Sunday, August 31, 2014

Places Less Traveled at the Peacock Room


On May 6th, I went to the opening reception for "Places Less Traveled" at the Peacock Room (1321 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL). This show featured Selected Graffiti Photographs taken by Grazyna Kleinman in Miami between 2011-2014. Grazyna travels to Art Basel in Miami each year and she documents the ever changing urban graffiti scene. The Wynwood Arts District in Miami has entire buildings covered in Graffiti and every year groups of artists travel there to expand and change the scene. She takes multiple photographs at each location and stitches them together to create her high resolution images. Some of the images are printed on metal giving them an interesting sheen. She had several self published books on display and I thumbed through to see more of her work. 3D glasses sat on the table along with the books. When you look at the photos with the glasses on, the graffiti tends to float above the walls.

Grazyna's husband and son were at the opening. Her son is planning to become a stock broker and he bragged about how easy it is to make money in the stock market. I thought it would have been good for him to meet Terry to get a more realistic view of what the market has been like for the past twenty years. Those who ignore history are destined to repeat it.

In the main bar area there was a  Group Art Show by local Artists which was curated by Mendi Cowles.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Citrus Bowl Gets a Face Lift


Driving on the East West Expressway to work, I've often glanced over to see the Citrus Bowl being stripped down to it's cement skeleton. I finally decided I needed to get off at the next exit to sketch the work in progress. I know that Orlando plans to host another Bowl game this year, so I'm assuming the reconstruction needs to be done by then. About 90% of the stadium will be torn down and replaced, including portions that have stood since its original construction in 1937. Only the upper decks, which were added in 1990 and remain viable as part of a modern facility, will remain.

The new Citrus Bowl will offer an enhanced fan experience at every level, with wider, chair-back seating, new concessions areas and restrooms, and new club and premium spaces throughout the building. 
When the stadium reopens in fall 2014, it will continue to host signature events including the Capital One Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl, Florida Blue Florida Classic and Monster Jam. In addition, the new venue will allow Orlando to pursue more high-profile sports tourism events such as neutral-site college football games, NFL preseason games, international soccer matches, big-name concerts and more.

November 2013
Pre-construction mobilization began.
January 2014
Demolition of lower seating levels began.
March 2014
New seating bowl construction began.
Late Spring 2014
Construction of new concessions, restrooms, team locker rooms and operation/support areas began.
November 2014
Substantial completion achieved (95%) in time to be operational for fall events.
April 2015
Target for 100% completion.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Weekend Top 6 Picks for August 30 and 31

Saturday August 30, 2014
9am to 3pm Free.  Sanford Farmers Market. First and Magnolia in Downtown Sanford. A small farmer's market.

10am to 3pm Free. Summer Write-In. Downtown Orlando library in the Palm Room. Writers of all genres are welcome to bring your laptops or notebooks and write along fellow authors. This informal event provides you with quiet writing time allows you to come and leave at any time. There will be a few activities and breaks to keep you awake and inspired.

7:30pm to 9:30pm Free. Amy Watkins and Open Mic. The Geek Easy 114 S. Semoran Blvd Suite #6, Winter Park, Florida. Open to all: Musicians-Lyricists-Artists-and Poets of all kinds
Bring out the cape and have some fun.
http://poetry.meetup.com/362/

Sunday August 31, 2014
10am to Noon Free. Super Joy Riders. Eastern entrance of the Lake Eola Farmers’ Market. Participants dress as superheroes and ride en Masses 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.
http://www.superjoyriders.com/
You + Superhero Costume + Bike = Best Sunday Ever

Noon to 5pm Free but get a beer. Sunday's with Smiling Dan. The Falcon Bar and Gallery, 819 East Washington Street, Orlando, FL.

1pm to 3pm Free. Yoga. Weekly. Lake Eola Park, North Rosalind Avenue, Orlando, FL.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lake Highland was Home to the Annual Max Starks NFL Youth Football and Speed Camp

As a way to give back to the community, a free football camp was offered for two days at Lake Highland Preparatory School (901 Highland Ave, Orlando, FL). Hundreds of children sat in the bleachers as the professional athletes introduced themselves. Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl Champion Max Starks, who calls Orlando home, hosted the annual Max Starks NFL Youth Football and Speed Camp along with special guest and NFL Hall of Fame defensive back Darrell Green.Then everyone flooded out onto the football field to warm up and run on the field. The school has classic architecture that makes it look like an Ivy League School. I sat down and leaned against a fence as I sketched the students on the field.

This was a free camp to girls and boys (minimum age 7) up to 18 years of age. Registration forms can be picked up and returned to the Florida Citrus Sports offices located on the second floor of the south end zone office building at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium (1610 W. Church Street, Orlando, FL 32805) or downloaded at www.maxstarks.com.

Friday’s speed camp, led by Darrell Green, will include NFL combine simulations for high school athletes. Saturday’s Youth Football Camp will teach the fundamentals and techniques of each position. All campers received a free t-shirt, camp bag filled with goods, one ticket to the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Presented by Disney, lunch and a one- hour life skills and educational segment stressing the importance of staying in school and developing a sterling image on and off the field.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Travis Blaise Works on His Cintique


Travis Blaise worked with students at Misty Forest to help create storyboards for a short animated film titled "Rosalie and the Bottle Tree." As I sketched Travis, he told me about the equipment he was using, and I decided to purchase the same scanner and printer he was using. The Epson has been serving me well. Misty Forest is a small private school that offers kids creative courses after regular school hours. A bottle tree consists of bottles stuck onto branches and they are created to bring good luck. Travis had the kids create all the storyboards and he was using the Cintique to edit together the images along with the sound track.

Travis is an amazing animator that worked at Disney Feature Animation when hand drawn animation was in it's hay day. He is a master at working straight ahead, letting the scene develop organically.  He showed me how he uses the Cintique to animate using Flash. I was amazed that the program could be used to create organically drawn animation. I always assumed that Flash created flat, cut out type characters that were then moved like puppets.

Travis ended up leaving Orlando to work at Digital Domain, a computer animation studio. Digital Domain then closed down and I'm not sure where Travis went after that. Working in the animation industry is like tap dancing on quick sand.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Riding Horses on Vacation


My wife Terry used to love to ride horses. She used to volunteer for the Police Equestrian Unit in Orlando riding the police horses  to make sure they got enough exercise. On a vacation to visit my family in Pennsylvania she went for a trail ride while I sketched the horses in the coral. She stopped riding abruptly when a police horse got spooked and threw her to the ground. She ended up with a huge bruise down her leg which had her limping for a week.Horse riders say that it isn't a matter of "if" you will be thrown, but a matter of "when" you will be thrown. I have never trusted horses and I have never sat on top of a horse. I suspect they don't have my best interests at heart.

 On a vacation to the Canadian Rockies this year, Terry once again went on a trail ride that went for miles up a muddy path to a glacier lookout. I stayed behind and did a sketch. The trail horses were super calm and she didn't get thrown or injured. Perhaps as the saying goes, she is back in the saddle. The trail horses had Western saddles that have that horn to grab onto. The police horses have English saddles that leave a rider with nothing to grab if they loose their balance. Regardless of the saddle though, I still prefer to sketch horses rather than ride them.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Shift to feature a Multiple Dance Company Ccollaboration



Emotions Dance  founded by Larissa Humiston is teaming up with Orlando’s best in modern, improv, and contemporary dance to engage and enlighten audiences with new, experimental, and in-progress works all under one roof. After the performance, there will be a Question and Answer session with the Artistic Directors to allow audiences to provide feedback as well as gain insight into the creative process. A one-of-a-kind annual event hosted by Emotions Dance Company, The Shift: Calm and Chaos focuses primarily on shifting our perception of movement, dance, and art while allowing companies to grow and change as artists. Companies participating this year include: Voci Dance, Yow Dance, Dawn Branch Works, Canvas Creative Coalition, Red Right Return Dance Company, Mary Love Dance Projects, Coby Dance Project and more!

Mark Your Calendar! The Shift: Calm and Chaos  will be performed on Friday September 19 and Saturday Sept 20, 2014 8pm at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center’s Mandell Theatre (812 E Rollins St. Orlando FL). Presale tickets are available Aug 12 until September 12 GA- $18 Students/Seniors (65+)- $14 At the door- GA- $20 Students/ Seniors (65+)- $15 Discounted tickets available for parties of 10+.

Also on the horizon is  7 Deadly Sins happening October 17-25th at The Venue (511 Virginia Dr, Orlando, Fl). 7 Deadly Sins is an original work that combines contemporary dance, visual art, performance art, poetry, music and culinary art to examine topics of temptation and sin. Lust, pride, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy and greed come together to entice audience members through an interactive art gallery setting. 

Featuring performances by Emotions Dance Company, visual art by award winning body painter and Skin Wars Season 1 contestant, Shannon Holt, visual art by award winning body painter, Brit Lytle, artwork by Patrick Fatica, Amanda Wegman, Scott Hodges, Thomas Thorspecken and others, spoken word performances by E.J. Younes, J. Bradley, and Ashley Inguanta, aeral performances by American Circus Academy, and a variety of refreshments from local food vendors to satisfy your inner glutton.

Friday October 17
Saturday October 18
Friday October 24
Saturday October 25

7-10pm

The Venue (511 Virginia Drive. Orlando FL)

Presale tickets- $20 (available Sept 19-Oct 12)
At The Door- $25

This program contains some mature themes and may not be appropriate for children under 13.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Creative Mind Project was the Birthplace of Dog Powered Robot

At Fringe two years ago, I was invited by Jessica Mariko to be part of the Creative Mind Project. A select group of artists were given the same music and told to create a theatrical presentation based on what they heard. I decided to edit together a series of sketches to create a video montage paced to the music.

On the opening night, I had to be backstage as the Creative Mind project was presented. My only responsibility was to walk out a projector when my piece was to be presented. I also had borrowed a film screen that I had help setting up. From backstage I peeked out from behind the curtains to see the other presentations.

This sketch is of Tisse Mallon and a cross dressing male performer right before they went on stage. I never actually saw their performance. The cardboard buildings they are standing in front of are set pieces for Dog Powered Robot. When it was Dog Powered Robot's turn, the audience went wild with laughter.

 Evan and Christie Miga had build a simple blue cardboard robot with a square head that rotated with wild abandon. A center chest compartment opened to showcase their adorable Pomeranian dog named Fisher. As the music played, Evan as the narrator waxed poetic about his childhood dreams of living in the city. Then a loud nuclear warning clamored, and Dog Powered Robot walked out into the cardboard cityscape. Like Godzilla in a cheap B grade sci-fi movie he began to destroy the city. The odd sight of this cute dog powering the robot's rampage was hilarious and people in the audience shouted "Dog Powered Robot!" with delight as they laughed. I only saw glimpses of that first performance from backstage, but the riotous audience was easy to hear.

Dog Powered Robot is still going strong today. They staged their own Fringe show twice and just this week, they made an appearance at the Maker Fair in the Orlando Science Center. I'm convinced that someday the stars will align and Dog Powered Robot will become an international cult sensation. Kids love these cardboard robots but adults can't get enough. Jessica Mariko is still bringing together creative minds by hosting Local Arts Nights at Drip (8747 International Dr #102, Orlando, FL) every 4th Thursday of the month.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Creature From the Black Lagoon Screened at the Enzian


As part of the Cult Classics Series, the Enzian Theater screened the original 3-D version of The Creature From the Black Lagoon made in 1954. Gina Stanley, the actress that was the Creatures on screen crush was at the screening. In the film she wore a stunning white swimsuit that was quite revealing for its day. Much of the film was shot in Florida swamps. In the film, Gina is screaming every time she sees the creature. The actor inside the creature suit, Ben Chapman, who was 6 foot three, played the creature on land. He was a former Polynesian dancer under contract with Universal Studios. His height and size made him perfect to play the creature. A second actor, then a college student, Ricou Browning, played the "underwater Creature" for the film, and he wore the "underwater Creature suit" for the sequences shot in Florida

Julia had an incredible career as an actress outside the lagoon. She starred opposite Tyrone Power, Glenn Ford, Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson, Jimmy Stewart, and Charlton Heston. Working on a horror film was considered a step down for many actresses so she almost turned the film down. It is ironic that today, this is the film she is most known for.

There was a somewhat disastrous design of the Creature's head, that almost made it into the final film. But a screen test at the eleventh hour convinced the studio head that the look of the creature did not work, and the head was redesigned and became the classic we know and love today. The film was impressive on the big screen and it became clear that many scenes were staged to take advantage of the 3-D effects. After the screening Gina signed autographs and I had her sign my sketch.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Weekend Top 6 Picks for August 23rd and 24th

Saturday August 23, 2014
11am to 2pm Free. Orlando Shakes Open House. Orlando Shakespeare Theater, 812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL. Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF invites the public to a free Open House on Saturday, August 23 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Theater staff will lead guests on a tour of the building, providing them with behind the scenes access, insider info, and fun facts about Orlando Shakes. Visitors will also enjoy a sneak peek rehearsal of this fall’s highly anticipated production, Les Misérables, and may enter to win tickets and prizes from Orlando Shakes and other local arts organizations. Families are encouraged to participate in fun crafts and photo opportunities with costumed characters free of charge.

7pm to 10pm Free. Eat your Art Out. Homegrown Local Food Cooperative 2310 N Orange Ave, Orlando, Fl. Homegrown Local Food Cooperative is pleased to present original artwork, for ONE NIGHT ONLY by Orlando artists Victor Bokas and Dawn Schreiner.
Homegrown Local Food Cooperative welcomes you to our store to launch the Exhibit while mingling with friends and enjoying music by Sharon Center Lowe and Ben Tiptonford. Delicious local food will be served, including kombucha by Living Vitalitea, baked goods by Olde Hearth Bread, sweet treats from Sweet Utopian and other Homegrown goodies. There will also be other drinks available.

Tonight and Saturday 8pm to 2am $14. Corsets and Cuties- A Burlesque Cabaret! The Venue 511 Virginia Dr, Orlando, Fl. Join us for our encore performance of a sold out weekend. Lovely ladies and one not-so-gentleman sing, dance, and take their clothes off in a rollicking 90-minute full show!

Sunday August 24, 2014
Noon to 5pm Free but grab a beer. Sunday's with Smiling Dan. The Falcon Bar & Gallery, 819 East Washington Street, Orlando, FL. DJ music to rock your Sunday afternoon.

 Noon to 2pm Free. Florida Gospel Jam. Fish on Fire 7937 Daetwyler Drive Belle Isle FL. Every 2nd and 4th Sunday

1pm to 3pm Free. Irish Music. Olivia's Coffee House, 108 North Bay Street, Eustis, FL. http://www.oliviascoffeehouse.com/

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Psycadelic Spirals at Alice Takes Wonderland


Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland has infused its way into so many productions in Orlando. At this rehearsal, Tisse Mellon and dancers were busy painting spirals onto cardboard disks. They were all hung in the entry as people entered the venue which was on Hanging Moss Drive right near Full Sail University. The black box theater was a nice big warehouse space and unfortunately this is the only production I ever saw staged there. Linda Eve Elchak of  NAO Dance choreographed this playful production.

A whimsical, playful post show environment was created with a minimal budget using little more than cardboard paint and fabrics. The theme as audience members entered was the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. These spiral disks were suspended to create a dizzying perspective. Actors arms jutted out from behind black curtains holding trays of sumptuous treats. The dance performance itself was incredibly playful, incorporating dancers improvisational contributions as well as crisp choreography.

NAO Dances mission, is to explore honest perspectives in the human condition through movement that inspires, enlightens, and entertains. When you dance only from your ego or your conscious mind you are just skimming the surface. Develop your voice and imagine what is really possible when you dance from your authentic person. The Nao Dance Collective is not interested in programming individuals, instead they let every dancer have their own voice and allow them to develop themselves through self-discovery.

Nao Dance Collective, pronounced "now" came from the word Tao which is "the way of life". Ancient Chinese considered Tao as the highest, omnipresent order of universe. A life following Tao implies a life with the highest fulfillment. Nao Dance Collective company members are bold, intuitive, risk-takers with a strong base of technical training. Linda offers classes in the NAO technique on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday's .  Classes are located at different Dance Studios every Sunday from 5pm to 630pm $10.00 drop in rate.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Kentucky Derby Galloped Onto Winter Park


On May 3rd "Derby on Park" was held at the Winter Park Country Club (761 Old England Avenue Winter Park FL.) Event organizer, Anthony Dinova, invited me out to sketch the event. This was on the same day as the Kentucky Derby so women came out with their finest wide brimmed hats. I decided to sketch the well heeled crowd waiting outside for food. Several golfers were using the putting green when I started blocking in the sketch but they left when it started drizzling. Inside there was live music, wine and of course the Kentucky Derby was on TV.

The exciting ambiance of the well-renowned annual Kentucky Derby was brought to Winter Park. This themed event boasted unlimited craft beer and wine along with samplings of delicious food and desserts from various local vendors for all in attendance. Guests were encouraged to dress in their finest Derby attire with prizes for best-dressed in several categories. With a complimentary private-labeled bottle of wine for each guest, live broadcast of the Kentucky Derby, Fashion show and live entertainment, the prestige and energy of this coveted signature event provided guests with the most sophisticated and stylish afternoon outside of Churchill Downs.

As I worked on the sketch I heard the crowd inside start to cheer as the race started. The roar grew louder until the horses crossed the finish line. Terry was inside to catch all the action. There was a small retaining wall at the edge of the putting green and people used it as a bench to sit while sipping their mint juleps.  A women who came outside to get away from the claustrophobic crowd inside sat on the ledge and then unexpectedly fainted. Luckily she fell back onto the soft grass rather than forward onto the brick patio. She was revived by her friends and event organizers called the fire department and EMTs to check her vitals. She hadn't been drinking so she couldn't figure out why she fainted.

With the sketch done I went inside to spend time with Terry and to grab a bite to eat. A new batch of pasta was being warmed up and I waited for a bit. The crowd thinned out fast after the race but Terry and I stayed to see who won the best bonnet award. One woman had a huge bouquet of flowers on her bonnet and I was surprised that she didn't win. Perhaps connections are more important than flourish.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Snap! Space is a New Hip Cultural Hub in Orlando


On May 2nd I went to the opening reception for Edge of a Dream at Snap! Space (1013 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, Florida). The show explored the fine line between figurative narratives, reverie and the familiarity of reality while resembling a dream. Curated by Patrick and Holly Kahn, the exhibit featured the works of eight nationally renowned fine art photographers, along with sculpture, installation, fine art origami and jewelry. Guest artists were in attendance. Cocktails were offered by 'The Courtesy Bar', and music was by resident DJ Nigel John.  I was most intrigued by the photos of Richard Tushman. His "Hopper Meditations" series showed an isolated couple in a bedroom. The lighting and compositions made the photos look like Edward Hopper paintings. The photos had a surreal quality to them. It wasn't until after the opening that Patrick explained that the rooms were miniatures created by the photographer. Looking at the photos again I could see that the curtains didn't hang quite right.

At the opening I sat next to the reception desk to sketch the bar. Snap! girls volunteer at these events and field any questions people might have. Holly came to the desk with a prospective client and sold a small sculpture made from vintage watch gears and pieces by Mike Nuriel. Sketching the Courtesy Bar was a challenge, since the line kept moving as people picked up their drinks. My artists stool wobbled as my crossed legs grew tired. I have a nasty habit of leaning back in a chair until I'm balanced on the back two legs. Unfortunately the small artist stool couldn't handle my maneuvering.  The back legs folded under me sending we toppling backwards in slow motion. A lamp cord was strung behind me like a clothes line to the outlet, so as I fell, the lamp flew off the table. The Snap girl acted with quick instincts and caught the lamp like a professional baseball outfielder. I landed squarely on my ass and flushed red as I got up and reset my stool with what little remained of my dignity. "Great" I thought, "Save the lamp and let the artist flop down like a rag doll." Actually I was very grateful. Patrick and Holly had "borrowed" the lamp from their son's bedroom. Had it been broken, I would have felt horrible. I finished the sketch without incident and then looked at all the art one more time before I slipped out.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Making Nails


In July, the Thorspecken Clan descended on Orlando. Cornelia and her daughter Nini came from Wiesbaden Germany, Don, Val and their kids, Nichole and Kyle came from Connecticut. Carol and her kids, Anna and Kristen came from Upstate New York. Terry and I drove to the hotel where everyone was staying on the first night. Anna immediately wanted to borrow my watercolor paint supplies. I gave her a watercolor palette and a brush and for the rest of the evening she created a tropical sunset on a paper plate. Mark Bishop took a test drive in Terry's new Porche, and his animated excitement about the ride was fun to watch.

Anna then began to experiment with painting fingernails and toe nails. She created pink strawberry toenails  with bright green leaves and then neatly placed black seeds. Other nail designs included smiley faces and floral nails. Every woman left with fully painted toe nails and finger nails.When everyone came to our house for a visit, Anna set up a little lab on our kitchen table. A blue plastic cup was filled halfway with water and then fingernails paint was poured in. The nail polish floated on the top of the water and then she would pour in another color into the center creating concentric rings of color that floated on the water. She would drag a small stick into the slick and pull it outward much as baristas do with patterned foam in a coffee cup. The result was a sort of colorful spider's web. She would then submerge a fake fingernail under the slick and try to get the pattern to appear on the top of the nail. The experimenting went on for hours and Terry helped out by attaching nails to sticks.

I'm still experimenting with a tablet to draw, and the results are a bit garish as I get used to the interface and controls. I haven't yet found the tools that can give me a spontaneous took that I usually get from splashing real watercolors on the page. Like Anna, I need to keep playing until I get the results that I want. Terry hates the look of the digital sketches and feels I should stop trying to use technology to sketch. I'm stubborn however and I'm convinces that in time I'll get amazing results. I'll keep throwing spaghetti at the wall until it starts to stick. If I look back at the sketches I did the first year I started this blog, I have to admit that there was plenty of sketches that just didn't work back then. I just need to find the tools that work for me. Right now I'm fighting the machine but eventually when it becomes fun to work with I'll improve. One step forward, two steps back, that is what it takes to keep growing as an artist.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunstroke Melt Race at the Daytona International Speedway


Wendy Wallenberg invited me to the Sunstroke Melt Race at the Daytona International Speedway. She is friends with one of the drivers,  Jim Kneeland, so she had full access to the inner field of the raceway as well as access to the pit area and garages. This was a sketch opportunity that I couldn't pass up. This sketch is at the starting line to the race. Two rows of cars lined up facing one another and at the start they rolled onto the race track in order of their standings. So I was sketching in an area where I might get run over if a driver jumped the line. It was nerve wracking and I had to work fast.

Jim's car, a Mazda Miata,  was number 37 and he had body damage from an accident from the day before.  It had been raining all day and many cars spun out on one particular curve that day. This was Jim's first race and he had a lot invested in being sure he stayed on the field. He wasn't expecting to win, he just needed to place. Jim has worked in the pit crew for other drivers and this was his chance to get on the track himself.

The official on the starting line stood near me and she made sure to give me time to get behind the line before the start. She had never seen an artist sketch the race, so she was glad to help keep me out of harm's way. Race cars don't have air conditioning so drivers get incredibly hot as they wait. Their driving outfits actually have coils with cool water that keep them from over heating. Some assistants also had fans to blow cool air into the cars.

There was no dramatic squealing of tires at the start. All of the cars rumbled to life and filed onto the track at a relaxing 25 miles per hour. They then followed a pace car to get up to speed. Wendy drove the golf cart to the curve where the cars were spinning out the day before. From those infield stands it was possible to see Jim's Mazda as he made his way around the track. The front runners went so fast that they caught up to and passed the cars at the back of the pack. Then it became confusing to figure out who was in front of who.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Watching the Daytona International Speedway Pit Crews from the Turn 1 Infield Bleachers


On May 4th, I had time for one more sketch when a second race began at the Daytona International Speedway. The races were not very long, so there wasn't much action to sketch among the pit crews. I decided instead to watch the race from covered bleachers that overlooked the pit crews. I needed to get in some shade before I became a red neck. The cars racing on the track were a blur of motion and intense sound. Here we saw the cars as they came off the first turn and headed down the straight away. There weren't many people in the bleachers, only a few family and friends of the drivers. The large bleachers on the outer rim of the track were empty. The Speedway is undergoing major renovations which made it hard for me to find the entrance to the infield when I first arrived.

Driver Jim Kneeland didn't win the race but since it was his first race, he was happy to finish. He went to the officials office and recovered his license. In a few weeks, he would be on the track again.  Daytona left his car with some body damage that would need repair on the front driver's side bumper. Some drivers had huge air Conditioned trailers with state of the art amenities, while others scape by with only the bare essentials. Having all those bells and whistles doesn't guarantee a win. Watch for number 37 to start moving up the ranks.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Weekend Top 6 Picks for August 16th and 17th

Saturday August 16, 2014
1pm to 3pm Free. Family Days at the Maitland Museum. Maitland Art Center, 231 Packwood Avenue West, Maitland, FL. Gather your family for an afternoon of quality time together at Family Days at the Museum! 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 Art and History Museums. Join us for this afternoon of family fun!

3pm to 5pm Free. Orlando Artists' Quarterly Social. Sleeping Moon Cafe 495 N Semoran Blvd Suite 1, Winter Park, Florida. Please join us for an opportunity to meet and connect!
This is a networking event for Orlando area artists to help create support and opportunity within our local community. Be sure to bring your business cards or any other printed information about you and your work that you'd like to share. ALL ARTISTS WELCOME!
Bringing a friend or significant other is always welcome. Sharing this event page with your artist friends is also greatly appreciated.
Friends, PLEASE RSVP with the utmost sincerity. Since this meeting's location is at a cafe, I am reserving the time and space with the venue so that they can be prepared for food and drink orders, and appropriate staffing. They are very supportive of the art community, so please help me in supporting them with appropriate RSVPs so that we can all plan accordingly.
This event is organized by Rebecca Williams. Please contact her with any questions or concerns via Facebook or through email at: info@theartofrebeccawilliams.com

3pm to 7pm Fee. Cruisin' Downtown DeLand Car Show! East Indiana Ave Downtown DeLand, Deland FL. Classic cars & rods.  Live DJ, giveaways, shopping & dining. Fun for the family! Every 3rd Saturday night! INFO: & for showing your car 386-738-0649
http://mainstreetdeland.org/calendar.cfm/mode/details/id/12037/recurringId/71147/cruisin-downtown-deland-car-show
http://mainstreetdeland.org

Sunday August 17, 2014
Noon to 3pm Free. Music at the Casa The Olde Noyse. Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, 656 North Park Avenue, Winter Park, FL. The Olde Noyse has been a musical fixture in the Central Florida area for well over a decade.  In chamber music settings (both vocal and instrumental), the Olde Noyse is an ensemble made up of highly talented musicians who can provide an exquisite and pleasurable level of enjoyment.

4:30pm to 6:30pm $13 Roller Derby: Serial Thrillers vs Sunnyland Slammers. Semoran Skateway 2670 Cassel Creek Blvd, Casselberry, Florida. Come out and watch the Orlando Roller Derby - Serial Thrillers and the Orlando Roller Derby - Sunnyland Slammers battle it out at Semoran Skateway! Doors open at 4:30 and first jam is at 5:00.
This is an all ages event.
Food and BEER will be available at the snack bar.
We will have a 50/50 raffle, so bring some cash!
Remember to bring your own chairs; chairs with rubber bottoms are allowed on the track, high heels are not.
And don't forget, you can take home a piece of OPCDG with one of our league or team shirts, or even a one of a kind, derby girl made, necklaces, magnets, and more. (CafePress.com/OPCDGmerchandise)
After party will be directly after the game at Friendly Confines, Winter Park.
Tickets are $10 in advance through Brown Paper Tickets or $13 at the door.
Any questions, check us out at - Orlando Psycho City Derby Girls

9pm to 11pm Free. Solo Acoustic Spoken Word. Natura Coffee & Tea, 12078 Collegiate Way, Orlando, FL. 407 482-5000.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Before the Race


Between races, the cars returned to the garage on the Daytona International Speedway infield for repairs and maintenance. You get to the infield by driving under the track through a tunnel. Here all the trailers that transport the race cars are parked. Wendy Wallenberg leaned against Jim Kneeland's number 37 Mazda Miada. Before the race, the drivers have to give their driving license to race officials. Only after the race can the drivers get their license back. This is to keep drivers from being overly agressive or breaking rules of conduct.

Tires literally melt as the cars scream down the Daytona Speedway track.  They often jet stream behind another car. The cars don't only tailgate, they touch bumpers. The back car pushes the front car and both cars go faster. lt is very easy to cause a spin out but no accidents happened while I watched the race. This was my first time watching a race from up close, and it was a unique thrill. I believe the red car, number 25 was the car that won the next race.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Orlando Soup Highlights Community Projects


On May 13th, the inaugural Orlando Soup event was held at East End Market. Modeled after the successful Detroit SOUP that started four years ago, is a micro-granting community dinner offering local activists, entrepreneurs and creatives a platform for networking and an opportunity to win funding for projects.

For a donation of $7, attendees received soup (made by Slow Food Orlando using fresh, local ingredients), salad and bread. Before dinner was served, everyone listened to four short community project proposals covering a range of community improvement topics such as art, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurship, education, technology, and more. During dinner, attendees cast a vote by placing a cube of sugar into cups representing the different projects for their favorite project and, at the end of the night, the project that received the most votes was funded by $5 from each attendees’ donation. The winner will appear at the next SOUP dinner to report their project’s progress.

Brendan O'Connor pitched a wacky, fun idea of starting a Pop-up University offering college level courses in a bounce house. The simple idea is that people learn fast when having fun. The courses taught wasn't yet established but I'd love to teach animation principles in a bounce house.  Ricardo Williams was part of a group called Project Rethink that intends to to place "sustainable graffiti" around Orlando that has environmental awareness messages.  Sustainable graffiti is accomplished by picking a dirty wall and using a stencil to spray wash or clean the message into the grime. Over time the message will disappear was the wall gets dirty again. Another method of creating messages would be moss graffiti. The message would appear where moss was encouraged to grow. I love this idea and hope to get out to sketch artists in action.

I sketched Ashley Erin Pollard as she pitched the idea of creating vending machines that offer art. She is an architect by day and hopes this project will help her become better connected to the Orlando Arts community. The idea isn't entirely new but I'd love to see it brought to Orlando. Ashley was the presenter right after Brendan. I was inspired by how petite she seemed compared to the huge podium. Ultimately my cube of sugar went into the cup for her project. I am all for bringing more art to Orlando.

Jimmy Sherfey presented the Florida Coffee Symposium. This local miniature conference will celebrate the culture of coffee producers at origins across the globe. He is planning the first Florida Coffee Symposium for September 6, 2014.

The winner at the first-ever Orlando SOUP on May 13, 2014 was Project ReThink, presented by Chris Castro and Clayton Ferrara.  They won $500-800 to help fund their project.  My Ivanhoe district, Fringe mural will be in the line up at the next Orlando Soup, TONIGHT 7-9pm at East End Market (3201 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL)! The tickets were $10 and the event is SOLD OUT. Hope to see you there as you support creativity, social entrepreneurship, sustainability, and community building.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The History Boys at The Mad Cow Theater

On August 5th, I went to a dress rehearsal of The History Boys, written by Alan Bennett, at The Mad Cow TheaterThis show, directed by Mark Edward Smith was quick witted and fast paced. The school bells rang with incessant frequency causing the boys to cascade and rush like waves hitting a beach.  I grew flustered, trying to catch then all in one place. Philip Nolen, gave a memorable performance as the boys' unorthodox history teacher. Philip kept the boys and audience laughing while making them think. He would playfully swat a student if he wasn't keeping up with the playful banter. The boys would protest but they didn't mind. One admitted he was a bit hurt that he wasn't swatted. It meant the teacher didn't like him.

One boy described his date with a girl as if he was recreating a historic battle. Adolescent sexual yearnings were fodder for playful humor. I came to admire the teacher's closed door tactics until he was found guilty of inappropriately touching a boy.  It suddenly seemed that the all boy's school was bubbling over with homosexuality. A young teacher, Peter Travis, joins the school staff and he challenges the view of history as entertainment. he prepares the unruly handful of senior schoolboys, for coveted places at either Oxford or Cambridge by making them challenge historic fact. Everyone at an Ivy league school knows the boring facts. They want to see someone think outside the box. The boys were encouraged to challenge conventions and therefor  they not only learned historic fact but they understood its motives and meaning. I was a bit put off by this teacher's view that any student who didn't get good grades could always go into the arts.

When the older teacher is about to be expelled, he breaks down in class, lamenting the years he wasted teaching the same material again and again. It is the first time the students got to see him as a flawed man rather than a clown. Everyone seems to want to sweep his indiscretion under the rug except for the school administrator played by Tommy Keesling. The very purpose of education seemed overshadowed by the chaos of adolescence. The play write turns a blind eye to the harm done from lost trust. The one boy who didn't play along in classroom games got accepted into his chosen Ivy league school not because of what he learned from history, but from his family connections.

 The History Boys plays Thursdays - Sundays, Aug 8 - Sept 7, 2014 in The Harriett Theatre.
Curtain time is 7:30pm for all evening performances and 2:30pm for all matinees. Tickets start at $28.25.


 The History Boys
What: A comedy-drama by Alan Bennett
Length: 2:40, including intermission
Where: Mad Cow Theatre, 54 W. Church St., Orlando
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, through Sept. 7
Tickets: $28.25 and higher
Call: 407-297-8788
Online: madcowtheatre.com

Monday, August 11, 2014

The China Garden Restaurant in Winter Park

After work at Full Sail, I planned to sketch a Batman vs. Superman themed event at The Comic Shop. I got off work at 5pm and therefor was in the neighborhood early. The China Garden (118 S Semoran Blvd, Winter Park, FL)  is in the same strip mall as The Comic Shop, so I decided to stop in for dinner.

 I ordered a simple fried rice dish and sketched as I ate. Across from me another man ate alone while reading a book, so I sketched him. The colorful lanterns on the ceiling also caught my eye. While living in NYC, I once had to purchase such lanterns for set designer, Jim Yeomans as a set prop for "A Streetcar Named Desire". The lantern's I purchased however were too large so I was stuck with them. It took me years to sell them all off. In the booth in front of me a family settled in and they all spoke French. This seemed surprising since Orlando always impressed me as being rather homogeneous rather than a cultural melting pot.

The fried rice was decent and once the sketch was done, I walked over to The Comic Shop. In the back room of the Comic Shop is a bar known as "The Geek Easy" which is where I assumed the Batman event would be. The entrance to the Geek Easy however was now the entrance to a bathroom and two workers were busy installing the plumbing. Because of this construction the Event was delayed several hours. I already had a sketch for the day so I got ready to leave. I was offered a black cape and cheap cardboard Batman mask as consolation, but I didn't take the swag. I couldn't imagine any instance where I might need to wear a Batman cape. I'm no super hero, just a mild mannered artist.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Waiting at the Toyota Dealership Service Department


I had to bring my Prius in for its thirty thousand mile service to Toyota of Orlando (3575 Vineland Road Orlando FL). There was a nation wide safety recall of certain Prius models built between 2010 and 2014. My car was recalled. It seems that if there was a heavy load like a trailer, or boat attached to the car, it would not be able to handle the load an the car would shut down. I never haul anything heavier than a sketchbook, but I was concerned that the car might not handle the Florida heat. All that was needed was a software update and the power management and motor generator system would be repaired.

The thirty thousand multi-point inspection involved replacing all the fluids and rotating the tires. I had a few scuffs on the side of several tires because I park so close to curbs. The service technician tried to sell me new tires even though there is plenty of tread left. He claimed that there might be road noise since the tires were rotated but the car now is as silent as ever. I suspect he wanted to sell tires weather they were needed or not. There was a deal where you get the 4th tire free if you buy 3. The invoice also shouts out that "We Sell Tires!"

Middle aged business men used the waiting area as their office. One paced back and forth worried and upset about fees incurred in a deal. I decided to do a digital sketch since the recall was because of a computer software glitch. Just as I finished the sketch, the computer blacked out. Up until this visit to the dealership, all the service was free. The thirty thousand mile service ended up costing $730. Ouch!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Flight Home From Richmond Virginia


The flight back to Orlando from Richmond Virginia was pretty uneventful. I sketched the airport waiting area before we boarded the plane. I'm always surprised how many people are always staring at their phones. This week the Thorspecken clan are visiting Orlando from Germany, Connecticut, Upstate New York and Charleston South Carolina. They are all staying in a double suite  at a hotel only a quarter of a mile from home. The second they arrived they all were scrambling to get their digital devices hooked up to the web. Once dinner was over, the room went silent as everyone took out their phones to get "connected". It had been many years since everyone had been together. When I travel, I still write a post every day but I make it a rule not to share my experiences on Facebook. Terry has followed my lead, since writing experiences on Facebook is like announcing that "I'm not home, please take all I own."

My brother Don Thorspecken had over 500 photos on his tablet from a trip he took to Germany to visit Cornelia and Nini Thorspecken. We are related to Cornelia through Dr. Augustus Thorspecken who came to America in the 1830's. His brother remained in Germany and Cornelia is related through him.  Years ago Terry and I traveled to Germany where we met every Thorspecken we could find. Flipping through the digital photos, history came alive. Dr. Oscar Thorspecken helped save Jews destined for the work camps by making it appear like they were sick. Oscar's wife however was all for the Nazi party, proud that her son was in the war. This caused a rift in the family. Shortly after the war, one of the sons was hiking in the mountains where he was murdered for his  camera. Cornelia is a professional flute player who kept the Thorspecken name, even after she was married. I was most excited by photos Don took of photo albums he was shown in Germany. This put a face to the stories. My father pushed into Germany at the end of World War II crossing the Ruhr river and moving through the industrial district towards Berlin. He said once that he saw the Thorspecken name on a storefront. On my trip I met Herbert who served in the Luftwaffe. It is a small world. Basically every war is a civil war with distant cousin fighting cousin.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Weekend Top 6 Picks for August 9th and 10th

 
Saturday August 9, 2014
9am to 2am  Orlando Nerd Fest 2014  3-Day Pass tickets $50.00 August 7-11, 2014. Orlando Airport Marriott 7499 Augusta National Dr, Orlando, Fl. We're putting together the biggest and best annual multi-day nerd party! Part music festival, part family reunion, all fun! The things we're looking to do might seem very familiar if you've ever attended a Nepalese, a MAGfest, or even a Day After Show! Our designs are being made with you and your friends in mind for what quite possibly could be your best nerdy family vacation ever!! We have 60+ performers! You can find the Headliner Schedule here.

11am to 6pm Free.  Big Bang Bazaar. Maitland Civic Center Maitland Ave, Maitland, Fl. Over 100 Indie Arts, Crafts and Vintage Vendors! Join us for some Shopping, All Day Movies, Food and Fun! First 100 guests get a FREE swag bag full of goodies! Keep out of the summer sun with this amazing indoor event!

6:45pm to 10pm Tickets: $150 Taste of the Nation. Orlando World Center Marriott 8701 World Center Dr. Orlando, Fl. Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation Orlando event brings together the area's top chefs who donate their time, talent and passion to end childhood hunger in Central Florida. Along with culinary delights, guests have the opportunity to sample select wines, cocktails and premium beers and enjoy silent and live auctions and entertainment. Every dollar raised fights hunger and homelessness in the Central Florida. Local beneficiaries include Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

Sunday August 10, 2014
 Noon to 5pm Free but grab a beer. Sunday's with Smiling Dan. The Falcon Bar & Gallery, 819 East Washington Street, Orlando, FL. DJ.

12:30pm to 4pm Free. Florida Gospel Jam. Fish on Fire 7937 Daetwyler Drive Belle Island FL. Non Denominational Gospel open mic Every 2nd and 4th Sunday.

1pm to 3pm Free. Script Reading Workshop. Sleuths Mystery Dinner Show, 8267 International Drive, Orlando, FL. Read and workshop plays.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bookmark It is Orlando's Best New Bookstore


Bookmark It (3201 Corrine Drive Orlando FL) was the editors pick in the Orlando Weekly "Best of Orlando" issue. Located on the second floor of the East End Market, this bookstore offers books by local authors as well as books that further the markets mission of offering locally grown produce for restaurants and shoppers. While I was just starting this sketch, Adonal Foyle, an Orlando Magic basketball player stopped in to sign some of his books. He wrote a children's book titled  Too-Tall Foyle Finds His Game (Volume 1) along with, Shiyana F. Valentine-Williams and illustrated by Toni Pawlowsky. Too-Tall Foyle has trouble finding a sport that fits his abilities and the other kids keep laughing at him. He faces give up sports entirely but hopes to find his game. The book is set in the Caribbean and features vibrant illustrations, the book is based on the life experiences of the NBA veteran player. Proceeds from sales go to support his Kerosene Lamp Foundation which uses basketball to engage and empower at-risk youth to grow into healthy and well-educated leaders in the Caribbean and USA. Foyle's very presence made the bookstore feel small.His huge meaty hands gave a firm warm handshake.

I decided to take my tablet out to sketch. I worked in a bit of a panic since I didn't know if the battery would last. The computer offers too many choices which slowed down my workflow. Kim Britt, Bookmark It's founder, was experiencing technical difficulties with her laptop and smart phone.  Her phone kept turning off and then gave her the "blue screen of death". She was petrified that she would loose all her photos and contacts. She looked up an Apple Store and discovered she would need to drive up to Altamonte within the hour to get the phone repaired. Although her assistant Moriah Lorraine Russo had the day off, Kim had to call her in because the store was staying open late for a "Sip and Stroll" event. The great thing about the sip and stroll is that I got to sip white wine while I sketched. Moriah told me about Wednesday night figure drawing classes at "The Space" and I plan to stop over there soon. She was going out to dinner, so she was only able to watch the store for half an hour. Patrick Greene came in to fill in after she left. Rather than making life easier, technology caused a frantic panic as it sputtered and faltered. As I sketched I got a warning that the battery was running low. In a panic, I saved my file and sketched faster. Before my sketch was done, my computer screen blacked out. The battery had died. As I researched this article, Facebook crashed. I suspect that relying on technology for answers is not a great idea.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Shannon Holt Hosted a Body Painting and Fine ART Fundraiser

On July 18th, Shannon Holt held a Body Painting and Fine Art Fundraiser at Cafe DaVinci (112 W Georgia Ave, DeLand, FL.)  Shannon has been invited to participate in a Body Painting gathering in NYC. She is one of twenty five artists that were invited to participate. The event at Cafe Da Vinci was a fundraiser to get her up to NYC. Her fine art paintings were on display on the walls. When I arrived, the three models were just beginning to take their pose. The models on the sides looked like they would get exhausted since they were leaning over the whole time. I suggested to Shannon that they might want to lean against a piano stool to ease the pain.

Shannon put out a call for volunteer models on Facebook for "bendy" models. She was hoping for as many as ten models, with two assistants for this live paint job. Shannon's mom was busy putting price tags on Shannon's paintings as Shannon started to sketch on her three models.  Da Vinci's got more and more crowded as Shannon's Body Art progressed. A Florida Panther began to take shape on the models semi-nude bodies.

Mark Your Calendar! Starting August 6th (TONIGHT!) at 9pm Shannon will star on "Skin Wars" which is Game Show Network's Ultimate Body Painting Competition. This is a reality show similar to "Face Off" where talented artists showcase their talents and each week one contestant is voted out of the competition. II is exciting to see one of Central Florida's talented artists in competition for $100,000. Although the TV show has already been taped, Shannon couldn't give away who won. There is a Skin Wars Shannon Party tonight at CafeDa Vinci. Stop out and chear for Shannon in the Olympics of Body Painting! 

As she started to paint her assistant Emma Kenemer showed up to help. Amazingly all the body painting work was done in three hours and that included breaks for the models. Sometimes only one model would pose at a time. Models LeNelle Stephens, Troy, and Alaina Pixley demonstrated patience, beauty and endurance. Before I left, I dropped some money in the tip jar. It was amazing to see such a collaboration. Working live, Shannon had to deal with constant distractions as she raced against the clock to finish her panther.  Body paintings are a fleeting art, and she had photographer Ryder Gledhill take shots of the finished piece. Shannon continues to raise funds for NYC. she is thinking of doing a kick starter. This would also be a great time to hire her to do a private painting and photography session, buy some art or throw an unforgettable body paint party! NYC OR BUST!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Wedding Ceremony of Andrea Kastner and Thomas Morton


Thomas Morton and Andrea Kastner were married on April 26th 2014 at noon in Richmond Virginia. Wedding plans had to be changed at the last minute because the church they were going to be married in suffered from a huge fire. They were lucky to find another church in the heart of Richmond that could do the ceremony. It was a small intimate gathering of friends and family who gathered for the ceremony. I began my sketch by penciling in the harp player who performed as guests entered the church. The pastor said something to her and she packed up and moved to a far corner of the church.

After the exchange of rings, the pastor announced, "Forasmuch as Tom and Andrea have consented together in holy wedlock and have witnessed the same before God and this congregation and have declared the same by giving and receiving a ring, and by joining hands; I pronounce them husband and wife in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." The ceremony was short and sweet which means I was still sketching as everyone filed out of the church.  The pastor came over to see what I was doing. He admired the work, but I suspect he wanted me to wrap it up so I rushed to put some final washes down. The reception was in Richmond's suburbs at the couples home. Bright pink and purple blossoms adorned trees all around the city.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg Has History With Modern Amenities


While staying in Richmond Virginia for a wedding, Terry and I took a one day road trip to Colonial Williamsburg. After parking in a huge parking lot, we walked into the tourist information center to get tickets for the day. There was a long wait as Terry negotiated a triple A discount. Single day tickets are about $44 per person. Besides being a tourist attraction, some of the homes are private residences. Cars are not allowed on the towns dirt roads until after hours. Our ticket girl is saving her money so she can someday live in the town. I asked her why she would want to live in a town that is swarmed by a locust mob of tourists every day, but then I realized, we live in Orlando, so who am I to judge?

The walk to the Colonial Williamsburg town center was about a quarter mile alone a winding path through the woods. The only transportation in the town was a horse drawn carriage so there were piles of manure in the streets. My goal was to draw a colonial insurrection on the main street starting at 3pm.  I discovered this revolutionary plot because it was on the map. Terry and I stopped for lunch right away and it took about half an hour to get our sandwiches from a local shop. I realized as we were waiting for our sandwiches that we should have ordered a loaf of bread and some cold cuts from the deli and made our own sandwiches.

Bus loads of cheer leaders wandered the streets. They gave a quick series of choreographed cheers as we ate lunch. Actors in colonial garb wandered freely among the throngs of tee shirt and shorts wearing tourists. They always stayed in character talking about troubles with Britain and other topics of the day. Through the course of the day history unraveled at an accelerated pace. At noon, the declaration of Independence was read on the steps of the court house.

As I sketched the main street, I didn't catch and revolt. Instead, there was a broom jumping ceremony for two slaves. Although there were no official wedding ceremonies for slaves, this broom dance was an unofficial way for slaves to express their shared love. In some African-American communities, marrying couples will end their ceremony by jumping over a broomstick, either together or separately. This practice is well attested for as a "mock marriage" ceremony for slaves in the Southern United States in the 1840s and 1850s. Its revival in 20th century African American culture is due to the novel and miniseries Roots.

There was discussions among the women as well as they complained about their losses of fathers and sons in a revolutionary war that seemed pointless. Periodically I would Text Terry to let her know what was happening where I was. She wandered through the rest f the town exploring the many shops. Several boys played in the street drawing pictures in the dirt. Entertainments had to be simple since there were no video games to occupy them. I felt at home documenting the towns activities the way the would likely have been documented at the time.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Thomas Jefferson Stands Vigil in the Jefferson Hotel Lobby

While visiting Richmond Virginia, Terry and I stayed in the Jefferson Hotel (101 West Franklin St, Richmond, Virginia). The place is lavish and luxurious so it's five star rating is well deserved. While I slept one night, Terry got up because she smelled smoke. She complained and had staff come up to the room to smell for themselves. She suspects it was marijuana smoke. We suspect that the air ducts are interconnected between rooms on each floor. If someone lights up in the next room, the smoke spreads out and is piped into all the rooms via the ducts. Anyway I slept through the whole ordeal. The good news is that one nights accommodations were subtracted from the bill.

The hotel was opened in 1885 by Lewis Gunter who was Richmond's wealthiest citizen at the time.  His millions came from the tobacco business.
It is estimated that between $5 and $10 million went into planning, building and furnishing the hotel, with nearly $2 million of this amount spent on construction. Unfortunately, Gunter's enjoyment of his accomplishment was short-lived, he died less than two years after the hotel's grand opening.

In 1901 the hotel itself came close to absolute destruction. A defective wire started a fire that demolished three-fifths of the building. There were no fatalities, however, there was a narrow escape for one famous occupant of the hotel, the statue of Thomas Jefferson. A rescue crew, including the sculptor himself, was hurriedly summoned to help. The men pushed the statue onto strategically placed mattresses and carried it outside. They accidentally dropped it, and the head struck the ground and broke off. For a while, the headless statue stood in the front yard of a neighboring home. The head was kept in the secure vault of Henry Valentine, a relative of the sculptor, and a member of the rescue crew. Eventually the pieces were  taken back to the sculptor’s studio, where repairs were made. The hotel reopened in grand style in May 1902 with Thomas Jefferson restored and intact.

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.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Weekend Top 6 Picks for August 2nd and 3rd

Saturday August 2, 2014
10am to? Free. Avalon Skateboard Fest. Founders Square Avalon Park Orlando, Florida 32828. Free Event for the whole family 5K & 10K Race, plus best trick contest. One lap race for kids 10 & under

7:30pm to 9:30pm  Free every Saturday.  Amy Watkins and Superhero Poetry Open Mic. The Geek Easy 114 S. Semoran Blvd Suite #6, Winter Park, Florida.  Open to all: Musicians-Lyricists-Artists-and Poets of all kinds. Bring out the cape and have some fun. http://poetry.meetup.com/362/

9:30pm to Midnight Free.  Eugene Snowden (of the Legendary JC's). The Falcon 819 E Washington Street, Suite 2, Orlando, Florida. Orlando's soul sensation Eugene Snowden (of the Legendary JC's) performs at The Falcon!

Sunday August 3, 2014
2pm to 4pm $50 $25 student rate.Fundraising Strategies For Artists with E. Brady Robinson. Snap! Space / Snap! Orlando 1013 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, Florida. In this 2 hour workshop, students will learn fundraising strategies to support new projects including setting goals, identifying donors, utilizing social media and the pros/cons to crowd-sourced fundraising. Tickets
E. Brady Robinson is Associate Professor in the School of Visual Arts and Design at the University of Central Florida. She teaches Professional Practices in Art for the Emerging Media, MFA program at UCF. Robinson is Contributing Writer for Professional Artist Magazine and covers opportunities for emerging artists, contemporary photography and the international art market. She is the author of “Pocket Guide to Self‐Publishing for Artists” published by Professional Artist Magazine. Robinson is represented by Addison/Ripley Fine Art in Washington D.C. Her documentary 'Art Desks' will be published by Daylight Books this fall and distributed by D.A.P. Robinson has taught workshops for FotoWeekDC, The Historical Society of Washington DC, The Aspen Art Museum, Georgetown University and The Corcoran College of Art + Design. NOTE : Students must present student ID at the door with their special rate paid ticket.

3pm to 5pm Free but grab a beer. Inaugural Open Mic. The Falcon 819 E Washington Street, Suite 2, Orlando, Florida.  (sign-up starts at 2PM) Anyone can come, sign up, and perform original or non-original music, poetry, performance art, comedy, etc. Open Mics are a vital part of any music community as a place to come together, share art, connect with each other, and get feedback on their work.

9pm to 11pm Free but get a coffee. Solo Acoustic Spoken Word. Natura Coffee & Tea, 12078 Collegiate Way, Orlando, Florida. Spoken word open mic. 407 482-5000.