Friday, February 28, 2014

Weekend Top 6 Picks

Saturday March 1, 2014
2pm to 6pm Free. Artist Colony Day. Maitland Art Center, 231 Packwood Avenue West, Maitland, FL. 2-6pm Open Studios and hands on activities
2-6 MAC Wrap: help wrap the Maitland Art Center.
6 Founders tour Peter Banca.

2pm to 5pm $20.00 per Workshop. $35 for 2, $40 for all three! Dr. DJO BI teaches drumming and dancing at the Jammin! School. The Aikido Orlando Dojo 3764 Howell Branch Road, Winter Park, Florida 32792. Dr. Djo Bi has a unique talent and understanding of the rhythms and sounds of his culture. His parents were musicians, and he had a drum in his hands since he was a toddler. Around age 5, he was performing in church; and by the time he was a young teenager, he was invited to begin a professional career as a musician/artist among seasoned adult musicians and dancers. Having lived in Paris, France, for a dozen years, he was able to involve himself with a wide variety of musical experiences. He was even involved with the African Museum in Brussels, Belgium, as part of a research group with Curator Anne Marie Bouttiaux returning with him to his village to learn about mask dance culture. He is the preeminent Zaouly Mask Drummer in the United States.

7pm to 9pm $15. What's Your Story? East End Market 3201 Corrine Dr., Orlando, Florida 32803. The Orlando Story Club ( is an organization formed to arrange storytelling events in various forms for the enjoyment of the Central Florida community. For their inaugural event they have joined forces with Jennifer Marvel and the Audubon Park Garden District ( The event will start at 7pm and will run for approximately 2 hours.
Anyone who wishes to be a storyteller will be invited to put their name in a hat starting at 7pm when the doors open. At 7:25p a local comedian/host will get the festivities started. He will select 10 storyteller names from a hat. He will also nominate 3 judges at random from the audience giving them each a set of scorecards. The first storyteller will start at 7:30p.
The stories are limited to 5 minutes. They must be told without notes and connect to the theme of the evening (Wild Adventures). The theme for this first event will be Wild Adventures. At the end of each story the 3 sets of judges vote and the total score is recorded on a scoreboard at the front of the room. Between each story our comedian will help bridge the gaps as the next storyteller gets ready and the judges tally their scores.
After 5 stories there will be a 15-minute intermission (for more drinks to be ordered). This is followed by the remaining 5 stories. At the end of the night the scores are added up and a prize is awarded to the best storyteller of the evening.

Sunday March 2, 2014
 10am to 4pm Free. Lake Eola Farmers Market. Every Sunday. The South East corner of Lake Eola park.

11am to 4pm Free. Art and History Center Art Car Day. Maitland Art Center, 231 Packwood Avenue West, Maitland, FL. Help Andrew Spear create the Art car.

11am to 6pm Free. DeLand Indie Market Spring Edition. Deland Indie Market at Artisan Alley Artisan Alley, DeLand, Florida 32720. The DeLand Indie Market is a curated event that is held 4 times a year showcasing Artists, Boutiques, Vintage and Handmade Vendors.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Life and Memory of Dorian Gray

On January 8th there was an art exhibit opening titled, "Our Dandy Cat: The Life and Memory of Dorian Gray" at Dandelion Communitea Cafe, 618 N Thornton Ave, Orlando, Fl.  Dorian Grey, was a much beloved gray cat that lived on the Dandelion grounds. Dorian mysteriously died in mid December. The employees and community who loved him honored Dorian through art. The art work will remained up for the Month of January.

I arrived and ordered a banana salad wrap and the house tea. There is a huge selection of teas and I'm always daunted by the choices. Paintings and sketches of Dorian lined the walls. Hurricane Maria stopped in and joined me for a while. She had done the charming sketch of Dorian right above my head. She also did a large 18 by 24 inch framed caricature sketch of the entire Dandelion staff. Dorian made a cameo appearance in that sketch as well. She said it was a nerve wracking task to get each caricature to look like the individuals while having appeal. Push a caricature to far and someone could be insulted, yet the exaggeration is where the fun is.

Maria explained that Dorian might have died by licking a puddle of anti freeze below a car. Cats are renowned for tasting anything they come upon. A researcher mounted cameras on a number of domestic cats to see what they do when they wander through a neighborhood. Cat owners were astounded at how many life threatening incidents a cat will go through every day. Owners were also shocked at how often the cats were killers. A cat will return home with only a fraction of the prey that they hunt.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Leigh Tarentino

Leigh Tarentino is now the Artist in Residence at the Maitland Art Center. On January 7th she gave a talk about her work at the Cottage on Lake Lilly in Maitland. Leigh was the resident artist between December 30th of 2013 and January 17th of 2014. She came to Orlando from her home state of  Rhode Island.

Tarentino creates paintings, works on paper, and digital prints constructed from photographs of the built landscape. She received a BFA in Painting from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design.  She is currently an assistant professor at Brown University.

While in residence at the Maitland Art Center, she worked on several new panel paintings from her Memory of Snow series. This series of small-scale paintings depict snowy winter nighttime scenes of yards, houses, and gardens, often illuminated by winter holiday lights on trees and bushes. The work she completed while in residence in January will be included in a solo exhibition in March 2014 at the Falk Gallery at Christopher Newport University in Virginia.

I appreciated the fact that she creates finished works of art on paper. She feels that paper suffers from the stigma of only being used for preparatory sketches for larger works of art on canvas. She wants to change that perception and only works on paper. I appreciate the way she works on a series of paintings at a time. Much of the work she showed depicted fractured urban environments. She takes photos and then assembles the images in the computer, using that image to create the final piece.

She feels that people in cold environments use Christmas lights to add light at a dismal dark time of year. I hope she got out to see that Floridians go wild with Christmas lights probably because they miss the change of seasons. Leigh said, “The time I spent here was refreshing and I am returning home with renewed energy for studio work. I liked the small studio buildings and galleries scattered around a beautiful central garden. I’m planning to do a series about the layout and history of the Art Center as an artist-built community and residence for the exhibition in October.”

Elysia Mann is the new artist in residence between February 3rd and March 17th.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

God Still Dreams of Eden

Sandra Lacey wrote a musical called "God Still Dreams of Eden." I saw it performed several years ago in the black box theater inside the Orlando Shakes. The musical was light hearted fun. "For 20 years Minerva Morgan had let her long-held secret come between her and the only man she ever loved. The appearance of a run-away bride added a dangerous complication..." Sandra told me that bringing the story to the stage lead to further development of the characters. The actors breathed new life into the characters she had imagined. To further expand the story, she developed it into a novel.

On January 3rd, Sandra signed copies of her book at Longs Christian Book and Outlet, 1140 East Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs FL. I checked with Roger Long, the bookstore owner before I started to sketch. Sandra hadn't arrived yet, but a table was set up where she could sign books. She set up a little stand next to the table where she placed chocolate chip cookies. Anyone who stopped by would get a quick synopsis about the book. Sandra gathered e-mail addresses and signed books which were 30% off on that day only.

Most patrons in the store were looking for Christian music. There was a station with head phones which allowed people to search for particular tunes. Staff often had to help out people who didn't know the name of the artist or the song title. One lady was in the store the entire time I sketched. She wasn't staff, and she never seemed to find what she was looking for. She spoke to a couple for a while and then insisted on praying with them. I'm convinced that if I returned today, she would still be wandering the isles.

Sandra told me that "God Still Dreams of Eden" will be returning to the stage in about a year. Don Hopkinson is the musical director and the plan is to bring the musical back to the Shakes or the Abbey. I'm curious to see how the story has been further fleshed out.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Monday, February 24, 2014

New Year's Day Party

On New Year's day, Terry and I hosted an all day party at our home. We figure not everyone goes out and party's hard on New Year's Eve. We ordered plenty of Lox, cream cheese and bagels along with a big ham shank. There were salads and vegetables and pastries for deserts. I picked up the pastries and bagels in the morning and Terry cooked on New Year's Eve.

Kelly DeWayne Richards was the first guest to arrive.  Terry had hired him to play piano. He came with his electronic piano and a microphone. In the kitchen, Terry and I prepared mimosas. Outside on the back patio we had a huge cooler full of beers, cyders and sodas. Gradually, guests arrived throughout the day. There were actors, artist authors and musicians. The official excuse for the party was that Analog Artist Digital World is in its fifth year.

I started this sketch before guests arrived. I is odd that I have seldom sketched my own living room. I sketched people into the scene as they sat down. James and Jasmin Barone brought along their baby who had on a New Years sash.  On the Facebook invitation I had stated that it was a black and white themed party and the Barone's ran with that theme. Terry was very pleased that Susannah Gilman and Billy Collins came to the party. Billy was once the poet laureate of the United states and his new book of poems, "Aimless Love" was just released in bookstores. I remember seeing a large display of the books in a Louisiana bookstore.

As the party warmed up, people got up to the mic to sing. Even I got up to the microphone at one point. Terry is quite a ham when she has a microphone in hand. I always like how Mark Baratelli sings his set to his own over the top cadence. I sang "Somewhere Out There" with him and it was a challenge to mimic his performance. I just belted out vowels here and there to hit the right notes. Susannah claims she is incapable of singing which means a performance would be all the more entertaining.

Terry's writing buddies stayed all day and well into the night.  Janet Benge had to leave early because of a writing assignment. When the last guests finally left, Terry and I cleaned up as best we could. I made a resolution to loose some weight this year, but now the pantry and fridge were full of beers, pastries and other sinful fattening foods. I'll start to diet once all that food is gone. Our refrigerator broke after the party which means many of those fattening perishables ended up in the trash.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Broadway Babes At The Historic Cheyenne Saloon

On December 12th of 2012, there was a one night Broadway Babes extravaganza at the Cheyenne Saloon and Opera House, 128 West Church Street, Orlando FL. Joshua Eads-Brown, AKA, Ginger Ming, was the hostess along with The Minx.  They began the evening in lusty red can-can girl outfits. For this one night only the old otherwise abandoned saloon sprang to life.

Rainbow banners were hung with pride. The saloon is an absolute gem. It is a shame it hasn't found a new owner yet. There was a small army of talented performers that night. I was seated on the second level near the stairs down to the main floor. Many numbers began at the top of the stairs, so at times I was blinded by the spotlight. Jimmy Rossi helped throw together the incredible talent in the show. Heather Barbor gave a particularly campy performance. Many performers came from Hamburger Mary's (110 West Church Street Orlando, FL) next door, where Broadway Brunch happens every Sunday at Noon.

The show tunes were followed by a dance party with Cap'n Kirk Hartlage spinning the tunes. I slipped out as the dancing heated up.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fountain Facelift

I did this sketch in 2011 when the Lake Eola Fountain was being repaired. Lightning had struck the fountain, melting glass and killing the motor that pumped the water. As the fountain was being repaired, yellow floats surrounded it and docking bumpers were in place for the boat that went out to do the repairs. The overhaul cost $1.6 million dollars. It's the most expensive update in the fountain's history. After the lightning strike, the city received about $300,000 from a private insurer, but the company refused to pay the full cost of repairs because the fountain was in such poor shape before the storm.

Mayor Buddy Dyer insisted on the repairs since he considers the fountain an Orlando Icon. Most of the money for the renovation , about $1.2 million came from the city's own self-insurance fund. A downtown taxing district provided about $54,000, and private donations added the remaining $32,716. Public Works Director Alan Oyler said the fountain's electric bill will show big savings from new energy-efficient pumps and LED lights instead of incandescent bulbs.

Music is piped into the park at night thanks to speakers added to light poles. The music is synchronized  to the fountain's water display giving a Las Vegas style water show. Some of the sculptures added to the park add to the Vegas and Disney flavored camp that marks Orlando as a tourist destination rather than a cultural hub. I walk around the lake every time I do a sketch downtown and though I'm jaded, I still might hum a tune if the mood strikes me.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Friday, February 21, 2014

Weekend Top 6 Picks

Saturday February 22, 2013
1pm to 7pm Free. Art in the Park Redux. Dickson Azalea Park 100 Rosearden Drive, Orlando, FL. An informal gathering of visual artists creating in the park together.

6pm to 9pm An Evening With Fabulous Friends. The Alfond Inn at Rollins College, Winter Park FL. Each year, The Friends of The Mennello Museum of American Art host an elegant gala to raise funds for the museum’s collections, exhibitions, and programs. The Eleventh Annual Gala celebrates The Mennello Museum of American Art, located in Orlando Loch Haven Park, which is owned and operated by the City of Orlando. The Gala also celebrates the passion of its founders, Michael A. and Marilyn L. Mennello. For additional information and to purchase tables or tickets to any of the Friends of the Mennello Museum events, contact Elise Frost, by phone 407-246-4278, ext. 4870, or email

7:30pm to 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. Sample of dancing with caller. All Ages Welcome - Instruction Provided at 7:30 pm
No partners necessary.

Sunday February 23, 2013
10am to Noon Free.  Super Joy Riders. Eastern entrance of the Lake Eola Farmers’ Market. You + Superhero Costume + Bike = Best Sunday Ever. Participants dress as superheroes and ride en masse around the city as they check off their scavenger hunt-like list of Do Gooder Duties; collecting litter, helping senior citizens cross the road, returning shopping carts, basically performing small acts of kindness for an hour and a half of hilarity and love. The Super Joy Riders: Do Gooder Bike Ride is an exercise in community organizing and active engagement. We hope to use the ride as an opportunity to show how helping people can be simple, fun, and easy, especially while wearing a cape.

1pm to 3pm Free. Yoga. Eastern shore of Lake Eola, Lake Eola Park, Orlando, FL. Weekly free yoga in the park.

1pm to 3pm  Free, but order some food. Irish Music. Olivia's Coffee House, 108 North Bay Street, Eustis, FL.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Pecha Kucha Presentation

On January first of 2009 I set a New Year’s resolution to post one sketch a day online. 
I had wanted to start a blog for over a year. 
It was surprisingly easy to post my first sketch and copy on Analog Artist Digital World.
My wife Terry and I moved from New York City, and for ten years I worked for Disney Feature Animation here in Orlando.
Perry, shown here, worked in the office next to me.
The studio was shut down in 2004, because Disney executives felt, that audiences didn’t want to see hand drawn animation anymore.
They only wanted to see computer animation.
I purchased a computer and taught myself CG animation at home.
After years of sitting in a dark room staring at a computer screen, I needed to get out and sketch.
Many early sketches were of buildings downtown, like this sketch of Church Street.
As I sketched, people would often stop to tell me their life story.
I help keep the tradition of hand drawn animation alive at Full Sail University, by teaching the principles of animation using pencils and paper before students start pushing buttons on computers.
When I began doing one sketch a day, I honestly thought Orlando had little to no culture.
I had spent ten years driving to and from Disney, and felt that Orlando must only have the heart of a theme park animatronic.
 I found these drummers in the Creative Engineering warehouse downtown.
I couldn’t imagine much culture happening in this service industry town.
 Yet with every sketch I did, I began to discover artists with talent.
I found people in every field, like Toni Taylor, shown here in her studio, who are striving to express themselves.
 I seek out artists who love what they do and promote them with a sketch and an article.
By promoting them, I get to share with my readers what I feel is the true heart of Orlando.
I am NOT an extrovert.
 I’m only comfortable when clutching pencil and paper.
When I drive to events, I pump up the music in the car to overcome stage fright.
 I used to walk around the block several times to work up the nerve to start a sketch.
That feeling has slowly subsided, being replaced by stubborn determination.
In a crowded room, I find it impossible to focus on any single conversation, I hear the overall din.
Small talk is not my strong point.
If I start to sketch however, a sense of calm washes over me.
While focusing on the sketch, nothing else matters.
By going out every day, I began to meet people who frequent the same events.
 They recognize my desire to sketch what is unique, and they include me in amazing sketch opportunities, like this gut wrenching blimp ride over Universal Studios.
Finding interesting stories is an ongoing challenge.
Though I tend to sit quietly observing, I am at times thrust into the limelight.
To get this sketch at the Bob Carr, the director, John DiDonna, suggested I sit onstage with the audience watching at the Red Chair Affair.
The act of sketching became a form of performance art.
I forgot about the audience as I struggled to capture the Cirque du Soleil performer on stage.
Doug Rhodehamel created this Sea of Green florescent fish hanging from the ceiling at Stardust Video and Coffee.
When I am in a room full of creative people, I feel motivated to create.
 Being isolated in a studio makes little sense, when there are so many vibrant events to sketch all around Orlando.
I found Bluesman Maxwell seated among the clutter of a flea market in Mount Dora.
He sang, “Flea Market Blues.”
No one else stopped to listen.
Each sketch usually takes about two hours to complete.
Time stands still.
When you stay in one spot for that long, some drama always unfolds.
At the Enzian Theater during the Florida Film Festival, the projectionist had to splice together the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” reels.
I always remain open to snippets of conversation which I often jot down on the back of the sketch.
Writing helps me to complete the bigger picture.
Benoit Glazer invites people to his home called “The Timucua White House”, once a month to experience live music and art.
It is amazing how often lyrics of a song, or the plot of a play, will seem to mirror what is happening in my everyday life.
The emotional message of some productions often hits home.
Andrew Spear created a mural at the annual Snap Photography Exhibit.
By meeting so many artists, and sharing their stories, my own art grows richer.
 Listening to a theater director talk about the creative process, the conversation could just as well relate to the process of creating a sketch.
I have often been asked to stop sketching by security guards, ushers and police.
In our fast paced world, someone who stands still tends to be suspect.
This accordion player at Earth Day was asked to stop performing by Lake Eola grounds keepers. Silence can be deafening……
I don’t believe art should be profiled as a deviant behavior.
Jazz still thrives in late night dives.
 The city grows smaller as I meet the same performers again and again.
 I’m starting to feel very much a part of the culture that I document.
Since starting the blog, I have posted over 2000 sketches about Orlando online.
Every art form has uncertainty, and blind searching, followed by revelation.
 I’m never satisfied with any sketch as I am working on it.
Only looking back, can I acknowledge that it isn’t the worst sketch I have ever done.
I love keeping track of all the arts organizations in town, on Analog Artist Digital World.
At times, I feel I have my finger on the pulse that helps keep Orlando alive and vibrant.
Some organizations have had to close, but there are always people who strive to make this city an interesting place to live.
Every time I sketch, I fall in love, be it with a gesture, setting, or people’s stories.
Mary Oliver gave simple instructions for living life, “Pay attention, be astonished, and tell about it.”
By sketching daily, I discover so many people who astonish me, in a city I now call home.
I love my wife, life and Orlando!

Mark Your Calendar! The next PechaKucha V13 will be on Friday June 13th at the Orange Studio, 1121 N. Mills Avenue, Orlando, Fl. I hope the presenters aren't superstitious!

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Post PechaKucha Blues

Pecha Kucha, pronounced (petsha  kutcha) means chit chat in Japanese. Eddie Selover organizes Petcha Kucha events here in Orlando. I had sketched several of these events in the past and I decided to do a presentation myself. The evening consists of Power Point presentations by about 9 presenters. The catch is that each Power Point slide is on the screen for only 20 seconds and there is no way for the presenter to pause or talk for too long. 20 slides for 20 seconds results in a concise six minute presentation. The original organizers came up with the format because they realized that if you give some people a microphone they might never stop talking about the first slide.

There were just two rehearsals held at the Orange Studio, 1121 N. Mills Avenue Orlando FL, in the weeks before the presentations. I simple picked 20 sketches and then wrote copy about my artistic journey since starting the blog. In theory it sounds easy right? WRONG! Being able to time the talk and knowing the slide is about to change any minute is nerve wracking. I have never given a talk in front of 300 people so this was a big step outside my comfort zone. The same week I had to lecture to a room full of students for the first time as well. When it rains it pours. With the writing in hand I felt comfortable but it is hard to slow down and sometimes pause, so there is time for the slide to change. It is much like driving 100 miles an hour down a highway and then having a traffic light every mile. In the first rehearsal I realized that when nervous, I speed ahead and then the slides never have a chance to catch up. Rehearsals were a supportive, safe atmosphere since we were all walking the same tight rope.

The theme for Pecha Kucha V12 was "Love" in honor of Valentines Day so many of the presentations were intensely personal. Going through this experience, I got to learn quit a bit about each of the presenters.  Our presentations got better at each rehearsal. The group as a whole grew stronger as we gave each other suggestions and feedback.  Becky Lane who teaches public speaking at Full Sail, actually took the time to coach me and give me pointers right before the last rehearsal. Based on her suggestions, I removed titles from each slide and instead added a sentence about the person or place pictured. I was writing these notes on the script only minutes before doing my rehearsal run through. I tripped up on a couple of notes that literally made no sense.

On presentation day, February 7th, I rehearsed in my studio all day till the timing clicked into place. I kept adding words or deleting them till the flow was just right. I felt confident but nervous. I had to get to the Orange Studio two hours before show time. I  ran out of the studio and drove several miles in the rain before I realized that I forgot my script which was sitting on the desk at home! I quickly did a 180 in a panic. David Russell of Sac Comedy Lab had us do warm up exercises. We stood in a circle and threw Zip, Zaps, and Zoops at each other. It was a good way to get us to bind together and laugh.

I was the eighth presenter being sandwiched between Carolyn Moor and Kristen Manieri. Each of us got up to the mic for a sound check before the audience arrived. There was a computer monitor about three rows back in the center isle that would show the slides. My voice echoed and bounced around the room. Before me was a sea of white empty folding chairs. Since it was raining, I hoped no one would show. We had to be sure to stay right on top of the mic. I adjusted the mic and it slipped free of the stand and crashed to the floor with a loud thud. Well, that is what rehearsal is for. It better not happen again. One more thing to worry about.

The event was sold out. 300 people crowded into the folding chairs. Emily Empel gave an inspiring talk about how Orlando needs to find a quirky, creative and inspired future. Max Jackson talked about love and the human brain. He spoke with a machine gun fast delivery offering so much information that it was almost hard to keep up. He had memorized his entire talk. It was impressive and daunting. I was strictly "on book." I had to read what I had written on 8 1/2 by 11 sheets that were stapled in the corner. Being visual, I needed to see each sketch beside my words. Carolyn delivered an incredibly honest and emotional roller coaster with her story of love, loss and strength found in supporting others. I had to wipe away tears, and I heard Kristen equally moved beside me. In the end, her story was uplifting and showed how people become stronger when they care about each other. It was a hero's journey.

I was still choked up when I stepped up to the mic. "I love to draw," I began. I started off on a good footing but after several slides, I glanced up at the monitor and instead saw a young woman  three rows back who looked a bit like Caroline, but with jet black hair and straight bangs. I realized after a moment that it was Carolyn's daughter. I wondered what she thought of her mom's presentation. As these thoughts rattled through my head, I flipped forward in the script by mistake. I was not in the moment. I improvised a bit as I re-found my spot. I was getting close to panic mode. I might crash and burn. Then I spotted a woman seated in front of Carolyn's daughter. She smiled at me reassuringly. That smile saved me. Everyone seated in the room wanted me to present this material well. Back on track, I delivered the rest of the talk with confidence.

Kristen Maneri's presentation seemed flawless. She had so much on the line letting the crowd know how she and her husband saved their sex lives by marking Tuesdays and Saturdays on the calender for evenings of intimacy. Her advice to also schedule romantic date nights to nice restaurants is being worked into my own calendar. My wife Terry wasn't able to go to the presentation. She was seeing a client down in Miami. She did see a rehearsal and on that evening I finished the talk with, "I couldn't do what I do without the love and support of my wife Terry." It is very true. But, partly because of the lost time in my stumble, I left the final line off.

I have never stood in the front of a room full of people clapping. That kind of validation is usually for the performers I sketch. When I stood in line with all the presenters, for the final bow, I felt so proud and happy. It was a euphoric feeling. Then, as the crowd dispersed, people kept coming up to shake my hand and tell me about creative projects that might interest me. Caley Burke spoke about a NASA Tweetup event I should document, Roger Gregor told me about a children's book he wrote that needs an illustrator, Carynn Jackson offered an opportunity to document the Winter Park Paint out. I had put business cards and posters on a table and only a few cards were left behind. Emily told me that her goal, in being a presenter was to find one new friend. That thought made me happy. That should be my goal anytime I try something new.

The first two rows were full of friends and family of Carolyn's. They enveloped her in loving support. Kristen's husband held her close. I suddenly felt alone. Swami World Traveler asked where Terry was. When I told him, he said, "That's kind of ironic considering the evening's theme."  He suggested I join him and a friend at a new restaurant a few blocks away on Virginia. I needed to go out and sketch to clear my buzzing head. My calender showed an event by Kitchy Kittens at the Caboose in Ivanhoe Village. It was drizzling as I drove over to look. The Caboose is a real smoke filled dive bar and nothing was happening inside so I decided instead to go to Washburn Imports, 1800 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL. In the back of the huge antiques shop is a bar called "The Imperial". I ordered a raspberry flavored beer and sat at a round table with two other men who didn't mind me joining them.

They talked about the one in a million chance that a friend of theirs had found the perfect girl. I felt hollow as I sketched. This sketch outing was a self inflicted exile. The road less traveled. I identified with the guy standing in the middle of the room, sipping his beer and wanting some human connection while I hoped for some sketchable drama.

The two guys at my table left and they were replaced with a birthday party of three couples. The birthday girl wanted to see what I was up to and she complimented the sketch. One guy said to me, "Hey, I recognize your sketches, I've seen them online. Great work." We introduced ourselves and then he returned to the ongoing conversations and I returned to the sketch. Is this what my life would be like, quick exchanges with people who know OF me, but who aren't really friends? Working alone in a crowd usually doesn't bother me. But I had just rubbed shoulders with some of the most brave, honest and inspiring people I have ever met in Orlando. This is what actors must feel like every time a show ends. When I got ready to leave the Imperial, I used the men's room. When I came out, I noticed a couple kissing passionately on an antique couch removed from all the bustle near the bar. That could be such a good sketch, I thought, but no, I have my sketch already and I have to work in the morning." When I got home, I couldn't sleep.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Boathouse Oyster Bar

The return trip to Orlando from Louisiana involved a stop over in the pan handle of Florida. Breaking up the drive made the trip much easier. This was the first time I was allowed to drive Terry's new Porsche. I don't think it is a good idea for me to have that much power in my hands. I revved the engine loudly on some quaint gulf-port town startling people walking on the sidewalk.

We stopped in Destin and walked along the docks. For lunch we went to The Boathouse Oyster Bar,  288 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL. Locals refer to the place as Destin's best kept secret. Dollar bills covered the walls. Locals crowded around the bar watching a football playoff game. Terry and I decided to sit outside overlooking the water. Sea gulls swooped down hoping to grab our lunch. I put a sketchbook over my sandwich when I wasn't eating it so it wouldn't disappear.

Terry was trying to identify a sea bird and an older couple next to us identified it for her. The bird kept diving down looking to catch fish. Terry wanted to snap a photo with her iPhone but the bird would disappear under water right before she could click the shutter.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Monday, February 17, 2014


We went on the bayou one more time, to catch fish. Most everybody had to get fishing licenses except me since I knew I would be sketching. It was a long drive to a spot down near Houma Louisiana, a town on the bayou leading into the Gulf. A friend of Clare Brown's brought his kayak which we tied down inside the Sea Ark. As we got close to the destination, our two car loads of people piled into a 7-11 for a bathroom break and lunch supplies.

It was a cloudy and cold day. The boat launched without a hitch. We motored to a spot where two tributaries converged. The thought was that the swirling currents would be a good feeding ground for the fish. Terry cast out and quickly her fishing pole bent. She reeled in and the pole kept bending down. She must have caught a whale! What came on board was a twisted tangle of ropes from a fishing net. Her hook also kept catching on the bottom. After several hours, Clare's instructor actually caught a fish. It was too small to keep however. Clare's classmate in his kayak also didn't catch anything.

The lunch food was in the other boat, and they threw some food over when we pulled side by side in the middle of the bayou. There was cheese and crackers and some fruit. The bottom line is that no one caught any fish. Joseph Brown, being an experienced fisherman is used to the disappointment. What is important to me is that is did catch the sketch.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Range

Clare Brown took her parents, Terry and I for a tour of where she does her research and work on the Louisiana State University. We started in the basement where she showed us huge freezers that house thousands of tiny test tubes full of bird muscle samples. These samples are used to find the birds DNA sequencing. Another basement room was full of formaldehyde filled jars with birds inside. That room would have made a good sketch.

Upstairs, Clare showed us her office which was a tiny cubicle. About four other researchers shared the same room. On the walls of the cubicle were hints of the exotic places the researchers travel to. On the same floor were the schools art class studios and stepping into those made me feel quite at home. The hallways were full of nude figure studies. Since it was a student break, I suspect only the worst paintings were left behind.

We then went inside the LSU Natural History Museum on campus.  Large dioramas with stuffed animals inside recreated environments from natural settings. The display for birds of the word was a tight hall where stuffed birds in flight were enclosed in glass cases. Only a stuffed owl had escaped the glass enclosure and he flew up towards the ceiling. The star attraction of the museum was a stuffed tiger. The school athletics mascot is named Mike the Tiger.

Mike I was born in 1935, he was purchased from the Little Rock Zoo with money raised by collecting 25 cents from each LSU student for a total of $750. Originally named Sheik, the new mascot was renamed in honor of Mike Chambers, LSU's athletic trainer at the time, who was the person most responsible for bringing him to the school. Mike assumed his duties as the living symbol of LSU only three days after arriving on campus in 1936. Mike was kidnapped by four Tulane students. He was not abandoned, the cage was not painted Tulane green, but decorated with green and white crepe paper. A return was negotiated, and escorted by police, Mike was returned shortly before the game. Mike I lived for 20 years before dying of kidney disease in 1956.When you press a button next to the display, Mike I roars.

A huge room next to the museum is known as "The Range". The room is filled with row after row of metal lockers. Inside metal drawers can be pulled out to inspect stuffed birds from every continent. Rachel is an avid birder so this was a birder's paradise. Terry refused to go in the range. She had been here once before and Clare showed her the stuffed Cockatoos. They reminded Terry of our pet cockatoo, Zorro, and thus saddened her. She likes to argue with her sister that cockatoos have feelings just like humans. That debate raged for our whole visit. Rachel and Joseph inspected drawer after drawer of birds. Rachel got to hold and inspects birds she had never seen before. The birds plumage remains vibrant and bright and if kept as they are they will last hundreds of years. Some specimens are already that old. They say the eyes are mirrors to the soul. These birds eyes were missing. Cotton hinted at what filled their inner void.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hotel Lobby

We spent Christmas day in Baton Rouge Louisiana. Clare Brown's college professor invited several students, who couldn't go home for the holidays, over his house for a lavish Christmas Dinner. Clare's parents, Rachel Lawson and Joseph Brown as well as Terry and I were invited as well. After dinner the professor showed Clare a blow dart weapon he had picked up on his travels. The blow tube was perhaps three feet long. The darts were lethal metal with a plastic disk expansion at the end. He put a cardboard box across the room as a target and raised the tube to his lips. He exhaled quickly and the dart ripped through the box leaving a tiny clean hole. Students in his class study ornithology and they travel the world looking for exotic birds. One of their tasks is gathering specimens and that means cleanly killing birds.

Apparently Clare is rather good at killing, documenting and properly stuffing the birds for display. Using a gun to kill a bird would result in a highly damaged specimen with a large hole ripped through it. Nets capture most birds which are then killed by hand. Clare described one gruesome situation in which a bird just wouldn't die.  A quick clean kill is preferred to reduce suffering. Clare took a turn with the blow dart. She missed the box. Terry, who had once been a professional French horn player, wanted to test her chops. Sure enough all those years of blowing into a horn payed off. Her dart ripped cleanly through the center of the box. There was talk of darting the foot high Santa statue but the fun was stopped short by the level headed.

We ended Christmas day in the lobby of the hotel. Clare discussed the premise of her thesis research and Joseph seemed intrigued to use the population estimate theories to figure out how many Sock eye salmon migrate to the rivers of Washington State each year. The more varied the genome sequencing in an animals DNA, the larger the population. So with a rather small sampling of genome sequences it could be possible to estimate a species population. 

On a different note, Rachel gave me a stuffed animal monkey whose arms are made of rubber. He has a red cape and if you wedge your fingers in his hands, you can pull his legs and tail to slingshot him into flight. The first time I did it I was shocked when he screeched loudly as he arched in flight. This was definitely a memorable Christmas present.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Friday, February 14, 2014

Weekend Top 6 Picks

Saturday February 15, 2014
9am to 11pm. Free for spectators. The Chocolate 5k. Jay Blanchard Park 2451 North Dean Road, Orlando, FL. NR Road Racing presents a chocolaty good time. We are offering you a sweet treats to keep you going throughout the 5k. Yes there will still be water stations, but for those of you with a sweet tooth, you can also have a little piece of joy. Enjoy a family friendly three mile course with your friends, family, and other choc-aholics strangers. Doesn’t matter how fast or old you are; everyone is welcome to participate and join in the fun!

1pm to 3pm. Free. Family Days at the Maitland Museum. Maitland Art Center 231 Packwood Ave W, Maitland, FL. Families will enjoy making Jasper Johns style flags together as they learn about this unique artist. Families are encouraged to stay and enjoy the A&H museums after the program concludes. Family Days at the Museum is held on the 3rd Saturday of every month, and each program is held in a different location within the A&H Museums. Join us for this afternoon of family fun!

6pm to 11pm. $25 Nude Nite. 639 W. Church St. (Large Blue Warehouse) Orlando, FL. The largest nude art show in the country. Since 1996,  Nude Nite represents a new class of art show inspired by the original inspiration, the nude. A nouveau art event showcasing hundreds of fresh and sophisticated works and performances to quicken the pace of your heart. Held annually in both Orlando and Tampa, Florida the 3 nite visual event you don't want to miss.  Visit or Become a fan at the Nude Nite Facebook page or keep up with NN on Twitter @nudenite. This is one event I never want to miss.

Sunday February 16, 2014
2pm to 4pm. Free, just grab a beer. Got Game? ;) Red Lion Pub 3784 Howell Branch Rd, Winter Park, FL. Poker, board games, card games, Twister, etc. If you have a particular game that you want to play, bring it. I have poker chips, Scattergories, Scrabble, Pictionary, Fact or Crap, a question game (can't remember the name), Uno, and a few others. Don't have Twister anymore (you don't want to know why, trust me). Oh, and feel free to bring your pet. ♥

5pm to 9pm. Free, but get some food! Orlando Food Truck Bazaar. Orlando Fashion Square, 3201 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL. A parking lot full of food trucks!

9pm to 11pm. Free. Comedy Open Mic. Austin's Coffee: 929 W Fairbanks Ave Winter Park, FL.  Free comedy show! Come out & laugh, or give it a try yourself.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Whiskey River

Terry and I had been to Angelle's Whiskey River once before. When we returned to Louisiana this is the one place Terry wanted to share with her niece Claire Brown. This Cajun dive bar can only be found by driving over a dirt road over the levee. Terry's iPhone apple maps sent us in a round about way through trailer park suburbs. Finding the dirt road was tricky because it forked back making it impossible to see the sign from behind. There was a five dollar cover but the band played tirelessly hour after hour.

Whiskey River is a ramshackle place built on stilts right next to the river.  The floor is just plywood planks and the place shutters when everyone is dancing. The band ironically was the same group Terry and I danced to last time we were there, called "Gene Delafose and French Rockin' Boogie." This weekly Cajun dance hall was once again packed. The dance floor was always full for every dance number. Older gentlemen in cowboy hats knew every Cajun dance move and the whisked a new woman around the dance floor for every number. Terry danced with several men who spun her ceaselessly as I did this quick sketch. For some dances, everyone knew to dance in sweeping circles clockwise.

Men lined up to dance with Claire and one asked her for her number, but she has a boyfriend. When the sketch was done, I joined Terry on the dance floor until we were both exhausted. Huge fans cross ventilated the dance floor but with so many heated bodies the place was hot despite the cold temperature outside. The dance floor would always empty the second the band stopped playing. Terry was the one person who wanted to remain on the dance floor waiting for the next song to begin. She loves Cajun music. We even had a Cajun band perform at our wedding. My family seemed confused by all the dancing but Terry's family danced the whole time.

By the time we left we smelled like cheap beer and cigarette smoke. The fans kept the air breathable but the smoke seeped it's way deep into our jackets. Claire offered to wash our winter jackets at her place and the next day we smelled squeaky clean.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sea Ark

One of Clare Brown's instructors offered to take us out on his boat.The Atchafalaya River was perhaps an hour drive from the Louisiana State University. The river has thousands of islands and inlets making an easy place to get lost in. It was incredibly cold as well. The boat ramp was under a highway overpass, making a less then ideal natural setting to start. Once we lost sight of the highway however, the river was gorgeous. Everyone had binoculars. Clare is working on an ornithology Theseus. Terry like to bird watch when she is around experienced bird watchers. I'm sure she added some life birds to her list.

Clare was seated next to me with her little dog, so they didn't make it into the sketch. Clare was baby sitting the pup, so she had never taken the him onto a boat, and was a little afraid that he might jump in the water. He knew better. When the boat traveled at top speed the wind whipped right through my several layers. When we traveled at top speed, my gloved hand got wet when the bow spray caught me by surprise, so I had to ditch that glove. I just kept blowing into my drawing fist to keep it working. Terry and I aren't used to this kind of cold, but we survived. Periodically we cut the motor and everyone looked for movement in the trees. Birds were everywhere. As the sun set, the light grew golden illuminating the tree tops. As it grew dark the temperature dropped quickly. Luckily we got off the river before it got too cold. What a great way to discover the Louisiana Bayou.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Christmas Eve Bonfires

On Christmas Eve, the Mississippi levies in Louisiana have over 100 teepee shaped log structures that are ignited creating a ten mile long series of bonfires. Different families are responsible for building and igniting their bonfires. Building these structures is a family tradition that has been passed down the generations. Cane reeds are added inside some of the structures. The cane reeds explode when on fire acting like a poor man's fireworks. Of course many fires also had fireworks inside. The homes near the levee had tents set up and large spreads of Gumbo to share with neighbors.

Claire Brown drove her parents along with Terry and myself to a parking spot a few blocks away. We walked to the levee and got there just as they were all ignited. It was a freezing cold night and I immediately started sketching as everyone else explored. When my fingers got to cold to move, I walked to the nearest bonfire to warm my hands and then I would go back to work. Huge professional grade rockets were being fired into the air only a few yards from me. It felt like a war zone. Traffic along the levee road was bumper to bumper with the red brake lights blazing.

Someone unfolded a long sheet of black plastic creating a trail down the steep slope. Children were given cardboard sheets that they could use as sleds and they barreled down the hill. The cold breeze blew the embers from the fires over the Mississippi river. Teepee bonfire structures began to fold and collapse inwards. Orange embers floated up to the star filled sky. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience. It is worth a trip to the Saint James Parish to experience it first hand.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Monday, February 10, 2014

Drive to Louisianna

On December 21st, Terry and I left for Baton Rouge, Louisiana to visit her niece Clare Brown who is studying Ornithology at Louisiana State University. Terry just purchased a Porsche Boxster that looks a bit like a shark with its black gill intakes and sleek styling. This was the first long road trip for the car she now calls Enterprise. There is no storage available in the passenger area although the fold out cup holders came in quite useful. The interior is surprisingly spacious considering this is such a compact sports car. It is a convertible, but the cold temperatures guaranteed that the roof stayed up. Terry handled the entire drive which took us all day. The temperature dropped drastically when we got to the Florida pan handle. A nice feature of the car is that the seats can generate heat if needed. That feature felt so good when we got back from a pit stop.

The school colors for LSU are purple and yellow, so Terry fit right in with her purple hair when we arrived. Clare took us to a nice Cajun restaurant on the campus and later, Rachel and Joseph, Claire's parents, joined us. From the hotel, Terry and I hiked to the LSU book store where we hoped to find some warmer clothes. We were ill equipped for the frigid temperatures. Scarves and gloves were insanely expensive however so we braved the weather in out spring denim jackets and sweat shirts. Terry had warned me but I didn't listen.

Clare has a quaint run down shack on the wrong side of the tacks right off campus that she shares with her boyfriend. Of course after a long day on the road, Terry and I were quick to crash in the hotel room.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Third Thursdays

On Thursday December 19th, I went downtown for Third Thursdays. On the Third Thursday of every month, all the downtown galleries open new exhibits. At the City Arts Factory, artists rent wall space. In the large courtyard between The Rusty Spoon and Urban Flats, Brad Michael Biggs rents out spots where artists can set up a table to sell their wares. Brad is the founder and owner of Art for All Spaces. Parker Sketch, who is a regular of the street sales scene, had a large display of his splashy pop imagery. In the past Parker had his work on display in the Thornton Park neighborhood on Third Thursday.

A young couple had a table full of tiny steam punk party top hats. There was an entire table full of paintings of bright boxy robots. A glass display case full of jewelry had a huge canvas poster behind it of a couple making out. Arts and crafts of all shapes and sizes were on display.  When the sketch was finished, I hiked back downstairs and ended up photo bombing a family photo.  On the way out, I passed Dresden Kincade's handmade jewelry. All her jewelry is handmade using wire and natural minerals. My wife Terry's favorite color is purple and I saw a lovely Amethyst crystal necklace that she would love. On impulse, I bought it. Dresden wrapped it up along with a card describing the crystal's powers. If it had the power to bring a moment of happiness it was well worth it.

Mark your calendar, the next Third Thursday is February 20th from 6pm to 9pm or so.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Whirly Dome

Jessica Mariko, the founder of Drip, invited the entire cast and crew to an evening at the Whirly Dome, 6464 International Dr, Orlando, Fl. Terry and I tagged along. Jessica had game tokens for everyone, so once we entered, the game was on. There was a formula one racing simulator with three screens creating an immersive panoramic view. If the car went up an embankment, the chassis would tilt. Melissa Kasper and Brigette Frias tossed basketballs into a hoop which moved back and forth. They had excellent eye hand coordination, landing shot after shot. I tried playing along with Terry and I didn't do half as good.

There was a mini bowling alley, but it was broken. It took Terry's token and didn't spit out the bowling ball. Then everyone went up to the second floor to play laser tag. We were suited up like storm troopers and given a laser gun. If you were hit, a light would blink on the vest and the gun wouldn't fire anymore. We were split into two teams based on the vest colors. The first team entered the maze to find cover and then the second team entered. The adrenalin immediately kicked in as we blasted our way towards the far end of the maze. I worked up a sweat trying to avoid laser blasts. Frustratingly I allowed myself to be caught in cross fire, often being killed from behind. A computer kept track of each persons kills. I was never in the top ranks.

Finally everyone made it to the main attraction, a heated game of Whirly Ball. There were five bumper cars per team. Besides driving recklessly, contestants held a lacrosse scoop which was used to toss a wiffle ball towards a hole in a basketball backboard. For the first match, I sketched, watching the dancers laugh and compete. Of course, Yellow, Jessie Sander, piled into a yellow bumber car. For a second match, I got into a bumper car myself. You would think there would be little physical exertion, but I worked up a sweat. I'd love to see octogenarians from a retirement home play this game. Your killer instinct immediately kicks in as you ram the other bumper cars at top speed. Also, tossing and catching that ball with the scoop was a real challenge. Once two cars smashed the ball flat in a head on collision. After the game, Jessica gave everyone a beer wrapped in a nice gift bag. Everyone had worked up a thirst from screaming, laughing and ramming each other. Oh, and if you haven't seen Drip on International Drive yet,  you are missing the hotter ticket in town.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Friday, February 7, 2014

Weekend Top 6 Picks

Saturday February 8, 2014
10am to 5pm Free. Saturday and Sunday. Orlando Folk Festival. The Mennello Museum of American Art 900 East Princeton Street, Orlando, FL. Art, crafts, music and dancing.

7pm to 9pm Free. Swingout Saturday. 644 Florida Central Parkway, Longwood, Fl. The music is hot and the dance floor will rock!  Beginner dance lesson at 7pm. Dancing from 8 to 11pm.    More info:

8pm to 10pm $20 at the door.  Untold Stories Emotions Dance. Orlando Repertory Theatre Blackbox 1001 E. Princeton St. Orlando FL. Emotions Dance looks at the depth of the human condition in Untold Stories. From topics such as grief and addiction, to connection and hope, the company brings to light some of the deepest of human emotions and experiences in their fourth installment of this celebrated performance.

Sunday February 9, 2014
10am to 9pm Free. Gallery Fresh Art Markets. Orlando Fashion Square 3201 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, Fl. On the 2nd Sunday of every month Gallery Fresh Art Markets and Orlando Fashion Square proudly present "Show Your Art." This free to the public, indoor, non-juried art event showcases 60 to 90 local artists and fine crafts persons and is located throughout Orlando Fashion Square.

1pm to 3pm $5 Film Slam. Enzian Theater, South Orlando Avenue, Maitland, FL. Originally a project of University of Central Florida's Downtown Media Arts Center, Enzian became the home of FilmSlam when DMAC closed in 2006. Now in its fifth year at Enzian, FilmSlam continues to be a popular outlet for indie and student filmmakers throughout the State of Florida. FilmSlam will usually be held on the second Sunday of each month at 1PM at Enzian.

9pm to 11pm Free Comedy Open Mic. Austin's Coffee: 929 W Fairbanks Ave Winter Park, FL. Free comedy show! Come out & laugh, or give it a try yourself.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dr. Phillips House

On December 13th I went to sketch the Doctor Phillips House built in 1893. It is located at the courtyard at Lake Lucerne, 211 N. Lucerne Circle, Orlando FL, just south of the New Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts downtown. It is dwarfed by the ramps and overpasses of the East West Expressway at the end of a dead end street. It seems out of place, a refuge among the urban sprawl all around it.

Dr. P. Phillips is a Central Florida legend who was a major force in the development of the Orlando area. His past is seasoned with interesting and controversial tales, but whether he was a saint or a tyrant, all agree he made an enormous impact on The City Beautiful.

In 1912 the Dr. Phillips family moved into the Peckham House. The house was remodeled according to the specifications of the Dr.'s wife, Della, by Philadelphia architect L. Percival Hutton. The work included the removal of a two-story porch which was replaced with a large portico on the outside. The interior was modernized with electricity to replace the gas-burning lights. A cellar and two bathrooms were added to the main house, while a carriage house was built for their two sons. This included a second floor ballroom where live entertainment was featured every few weeks. The carriage house and the ballroom were destroyed over the years when local fraternities were housed there.

Dr. and Mrs. Phillips were prominent supporters of the arts in Central Florida. They formed the Mendelssohn Club, a forerunner of The Florida Symphony Orchestra and the mansion was host to many Sunday afternoon musicales for members of the community. These events featured concerts by celebrated musicians from around the world followed by sumptuous buffet suppers, and were Orlando's main society events at that time.

Today, Dr. Phillips, Inc. and The Dr. Phillips Foundation continue the work which was started nearly a century ago. The profits realized by Dr. Phillips, Inc. are returned to the community by the Dr. Phillips Foundation in the form of gifts and grants to educational, cultural, and charitable organizations ensuring that Central Florida continues to reap the benefits of "Doc's" work.  A gift from the Dr. Phillips Foundation provided the seed money to turn the old power plant into Lake Ivanhoe into the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Buck Stops Here

I've been sketching performances by Gailanne Amundsen for years. She performs with her brothers, Roger and Jeffery , as Jubal's Kin. These young performers harmonized beautifully. Gailanne met three other female performers at music festivals with the same passion for music. Together they formed, "The Buck Stops Here" which they describe as four does and a buck playing indie-soul-folk-pop-old time music. The idea of forming an all female group with one buck as backup is unique.

Julie Norris is the host of Front Porch Radio on WPRK, and she invited the girls in to perform their first live radio broadcast. The radio station has just renovated the music library and it now can be used for live performances. Rebecca Branson Jones, Julie Chiles and Shona Carr were driving in from North Carolina. Gailanne and Jeffery hail from Orlando. The band literally arrived minutes before going on the air, and there was a mad scramble to get ready. The studio buzzed with excitement.

From the other radio booth, the stage manager raised three fingers then two then one. Julie went live and introduced the group. This was her first time in the new recording studio and the microphone wasn't on. The problem was fixed quickly and she interviewed the band. Gailanne is like a big sister to Julie's daughter Maya, so there is plenty of love there. Of course the music speaks for itself. They performed some beautiful traditional folk songs and then some originals. The all female harmonies are pitch perfect. The group performed at a Cake Walk Party while they were in town. A cake walk is sort of like musical chairs, only home made cakes are the prizes. In most photos and videos of the group, it is funny to see Jeffery hidden in the background. He is fine with stepping back to let the ladies shine. It is exciting to see local talent as part of a group that shines so bright. I hope they come back soon.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Monday Night Jazz Jam

Monday Night Jazz Jam was founded by the late pianist Billy Hall. This event has provided Great entertainment and supported numerous charities since 2008. The event happens on Monday nights at the New Mingo's Restaurant, 100 South Eola Avenue Orlando FL, in Downtown Orlando. Networking happens between 7 and 8pm and the Jam runs from 8 to 11pm. Several TOP Musicians and Vocalists including Joseph Jevanni on the keys, Don Black on the Sax, Jacqueline Jones-on vocals. The evening is hosted by Yvonne Coleman of

I arrived early and got a table near where the performers would set up.  The drums were piled in and set up. The drummer asked if he could borrow my table for a second. He rolled his drum sticks on the table I assume to get a feel for their balance. Yvonne welcomed me. When the music fired up, the place came alive.  I ordered a drink and settled into the sketch.

I sketched through the first set and finished up during the second set. Different musicians rotated in throughout the evening. There were plenty of singers who rotated in as well. There is an undeniable energy to these Monday night Jams. I didn't stay until the end. Once the sketch was finished, I headed home.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Feldman Dynamic

When performance artist Brian Feldman lived in Orlando, I tried to sketch as many of his performances as I could. Nearly two years ago he moved to Washington, D.C where he has only done one performance piece, a "friend building" experience called "BFF" for the Capital Fringe Festival. I lost all contact with him after the move since my primary interest was always in sketching and writing about his performance concepts. Orlando lost an unusual and unique artist when Brian left, and I lost a major source of inspiration.

"The Feldman Dynamic" was first performed in 2003 and started Brian on the road to becoming a performance artist. I didn't start following Brian until 2009 when I started this blog. I knew about the Dynamic, but had never seen the original performance which was part of the New York International Fringe Festival. The members of his family have since moved in different directions. His parents are divorced. His mother is a breast cancer survivor and his sister has been married and now lives south of Orlando. Nearly a thousand miles separate the family's daily lives.

When I got to the Jewish Community Center in Maitland, I had to have my drivers license scanned at the security desk in order to enter. Outside the Harriet and Hymen Lake Cultural Auditorium I saw Brian putting fliers on a table outside the auditorium entrance. He was a nervous ball of energy. I was pleased to see signs that announced "No Google Glass allowed inside the Theater!" No aspect of the performance was permitted to be filmed, but sketching was strongly encouraged during the pre-show announcement. I laughed out loud.

On stage the dining table was being set up and Brian's mom, Marilyn Wattman-Feldman, was at the back of the auditorium warming up dishes in the kitchen.  Brian's dad, Edward Feldman, was busy trying to get connected to the internet. He had me flip through a large portfolio full of his art workAdrienne McIntosh, Brian's sister, was trying to get the internet password from JCC security. Brian helped me set up a crude barrier that would keep the audience from noticing me as I sketched from stage left. The resulting structure was rickety and I was afraid the whole time that it might collapse into the audience. Luckily it held up. An old radio was found backstage and placed on Edward's computer table. Brian let me know that it was the same one from the last show he had performed there, a JCC production of Neil Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs"15 years earlier.  Both he and Adrienne were child performers.

At 7:15pm the house opened and the audience entered. The family walked on stage together and sat down for dinner. Edward spent much of the time standing and serving food. A bottle of sparkling cider couldn't be opened since no one had a bottle opener. Edward put the bottle on the edge of the stage and said, "I bet the bottle will magically open itself." Sure enough, Carl from the audience got up and opened the bottle with his utility knife. For some reason Brian was wearing a tuxedo he had rented for Amanda and Matt Simantov's wedding. I knew this because he had e-mailed me and asked if I wanted to rent the same tux for the wedding. I stuck with my suit which I discovered had paint stains on the pant legs. I don't think anyone at the wedding noticed.

Brian is a very private person. For one of his recent performances,he stayed off  Facebook for an entire year. It looks like that performance lasted for four months. Then Brian explained that Facebook only lets events last for four months. Since he didn’t log on to the site for the entire year, he couldn’t keep changing the start and end dates to cover the full 12 months. Yet another hangup with the site. I had no idea what life in D.C. has been like for him. The family chatted about films they had seen. Brian has seen tons of films and his mother has seen maybe 2 in the last year. He stood up midway through the meal feeling he needed to make an announcement to is family. His father asked, "Are you getting married?" "Wow, that makes sense", I thought. Brian let them know that he had been fired from his job. He showed them the letter of termination. They read it in silence but Edward felt Brian should write a letter of apology and maybe he would be taken back. Brian had fallen asleep at a security job at 2am. "Well, they have to understand, maybe you were tired!" his father consoled. The audience laughed. Brian let them know that he wasn't asking to move back. He is getting unemployment and actively looking for another job. Performance art would have to wait until he got a full-time job. Adrienne had an announcement as well. She got a promotion at Disney moving from one department to another. She was even getting a raise. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound!

I had a strange dream last night. Brian and I were seated on the ground floor of a parking garage that had been converted into a women's prison. A woman in an orange jumpsuit had ankle cuffs with a noisy chain and was being escorted up a ramp by an armed guard. Brian was smiling broadly and giving me advice. "You should get a job," he said. "I work at Full Sail," I replied. "No, you need to get a full-time job. It has been too long." It was an odd dream. I have no idea what it means.

After dinner the family stood around the computer looking at family pictures and shots of Adrienne's dachshund. Before I knew it, they were taking a bow. The audience was maybe a quarter full with most of them being friends and local media. There were plenty of left overs. Edward served me some salad and beef brisket, which was delicious. I topped it off with some apple pie and got back to the sketch. Stage manager Sharli' Ward was having an animated conversation about Israel with Marilyn. If you didn't know about The Feldman Dynamic, you missed a personal, unplanned slice of life and some great food! It was theater as life.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Wynwood Block

During Art Basel week, (December 5-8), graffiti artists from around the globe converge on the Wynwood Arts District to cover buildings. Some buildings are completely covered. Wynwood is Miami's gallery district and every time I have gone the place was hopping. I go to sketch the artists at work.

The artist on the right is named Bruno, or "BR" for short. His wall portrayed a vibrant inter planetary scene. Characters were covered in vibrant Mexican fabric patterns, and sinister green clouds floated overhead in a purple universe. The other artist was likely painting a portrait of a rap or hip hop artist. The face was cut up into a grid and each panel was a different color. Even the van parked in the street was covered in dripping ice cream graffiti lettering. I never did figure out what the lettering spelled.

Terry and a friend went to one of the many Art Fair tents and when my sketch was done, I walked towards them. My college, The School of Visual Arts, was exhibiting student work. Terry introduced me to the SVA Faculty who were supervising the show and I shared one of my sketchbooks with them. There was some really good art in this tent. One memorable wall was covered with paintings on small panels of Obama. Each panel was painted in a different way creating an amazing variety all of the same face.

The PĂ©rez Art Museum just opened in Miami and a group of us went to an exclusive preview of the collection in the evening. It is an impressive modern museum. Hanging from the ceiling of the entries were columns covered in foliage. The ground floor had an exhibit of model boats suspended from the ceiling that I liked. Had there been time to draw, that is what I would have focused on. An entire room on the second floor had hundreds of bicycle wheel rims interconnected by a horizontal metal framework. Guards tried to stop people from spinning the rims, but there were too many rims and the compulsion was too strong. People watching was more fascinating than some of the art. High society was out in force and every fashion was strutting on display. I would like to return sometime when it isn't so crowded.

As we were leaving, we bumped into Patrick and Holly Kahn. Patrick just opened the new Snap Gallery in the renovated Cameo Theater, 1013 E. Colonial Drive Orlando FL. The gallery opened on January 18th and the crowds where overwhelming. It is the first time I've been to an exhibit in Orlando where people had to wait to get in. It seems Patrick has managed to bring some of the Miami excitement and exclusivity back to Orlando.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Saturday, February 1, 2014


All the guests who had gathered in Miami Beach for Elaine Pasekoff's birthday went down to the convention center together. There were eight of us packed into two cars. Admission to Art Basel in the convention center is expensive. As we all stood in line for tickets, Terry realized that there was a group rate discount for ten people. The couple behind us in line joined us to get in on the deal. With the discount, the ticket price was $26.

I wasn't allowed to enter the exhibit hall with my art supply bag. I had to check it. I pulled out one sketchbook and stuffed it in my belt and pulled my shirt over it. My pallet went in my front pocket along with one brush. When we got in, my plan was to immediately settle somewhere and get a sketch done. I quickly was drawn to this astro turf lawn with undulating hills. It came complete with fake trees and there were always people sprawled out and relaxing. This little corner in the vast sea of gallery exhibitors was called "Positions." This area was a platform for galleries spotlighting a single emerging artist with one existing project. Visitors could discover ambitious new artists from all over the globe.

With the sketch done, I texted Terry and searched the maze of galleries to find her. This year  Art Basel had more Representational art as opposed to abstract art. A New York gallery had a wall full of paintings by Edward Hoppers. Terry had the premise that since the economy is picking up, that galleries are pulling out great art works because they feel they can get the proper price for them. She asked the gallery owner about this but was told,"If you have a Hopper, you sell the Hopper." I joked that last years show was all about hair and mirrors. Literally every other piece used human hair in some way or a mirror. This year however I was delighted with much of the work that I say. Execution matched concept.

After a few hours of seeing endless art and getting lost, gallery burn out sets in. Elaine and her friends went out to lunch while Terry and I kept looking. We set a time to meet back at the parking garage. Terry and I got there on time, but the rest of the group lingered at lunch. Terry and I decided to get lunch ourselves and then take the bus back to the condo. This gave us a chance to visit another satellite fair that had nothing but prints. We paid close attention to how work was framed since I need to frame work soon.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at