Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Weekly 'Best of Orlando' Party

On August 30th The Orlando Weekly came out with its "Best of Orlando" issue. I was invited to the Best of Orlando party at The Beacham, so I knew I was nominated. I flipped through the paper that morning while in the last class of the month with my Full Sail animation students. I found myself listed in the "Best Visual Artist" category taking second place. Andrew Spear, who's murals can be seen all around the Mills/5o District took first place, and Boy Kong, who is also an Urban Muralist took third place. From doing this blog, I've met many amazing artists in this town so I'm humbled by the recognition. I'm pretty sure I was nominated because I celebrate and report about all this amazing talent in town. The Orlando Weekly also came up with a new category of "Best Urban Sketcher" and since I'm the only person who is Urban Sketching in Orlando I got a one paragraph write up.

I have family visiting Orlando from all over the country and Germany, but I had to take the time to sketch this blow out party at The Beacham.  Since I would be sketching, Terry decided to visit my family while I worked. There was a short line to get into the club. A group of people behind a barricade shouting in excitement. One of them rushed up to someone in front of me and asked for his autograph. Then one of the excited fans asked for an autograph from the guy behind me. The fan said, "I loved your last picture!" and then squealed when he got the autograph. My last picture, a sketch of National Dance Day wasn't half bad. How come no one asked for my autograph? Alright, shake it off, they are only actors adding a red carpet sense of excitement to the event. I was tempted to get out of line and sketch the screaming fans, but then decided my focus should be on the movers and shakers inside.

A bouncer actually had to check my ID to be sure I was of drinking age, as if my grey hair wasn't ID enough for my age. I immediately decided that I needed a slightly elevated view. There was a giant bouncer in a yellow shirt at the bottom of the staircase. I was told only VIPs could go upstairs. I told him I was the media, but he didn't buy it. I tried the other staircase and was blocked by another Yellow bouncer. I then found Erin Sullivan the Orlando Weekly senior editor and she told me the password which was something like, "Orlando Life". I shouted the password in the bouncer's ear and he let me pass. I had my tablet in the bag, but since this was such an expansive view, I pulled out my largest sketch book. As I started the sketch, Graham Jarrett, the Publisher of the Orlando Weekly was one of the first people to say hello. I was surprised he knew who I was.

I should have had business cards because I met a dozen or so interesting people. One woman knew of another event sketcher and she asked me if I would consider sketching her wedding. Since I've done this before, I stopped sketching long enough to give her my information. A few people stopped to watch me work. I become slightly self conscious when someone watches, but then get lost in the process again in no time. I tried talking to several people but the music was too loud. A Weekly intern stopped by several times and took photos as the sketch progressed. I spotted Hurricane Maria at the bar and Wendy Claitor on the floor. Andrew Spear found me and we posed for a photo. As he left, he said, "You keep working, I'm going to get drunk." Someone else told me, "You already won, you should be drinking and celebrating!" All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Next to me a couple started making out as the music heated up. I was rushing to finish the sketch so I could meet my wife and family later that night. Patrick Kahn, and his wife Holly greeted me warmly as I was finishing the sketch. Patrick opened Snap! Orlando this year and already the new gallery won the 'Writers Pick Award' for 'Best New Art Venue, and Snap won 'Readers Pick' awards at #2 for 'Best Gallery' and #3 for 'Best Arts Event/Festival.' I'm so happy my first solo exhibition was at Snap. They took such good care of me and I feel like I'm part of the Snap family. Devin Dominguez said hello and asked, "Where is Terry?" I shouted back, "She's with family!" "Aren't you family?" she said. Jokingly I responded, "I used to be."

As I walked back to my car, I called Terry to see if I should drive over to the hotel. She said, "Your too late, I'm about to leave." Why can't I sketch faster? While lost in the precess, it seemed like time stood still, I was catching a fleeting moment, but actually hours had passed.  On Facebook, Suzannah Gilman remarked, " No category, for 'Best Wife of an Urban Sketcher'?! What is UP with THAT?" She makes a good point. It takes a saint to put up with my daily sketch obsession.

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

No comments: