I searched for the exact spot he had sketched from. It was exciting when every line and angle matched up. In his day this was a working class neighborhood with vendors pushcarts and shops. Today the neighborhood has been gentrified with upper class fashion and jewelry shops along with some smaller bodegas.

As I sketched, an elderly man in ragged clothes and a boy stood in front of me speaking in French. I didn't understand a word, so I shrugged my shoulders and kept sketching.  They persisted and the man pointed at the pens clipped in my bag. I decided to give him one of the dried up pens and satisfied, they walked away. If I knew some French I could have asked them to pose. Like everyone else, they seemed in a hurry. It was threatening to rain and there was a light drizzle, but not enough to stop me. Victor Hugo had his first child christened in this church. Everywhere we went, we seemed to be walking in Victor Hugo's footsteps.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Daumier Studio


Ile Saint Louis, a small island in the Seine River, is the geographic and historical heart of Paris. To help in my exploration of Paris, I consulted a Paris Sketchbook, illustrated by Ronald Searle and written by his wife Kaye Webb. My Paris map had a series of stickers marking the spots where Searle had sketched. This quiet Parisian street, Ouai d'Anjou was my first stop. The green door, number 9, was once the entry to the home and studio of one of my favorite artists, Honore Daumier. A small plaque next to the entry commemorated the spot. His loose spontaneous sketches of politicians and Parisian life are stunning, satirical and still relevant today.  At the Musee d'Orsay, I had seen some wonderful sculptures Daumier did of politicians busts.  They were exaggerated and lively. Of all the art I saw in Paris, I believe those busts were my favorite. I sat very close to where Ronald must have sat when he did his sketch. He didn't sketch any cars which made his sketch rather timeless so I also ignored the automotive clutter. Ronald had added architectural details like extra chimneys to his sketch and I began to understand what he found appealing and lively in the scene. Over 60 years had passed, but I was learning from a master.

School children hurried home along the cobbled walkway. An elderly man was out for his afternoon stroll. While the rest of Paris rushed and hurried, this little island seemed serine, except for the tourists looking for Notre Dame. Life ebbed and flowed along with the river current, much as it had hundreds of years ago.  Terry had wandered off to explore the rest of the island and to walk among all the shops. She got a little lost trying to find her way back to this spot. I was so lost in the sketch and the moment that I didn't notice the time fly by. We went to a bustling cafe and then continued to explore.