Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mennello Gala

The annual Mennello Museum Gala on February 22nd was referred to as, "An Evening With Fabulous Friends." In exchange for illustrations supplied for the Museum's 25th Anniversary, Terry negotiated tickets to the Gala held at the brand new Alfond Inn, (300 E New England Ave. 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. This, the Eleventh Annual Gala celebrated 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. Marilyn passed away years ago and a statue of her is in the museum.

I was working from 9am to 5pm at Full Sail on the Saturday of the gala. Terry agreed to bring my suit and tie to the inn. I met her up front as her Porsche was being valet parked. I felt a little awkward being in jeans surrounded by tuxedos and women in ball gowns. Terry was in a gold sequin dress and blended right in. I rushed off to find a men's room to change in. There was no large bathroom stall so it was like getting dressed in a very tight closet.

The silent auction items were in a small rotunda with a green house glass domed ceiling. Everyone crowded into this tight space with a craps table taking up a huge chunk of real estate in the center of the room. I spent most of my time trying to keep people from tripping on my art supply bag. Terry flourishes in this type of crowd and she squeezed her way around the room handing out fliers for my retrospective show next month. For a brief moment we stepped outside where it was cool and airy but we immediately went back into the chaotic crowd. I bumped into Michael Mennello and shook his hand. I'm not sure if he remembered me from the day I sketched him in his home.

When they opened the dining room, Terry and I found our way to table 26 which was the Enzian Theater table. Sigrid Tiedtke was warm and inviting, giving us both a hug. I was very flattered that she knew of my work. She looked much like her daughter Elizabeth who I often see at the Enzian. Philip Tiedtke sat next to Terry. The Tiedtke family established the Enzian Theater back in 1985 and it is Orlando's top art house movie theater. The annual Florida Film Festival is now one of the top ranked film festivals in the country. Another couple at the table turned out to be musicians and I hope to sketch them performing some time soon. Frank Holt, the Executive Director of the Mennello Museum also ended up sitting at our table. Although table 26 was far from the podium, we were surrounded by talented heavy hitters in the arts community.

My tie wanted to keep flopping down onto the wet sketch. I dropped my pencil several times. The room was constantly buzzing with activity as the staff rushed to serve food. I picked at my plate of food as I worked, but I spent more time sketching than eating. The live auction had a fast talking auctioneer. The largest item was a trip to Colorado and most of the other items were group restaurant outings. Before I knew it, the Gala was over. Such events seem so rushed when you try to capture them with a 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

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