I usually write a commentary about events I sketch. This time I felt that Darren's entire talk from the Friday September 20th PechaKucha needed to be shared. 20 slides, 20 seconds a slide, a wide variety of presenters.
By Darren McDaniel
"Over the past two years, a particular image has played a prominent role
in my life. It’s the wallpaper on my phone, the art on my kitchen wall,
the sticker on the back of my laptop, and the ten-foot tall mural high
on the wall at 625 E. Central.
the founding director of Urban ReThink, a community workspace and
programming hub in Orlando's Thornton Park. When I got the news a few
weeks ago that we'd be losing our space, the thing that hit me the
hardest, of all things, was the thought that I’d no longer have daily
access to this mural that I know as GoogliAnn.
teach Digital Storytelling to designers at Full Sail, and I preach the
power of symbols—how a simple icon or graphic could be loaded with
meaning, representing far more than its collection of marks, or—in this
the 18 months it’s been on the wall, the mural has been a fueling
station for me. It reminds me of why I do what I do. The artwork came
from a self-portrait my niece, GraciAnn, had given me on her 5th birthday.
It’s come to embody my immense affection for my nieces, for our
community, and for all that’s been accomplished under GoogliAnn’s over-lordship.
how it happened. Upon returning to Orlando, I crudely Photoshopped
GraciAnn’s art on the wall and shared it with my sister, asking her to
get GraciAnn’s reaction—a reaction that turned out to be all-too
matter-of-fact: “It’s not real.” I took this as a challenge. And I
thought, “Yeah, but imagine if it was…”
I shared the notion with Dina, and Pat, and Kitty, and Kim, and Fiona,
and Ryan, and Julia, and Anna, and dang near anyone else who happened
through. “What if?” What do you think?” “Can we do it?” “Surely, we can do this.” And thanks to their affirmation, support, and resourcefulness, we made a way.
Rigsby helped me figure out the eyes. Anna McCambridge-Thomas said she
knew the perfect artist, and she wasn’t kidding. Carolyn Schultz was
every bit as impressive as the art she produced. In a day and a half,
she swept in, climbed up, and made the magic happen, one grid-square at a
it neared completion, I got giddy and sent a picture to Cris
Phillips-Georg with the caption “the audacity of play,” and she said
that’s what you should call it. “The Audacity of Play.” A dedication that marked the first anniversary of Urban ReThink…and a bold new theme for the year ahead.
later, GraciAnn was coming to town, and, much to her surprise, we
staged a grand unveiling. Kathryn Neel even made the eyes work. And
Thor was there sketching and my family and friends, and the moment I’d
dreamed about since "It's not real.": the big reveal. From astonishment to head-burying embarrassment on GraciAnn’s end; from triumph to tears on mine.
discovery. The mural was complete, and the eyes moved. Regulars would
jump when they caught a first glance. When kids would come in, I’d
point up to it and watch their expressions turn from perplexed to
wide-eyed. I’d tell them “Somebody your age drew that,” and I’d see the
possibility swirl around them. “Can I put my art on a wall?”
of my favorite pastimes became juxtaposing the events and speakers with
the googly-eyed girl. The PBS Newshour’s nationally-televised debate
panel. The chief data scientist from bit.ly. Business meetings. Coworking. Highfalutin parties. And, of course, Gloria Steinem.
than 2 weeks from now, the doors close on Urban ReThink, and—unless I
can find a way to liberate a ten-by-ten-foot piece of drywall from its
well-secured perch—her always-welcoming arms will be waving goodbye, her
eyes will close, and she’ll forever lurk behind who-knows-what paint.
But you know what, Orlando? Symbols carry their meanings. And we’ve still got ours.And
we’ve got high-res pictures, and we’ve got printers, and the
Transformation Village in Bithlo ready to become GoogliAnn’s next home
in some form or fashion. Beyond that, we’ve got the legacy we’ve built,
and we’ve got each other.
moved back home to Central Florida a dozen years ago and made a feature
film. When it was over, I wanted to do something to give back to this
community that helped make my dream possible—something that could make
many more dreams possible through gathering and cross-pollenating
enterprising creatives from all walks of life.
months ago, an opportunity finally arose to make that real. The time
since has seen scores of collaborations and hundreds of cultural events.
It’s brought the majority of tonight’s presenters and so many other
treasures into not just my life but each other’s. It’s inspired
visitors to shift their Mickey-Mouse views of Orlando and even move
the surface, there’s something rather ridiculous about a googly-eyed
vision. Untethered, quixotic, not always on the same page… But it’s
also a vision with broader perspective and heightened possibility—one
that honors imagination and contributions from even the most unlikely of
mission continues : To gather and showcase Orlando's
independent-minded, community-spirited doers for economic, community,
and intellectual growth. Why?
Because we have treasure in our midst: from the talent pool of recent
graduates, transplants, and the underemployed on one hand to the
creative, the curious, and the volunteers-to-be on the other. I call
them gappers. I’m one of them.
I'm minding the gap because our support structures haven’t kept up with
the societal change that’s creating more gappers by the day. Yet, it's
gappers that will ultimately generate our solutions. After all, we’re
the entrepreneurs, innovators, and enhancers. It’s in our collisions,
conversations, and collaborations that imaginations become real.
One thing is certain: There’s a need for
an Urban ReThink and for opportunity structures like it. There’s a
need for a new social institution—something that fuels gappers by
combining elements of work, play, family, school, church, and library.We’ve pioneered that—right here in Orlando. But we’re not finished. And I’m not stopping.
As Urban ReThink, we’re losing our space and our scope, but not the
audacity of our play, nor the tenacity of our purpose. GoogliAnn.
She’s the spirit of our future. And she’s looking to us to get her
where she needs to go. People say things happen for a reason. Let’s
make that reason. Imagine the possibilities. They’re real. And
Darren's talk had me in tears. I felt a warm glow knowing so many family and friends who create and inspire change. I hunt for collaborators and creatives, and the resources found in Orlando are unlimited. ReThink was a creative epicenter that fueled my daily sketch habit. I have over 50 sketches that were done there. The bricks and mortar might change ownership but the people who see and bring about change are still here.
Mark Your Calendar! The next PechaKucha is February 7th at 7pm at The Orange Studio, (1121 N. Mills Avenue, Orlando, Fl).
10 x 10 Orlando Urban Sketching Workshops start August 5, 2017
Subscribe for AADW news and events by e-mail.
Thomas Thorspecken (Thor)
This site began in 2009 as a New Year's resolution to do a sketch a day, to document art and culture in Orlando. It became a way to put down roots and become part of the community one sketch at a time. Any sketch is available as a limited edition print (1-5) for $250 or the original for $400. Frames are $100 more. email@example.com to order.
Orlando Drink and Draw
Monthly sketch outing to unique bars in Orlando.
Blue Box Initiative
27 Blue Boxes in Downtown Orlando. 27 performances. 27 sketches to help teach Orlando that art isn't panhandling.
Florida Urban Sketchers
Orlando Sketch Tours
A new way to experience Orlando.
The 62 page DRIP Sketchbook is available for order.