Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mozart's Requiem


As part of the Bach Festival there was a choral concert at Tiedeke Concert Hall. What was unique about this performance is that the entire audience was given sheet music for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem. Music stands at the front of the hall divided the audience into three singing sections. The alto's were closest to where I stood to draw. Dr. John V. Sinclair, the Bach Festival's Artistic Director, conducted from the stage while lead singers for each section stood around him.

The requiem is absolutely sublime  and moving with so many voices raised in unison.  This music stands the test of time. Of course having a full orchestra would have made the performance even more stunning, but there is something magical in having so many voices, trained and untrained coming together to perform this piece. The entire Requiem is close to an hour long, but I think only an excerpt was performed on this evening. 

 Mozart's health faltered as he worked on the requiem. A famous anecdote from his wife, Constanze, is related in Niemetschek's early biography: On his return to Vienna, his (Mozart's) indisposition increased visibly and made him gloomily depressed. His wife was truly distressed over this. One day when she was driving in the Prater with him, to give him a little distraction and amusement, and they were sitting by themselves, Mozart began to speak of death, and declared that he was writing the Requiem for himself. Tears came to the eyes of the sensitive man: 'I feel definitely,' he continued, 'that I will not last much longer; I am sure I have been poisoned. I cannot rid myself of this idea.'

At the time of his death, Mozart had many outstanding debts, but the myth that he was buried in a pauper's grave is false.  His wife arranged to sell his compositions and over time she became financially secure. Mozart's musical reputation rose after his death with unprecedented enthusiasm for his music. This dark brooding music is the masterpiece of the child prodigy who died far too young at the age of 35. Imagine creating something so beautiful, that people still feel compelled to perform and share it over two hundred years after your death. A toast to art.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sketching in the Attic


I used to attend sketch sessions in the Attic of the Martin's home in Winter Park. Mary Martin was always there to supervise, but Bernie Martin was never there. I guess he prefers to work from models alone. In these sessions the models were nude with shorter one minute sketches in the beginning and longer sketches later in the evening. I always enjoyed these sessions but there is usually some event going on the same evening so overtime, I stopped going, preferring to sketch the chaos of everyday life.

On one occasion I bumped into Bernie Martin while I was sketching in Falcon Bar. He decided to sketch as well. I found out that models cost about $12 per hour. I'm considering the notion of hiring models to start producing more finished paintings. Sketching on location is rewarding, but any event seldom goes on for more than two hours. Some painters can work on a painting for months. It would be nice to give myself the luxury of models and more time. Perhaps that should be my goal moving into the New Year.

On New Year's Day, Terry and I are hosting an all day black and white themed party celebrating Analog Artist Digital World's 5 year anniversary.  We supply the beers, bagels, lox and cream cheese and food. Kelly DeWayne Richards will be performing on the piano. The party starts at 1pm and goes to 11pm. Consider this post an invitation. Please call 407 810-4189 to RSVP and come on out.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Writing Workshop

Patricia Charpentier had a writing workshop on the beautiful shores of Lake Adar in Orlando. The dozen or so participants scattered along the shores to find their private bucolic spot in which to write. I sketched a woman writing in her yellow legal pad. I liked the fact that she used a simple pencil to write down her thoughts. Other students used laptops. I seldom use and digital devise to sketch since the idea that the battery might die is just too stressful. The last thing I need is to start a sketch and then have the screen go dark before the sketch is done. It has happened enough times to keep me using pen and paper.

The writers gathered together when they were done to share their work. Every story was inspired in some way by the setting. There are thousands of these scenic lakes scattered throughout Central Florida. I spend most of my time trying to find roads that snake around the lakes as I make my way to venues. Once in a while it is nice to stop and linger, especially since it is cold enough up north for snow.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

500 Days of Summer


While traveling I'll be posting sketches from that were not posted from 2009. This sketch was done at the Enzian Theater before seeing 500 Days of Summer. The film was about a summer romance. The guy was head over heels in love but the girl didn't believe in love. She went through the motions but in the end dumped the guy after 500 days. It was an annoying premise. Soon after, she did fall head over heels in love but with someone else. I wanted to see the movie because it showed the guy sketching on the movie poster. In the final scene the unlucky lover was sketching buildings with contentment like a true Urban Sketcher. Who needs love when you have a pencil and paper? A sketch is sure to meet expectations.

At a gas station yesterday I spoke with another guy pumping gas. He was heading to New Orleans, having come from Miami. His brother worked as an armored car driver in New Orleans. Several days ago, his brother was shot dead the second he opened the armored truck door by three gunmen. There is a $50,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to the arrest of the killers and thieves.  So this guy and his wife were on their way to his brothers funeral a few days before Christmas. The killing was senseless and the couple at the gas station had many more miles to drive before meeting family at the funeral. He showed me the news footage on his cell phone. I'm not sure why he shared so much. Perhaps that much grief needs to be shared. Live every moment. Life is precious and short.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Weekend Top 6 Picks

Saturday December 28, 2013
7pm-9pm Free Music. One Flight Up (440 N Donnelly Street, Mount Dora FL 32757.)

7:30pm-11pm Free Contra Dancing. Secret Lake Park, (200 N Triplet Lake Drive, Casselberry, FL.) Contra dance is ... Easier than walking. More exercise than jogging. More fun than you can imagine. All Ages Welcome - Instruction Provided at 7:30pm. No partners necessary. Monthly on the Last Saturday - 8 to 11pm.

8pm-Midnight $10. Acme After Hours: TRANSFORMERS Art Party with Defenz Mechanizm! Acme Superstore (905 E. SR 434, Longwood, Florida 32750.) 21+ with an ID Free Beer & Sangria. Megatron grinder acts by local celeb performer, Defenz Mechanizm! www.facebook.com/defenzmechanizm. Cosplay Burlesque, Belly-dancing, Costume Contest, Played Out Podcast, DJs…

Sunday December 29, 2013
 10am-Noon Free Super Joy Riders. Eastern entrance of the Lake Eola Farmers’ Market. You + Superhero Costume + Bike = Best Sunday Ever. We are inviting Orlando to come with us on a fun filled bike ride of awesomeness on the last Sunday of the month. Dress like a superhero, hop on a bike, and follow our scavenger hunt list of Good Deeds as we all try to save the world with small acts of kindness.

5:30pm-9pm $10 Southern Fried Sunday. Will's Pub (1042 N Mills Ave. Orlando FL). Thomas Wynn and Friends, Hymn for Her, Bad Santa and The Angry Elves and The Bloody Jug Band will be entertaining you with some great music!   BBQ from The Smiling Bison!

9pm-11pm Free Solo Acoustic Spoken Word. Natura Coffee and Tea (12078 Collegiate Way Orlando FL).

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bad Wolf Art Night


On November 14th I went to the Peacock Room (1321 North Mills Avenue, Orlando, Florida), to find out what Bad wolf art night is all about. Hosted By Kyla Rene' the event invite explained that, after a one month break, the performers would be back to create some more art. Dancers would be improving to live music. There was no cover at the door. The hours on the invite were 5:30pm to 8pm. This was earlier than most events but I stopped by at 5:30 to have a drink.

The stage in the back room wasn't set up but there was band equipment packed and ready.  I settled in at a table in the bar and drew the early birds like myself. The owner of the Peacock Room, David Rich was seated at the end of the bar. He took an interest in my sketch and stopped over several times to photograph the sketch in progress. Now I can see why new art is always on display on the walls. David truly loves art. He also works in the Disney Parks in operations. He must be someone who has no need for sleep.

As I was working on the sketch the band equipment was moved out. It was probably 7:30 or so when I was finishing up and there was still no hint of Bad Wolf Art Night so I packed up my art supplies and left. Either I got the date wrong, or the event didn't start until much later. Either way, I had my sketch already and I headed home.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Violectric Holiday Concert


On December 20th there was a free concert by Violectric at the Walt Disney Amphitheatre at Lake Eola Park Orlando, Fl. The concert was presented by the City of Orlando Department of Families, Parks and Recreation. I arrived early to block the stage in my sketch before the performance began. As I was sketching, a guy walked up to me to see what I was up to. He leaned in close and got his nose right up to the sketch page. He remarked that my sketch reminded him of Max Ernst, who was a German surrealist painter. The obscure artistic reference made me think he must be an academic. As he waited for the concert to start, he bounced a tennis ball impatiently. When he bounced the ball onto the stage off the drum set, I began to think something was a bit off about him.

Patty Sheehan introduced the group. She asked the audience if they liked the new art in the park and reminded everyone that the park wasn't always this nice. Violectric played Christmas tunes that they intermingled with rock and roll covers.  Their white dresses sparkled as they walked out. Even their eye shadow had sequins. At one point they gave two children tambourines so they could back up a performance of Jingle bells. Violetric is strictly an instrumental group so they encouraged the audience to sing along. The guy with the tennis ball belted out the lyrics a bit off key and danced in the isle.

Behind me a guy began cursing loudly, saying he hated this town and everyone in it. He eventually sat right behind me. His hair was wild and unkempt as was his beard. He looked a bit like a psychotic Santa. His cigarette made me cough a few times but I kept sketching. I felt him looking over my shoulder and luckily he refrained from cursing at what I was doing. For one song, the performers advised the audience that was singing along, that there were children in the audience, so they should watch what they sang for the next piece which was that song "Forget you", the original lyrics were "F*ck you!" The guy seated close to me shouted out, "You talkin' to me?" "You're so beautiful, I want to marry you." One of the performers shot back, "Get in line!" Despite the heckling, the performers always kept smiling. They were pros.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Solos


On November 15th I went to 2 rehearsal of "Solos", a play written by Joseph Reed Hayes at the Sandler Training Center (650 S. Northlake Blvd., Suite 430 Altamonte Springs Fl.) The production was part of Joseph's 13 in 13 challenge, to produce 13 productions in 2013. Though the bar was set high, it seems that Joseph has completed every production he planned at the beginning of the year.

This is how Joseph describes this original play about Ben "Blues" Miller and his wife Ellie..."My play, Solos, is nothing less than the history of jazz in America, as told through the relationship of two people, in three movements and a coda. Ellie’s story is a symphony: a fast, spritely first movement; a dance-like statement of self; a slow and mournful fugue; a finale that brings her back to herself; and then resolution and peace, reaffirming her talent and strength in the coda. Ben, the hip ‘Blue’ Miller, is portrayed by the music; everything you need to know about him is told by the progression of Ellie's music, from forceful swing to cool bebop, dissonant and chaotic free jazz, resolving back to romantic and lyrical post-modern. Ben in a very real way does not truly exist until Ellie creates him. If you know nothing about jazz, Solos is theater, pure and simple, a love story of two people trying to live through their art and insecurities. If you are familiar with jazz, the musical hints will provide a little extra gift."

 Paul Castaneda directed the actors Desiree Perez and Michael Sapp. While Ben Millers career as a jazz trumpeter grew, it became clear that Ellie was the creative force behind his rise. She wrote all the music that helped spark his rise. When he came home to brag about the crowds raw energy, Ella's mood soured as she sat hoe alone. The characters arcs were always on opposing paths.  She yearned to have the music she wrote recognized but Ben got all the accolades. Though often at odds, the couple were undeniably stronger together. The play followed their relationship through the years. They grew old and matured together despite their differences.

At this rehearsal, the actors were already "off book" but Paul called them out to be fully present in the moment. While one actor was speaking, the other actors thoughts might wander to what they would have to do next. When they are fully, emotionally involved in the scene, that is when the magic happens. Both actors seemed to be living in their character's skin. The affection and history between them felt very reel. The play will resonate for anyone who has ever felt that their talents were not fully recognized. It is only after the struggles, that the couple realizes how strong they are together.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Mennello Museum

I have been returning periodically to the Mennello Museum (900 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL) to do sketches of the exterior. This is my favorite sketch so far. I had to eliminate a tree to help streamline the composition. Trees have been disappearing at an alarming rate at the museum recently. The property is owned by the City of Orlando and they maintain the landscape. A large hole that looked like a grave marked the spot where one tree once stood. A wedding was happening that day and I imagine the happy couple posing for photos in front of the open grave where the huge root system had been dug up.

Another day I came to draw, bright yellow caution tape marked off a large area behind the museum.  A tree branch had fallen and the yellow tape was meant to protect an unsuspecting public. I hope the tree isn't cut down to spite its branches. There is a huge Live Oak in front of the museum with sweeping long branches that swoop down and touch the ground. It must be hundreds of years old. It is a gorgeous tree. Spanish moss hangs lazily from many of the trees as a reminder that we are in the deep south.

Now on display in the Museum you can discover the Everglades through art. In 1935 American artist Eugene Francis Savage made the first of many journeys into the Florida Everglades to study the Seminoles. Inspired by his observations over two decades, he created perhaps the most extensive painted record of the Florida Seminoles from the early 20th century. These works reflect Savage’s concern for the plight of native culture as tourism, land development and environmentalist debates threatened their traditional way of life. Capturing the natural rhythms of the Everglades, these works present a vision of Seminole life and seek to awaken the imagination and inspire the spirit. This is a great series of paintings. Be sure to see this rare collection before it leaves on January 5th. Its a great place to bring family over the holiday. 

Admission for adults is $5. Members get in free. Get a loved one a museum membership this holiday season. It makes a great stocking stuffer and is a gift that keeps giving all year long. I have two free tickets to the museum for the first person who can name the artist whose pen and ink drawings with watercolor were published in 2000 as the book “Crackers in the Glade.” His work is now on display in the Mennello through January 5th. Just post your answer in the comments section to win, or e-mail the answer to analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com.

The museum will be closed December 23-25 and December 30-January 1st.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Darius Goes West

I went to a screening of a documentary film titled "Darius Goes West." Darius Weems has Duchenne muscular dystrophy which restricts him to a wheelchair. Darius's brother Mario Weems died from the same disease at age 19.  Logan Smalley was a counselor at a 'Project REACH' camp, a facility set up to give the experiences of being at 'camp' to children with disabilities, there he met Darius. After reading a copy of a letter Darius had penned to MTV's show Pimp My Ride in which Darius had asked them to consider refurbishing his wheelchair, Smalley organized a cross-country trip for Darius to Los Angeles, which to the group became known as the 'Darius Goes West Project'.  Though the initial letter had been ignored, they decided to get Darius out west so he could meet the producers face to face. The film documents the trip west with Darius and 11 of his friends.

Darius had never left his hometown of Athens Georgia so this road trip was the adventure of a lifetime. The term "goslabi" on the filmmakers T shirts referred to a scene in the movie where Darius was offered goslabi in a Chinese restaurant. Goslabi is a hot past often offered with sushi. Darius took a whole teaspoon and the scene showed his shocked reaction. The friendship and bonds between the characters became clear over the course of the film. This prank, rather than cruel, showed that Darius wasn't seen in any way as a cripple but rather as an equal.

Documenting the trip in the mobile home showed how often simple amenities like a bathroom or store are often not wheelchair accessible. The young college students help Darius overcome every obstacle. In the end, Darius gets to the west coast and meets the cast of "Pimp My Ride." The actual cast loved the idea, but the producers held fast and refused to upgrade Darius's wheelchair. The boys had to return defeated. 7,000 mile road trip across the United States to promote awareness of the fatal disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and to raise money for research into a cure.

Back in their hometown, people had raised money and hired a local mechanic and craftsman to add custom features to a wheelchair. Flames were painted on its side, a state of the art audio system was worked into the chair. The alterations to the chair however weren't as important as the alterations to the participants. When they started, the boys knew nothing about film making or fundraising. The film has won an incredible number of awards and the goal to raise awareness has become an unstoppable movement. The film celebrates life that should be embraced with open arms. No setback or disability can stop someone who truly wants to live.

All proceeds from the film go to 'Charley's Fund', named for DMD sufferer Charley Seckler, and set up as a non-profit foundation investing in scientific research to help cure DMD. The filmmakers had originally hoped the film might raise $70,000 for DMD research, but by March 2009 they had raised $1.5 million, and by June 2009 they had raised $2 million.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Nostalgiart

On November 20th, I went to Bart (1205 N. Mills Ave., Orlando, Fl) to see Christie Miga's Nostalgiart show opening. As Christie said, "I have created a small, yet completely rad spray paint show based on my favorite things as a child of the 80's: He-man, Mario Bros., Jem, Garbage Pail Kids, etc. It's been a few months since my last art show because I needed a little break from the deep thoughts and underlying meanings of my last show. So, I decided to just have fun and create art that simply makes me happy and for no other reason than that."

Bart is a small bar that has vintage arcade video games from the 80s and 90s. I got there before the place filled up ordered a beer and started sketching. Christie and Evan Miga showed up shortly after and sat on the couch beside me as they finished up the food they had ordered from the food truck outside. Christie had what looked like a cake box but it was full of Christmas ornaments Christie had painted. AS friends and patrons filled the room, the couple mingled. One lady at the bar asked me if she could look inside the box beside me. I guess she thought I was in charge. I said it was fine and she looked through picking out several ornaments she might like to buy. I pointed out Evan to her and she approached him to complete the sale.

Evan has just recently gotten a dream job at Disney Imagineering. When I asked him about it, he sounded just like I did when I first started working at Disney Feature Animation. He is thrilled to be surrounded by so many amazing artists. Red dots started appearing under many of the paintings which were priced to sell. The paintings were fun and colorful with a powdery airbrushed feel. Many referred back to childhood animation shows but what attracted me was the bright patterns and colors achieved with stencils and occasional areas of hand painting. I'd love to see an entire car covered with these powdery abstractions. I mentioned the idea to Terry but she prefers the metallic grey surface that rolled off the showroom floor.

By the time my sketch was done, about half the pieces on the walls were sold and the room was packed and buzzing. Someone explained to me that this is the way you need to sell art in Orlando, by matching your work to the theme of a venue and offering it for cash that people might have in their wallet. Pop, fun and airy work seems to sell best in this theme park town. This show fit the bill and was a home run hit. Mark your calendar! The show is only up till the evening of December 23. Head over and check it out before the Holidays.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Weekend Top 6 Picks

Saturday December 21, 2013
10am to 4pm  Commander's Call. Free. Museum of Military History 5210 West Irlo Bronson Hwy Kissimmee FL. This ongoing program is held on the 3rd Sat of each month is designed to appeal to families, military memorabilia collectors, history buffs, re-enactors & others interested in military history. In addition, persons interested in displaying, trading or selling their military items such as honor coins, swords, photographs, military buttons, scale model boats & planes, military art, uniforms or other equipment register in advance by calling the museum to reserve a spot. Re-enactors & veterans are welcome to come in uniform to add to the history & authenticity of the military experience. Non-military booths such as health care providers, home improvement, local attractions or other businesses are invited to be vendors for minimal donation.

3pm to 7pm Cruisin' Downtown DeLand Car Show! Free. East Indiana Ave Downtown DeLand, Deland FL.  Classic cars & rods.  Live DJ, giveaways, shopping & dining. Fun for the family! Every 3rd Saturday night! http://mainstreetdeland.org/calendar.cfm/mode/details/id/12037/recurringId/71147/cruisdowntown-deland-car-show

9pm to Midnight The Falcon Presents: C-Note Collection. Free, but be sure to grab a drink and linger. The Falcon 819 E. Washington Street, Suite 2, Orlando, Fl. Original art and framed prints under $100.

Sunday December 22, 2013
1pm to 3pm Irish Music. Free. Olivia's in 108 N. Bay Street, Eustice FL. http://www.oliviascoffeehouse.com/

5:30pm to 9pm Southern Fried Sunday. $10 Will's Pub 1042 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL. Thomas Wynn & Friends, Hymn for Her, Bad Santa & The Angry Elves and The Bloody Jug Band will be entertaining you with some great music!   BBQ from The Smiling Bison!

6:30pm to 9:30pm   First European Winter Fair. Rosen Shingle Creek 9939 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL.  The newest family event is a European-Style Gift-mart and Culinary-crafting. Booths and vendors, with displays on the decorated outdoor patio of the beautiful hotel, will offer gifts and crafts, cocktails and food, chocolate workshops, ornament-making, cookie decorating, custom Christmas stockings and more. Call 866.996.6338 for reservations.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Windermere Arts Festival

The Windermere Arts Festival is held annually in a lakeside park nestled among the chain of lakes. There were artists tents, a boat show, antique cars and a wake boarding competition. Local authors read from their work.

; Rhoade on his red bicycle told me a little about the mission to try and save Nehrling Gardens. The Gardens are the former home of famed horticulturalist Henry Nehrling, who purchased the property in 1885 to establish a garden where he could experiment with tropical and subtropical plants year round. It is located in Gotha, Florida, a small community near Orlando that was founded by German Americans in the 1870s. The 1880s frame vernacular style home and semi-detached kitchen were moved by ox-cart to the site in the early 1900s.
 
Palm Cottage Gardens was Florida's first experimental botanical garden where Dr. Nehrling tested over 3,000 new and rare plants for the USDA. By the early 1900s it was a popular destination for thousands of tourists, nature lovers, and new Florida settlers. Many prominent people of the era, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Liberty Hyde Bailey, Theodore Mead and Dr. David Fairchild, marveled at the garden and celebrated Nehrling's extraordinary work. Of the 60 plus acres purchased by Henry Nehrling between 1885 and 1897, only the 6-acre homestead site remains; a portion of this extends into Lake Nally. Remnants of the original 100-year old tree canopy and many of his plantings still exist, and the house is a charming and authentic example of pioneer Florida life.
  
The Mission of the Henry Nehrling Society is to preserve Dr. Nehrling's historic home and gardens in Gotha, Florida, and provide a History and Horticultural Education Center focusing on environmental conservation and to:
  • Honor Dr. Nehrling's horticultural and ornithological achievements.
  • Preserve the remaining historical home and gardens in Gotha, Florida.
  • Recognize the community's historical and German-American cultural heritage.
  • Teach environmentally sound gardening and landscaping practices through horticultural classes and demonstration gardens; provide education for wetlands restoration and conservation.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

See Art Orlando


I went to Loft 55 Gallery and Boutique (55 West Church Street, suite 114, Orlando, Fl), curated by Ashlie Lawson, to see  an interactive performance concept by Stephen AG Carey. This local artist will be locked within a gallery to only portray the messages given to him by the community. He calls this exhibit "Messages 4 the Cure" to help advocate for those who have survived, still battling or lost their lives to cancer. People were able to write a message and tape it to the gallery windows for those individuals who survived, are still battling, or lost their lives to cancer. The artist then rewrote the messages onto an art piece hanging on the galleries wall.

Unfortunately when I arrived a little before rush hour, a sign on the door said the artist was out for a three hour break. The painting in progress had maybe ten lines of copy written into the piece. The writing was too small for me to read. The painting was far from complete. This was a sad excuse for performance art. The concept was good but the execution wasn't great. I lost interest and left.

Since I still needed to do a sketch, I hiked to Lake Eola to sketch one of the new See Art Orlando sculptures of a flock of gulls swooping over the lake. See Art Orlando's mission is to enhance the aesthetic experience and cultural image of Downtown Orlando through a major Public Sculpture Community Project. The installation of iconic works of art throughout the City will bring National and International attention to Orlando and will add to the economic viability of the community.

The flock was sculpted by Douwe (“Dow”, a Dutch name) Blumberg. He came to his art career by a rather circuitous route. Born in Los Angeles of two amateur artists. During a childhood that was almost a continual art education, he spent some formative years in Europe being exposed to western artistic traditions. Later he attended the University of Southern California’s prestigious Idyllwild School of the Arts and Music. This was followed up with four years of sculpture/metal working education during which he won many national awards. His education was capped by an apprenticeship at a CA art foundry where he mastered the many facets of creating bronzes. He attributes his ability to work in varied techniques and styles to this style of learning.

Upon graduation however, he did not immediately pursue an art career. Instead, he became a professional horse trainer, a career he pursued for 18 years at his ranch outside of L.A. Gradually, however, he started sculpting again, albeit part time, and began accepting commissions. As demand for his work grew, he was forced to choose between the two careers; his lifelong passion of sculpting won out. Closing his barn in 2000, he relocated to centrally located Kentucky where he has a studio and home north of Lexington. Douwe has completed well over 200 private and public commissions and has numerous awards, residencies and shows to his credit.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dickens by Candlelight


On December 14th I went to a dress rehearsal for Dickens by Candlelight at The Cross (1300 Brookhaven Drive Orlando FL). The Cross is in Ivanhoe Village and it is in a neighborhood of warehouses. When I arrived it was dark so I waited under a street lamp out front. After maybe ten minutes I saw a Prius pull into the parking lot next to the building and Terry Olson popped out and quickly rushed behind the building like the white rabbit. I followed, but when I rounded the corner he was gone. There was a small glass door at the back of the building and through it I could see a woman in turn of the century period dress. I entered the dark room.

John DiDonna who plays Scrooge had informed me about the rehearsal. Monica Long Tamborello and Robin Olson  played just about every other character in the Dickens tale, The Christmas Carol. This is the 16th anniversary year that Dickens By Candlelight has been performed in Orlando. Robin Olson who first wrote this adaptation is returning to the cast this year. Producer Kenneth Ingraham gave me tips on where I might catch the action in my sketch. Fewer people showed up than expected, and he suggested I sit closer but I was already committed to this sketch.

The warehouse doubles as a church and it turned out that the rehearsal was being staged for parishioners to thank them for letting the space be used for rehearsals.  Ben Hoyer and his family were the first to arrive. Ben is the founder of Credo Coffee Shop and he helped acquire this space for church use. As people arrived, the cast made their way back stage behind barn-like sliding doors. A bare branch was suspended from the ceiling with delicate golden ornaments hanging from it. Each table in the room had a red candle and tiny bells. At one point in the production everyone was encouraged to ring the bells then stop on cue.

The tale cleverly envelops the audience as the characters move through and around the guests who are seated at treat-laden tables.  The three talented Orlando actors, portray all of the roles and artfully transform themselves from character to character and stave to stave.  The best way to witness visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and  Future is while enjoying homemade cookies and a pot of freshly-brewed hot  tea.   Since there have been so many film adaptations of Dickens Christmas Carol, I expected to feel jaded. But the cast kept the story engaging and suspenseful. John DiDonna did an amazing job portraying Scrooges greed and then joyful redemption.

When it came time for the ghostly visits, the room was only illuminated by the flickering candles. Scrooge shouted in terror when the huge metal garage door rattled by forces unseen.  I suspect Terry Olson must have been outside rattling the doors on cue but the effect was ghostly and unnerving. This subtle use of sound and candlelight held more dramatic terror than any of today's special effects laden films. This is theater's magic as people gather together in a dark room to share a tale. Children huddled close in their parents arms. The costume changes were quick and numerous with every word save one having come from Dickens pen. Audience members became part of the action as they joined the cast in holiday celebrations.

I highly recommend this show to ring in your holiday season. Shows will be in the Patron's Room at the Orlando Shakespeare Center (812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL). Tickets are $35 with group rates available.
Wednesday December 18, 8pm
Thursday December 19, 8pm
Friday December 20, 8pm
Saturday December 21 4pm and 8pm 
Sunday December 22, 4pm and 8pm
Monday December 23, 8pm

Monday, December 16, 2013

Drip Sketchbook

Flip through the 62 DRIP Sketchbook. It is a great stocking stuffer. Only 15 pages show here.

Culture Pop


On November 8th, I exhibited a sketch at the Maitland Art Center (231 W. Packwood Avenue, Maitland FL.) Devin Dominguez had the unique idea of exhibiting art on clothes lines in the museum's courtyard. Since there was no charge to the artists, I submitted a sketch for the evening. My sketch was on the right hand clothesline in that inverted pyramid stand.

The evening included music, poetry from Maitland Poets and Writers, and food from Gator County BBQ Food Truck and of course cocktails. The Art and History Museum's Main Galleries will were open for guests to enjoy A Day in the Life of the Research Studio and shop at the Museum Store. Terry stopped out, excited to hear local author Naomi Butterfield read. Inside the Art Center, there was an exhibit by the first artist in residence in 56 years,  Josette Urso from Brooklyn New York. This is the first formal, nationally competitive Residency program at the Art and History Center since Smith's fellowship program, which was funded by Mary Curtis Bok from 1938 through 1957. Several of Josette's pen and ink drawings were absolutely stunning. I should have bought one. All the sketches and drawings were done around the Maitland Museum property, having the Mayan motifs. Other work was more abstract. It was a really good exhibition.

We ran in to a former colleague of Terry's who was exhibiting several photos of horses. The plan was to stay until the event closed and then take the sketch home that night, but after watching several readings, Terry wanted to go out to get some dinner. We ended up getting some fast food. I picked up my art a week later.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Amazon Hose and Rubber


While driving to the College Park Jazz Festival, I noticed that Amazon Hose and Rubber will be moving from the warehouse they have occupied for years. The current location is 1625 West Princeton Street Orlando, Florida and the new Location (Coming January 2014) will be 4105 Seaboard Rd Orlando, Florida. The current location was always easy to spot since there is an old water tower behind it and the front facade is covered with a colorful mural that showcases Florida wildlife.

Summer Rodman is  the president of this family owned business started started by her grandfather Harry Jacoby back in 1919.  Her grandmother Lorena did collections and worked int he office until she took over in 1973 after his death. She was a little blond with a big personality and many of the long time players in the industry still remember her. Lorena ran this male-dominated business at a time when a woman had many more challenges than now, and she not only succeeded but set an example of leadership, dedication and the pursuit of superior customer satisfaction. Summers mother ran the business for years and still consults. Though the business started small, it is now grosses over 11 million dollars by supplying Central Florida's hose needs. They also serve national and international orders thanks to the Internet. It was ranked as one of the Top 5 Women owned Businesses in Central Florida by the Orlando Business Journal.

There is a counter at the front entrance of the current location where costumers can sit to wait for their hose order to be filled. Construction workers and do it yourselfers constantly muscled up to the counter. Staff would scour the warehouse which is like the Library of Congress for hoses. Row after row of shelving housed every kind of hose and bracket.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Words As Silent Tattoos


On December 12, I went to a rehearsal of "The Words We Wear" at the Goldman Theater in the Orlando Shakespeare Center. The theater space was pitch black when I entered. I stood behind the back row waiting for my eyes to adjust. The directors Aradhana Tiwari and Kevin Becker greeted me warmly. The Goldman is a small intimate space so I decided to sit house left near the back.

Actress Mikki Scanlon Kriekard was getting into military fatigues to perform a monologue Aradhana had written. The director asked all the other actors to clear the space. This was the first time Mikki was performing the monologue and the director didn't want any distractions. I kept sketching and thankfully Mikki and Aradhana didn't consider me a distraction.

It had been 192 days since the soldier had spoken. She had been stationed in Afghanistan and things had happened over their that would get under anyone's skin. When she returned, people seemed like a sea of pages walking the streets. She felt she had been stained by silent tattoos. She came close to relating the horrors that she had seen, but she stopped short. Then she met a young girl that could read her like an open book, seeing the scars and invisible tattoos. The girl gave Mikki a slip of paper laced with hope and redemption. The room was silent and full of emotion. I didn't know why but my face flushed and in the darkness hot tears roll down my cheeks. No one could see. Mikki, as a brave soldier managed to keep her emotions in check but when she related how thankful she was, her throat constricted and she had to slow down to keep from crying, for the first time she felt hope.

After the performance, there were notes from the director. I wiped my eyes and kept sketching. I began to wonder why I had been emotionally bowled over by the performance. A friend had a way of reading people and was able to heal others with a touch. She had a deep, heart felt faith. Yet she wasn't able to heal her own invisible scars left by life.  Her boyfriend, an artist, that she had just broken up with, drove to the Grand Tetons, did a few paintings and then shot himself. I only saw her once after her boyfriends funeral. She asked me to pray for her. I didn't pray. Several weeks later, she took her own life.  I realized that I hadn't cried at her funeral or since. What kind of person doesn't cry at a funeral? Instead of feeling anything, I sketched like a machine. At the time I was annoyed that the focus at the memorial service was on resurrection rather than on the suicide. The word wasn't uttered once. She wasn't rising from the grave. Due to red tape her body had yet to be cremated. I hadn't seen it coming. The one word on my mind remains WHY? How could someone with so much faith take their own life? Did she find the enveloping love of God that she hoped for? I wish I could believe that. Her suicide note absolved everyone from guilt, but guilt remains. I could have been a better friend. This performance finally made all the suppressed emotions bubble up to the surface.  There is so much to live for. The sun burns bright. What choice remains, but to hope?

The second part of the rehearsal involved the whole cast removing white fabric with negative words and then picking up fabrics from the clothes line with positive words. Some actresses removed scarves, shackles, belts and blindfolds. One fiery redhead looked like Jackie Onassis with big sunglasses and the head shawl that she threw away. In one run through, Becky Lane removed her negative garment and when she picked her life affirming clothes line fabric, she smiled and daintily nestled it in her cleavage with a silent film Chaplinesque flair as she walked off stage. I was thankful for the laugh.

"The Words We Wear" will be playing tonight at the Goldman Theatre in the Orlando Shakespeare Center (812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL).
Saturday, December 14th at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM
Sunday, December 15th at 8:00 PM. (The Sunday performance is sold out.)
You can purchase tickets on the EpicVita website.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Weekend Top 6 Picks

Saturday December 14, 2013
7:15am to 9:30pm Reindeer Run. Free to watch. Sea World 7007 Sea Harbor Drive Orlando, FL. 7:15 am 3 Mile Start. 8:45 am Rudolph Run. 9:15 am Rosen Hotels Holiday Costume Contest.

2pm and 8pm Words We Wear. $25 Goldman Theatre in the Orlando Shakespeare Center (812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL).A 60 minute original performance piece that includes dance, acting, and mixed media. There is an ensemble of 20 female performers. The show is about exchanging negative words for more positive words. EpicVita Also on Sunday December 15th at 8pm.

4pm to 7pm McRae Art Studio Open House. Free. McRae Art Studios 904 Railroad Ave. Suite 200 Winter Park, FL. Take a peek inside the studios and processes of various artists working at Mcrae Art Studios. This is a great opportunity to see works in progress, purchase available works, and learn more about Mcrae's warehouse space, situated in the heart of Winter Park, FL.

Sunday December 15, 2013
10am to 7pm Grandma Party. Free. Stardust Video & Coffee1842 E. Winter Park Rd. Orlando FL. Arts, crafts and local talent. Grandma Party is you and me and all of us making it happen. http://grandmapartybazaar.tumblr.com/

Noon to 4pm  Locally Grown Words - a Book Fair. East End Market 3201 Corrine Drive Orlando, FL. In January 2014 I will be opening a small, independent bookstore called Bookmark It in the new East End Market, located in Orlando’s popular Audubon Park community. Its primary focus will be two-fold. First to offer books that support the mission of the various other vendors in the market (organic farming, juicing, sustainability, etc..) and the local-focus movement that defines East End. And second (this is the exciting part), to champion the local writing community by offering a wide selection of books by Central Florida authors, develop events that offer opportunities for book launches, readings and workshops, create a “Local Book of the Month” club, and more!

7:30pm to 9:30pm Abdias Ernesto and Family. Free. The Timucua Arts White House 2000 South Summerlin Avenue, Orlando, Fl. An intimate evening of World Folk Music, art and love-filled energy. 7:30pm Kattya Graham. 7:45pm Beth McKee. 8:15pm Abdias Ernesto Garcia and Family. Live Art by Deliz V. Berrios. This show will be recorded and released as a live DVD and CD of our first album as 'Abdias Ernesto & Family.' We will have special guest performances by Beth McKee and Kattya Graham plus some brand new music.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Words We Wear


I bumped into Becky Lane in the Full Sail parking lot and she told me about a show she is working on called Words We Wear. Kevin Barber and Aradhana Tiwari are co-directing and Holly Harris is in charge of choreography. Becky invited me to a rehearsal at Movement Arts Studios.

Words We Wear is a 60 minute original performance piece that includes dance, acting, and mixed media. There is an ensemble of 20 female performers. The show itself is relatively secular. It is about exchanging negative words for more positive words, but the final call to action is faith based. An organization called Epic Vita contracted Becky and the rest of the creative team and heavily influenced the content of this show. They focus on Christian Women's Ministry.

At the rehearsal, blue tape marked a grid on the floor. The female cast were walking aggressively as if on the streets of a big city. They wove together in a tight knit pattern. If a performer got in the way then the dancer would stop, turn at a right angle and move in another direction. At one point rows of dancers had to move past one another and the squeeze was so tight they bumped shoulders. A fraction of an inch adjusted the movement and the bumping stopped.

The next sequence rehearsed involved movements related to exercise. They wanted to have a quick beat to the movements and Becky demonstrated an accelerated yoga routine where she did sun salutations and downward facing dog to a quick eight beat. The effect was both funny and awe inspiring. Aradhana chimed in, "These moves will be simplified, you can all thank me later." Everyone applauded Becky's performance, thankful they wouldn't have to repeat it.

As I was finishing my sketch, the women rehearsed a routine involving the drudgery of sorting laundry. The baskets of clothes became part of a delicate angst filled dance. Performers experimented and improvised slowly allowing the routine to find it's own form. This is what I love about sketching rehearsals, there is an open sense of childlike play that brings a piece to life.

Aradhana explained that the show was built around a quote from Maya Angelou. Aradhana explained that certain events in her own life have made the shows theme particularly relevant at this time in her life. Maya said, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, "“Someday we will be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. I think they get on the walls, they get in your wallpaper, they get in your rugs, in your upholstery, in your clothes and finally into you.”

The show will be playing at the Goldman Theatre in the Orlando Shakespeare Center (812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL).
Saturday, December 14th at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM
Sunday, December 15th at 8:00 PM.
You can purchase tickets on the EpicVita website.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Infusion Tea


I often stop into Infusion Tea in College Park (1600 Edgewater Dr, Orlando, FL). I usually go to Soft Exposure to listen to poets and authors but this evening I just stopped in for a bite to eat. The food is delicious and it is always fun to try a new blend of tea. I get over whelmed when I order since there is a wall of teas behind the ordering counter. There is also a counter where you can order gelatos. Gelato is healthier than ice cream.  It uses more milk than cream, and less fat. Additionally, it usually uses fewer egg yolks, another source of fat in custard-based ice creams. Ice cream is churned quickly introducing more than 50% of air into the mix. Gelato is churned much slower which makes it more dense. Gelato has a more direct flavor. It always reminds me of Rome.

Infusion has a 60's retro feel with the yellow Formica tables and lime green chairs. Some people come to sit for hours, sipping tea and working on a laptop.  Outside a patio enclosure has been added that looks like it came out of a shagadelic Austin Powers movie. The Arts Co-op, a  chic gift boutique inside Infusion is also a great place to get unique local hand crafted items for the holidays. Now through the end of the year if you buy one item, you get 1/2 off on another item. Many of the items are perfect as old fashioned Christmas decorations.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

History Center Holiday at Heritage Square

On December 3rd the Orange County Regional History Center celebrated the Holidays in Heritage Square (South Magnolia Avenue and East Central Boulevard). The event was complete with live music, visits with Santa Claus, crafts, milk and cookies; plus Mayor Teresa Jacobs turned on the holiday lights.

On the walk to the History Center, I bumped into my wife Terry walking around Lake Eola and was amazed to see that she had died all her hair a deep purple. She was on the phone with my sister Carol. She handed the phone to me and Carol told me that my distant cousin Cornelia Thorspecken and her daughter Nini would be visiting Orlando in the summer. I'd have to get the guest room ready for visitors.

At the History Center, the park was quite dark but the facade of the building was lit by bright color changing spot lights. As a sketch artist I get annoyed with these color changing lights having to choose a color palette that might change on a whim. All the new sculptures in town seem to use color changing lights like none of the artists could make a decision about which color would work best.

A children's chorus sang off tune. Though lacking talent they were adorable which is what counts. When Teresa Jacobs flipped on the lights, long strands of Christmas lights arched up to the top floor creating the illusion of a Christmas Tree. With the lights on, everyone was invited inside to meet Santa. My sketch was done, so I packed it up for the day. The last time I tried to draw Santa I had been kicked out of the mall, so I wasn't going to push my luck.

217

Monday, December 9, 2013

Choral Concert

On October 30th I went to a choral concert at Rollins College, Tiedtke Concert Hall. The evening featured the Women's Choir, the Small Vocal Ensemble and the Rolling Singers. The concert hall was half full and it was easy for me to get a front row seat. Sarah Joseph was the student accompanist and George Atwell turned the sheet music when needed. The second group had additional musicians including a bass player that I included in the sketch.

The house must have been full of adoring parents and supportive College friends because when performers walked on stage the audience went wild. You'd think you were at a rock concert rather than a classical recital.

My favorite choral piece was Hallelujah Arranged by Jens Johansen and Jamey Ray William Mitchell. The last piece was a rather humerus rendition of The Barber of Seville. Choral members mimicked instruments in an orchestra using their voices. The recital was a free fast paced sketching opportunity. I had just enough time to finish the sketch when the performers took their final bow.

217

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Drip 1 Year Anniversary


On November 16th, Drip celebrated its one year anniversary of being on International Drive. Long time supporters of Drip were invited for a complimentary show. The T-shirt cutting and paint station was complimentary as was the champagne. After the 50 minute Drip show there was a desert party with the cast. Jessica Mariko the dance company's founder was beaming as she thanked everyone. "We would not be where we are today without the help of generous people, advice from friends, cash, love and support."

During the show, Terry and I stood near a raised platform. In one dueling dance sequence, red and Blue seduced one another in a purple strobe light glow as Yellow, Jessie Sander, tore apart her apartment in anguish and despair. Terry and I were inches away as the lovers gyrated and disrobed. Yellow as always did an incredible job of clearly showing her emotions even when not dancing.

David Travers, who composed all the music for the show made a rare cameo appearance playing guitar along with the band. The band performed in the bar for the after party. Guest singers were invited up to the mic.  I was surprised to see Melissa Kasper get up and sing her heart out. She has been the longest standing cast member of Drip working tirelessly hard in the background to keep each show on schedule. Now she stood front and center and the cast whooped and screamed for her performance.

The sketch was a struggle as heads bounced and bobbed blocking the scene. A paint drenched wench rubbed her boobs up along my left arm as she looked at what I was doing. She must not have seen the ring on my finger. Get a group of women wet and covered in paint and their inhibitions turn of as they get wild. Everyone danced and screamed to the pounding rock beat. When the music died down, Terry and I headed home.

224

Saturday, December 7, 2013

How the Mall Stole Christmas




Twas two days past Black Friday and all through the Mall
The shoppers came rushing, around Santa's fake hall,
I began sketching children put on Santa's knee,
giving plenty of time for my wife's shopping spree.

My vantage point was the only one that cost no money,
others gathered here considering the scene quite funny.
The activity was earnest as all waited for a sight,
for this Santa had a real beard to parents delight.

Parents they waited, and fingered their phones,
ignoring their children who screamed and moaned.
From my vantage point I could see the grim scene,
as children were forced to sit, and then screamed.

A photographer's assistant tried to distract them a moment,
using squeeze toys and baubles for the children's enjoyment.
A hot flash blinded, then appeared, a red nose and white beard.
Kids screamed till their lungs burned from all that they feared.

A mom saw Saint Nick sip from his flask,
"I hope that it's water" she told her kids with a gasp.
 The old man put up with photos galore.
Parents and children crowded in for ever more.

Then behind me I heard a mall guard and I swallowed..
Your sketch looks fine, but rules must be followed.
Sketching isn't allowed in this Mall without asking.
Managers are all gone, so you must stop your sketching.

But people shoot pictures all day without stopping.
Only photos of faces should be captured while shopping.
 I texted my wife to let her know I'd been spotted,
I continued to sketch after the mall guard departed.

I left the sketch unfinished and my anger abated,
This season our money would go somewhere art isn't hated.
If you shop in a mall this holiday season,
avoid Mall at Millenia where I'll not shop, for good reason.

Hundreds of dollars of money unspent,
as my wife packed her wallet and back home we went.
Perhaps this year something local I'll buy ,
supporting craftsmen whose talents I'll try.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Weekend Top 6 Picks

Saturday December 7, 2013
10am to 10pm   $5 admission a portion of which goes to Saving Grace in Uganda. BIG BOX OF ORLANDO two-day pop up shop. SAY IT LOUD! (1121 N Mills Ave, Orlando, Florida 32803). Big Box of Orlando is is a two day pop-up shop inside a warehouse featuring a tightly curated collection of gift-giving merchandise from 18+ Orlando brands. Presented by TheDailyCity.com.

11am to 6pm. Big Bang Bazaar Bonanza! $5 Saturday and Sunday.. Lake Lilly Park (Maitland, Florida 32751).  come out and support local artists! Also this is a great chance to stock up on unique and awesome holiday presents! http://www.bigbangbazaar.net/

4pm to 6pm. WKMG Local 6 for Holiday Concert. Free. Lake Eola Band Shell (195 N Rosalind Avenue, in Downtown Orlando). The Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra will once again join forces with WMKG Local 6 and the City of Orlando to present the fourth annual WKMG Local 6 Holiday Concert. The concert will feature FSYO orchestras and a special appearance from the Central Florida Community Arts choir, and will also serve to benefit the Salvation Army's Angel Tree Network.

Sunday December 8, 2013
7:30am to 9pm. Gallery Fresh Art Markets. Free to shop. Orlando Fashion Square (3201 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, Florida 32803). On the 2nd Sunday of every month Gallery Fresh Art Markets and Orlando Fashion Square proudly present "Show Your Art." This indoor, non-juried art event showcases 60 to 90 local artists and fine crafts persons and is located throughout Orlando Fashion Square.

11am to 5pm. Sparkle Artisan Market. Free to shop. Dandelion Communitea Cafe (618 N Thornton Ave, Orlando, Florida 32803). Come to the annual Sparkle market where at least 25 artists and their handmade offerings will dazzle you! There will be a variety of gifts galore. Lunch at Dandelion and get the best healthy food in town. Bring your friends and kids. Shop local!! Park at Hillcrest Elementary School south of Dandelion Communitea Cafe.

1pm to 3pm.  Film Slam. $5. Enzian Theater (1300 S Orlando Ave, Maitland, FL 32751). Experimental Films, Puppet Films, Art Films, Bartenders throwing bottles, Gangsters, a Music Video....this has to be the most amazingly eclectic line we've had for all of 2013.



Thursday, December 5, 2013

Campus Vue


Full Sail requires instructors to take certain courses each year.  On November 8th I attended a course on Campus Vue which is Full Sail's main database for student records. The students "Permanent Record" as it were. The tools included in the Campus Vue system are used by diverse Full Sail departments including Admissions, Academic Success, Financial Aid, and Education. In this session, attendees were taught how to utilize Campus Vue in order to find and record pertinent student-related information. Basic navigation of the application was covered, as well as how to use the Contact Manager feature which included how to document the Course Director’s Award, Advanced Achievement Nominations and MIA policy/procedure. All the attendees had their laptops open and the program open. As a Studio Artist, I couldn't access Campus View, so I sketched.

It was intriguing to find out that there have been instances where police have subpoenaed a students records.  It was stressed that any notes about a student should only relate facts. For instance writing that, "The student seemed drunk, and had no interest in completing assignments" would be a bad way to write up an entry. Perhaps, "the student seemed disoriented, with red eyes and he or she didn't complete the assignment." Dragnet style "Just the facts mam" is the way to go.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Valencia East Campus


On November 26th, I left work at 5pm and drove over to  the Valencia East Campus (701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando FL) to see the Valencia Jazz Band Concert Concert directed by Chris Dolske. Unfortunately the concert didn't start till 7:30pm so I had several hours to kill. Of course I started sketching.

Two benches away from me a hooded student seemed to be sleeping while sitting up. She then lay down for a sounder sleep. Another student sat closer for a quick cell phone conversation. Students that must be theater majors came out pushing and pulling a costume rack. One girl hopped up on the rack letting herself be pulled by the other student. One costume fell and was run over. They squabbled about whose fault it was playfully and frantically. More students walked by with wigs on Styrofoam heads destined for the green room.

With the sketch almost finished, it started to rain. I put up my red umbrella and kept working. There was another hour till the concert, so I decided this was my sketch for the day and I headed home. On the drive back I listened to a 1936 Carnegie Hall Jazz concert on the radio, so I got my Jazz fix.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

38th Annual Festival of the Masters


From November 8th to November 10th, 130 artists set up tents in Downtown Disney for the 38th Annual Festival of the Masters. The parking lots in front of Downtown Disney were ripped up and fenced off due to construction. The back lot parking lot I usually park in was completely full. I had to loop around and was directed to a staff parking lot beside the cast services building. I had to drive up and down all the isles before I found what must have been the last spot in the lot.

The parking situation didn't stop people from attending the Art Festival. The crowds were dense. I walked through the festival surveying all the art.  Behind the Circ du Soleil Circus Tent, the view opened up with a grassy knoll overlooking the lake. I relaxed on the grass and started to sketch. An artist sat in front of his tent joking with patrons and showing them prints. When another artist entered his tent, he shouted out to everyone that she was the winner of $1000. He later looked over my shoulder saying, "You're among friends here."

One lady had a tent full of dog paintings. Every canvas had a banner across it that said, "No photos." I understand where she is coming from since I share my work everyday yet want people to know that the image has a copyright, which means, "don't steal the image". I place a 10% ghosted copyright banner across every sketch now. It is barely noticeable.  Whenever someone reproduces my work without asking, that copyright banner grows bolder. Policing image theft is difficult in the digital age. The Internet is the wild west of copyright theft. People want music, video and art for free. I love when people use my work, so long as they pay for the rights.I love it even more when people link back to this site to share my work or a particular sketch.

Much later I felt two other people standing behind me. My first thought was that they must be Disney Security intent on stopping me from sketching. It turns out they were former students of mine. This married couple had taken the 2D Animation class together and they were both stellar students. Having graduated, the couple is enjoying the tourist attractions in Orlando. Russ is planning to do an internship at Full Sail. As the sun set, the shadows grew longer. Getting off Disney property was as much of a challenge as getting on.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Memorial for Mary Hill


On November 11th, I got a cryptic call from Elizabeth Cohen, a friend of Mary Hill's. Elizabeth asked if I could call her back. She said, "I don't know if you've heard news of Mary lately." The message left me uneasy and it took a while to call back. When I did call, Elizabeth let me know that Mary had decided to follow Berto Ortega by taking her own life. I went numb. For the rest of the day I searched the Internet for an obituary or any news of Mary. This couldn't be true.

A memorial was held for Mary on November 16th at Metro Life Church (910 Winter Park Drive Casselberry FL).  Mary often spoke of Pastor Steve Horrell so it was appropriate that he officiated. The lobby of the church was crowded with the bright colors and activity of an arts and crafts fair.  This was the type of small community event that Mary would have liked. Life went on.

At the front of the service hall, paintings of Mary done by Berto were on display. Elizabeth had arranged a board in the back of the hall with many of my sketches. I had sketched Mary and her mom 13 different times. Pastor Steve related stories of Mary's amazing ability to open herself to people and help them heal. He recited lyrics from "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" It is true that Mary was often a clown and always behind schedule. She also changed everyone she met and no one was ever a stranger to her. That is what made her decision so confounding. The only memories of Mary's life came from those that met her.

More people showed up than expected, and church staff rushed to get more service brochures xeroxed and folding chairs set in place. One of Mary's brothers was stuck in traffic twenty minutes late. People from all aspects of Mary's life got up to speak. One man with throat cancer related that he loved Mary like a daughter. It turned out that Mary did leave a suicide note. She said that no one should feel guilty for what she did. It was a decision between her and god. Those kind words however do not ease my guilt. I didn't speak to Mary after seeing her in Berto's studio. Crazy deadlines distracted me. I wasn't much of a friend or comfort when she needed it.  Her friend Elizabeth did take Mary in, letting her stay in her house for two weeks after Berto's funeral.  Mary's mood spiraled down. Elizabeth gave Mary a comforting massage on the last day of her stay and then Mary went back to her Winter Park home alone. Labels were pealed off of prescription bottles. She slipped gently away to find her god's eternal love. The next day friends went to Mary's house but she wouldn't answer the door. Police found Mary's body and investigated the scene.  Her dog, was adopted by Pastor Steve.

Mary had  survived the wreckage of a violent childhood and had just begun her own business. She had so much faith, so her decision to end her life makes no sense. Anger and confusion muffled the services prayers and commendations. The monotone group recitation of written prayers wasn't comforting. Not once during the service was suicide mentioned. I approached Mary's neighbor and she simply said "Not now." Her eyed were red and streaming. Afterwards people mingled and shared more stories.  I stared at photos of Mary smiling on more time, finally realizing I would never see her again. Terry and I slipped quietly away.

A Place to Meet
 by Mary J. Hill 
2005

Meet me…in the stillness of my touch
Allow me to feel your pain, it won’t hurt quite as much.

Meet me…in the safety of my soul
Tell me your stories, the ones you’ve dared, but never told.

Meet me…in the solitude of my heart
Lay down your sorrow, welcome healing’s start.

Meet me…in the center of the earth
Surrender to its wisdom, awaken to your rebirth

Meet me…far beyond the ageless universe
Bask in love’s perfection; nothing’s better, nothing’s worse.

Meet me when you’re willing, meet me when you can
It’s there I’ll give my best to you - my mind, my heart, my hands.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Mary Hill


I first met Mary Hill in 2009 at a writing workshop called, "Writing Your Life". It was August 9th, Mary's birthday, and she treated herself to learn something new. Mary was late to the workshop, so she didn't end up in my sketch that day. After the workshop, we talked in the hallway for some time. She had studied healing and psychology in California. She returned to Orlando to take care of her mother who was bed ridden with fibrosis and other aliments.  Mary ultimately gave up five years of her life to take care of her mother. I visited the Hill house and sketched Margaret Hill. At the time my own step-mom had cancer and she had to be put in a retirement home. I respected Mary for the care she gave to her mom. I returned to the Hill residence multiple times, feeling privileged to get to know both Mary and her mom.

On one visit, Margaret's breathing grew shallow and panicked. She was moved to her bed where Mary placed her hand above her mother's chest and prayed. She would take the negative energy and then exhale it into the corner of the room. Within minutes Margaret was fine and she fell fast asleep.  This was a spiritual form of heeling I had never seen before. If I hadn't seen it first hand, I wouldn't have believed it. Mary felt something flow through her when she did this and she knew it was god's healing touch that she helped manifest. Mary probably had the most faith of anyone I have ever met. At times she expressed feeling closer to god in her prayers and meditation than she did in the harsh grind of everyday existence. Angels often appeared in the art created by Mary.

We decided to collaborate on a project called "LifeSketch." Mary would interview residents of a retirement home while I sketched. Interviewing people in their golden years was incredibly rewarding since stories and lessons learned over a lifetime often seemed to profoundly reflect what what was happening today. Mary had a natural way of getting people to open up to her which resulted in very enlightening interviews. Mary would condense the interview into one page of precise heart felt copy. That article would then be matted and framed beside my sketch and presented to client. Often multiple copies would be made for children and grand children.

When her mom died, Mary comforted everyone else at the funeral.  It was only after her mothers ashes in a cylinder were lowered into a shallow hole at Woodlawn, that Mary's knees gave way, and grief enveloped her. She always wanted to care for others and after her mother's death she got a state license and opened her own healing massage office. I was sure that through word of mouth, that business would grow and thrive.

Mary always knew how to make me laugh. She also knew how to listen and accept tears. I grew up in a Methodist family that hid all emotion, so it was surprising to see how she left nothing checked when she experienced the lows and highs of grief and humor. I felt that openly expressing sorrow was a sign of weakness, but she let the full spectrum of emotion wash over her.

I remember talking to her shortly after she broke up with her boyfriend, Berto Ortega. The relationship was on and off. Though separated, they still talked often. She said that she could go anywhere and do anything now that she was completely on her own.  I had assumed she would travel to an exotic country to do missionary work after her mom died.

Berto was a talented plein air painter. After they broke up, he took a trip in his truck to the Grand Tetons where he did several paintings and then shot himself. He left quite a few suicide notes for friends and clients but he didn't leave a note for Mary. Only now can I begin to imagine the sense of grief and guilt she must have felt.

As I was sketching in Berto's studio at FAVO, Mary came in with several paintings that Berto had left with her. She leaned over and read with some interest a suicide note full of thanks and appreciation Berto had left with Will Benton. Mary hugged me and I asked her, "Are you OK?" She replied quite simply, "No, Pray for Berto's relatives and pray for me." That was the last thing she said to me. She left the studio and was gone.