Saturday, February 28, 2015

Hiking about the Sydney Opera House.

Our hotel was in a section of Sydney Australia called "The Rocks" which is right at the foot of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Some of the city's oldest buildings are in this area. Walking through the residential area it was clear that residents who have lived there for generations are having to fight to keep their homes. Posters in windows showcased family histories of people who might be displaced by developers. It would be a shame if this historic area was replaced by glass and steel boxes. It is good to hold on to some of the city's gritty past.

We could see the Sydney Opera House from the roof of our hotel so that became our destination our first day. Terry explored inside while I did my sketch. As I worked, I was surprised to hear someone shout out "Thor!" Orlando residents Maria Bolton and her husband walked up to say hello. Maria is an accomplished caricature artist and I've met her a few times at animal rights demonstrations. She is known as "Hurricane Maria" because she is so active. What are the chances of bumping into friends from Orlando on the opposite side of the world. I put the odds at about 1 in 7 billion. We took some selfies and the told me about the kangaroos and koalas they had seen south of Sydney.

When Terry got back, the sketch was finished, and we went for a walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens. We wandered the gardens in the hopes of seeing cockatoos in their native habitat. We had to leave our pet cockatoo with a friend and it would be hard being away for a whole month. We finally spotted several cockatoos in the trees. When they flew off, Terry followed. I relaxed in the shade and gave the sketchbook a rest.

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 27, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Picks for February 28th and March 1st.

Saturday February 28, 2015
10am to 2pm Orlando Sketch Tour with Kelly Medford and Thomas Thorspecken. Saturday and Sunday Each workshop day is $125, or $200 for both days Lake Eola Park 195 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, Florida 32801 We will meet at the Red Pagoda Orlando Sketch Tours offers visitors a chance to slow down, see and sketch the true Orlando outside of theme parks.  For all levels, NO experience is required.
All materials provided, just bring yourself.
Your sketch kit includes:
pencil and sharpener
waterproof drawing pen
travel sized watercolor kit
5x7 inch watercolor artist journal
a zippered supply bag to hold everything

4pm to 10pm Free. Blues and BBQ. Downtown Winter Garden Pavilion Plant Street Winter Garden FL.

6pm to 8pm Free. Energy for the Arts. 3415 Bartlett Blvd, Orlando, Florida.
Event Overview: Join us at OK.-energy's first Annual “Energy for the Arts” Event. We will be providing you with an exciting evening of entertainment including, original artwork by local Artists, live music, drinks, food, Artist vendors, photo opportunity and more. Don't miss this unique opportunity to celebrate Orlando's cultural scene.
Original Artwork from:
Chris Tobar Rodriguez Tobar Art Market
Peterson J Guerrier Guerrier Studios
Morgan Wilson Morgan Wilson (Lux Nova Studio)
Miguel Angel Macillust
Brandon Geurts Brandon Geurts..
Randall Smith Randall Paints
Ginger Leigh
and more to come!

We will be holding a raffle for prizes, including some special treats from
Orlando City Soccer Club
-Orlando Solar Bears
more to come!
In addition to bringing more exposure to this City's wonderful Cultural scene, we would like to also help by supporting the scene with funds that will continue to allow Artists, venues, locals, businesses the opportunity to flourish as a community. Funds raised will go towards putting on the event and all the remaining will be donated directly to the Downtown Arts District.

Sunday March 1, 2015
1pm to 3pm Free. Yoga. Lake Eola Park, 195 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, FL. Every week. An advantage to doing yoga this weekend is that you might get sketched by Urban Sketchers!

2pm to 10pm Donation. 4th Annual Lee Swimmer Memorial Benefit for the Orlando Union Rescue Mission. The Cork Room Bar and Grille, 671 South Goldenrod Road, Orlando, FL. Come Rock 'n' Roll to help the homeless community of Orlando at Cork Room Orlando in memory of one of Orlando's great talents, Lee Swimmer. We lost Lee way too soon--he was, at age 17, lead guitarist for Edgar Winter--played in a number of local and regional bands including Fat Chance and Tight Shoes.
Lee wanted to use his talent to help the homeless so in his honor we do so.
Raffle prizes including guitars and more.
Non smoking event!
Last year we raised almost $3600 -- lets see if we can do it again!!

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 26, 2015

Birding down in Kissimmee

Terry's niece Claire Brown was visiting with her boyfriend. The entire Brown family are avid birders and Terry has also caught the birding obsession. It has been a blessing on vacation because while Terry was searching for birds, I could sketch. This is a rather old sketchbook that has a few unfilled spreads left to fill. On these pages I drew two thumbs for some reason. Those thumbs became a block that kept me from filling up the sketchbooks. At a Mystery Sketch Theater session, I used the spread to do quick gestural studies in pencil. The sketchbook sat abandoned for years. I like a sketchbook to have an overall flow when it is flipped through. For whatever reason this spread threw the book off track.

I erased as much of the harsh pencil work as I could and reworked the sketch as my relatives birded. I only had at most half an hour, so I kept the sketch extra loose. Trying to do a sketch in a stolen moment like this is stressful, but the sketch couldn't be any worse than the mess that was already on the page. In some ways, messing up the page a bit first can be freeing. It gets past the pristine blank page and lets me realize it is just a sketch, let it go.  I've shown this sketch to students and they seldom notice the thumbs hidden in the composition. You can always change and adjust a sketch to push it in a new direction. It was a lesson learned, and soon this sketchbook will be filled and join the others on my bookshelf.

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 25, 2015

Blue Spring is my "go to" place to bring out of towners .

Cornelia Thorspecken and her daughter Nini came from Germany to visit the Thorspecken's of America. Terry and I met Cornelia in Germany when Nini was just a baby. I had done a boat load of family history research at the New York Public Library and found the boat manifests for Dr. Augustus Thorspecken who arrived in America in 1854. He left Germany from the port in Bremen, so I searched for modern day Thorspecken's there. I got in contact with Herbert Thorspecken who was about the age of my dad, and he sent me all the family history notes he had. Herbert was my cousin, and we were related because Dr Augustus left while another brother, stayed in Germany. Herbert was a descendant of the brother who stayed and I'm descended from the Doctor who left. Terry and I visited every living Thorspecken we could find in Germany including Cornelia. Facebook made it easy for Cornelia to do the same in America.

The biggest adventure on the drive up to Blue Spring (2100 W. French Avenue Orange City, FL) was getting gas for Cornelia's rental car. Cornelia expressed her concern that she couldn't remember her code for her credit card. The jerk behind the counter gave her a hard time. We drove across the street and the charming Indian clerk asked Cornelia about Germany and explained what her own name meant. It was a good lesson in how intolerance and a power hungry idiot can be quickly out shined by a caring, compassionate and fun clerk.

In Blue Spring, there were a couple of Manatees in the spring. Now that it is so much colder, the Manatees return to the spring in hoards or is it herds? No, actually a group of manatees is called an aggression, which makes little sense since these graceful mammals are never aggressive. Rather aggressive humans are endangering manatees by ripping through peaceful waters with power boats that then cut open the backs of manatees with their props. Most every manatee I have ever seen had multiple lacerations and scars. The manatees return to Blues Spring when it is cold because the spring water is always a balmy 72 degrees as it rises from the earth.

On this sunny day there was a gaggle of humans sunning themselves on the lawn. No a group of humans must be a horde, a huddle, or a crowd. Anyway it was a relaxing afternoon that gave me a chance to learn more about my German cousins. The first thing Nini wanted to do in Orlando was find a Taco Bell. Terry and I were glad to oblige, but its kind of sad that this is the culture that the rest of the world expects from America.

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 24, 2015

The Mills 50 District heralds the Mills 50 Community Market.

Every Tuesday from 5:00 pm until 9:00pm the Mills 50 Community Market (between Will's Pub and Track Shack) brings together a variety of artisans and local vendors to share food, ideas and community resources. Our vision is to foster weekly community engagement and to provide support for local businesses in the Mills 50 District and all of Central Florida. By providing this open platform, we hope to empower local residents with a more resilient, sustainable and healthy place to live.

I went right after work one night to sketch. On the side wall of Will's Pub was the controversial mural by Dolla Short. It depicts a drunk satyr floating in a noxious cloud. The detail that a few local residents have an issue with is that the cloud is implied to have come from a fart symbolized by a word balloon and a skull and cross bones. Because of this, the city is trying to come up with a way to censor future murals. They want to create an ordinance that re-defines murals as signage which suffer strict jurisdiction. Murals keep popping up in the neighborhood like mushrooms.

The Market is a small affair with local goods. The closest vendor had meat on a stick and I was offered a sample which was pretty good. Doughn't Be Cruel was directly across from me. Senior Baker and Artist David McWhertor was at the helm. He pointed out that we had exhibited our work together at the Falcon Bar's "Porn" show. David's painting was of a nude man with a unique way of hanging his jacket. For that show, I did a sketch of 2 actors in an intimate embrace. At the opening, I sketched a guy hitting on a girl for several hours in front of my sketch. David offered me a sample of one of his doughnuts, placing it in a paper bag. The bag sat on my kitchen counter for the night and in the morning it had been engulfed in a grease stain. I couldn't bring myself to open the bag. Perhaps if bacon was packaged in paper bags, I could give that up as well.

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 23, 2015

Relaxing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort.

In an effort to be sure all sketches are posted online, I've started signing sketches once they are published. This way, hopefully, no sketches will slip through the cracks. In the early years sketches often slipped by because the latest sketch and experience seemed fresher and more exciting. Looking back at vacation sketchbooks, I was surprised to find this Lake Louise, Canada sketch unsigned. That morning, Terry decided she was going on a horse back ride up to the lip of a glacier. I don't trust horses so the morning was mine to find a sketch opportunity.

I went through the town maps and brochures and decided that the gondola ride was probably sketch worthy. It was summer however, so there wasn't much snow on the lower slopes. The Lake Louise Ski Resort (1 Whitehorn Road, Lake Louise Alberta, Canada, T0L 1E0) had this gorgeous ski lodge at the base of the mountain. I could faintly see the gondola snaking it's way up the first slope. I went inside to check on ticket prices. After a quick deliberation, I decided the lodge would be my subject. I had to sit in the parking lot to do the sketch, so I was always looking around to be sure I wasn't run over by a wayward tourist bus or an RV.

Every half hour or so a bus would park in front of the lodge. All the tourists would pile out of the bus, take a cell phone photo and then pile back in. I'm glad that Terry and I travel at our own pace. Back at the hotel, Terry made fun of me for not riding the Gondola. She made clucking noises to rub it in. Her morning had been a real adventure riding her horse through muddy slopes to the glacier.A little friendly competition on vacation isn't a bad thing. I grant Terry won this round.

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 22, 2015

Getting over the hump of a long flight.

Terry and I have been traveling quite a bit this year. Back in June and July we flew to the Rockies in Canada and in October we disappeared for a month to go to Australia. Flying to the opposite side of the world is exciting until you are half way into the flight. Terry takes some medication right before take off that cuts the edge off of her fear of flying. Not only can she relax, but she can pass out on a dime. While we were waiting on the runway to take off, she got annoyed at the delay. She then fell asleep and several hours later she woke up and called over a stewardess. She asked the stewardess why we hadn't taken off yet. The stewardess calmly explained that we WERE in the air and had been for quite some time.

I can never fall asleep when flying. This was a real curse of the flight to Australia. I watched all the animated films on the entertainment list. I believe John Hurst, a former Disney colleague got an award for his storyboard work in the opening sequence of Rio 2. It is a pretty impressive sequence with Parrots performing a complex Busby Berkeley Song and flight routine. I just saw a live action film I did early storyboards for. It was exciting to see compositional ideas incorporated in the final film. Some of the cast had changed but the action was true to what I remember.

Sketchbooks, clothes and my carry on were all used in an attempt to create a comfortable sleeping position. The delicate house of cards would always collapse and I would nod awake.

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 21, 2015

Warming up on Valentines Day at the Mennello Indie-Folkfest.

Most of Valentines Day I was running around town. In the afternoon I taught a two hour Urban Sketching workshop. From there, I drove downtown to drop off several paintings at City Arts Factory. Then as the golden hour lengthened shadows, I rushed to the Mennello Museum's Indie-Folkfest. I bumped into Cole Nesmith and his friends on the walk to the museum. He assured me that there were still plenty of people there. I could hear the music as I walked over a foot bridge toward the museum's sculpture garden. The lawn was covered with people sitting on blankets and lawn chairs.

JUNOsmile was performing on stage so I sat down and immediately got to work on a sketch. JUNOsmile is a collaboration between husband and wife veteran musicians Joseph and Jesse Martins. As they performed, the sun set over the lake behind them. For a few minutes the setting sun was right behind them causing a blinding light. I believe I saw Jesse Martins perform once before with Bubba Whoop ass Wilson out behind Bubalou's Bodacious Barbecue. She performed a mean fiddle. Children love to approach the stage. They love music and know how to celebrate it. A little girl tapped me on the leg, I suppose I was "it". Genevieve Bernard who produced the event let me know that earlier in the day the crowds were insane. The day was an undeniable success. People discovered the museum, some of them for the first time.

Eugene Snowden and friends took over the stage at 6pm. By that time the sun had set and he needed to warm up the crowd. There is an unwritten law in Orlando that if you are a musician then at some point you will perform with Eugene. Right from the start he was pulling friends out of the audience so they could play guitar or sing with him. The kids were dancing up a storm now, doing somersaults and cartwheels. Snowden pumped up the energy to a fevered pitch. With my sketch done, I bundled up my sweatshirt sleeves over my fists to make mittens. I clapped my clenched fists and swayed to the beat. Is it odd that I should feel so comfortable being alone at this concert on Valentines day? As the children danced with wild abandon, I felt at peace. The sketch might be hampered by the cold fingers that executed it, but I was doing what gives me the most pleasure on this day by creating.

In the midst of sketching a young woman asked if I was an Urban Sketcher. She knew of my work and said it was an honor to meet me. I'm always shocked when anyone knows about my sketching obsession. She shook my hand and then left me to continue my work. That simple exchange warmed me on that cold night. The final song for the evening was "Lean on me." Jesse and Joseph Martins returned to the stage to sing along with Jessica Pawli. You could tell that all these musicians were dear friends as they huddled close to the mics to share their love in song. On that note I decided to head home. Joseph shouted out, "Remember we have far more similarities than differences. If you make one person's day brighter than you are making the world a better place to live. Spread the love today and everyday."

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 20, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Picks for February 21st and 22nd.

Saturday February 21, 2015
9am to 3pm Free. The Orlando Wetlands Festival. Orlando Wetlands Park, 25155 Wheeler Rd, Christmas, Florida. The Orlando Wetlands Festival promises to be the "Best Wetlands Festival in the United States!" In addition to numerous guided wildlife and plant life tours, there will be bird-banding and mist-netting demonstrations, as well as live music and wildlife shows. IBEX Puppetry brings  our endangered species puppets to life for your family at the  Orlando Wetlands Park .

6pm to 8pm Free.  Brewery Tour. Orlando Brewing, 1301 Atlanta Ave, Orlando, Florida.

8am to 10pm Free. Robert Metcalf's Farewell Reading. Kerouac House 1418 Clouser Ave, Orlando, Florida. Please join us in saying a very fond farewell to our writer-in-residence Rob Metcalf. He will be reading at about 8 p.m. at the Kerouac House.

Sunday February 22, 2015
10am to Noon Free. Super Joy Riders. Eastern entrance of the Lake Eola Farmers’ Market.
 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. You + Superhero Costume + Bike = Best Sunday Ever

11am to 5pm Free. Dragon Parade Lunar New Year Festival 2015. Orlando Fashion Square 3201 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, Florida. Lunar New Year is the most important festival celebrated in Asia. In countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States, although Chinese New Year is not an official holiday, many Asian organizations hold large celebrations and parades to share the culture. Cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sydney and London have already held many successful Lunar New Year Parades which attract thousands and thousands audiences.
This year, Asia Trend Magazine together with Mills 50 – Orlando Main street District, REACH of Central Florida (Recognizing Educating Asian Cultural Heritage) and Y.E.S.S. (Youth Enrichment and Senior Services) joined hands to organize the Central Florida local community Dragon Parade Lunar New Year Festival on February 22th, 2015 to celebrate the Year of the Goat. The festival starts at 11am with a community parade (begins at Orlando Fashion Square Parking lot and ends at Orlando Fashion Square front entrance) followed by a 5-hour festival which takes place at Orlando Fashion Square lobby stage. Come experience the Asian culture with cultural performances, exotic Asian food, Arts and Crafts and exhibitions. Admission is free.
You are invited to be part of this community event by becoming a sponsor, a vendor, or a participant. For vendor and parade information, please email or 407-205-2808.

6pm to 8pm Free, just get a drink or a bite.  Shut Your Face! Poetry Slam by Curtis Meyer! La Casa De La Paellas 10414 E Colonial Dr Orlando Florida. The only current ongoing slam in Orlando officially certified by Poetry Slam Incorporated, IE. Send a team to Nationals as well as poets to The Individual World Poetry Slam & Women of The World Poetry Slam! $50 to the winner! If you’ve never seen or been in a slam before, it’s definitely worth checking 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

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Nude Nite with a live painting by Marla E. Artist.

On Valentines Eve I went to Nude Nite to get a second sketch. I parked in the same place about a quarter mile up the road and walked to the warehouse venue. On this hike however I tried to jump over a roadside drainage ditch and missed. My right hiking boot sank into the muddy slop up past my ankle before I pulled it out with a slurp. I arrived at Nude Nite with one boot soaking wet and covered in mud. Nude Nite is a pretty swanky affair with women in high heals with sleek low cut dresses. My boot debacle made me feel like Frankenstein. I reassured myself that no one checks out a guys shoes. I tend to cross my legs when seated and drawing and that left the boot dangling out in front of me.

Enough about the slop. I decided to sketch Marla E. Artist who was doing a larger than life painting of a stunning nude model. Marla prepares her canvases with a thick gesso that makes the surface smooth as plaster. She also incorporates even thicker circular patterns that create a surface you are tempted to want to touch.  Marla actually used champagne to thin out her paints. The model had on a long pearl necklace that accentuated the curve of her back. Marla's painting from the evening before was stored off to the left. When the model took a break, I sketched her one more time as she checked her phone for messages.

Orit Reuben had a pastel nude on display and it sold on the first night. I really should consider hanging work in next year's show. Then again, the only time I sketch nudes is at Nude Nite. I checked out the couple that were allowing people to snip away one inch pieces of fabric from their outfits. I considered doing a second sketch. The scene was chaos and the crowd so thick that I decided to pass on the sketch opportunity one more time. I needed to get home and slip out of my sopping wet boot.

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 18, 2015

Nude Nite had a stellar opening night.

Nude Nite is a dazzling art and entertainment event celebrating the beauty of the nude. It brings together hundreds of artists for three evenings of visual art, performance and a cast of characters both in costume and out. Open to the public, tickets can be purchased at the door. This year the event took over an empty warehouse at 5051 LB McLeod Rd. Orlando FL. Tree trunks outside the venue gave a visual clue that you had arrived along with the line of cars waiting to park. Valet parking is $10 so I drove down the road a distance to find self parking.

Once inside, I quickly walked around searching for a subject to sketch. Since most performers were nude or partly nude, the choices were overwhelming. On a stage with butterfly wings as a backdrop, a figure squirmed inside a dark fabric cocoon. Later in the evening she was free of the cocoon and gracefully flapping her wings. There was a staging area for Marla E. Artist who began a life sized nude painting of a nude female model on one of her thick impasto canvases.

In the furthest reaches of the warehouse, I found these two men hard at work. A large ball of electric wiring sat between them. They were pealing away the plastic casings from wires to expose the inner copper wire. The copper wire was then cut into one foot lengths and stacked in a neat pile. A video camera taped the whole process and a black and white projection filled the back wall. As I sketched, I realized that the projection showed a different time. It didn't sync with the live action performance. What does it all mean? Who knows. Art I guess. The crowds weren't too dense on opening night, but I'm always amazed at how many people are shooting photos. You can tell the amateurs with their red laser beams and flashes. They should learn to sketch, it is far less disruptive.

After my sketch was done, I packed up to get right back home. As I left, there was a huge crowd with their cell phones raised to take photos of some unfolding action. Linda Saracino who was with her friend Lillian Verkins explained that there was a clothed couple standing on display in front of the mob. People standing in line were given a chance to take a pair of scissors and cut away a one inch square of fabric. As each square was removed, the couple was slowly unclothed. I would think two strategic snips could make the outfits quickly fall to the floor, but I suppose the cuts were supervised in a grid pattern. I never did see over the crowd to find out. Before I left, I was once again tempted by a sketch opportunity when I saw a nude woman painted silver and elevated on stilts which were hidden under a graceful silver skirt. She was Voguing for photographers however which made her an unpredictable twisting turning subject to sketch. Oh well perhaps I'll catch her tomorrow night. Parking near a large event like this I always fear that my car might get towed for profit. Thankfully it was where I left it.

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 17, 2015

Magic and Mayhem brings laughter and amazement to resort guests.

Ilene Lieber  made me aware of Magic and Mayhem which is an award winning dinner show at Sheraton Vistana Resort in Lake Buena Vista (8800 Vistana Centre Drive, Orlando, FL 32821). The Resort was just one block away from where Disney put me up when I first came to Orlando as an animation intern. The show is in a new venue, the Fountains Recreation Center, home of the Tacky Tiki Grill and Bar. The magic happens in  the Fountains Room just inside the main doors. I arrived about half an hour early to get a jump on the sketch. James Songster, the show's founder and director was at the door to welcome me. Performing with James that night was Art Thomas the managing producer of Magic and Mayhem. 0n some nights James's son Joshua performs in Art's place. Both James and Art worked at Disney and that background inspires the family friendly show.

James founded Magic and Mayhem in 1997. Each year, Magic and Mayhem Productions presents over 400 performances of engaging, family-friendly and theatrical comedy magic at a variety of venues including festivals, special events and banquets. In addition, they also offer corporate workshops and seminars where they provide custom magic-based team building exercises. Before the show, James and I had a talk about how magic is experiencing a bit of a revival on TV. The winner of last season's "America's Got Talent" was a magician. He didn't do lavish show stopping tricks but rather interacted one on one with the judges. In an age of constant social media, I think people are hungry for more direct and intimate forms of entertainment. This is exactly what Magic and Mayhem offers.

Just before the doors opened, someone wished James,"Good luck." A waitress was putting out large pitchers of drinks on the tables. She set a tray on a table and lifted the pitcher which was keeping the tray in balance. Drinks, glasses and ice cubes crashed to the floor. This was clearly the Mayhem portion of the show. Never tell a performer "good luck" the results can be disastrous. Tell them "break a leg" or "merde" instead. Broken glass was still being swept up as guests arrived.

The show itself went off without a hitch. Art worked as James's straight man and at times a doubting Thomas. One particularly humorous act involved James recreating a vaudeville act his father used to do. It involved two yellow cylinders. Inside one cylinder James placed a wine bottle and in the other he placed a cup. After shouting a magical invocation, he glanced in the cylinders and dramatically announced that the glass and bottle had switched places. He took a dramatic bow. Art however, pointed out that the audience had never seen the items after the switch. As they argued about it, the magic became real.

One act involved the participation of a beautiful female volunteer. It was essentially a card trick in which James guessed which card his volunteer had picked. What astonished me was that a clear balloon was blown up and somehow the card appeared inside the balloon. Little kids in the audience would shout with delight. I was just as swept away. It is the little things that amaze me.

For more information on Magic and Mayhem’s comedy magic show offerings, appearances, workshops and for booking inquiries to be a part of your next special event, call 407-222-4412 or visit Sadly, only guests who are staying at the Sheraton are able to see the Dinner show. It would be nice if there was a venue where locals could experience some magic for themselves.

Magic And Mayhem was named #1 Dinner Show By Orlando A-List.

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 16, 2015

Trying to escape from the Sydney Holiday Inn.

We left for Australia on October 14th and arrived on the morning of October 16th. With all the time zone changes and the date line, we managed to loose a whole day while in the air. Since I couldn't sleep a wink, it felt like I had been awake for two whole days. We arrived in Sydney exhausted and spent. There was a long line, or as Aussies refer to it, a quay for the taxis. Since the country is on the opposite side of the world, everyone drove on the wrong side of the road. I flushed a toilet in the airport as well to see if the water drained down in the opposite direction. It did. I verified this by texting a friend and asking which way the draining tornado twisted in Orlando.

Most of the foliage is similar to tropical plants in Orlando. It was Fall in Orlando but Spring in Australia. Flowers bloomed everywhere but there were plenty of billboards to break up the beauty. Sydney has plenty of old historical buildings. I loved the old, well established neighborhoods we passed as we drove into the city proper. Downtown Sydney is modern, with new skyscrapers rising up everywhere. The newer buildings seem to defy gravity being slender slivers of glass and metal.

The Sydney Holiday Inn (55 George Street Sydney 2000 Australia) is located right near the famous Sydney bridge and from the roof of the hotel it is possible to see the opera house. Terry and I just needed to rest and unfortunately the hotel didn't have a room ready for us. The lobby had lime green 6O's styled couches. I tried to nap on the couch but the urge to sketch took over. Terry got annoyed and started looking for other hotels downtown that might have a vacancy. She worked her iPhone diligently calling one hotel after another. The clerk behind the desk noticed her making the calls and soon enough we were given room keys. When we got in the room, I dropped my suitcase, pulled back the sheets and fell asleep in seconds. The sights would just have to wait.

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 15, 2015

Leaving on a jet plane.

On October 14th, Terry and I left for a month long trip to Australia. Terry was an exchange student for her senior year in high school and her Lauriston Australia class mates were holding their snurfurtieth reunion. I went along for the ride. Australia is about as far away from Florida as you can get. Getting there is an all day affair involving a stop over in Los Angeles California. My one view of LA on this trip was the Scoreboard bar in the airport. Sports events played on the ten or so TV screens above the bar as tired travelers drank in an attempt to relax.

I wish I could sleep in flight. I tried every possible way to rest my head against the bulk head or on a pile of clothes. My neck hurts, just thinking about that flight. I keep thinking that a large beach ball would be the perfect way to wedge myself into a rest full position.  Terry seemed to slumber through most of the flight thanks to the pills she popped right before take off. I spent most of my idle time watching movies on the seat back screen in front of me. It was a 24 hour entertainment marathon. There even was a camera mounted on the tail of the plane, so you could watch the flight as if it was a video game. That camera view is nerve wracking however if you watch as the plane lands. I've used quite a few flight simulators and I began to question the pilots flight pattern on the approach into LA. He weaved left and then right. I was so thankful that he did finally manage to find the runway.

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 14, 2015

Division The Trayvon/Jordon Project opens a discussion on bridging the divide.

"Division The Trayvon/Jordon Project" was one year in the making. John DiDonna co-wrote and directed the production in which his students conducted about 140 hours of interviews with people who were intimately involved in the aftermath of the two killings. The students had to learn the important art of listening. Most people only listen with the intent of coming up with an abrupt response. With some interviews the students might have wanted to argue points being discussed. As one character in the production noted, "You have to check your shit at the door."

This is the second installment in a trilogy of theatrical productions that examine these Central Florida events. Part one was a Beth Marshal production called "The Trayvon Martin Project" which was staged in the same Valencia Black Box Theater in October of 2014. Division is the second installment and the third will be a production called "Hoodies" which will be staged at this year's Orlando International Fringe Festival.

What was incredible about this world premiere, is that many of the people interviewed showed up to see the production.  Francis Oliver is the Sanford activist who managed to bring in 50,000 demonstrators into Sanford as people reacted to Trayvon Martin's death. She sat in the front row with her blond curly locks setting her apart from the crowd. John DiDonna told me several times about what a beautiful person she is. It turns out that her son is moving into a home right next to John. Avis-Marie Barnes plays Francis's part in the play and her steadfast determination echos throughout the production.

Photo Journalist Barry Kursch is played by Dean Walkuski in the production. He started taking pictures for the media at the tender age of 17 but after years of documenting violence, he has grown tired of documenting the dark side of human nature. The media have become more interested in clicks and views on the internet. Stating an opinion is now more important than accurately covering the news. He shot photos of all the demonstrations in both Sanford and Jacksonville.

Also in the audience was Ron Davis, who is the father of Jordon Davis who was shot and killed while seated in the back seat of a car in a gas station because Michael David Dunn didn't like the music that was playing.  Ron Davis was born in Harlem. His son saw a photo of Trayvon with a hoodie on and he said, "Dad, that looks like me." Six months later, Jordon was shots. Ron Davis has been fighting the stand your ground statute. "It has brought us back to the dark ages" he said. People with guns have no responsibility to retreat. It was first written with the intention that a gun in a home would keep you safer. Then it was extended to people having guns in their glove compartments in their cars. Whenever shots arc fired, there is often collateral damage, people are killed who were innocent bystanders, like a girl who was recently shot in a club in downtown Orlando. Stand your ground means families of people shot for no good reason can not seek criminal or civil damages. Ron wants us to seek to change the statute from "Stand your ground" to Duty to retreat."

This show addresses stereotypes and Florida itself has become a national stereotype. A student who was considering going to college in Florida was told by friends, "don't go there, you'll get shot." People from all walks of life were interviewed for this play. What emerged was a very human story, not just a black and white issue. Ron found that other countries consider the United States is guilty of human rights violations. We need to teach the next generation the principles of love and acceptance. We are all traveling through life on this tiny sphere together. We are stronger when we work together rather than being divided. This play had me choked up quite a few times. It is a good first step towards opening a dialogue towards change.

“Division: The Trayvon/Jordan Project”
A World Premiere Docudrama

The Valencia College Theater
Written and Directed by John DiDonna
Written in collaboration with Valencia students
William Adkins, Aidan Bohan-Moulton, Carolyn Ducker, Phillip Edwards, Nathan Jones, Anneliese Moon, Elina Moon, Dennis Ramos, Stelson Telfort, Michael Sabbagh.

Only 2 Performances Left
Feb 14 and 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Feb 15 at 2 p.m.
Building 3, Black Box Theater
Valencia College East Campus, Performing Arts Center
701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando, FL.

$12 general admission
$10 for Valencia students, faculty, staff and senior citizens
Box Office: 407-582-2900

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 13, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Picks for February 14th and 15th.

Saturday February 14, 2015 Valentines Day!
10:30am to 5pm Free. Old Florida Outdoor Festival. Northwest Recreation Center 3710 Jason Dwelley Parkway Apopka, FL.  Puppet parades, workshops and crafts, and our musical garden in Apopka, Florida for a weekend highlighting the outdoor lifestyle! The Old Florida Outdoor Festival will feature birding, fishing, hunting, shooting sports, Highwaymen art, kids activities, a local farmer’s market, backyard chili cook-off, Dock Dogs, and Florida Barbecue Association BBQ cook-off.

2pm to 7pm Free. Indie-Folkfest. The Mennello Museum of American Art, 900 East Princeton Street, Orlando, FL. A new Valentine's day twist on an old tradition! The Mennello Museum of American Art updates the traditional Orlando Folk Festival with a new Valentine’s Day family affair, with music, special picnic-box cuisine, craft cocktails, music and art. A free sweetheart of an afternoon and evening, from 2 p.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, February 14th in the Sculpture Gardens, overlooking the lake. The very best aspects of the annual Orlando Folk Festival come together for the debut Indie-Folkfest at The Mennello Museum – and it will all be squeezed into one special afternoon and evening on Valentine’s Day 2015.
Mark your calendar for this free affair that’s a gift from the museum’s City of Orlando Board of Trustees. The festival is produced by Genevieve Bernard, also producer of the Kids Fringe Festival that arrives in May to the same grounds of the Mennello Museum. Holding down the music stage is the irrepressible Joseph Martens and his sweetheart of a wife, Jessie. The couple will play emcees to the string of local musicians, as well as perform as their duo project, Juno Smile. Also confirmed to play is Eugene Snowden of The Legendary JCs. And there will be a special Twilight Concert to finish off the evening! The artist marketplace will take on a sweeping Valentine theme, with art and crafts for sale by longtime festival favorites, as well as newcomers. Create custom Valentine’s Day cards and ribbon sticks at the make-and-take art station. Bring a picnic basket or indulge in our special picnic-box cuisine developed by local establishments, which will be available for sale, along with extraordinary craft cocktail.

6pm to Midnight $25 Nude Nite. Warehouse 5051 LB Mcleod Rd. Orlando FL.
TICKETS: Available online or at door  (ATM onsite) $25
WHO: 21 and Over, ID Required
PARKING: Valet/Self Parking
FOOD: Provided for Purchase by Uncommon Catering
Beef Tenderloin Slider, Portabella Mushroom Slider, Cheese Plate, Antipasti Plate, Crab Cakes, Tuna Nachos, Chocolate Covered Strawberries.

Sunday February 15, 2015.
 5:30pm to 7:30pm $7 Southern Fried Sunday's After-Folk Fest Show w/ PALEFACE, Hannha Harber (Band), Heckfire & Joseph Martens! (Thomas Wynn & Daniel Hanson at Indies). Will's Pub 1042 N Mills Ave, Orlando, Florida. We are thrilled that we're teaming up with The Mennello Museum of American Art's Indie-Folk Fest to make February 14th & 15th a sweetheart weekend of music! Southern Fried Sunday at Will's Pub on 2/15 will feature sets by touring duo, indie ­folk icon, Ramseur Records recording artist PALEFACE, along with Hannah Harber with a full band, HECKFIRE & an opening set by Indie-Folk Fest host Joseph Martens PLUS after show sets at lil indies by Thomas Wynn and Daniel Hanson! SFS BBQ Dinner provided by Will's Pub, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company's NOONER Pilsner is included in the $7 Cover and will be yumm'd up by Mykal Williams and Poca's Hottest Sauces.
SFS will have a booth at Saturday 2/14's packed full of talent event at The Mennello (details below). We hope to C'ya for an entire weekend of Folk Art and Music, Love and Community Fun! 5:30pm Doors, 6:00pm Show & Dinner (served til it's gone).

7pm to 10pm Free. The Kerouac House Book Club discusses Dharma Bums! Kerouac House 1418 Clouser Ave, Orlando, Florida. The first quarterly Kerouac House Book Club discussion. For our first, we've selected Dharma Bums, the book Kerouac wrote while in the house on Clouser.
Dharma Bums will be available for purchase at Bookmark It, so grab a copy and join us in our discussion in the very space the book was written! That's right -- Rob Metcalf, the current writer in residence, has graciously invited us into the house for the discussion of the book.
“Happy. Just in my swim shorts, barefooted, wild-haired, in the red fire dark, singing, swigging wine, spitting, jumping, running—that's the way to live. All alone and free in the soft sands of the beach by the sigh of the sea out there, with the Ma-Wink fallopian virgin warm stars reflecting on the outer channel fluid belly waters.”
― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

9pm to 11pm Free. Emily Ellyn's Cutthroat Kitchen Viewing Party! Tin Roof Orlando 8371 International Dr Suite 100, Orlando, Florida. Emily invites you to join the fun while we watch her appearance on Food Network’s hit show “Cutthroat Kitchen.” Enjoy food and drink specials while the action unfolds on 10+ large-screen televisions – all at Orlando’s newest (Emily approved) Retro-Rad joint! 
It’s a reunion of sorts, between Emily and (her Food Network mentor) Alton Brown, who haven’t seen each other since filming Next Food Network Star. Don’t miss the action as Emily competes for a chance to win $25,000 and be crowned winner of Cutthroat Kitchen. Special surprise guest judge too! PLUS, Emily will be giving away 2 tickets to the culinary event of the year “Appetite for the Arches” benefiting Ronald McDonald House – a $400 value.

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 12, 2015

Division The Travon/Jordan Project is based on hundreds of hours of interviews.

On February 10th I went to the final dress rehearsal for the original docudrama, written and directed by John DiDonna, called "DIVISION The Trayvon/Jordan Project". For those unfamiliar with the incidents that hit so close to home, Trayvon Martin was a young black man walking home from a store who was shot to death on the evening of February 26, 2012 by a neighborhood watch coordinator named George Zimmerman. The shooting of Jordan Davis occurred on November 23, 2012, at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. He was a 17-year-old African American high school student, who was fatally shot by Michael David Dunn, a 45-year-old software developer from Brevard County. The incident began when Dunn asked Davis and his companions to turn down the loud music. George Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and of manslaughter charges. The Michael Dunn jury was unable to return a unanimous verdict on a charge of first-degree murder, the judge declared a mistrial on that count. Dunn was convicted, however, on three counts of attempted second-degree murder for firing at three other teenagers who were with Davis and one count of firing into a vehicle. Dunn's retrial for first-degree murder began the week of September 22, 2014. Dunn was found guilty October 1, 2014, and was sentenced to a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole on October 17, 2014.

To create this project, students conducted over 150 hours of interviews with people involved in the cases.  What results is an open raw dialogue about Division and racism in America. I identified deeply with a female reporter played by Danielle Marie Irigoyen who covered the story. She confided that she cried when she listened to 911 calls made the night Trayvon was shot. I remember having the same gut wrenching reaction when I listened to them to help write about events as they unfolded. As a journalist you are supposed to be dispassionate when you report the news. This story was different. She had a sound technician analyze the audio and he concluded that Trayvon Martin could be heard pleading for his life moments before the gunshot silenced the night. This evidence wasn't allowed in court because not everyone is convinced that the new technology is 100% accurate.

"That's Just the Way It Is" by Bruce Hornsby was playing on the sound system as the audience arrived, followed by "Imagine" by John Lennon. The large cast began their discussion about division, with everyone shouting while no one listened. projected on the screen was "We are..." anyone in Sanford or Central Florida knows the response is "Trayvon". In a riveting moment, the entire cast turned to the screen to read the "Stand Your Ground" statute. It was Machiavellian with every word seeming more insane. It is a license to kill. Much of the production felt like an intimate, heated class discussion. Barry Kirsch a talented local photographer was the official photographer of the Trayvon Martin case. It was fascinating to see his opinions molded around a character played by Dean Walkuski in the play. Some actors were built around the opinions of many different people while others stood expressed one person's opinion. The show isn't about reliving the horrors of each case, but instead focuses on how those events influenced communities both near and far.

The play opens a much needed discussion. After each performance there will be a talk back with the audience so the discussion can continue. Staying silent and hoping that these violent acts will stop isn't a solution. Change only comes from the concerted efforts of a few. When Sanford was torn by the Trayon Martin shooting many people felt the incident would pass quietly away. However, one local woman played by Avis-Marie Barnes worked the phones and ultimately over 50,000 people converged on Sanford to demonstrate. Even if one person listens, and you change their mind, then you've changed the world. What are you going to do to help change the world? Don't miss this production. Join the discussion.

“Division: The Trayvon/Jordan Project”
A World Premiere Docudrama

The Valencia College Theater
Written and Directed by John DiDonna
Written in collaboration with Valencia students
William Adkins, Aidan Bohan-Moulton, Carolyn Ducker, Phillip Edwards, Nathan Jones, Anneliese Moon, Elina Moon, Dennis Ramos, Stelson Telfort, Michael Sabbagh.

Only 6 Performances
Feb 11, 12, 13, 14 and 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Feb 15 at 2 p.m.
Building 3, Black Box Theater
Valencia College East Campus, Performing Arts Center
701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando, FL.

$12 general admission
$10 for Valencia students, faculty, staff and senior citizens
Box Office: 407-582-2900

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 11, 2015

She went in like a lamb and came out like a tiger.

The make up preparation work by  Nick Herrera on Anya took hours to do. All of their patient work would be used for a poster photo shoot for Nude Nite. Since it was only mid-afternoon, I took the luxury of starting a second sketch. This time I moved in closer to the model so I could catch all the detail work being done on her face. Nick used an airbrush to add the subtle coloring on her facial fur. He added longer sheets of fur around her jaw leading up to her ears and blended it in. Make up on the table sported the label "SFX" which was the only visual clue that Nick had been on SYFY’s Naked Vegas and Face Off shows. Actually SFX or "Special Effects" might be a generic brand of make up, but I choose to think he won it from his time on those reality shows.

I finished this sketch just as Nick was about to start doing the body painting on Anya's torso. Before they started, I got up to shake Nick's hand and thank him for letting me sketch the creative process. Nick asked me to wait a moment and he rushed off. He came back with a little milk crate and placed it beside me. He gave Anya his cell phone and asked her to take a photo of the two of us. He then stood on the milk crate beside me. I joked that he had been in LA for too long. He replied "If it is good enough for Tom Cruise, its good enough for me."

Mark your Calendar and don't miss Nude Nite! All artwork on display is of the nude figure. There are also burlesque dancers body painters and experimental art that defies description. The event runs from February 12 to 14th in Orlando in a warehouse (5051 LB Mcleod Road, Orlando FL). Each night, festivities begin from 6pm to Midnight. Tickets are $25 online or at the door. Spice up your Valentines Day at Nude Nite.

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 10, 2015

Nude Nite Poster required hours of make up preperation.

Kelly Stevens, the director of Nude Nite let me know that Nick Herrera the body painter (who is known for his roles on SYFY’s Naked Vegas and Face Off shows) was sculpting a tiger prosthesis for our Model Anya’s face. It takes 3 hours to create the effect.  The photo shoot would be at the Orange Studio (1121 North Mills Avenue, Orlando, FL). When I walked in the back door, there was a small section of the space that was blocked off with movable walls and curtains. It was a bit like a temporary triage area. Anya and her mom were waiting for Nick to begin. He already had the face prosthesis made that would give Anya a tiger's shaped nose.

Nick had borrowed a several thousand dollar toy that somehow adds fur to any surface using static electricity. The device looked like a large policeman's flashlight. The fur was cut up and put in the head of the device. It was then plugged in and Nick tapped it like he was a chef adding pepper to a dish. As if by magic the fur appeared on the prosthesis. It could then be combed and  trimmed if needed. I've never seen anything like that before.

Anya sat in the model's chair and Nick took much care in getting the edges of the prosthesis to flow smoothly into her skin. He had a photo of a tiger's face on a tablet and he quickly blocked in the orange and white color pattern on her face. Anya seemed rather quiet and reserved, but as Nick worked his magic, she began to look fierce and menacing. Nick took about 5 hours to create the Tiger, so he was there from approximately 3pm until shoot time at 7pm preparing her. Body painting, tiger glowing contacts, prosthesis (ears, cheekbones, nose, etc.) The photo shoot was supposed to happen by 7pm, so Nick had to work fast. The photographer was Charity DeMeer and Art Director Jeff Matz of Lure Design.

Mark Your Calendars! Nude Nite is one event in Orlando and Tampa that you really have to experience.  All artwork on display is of the nude figure. There are also burlesque dancers body painters and experimental art that defies description. The event runs from February 12 to 14th in Orlando in a warehouse (5051 LB Mcleod Road, Orlando FL). Each night, festivities begin from 6pm to Midnight. Tickets are $25 online or at the door. Spice up your Valentines Day at Nude Nite.

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 9, 2015

A thunderous ride in an urban assault vehicle.

October 7th was the 31st anniversary of National Night Out which is an opportunity for police, firefighters and EMS to share their toys with the community. I went to the Winter Park Police Department, (500 N Virginia Ave, Winter Park, Florida), to see what this evening was about. The national event sponsor “ADT” was on site along with a multitude of corporate and local businesses to present various items and ideas to aid in crime prevention.The first thing to catch my eye was this huge urban assault vehicle. It looked like a cross between a Humvee and a tank. Every kid who saw it wanted to scramble inside. Parents would joke that they just wanted to take it out for a quick spin. The tiny port holes were bullet proof. Once behind the driver's seat the kids could imagine themselves driving through Winter Park's war torn streets.

A clown burst a balloon which set the K-9 German Shepard on edge.  There was free soda and hot dogs and officers were on hand to answer any questions. There was a heavy flack jacket that people could try on. A ten year old boy put it on and it hung down to his knees. I'm surprised he didn't fall over from the weight. Winter Park Lost Pets sponsored the Pet Safety Section of the event. They offered micro chipping, nail trims and giveaways. A fire truck was outside the station and kids scrambled around it as well. On a table next to me there were assault rifles and battering rams that people could handle. There was however no ammunition and I assume the safety's were on the rifles.

With my sketch done, I ordered a hot dog off the grill and enjoyed it on my walk back to my car.

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 8, 2015

The Songwriters Stage at Credo is a chance to hear local musicians originals.

On the first Monday of every month, Downtown CREDO (706 W Smith Street Orlando, FL) becomes a venue to hear local musicians as they share original music. If you are tired of bands performing covers this is a chance to find something new. I arrives a bit early and ordered a coffee. I was surprised to find that there is no set cost, instead you pay what you can. I'm not much of a coffee drinker, so I don't know what a chain like Starbucks must charge. I decided $5 was a good price for my cup of Joe.

 Downtown CREDO is a 501c(3) non-profit with a mission to improve the quality of lives in our nations cities by cultivating networks of meaning, impact and community.I saw Credo's director, Ben Hoyer speak at a TED Talk in Winter Garden. His message of serving the community was inspiring. His CREDO…
"Life is worth living. I refuse to merely exist. I pursue a life of meaning and purpose, fulfillment and joy. The world is not yet as it ought to be. Neither is my city. Neither am I. Yet, I reject apathy and despair. I engage the world, my city, and myself to make an impact for good. I am not alone. I press through narcissism, isolation and self-sufficiency striving to live in authentic community."
 This isn't your typical open mic. Performers each have ten minutes to make the credo stage their own. Each act performs two original songs, and a panel of judges chooses three finalists. These three are invited back to the stage at the end of the night to perform one more song and the judges select one winner (cash prize and free recording time with Emissary Studios included!). Performers are judged in five different areas: songwriting, vocal performance, playing ability, stage presence, and audience response.Songwriters in Central Florida to come together and create a community of artists. There’s a lot of talent in this city and we want to help showcase it! All levels are welcome.

Musicians slowly gathered with guitars in hand. It was a night of calming acoustic music. The music was hit or miss, but writing a good song is hard work. The most inspiring musician that night for me was Lloyd Williams. He is a musician from the band "The Cold Start."  His music got under my skin, full of emotion and meaning. If ever I see a concert featuring "The Cold Start", I am there. At the break, my coffee was done and so was my sketch. The music would continue much later into the night, but I decided to pack up my art kit and get back home to Terry. I have no doubt that I'll be hearing more music from Lloyd Williams. As I left, I read CREDO's rally cry, "Refuse to merely exist!" It is a great message for any artist or citizen to follow.

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 7, 2015

Doubt, A Parable leaves the audience questioning the truth long after the curtain dropped.

I went to the final dress rehearsal for "Doubt, A Parable" based on a. book by John Patrick Shanley. The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning drama follows a Catholic high school priest’s battle for truth and personal integrity. It is produced by Beth Marshall Presents and directed by Beth Marshall in the historic Winter Garden Theatre (160 West Plant Street, Winter Garden FL).

When the theater went dark, Father Flynn (Michael Wanzie) began his sermon in the isle at the back of the theater. He spoke about how the country pulled together after John F Kennedy was assassinated.  The moving monologue rallied the audience behind the father. He was clearly a well loved man among his parish. Michael Wanzie seemed perfectly cast for this role. I've seen him in past productions and he always seems to be in roles where he must question the faith he grew up with.

Sister James (Chelsey Panisch) is a young and enthusiastic teacher loves to get the children excited about history. Her superior, Sister Aloysius (Ginger Lee McDermott) is a hard edged disciplinarian. She views every situation with suspicion and doubt and advises Sister James to do the same. Eventually a situation arises in which the one black student in the school is called away for a meeting with Father Flynn. The boy returned from the meeting acting strange and he had the scent of liquor on his breath.

Sister Aloysius assumes the worst and begins a personal vendetta to expose Father Flynn as the monster she imagines he is. Her black and white view of right and wrong is greyed by the Fathers compassion and a simple straight forward explanation. He gives another sermon, this time about gossip. In this parable he has a woman cut open a down pillow on a city building roof top. Feathers fly everywhere in the wind. She is told to repair the damage and recover the feathers. That of course is impossible, the damage is done.

The play haunted me on the entire drive home. Without an admission of guilt, there is always doubt. The father was clearly a gifted orator who cared for the children in his charge. Yet sister Aloysius's steadfast conviction at times swayed my view of the man. He clearly had human weaknesses. The show was just an hour and a half long but the questions still linger.

Mark Your Calendars!
February 6 - 22, 2015 Thursdays – Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm Industry Night: Monday, February 16 at 8pm
Tickets: $25 ($21 seniors/students)
Industry Nite Feb. 16th -$15 (post show cast meet/greet Pilars Martini

Garden Theatre Box Office
160 West Plant Street, Winter Garden
407-877-GRDN (4736)

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 6, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Picks for February 7th and 8th.

Saturday February 7, 2015
9am to Noon. Viking Challenge. Lake Eola. You may be familiar with the Ice Bucket Challenge, the fund raising phenom of 2014 for the cause of ALS research.  The Viking Challenge is more than a quick cold splash.  We are challenging you do dive in, dash, pedal, wheelchair, walk, skateboard, jog, you can choose what to do with your family and friends.  We want you to enjoy the challenge of fun and fitness and to remember Trinity with a gift for our encouragement to get active. Join us, in person, to support and foster an education embracing the future, while being rooted in a foundation of deep, lasting tradition. Trinity Lutheran School we challenges you to help us build a dynamic learning community.Funds raised will go towards the $35,000 goal. The school needs new soccer field bleachers and goals, library renovations and iPads for the K-2 curriculum.

3pm to 5pm Free.  Bach and Beer. Cask and Larder, 565 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, Florida. Join the Bach Festival Society and Cask and Larder Brewmasters, Garrett Ward and Larry Foor, for the release of a limited-edition beer, Brandenburger Bock, brewed for the 80th Annual Bach Festival. Featuring German music, this event will be popular with music lovers and beer lovers alike.
Beer and Cask and Larder's usual offerings will be available for purchase.This Cask and Larder Bock Beer comes closest to resembling the beer of Bach’s time. In the ancient bock tradition, the dark-colored craft brew is released in time for springtime celebrations. J. S. Bach enjoyed life enormously, and this certainly included beer drinking; in fact, he was often paid in beer.
Cask and Larder is a southern inspired brew pub located in Winter Park that opened its doors in early September 2012. C and L offers southern-sourced seasonal dishes, craft beers
brewed on-site, and fresh-shucked oysters from their oyster bar. Brandenburger Bock will be available to take home in to-go crowlers (canned versions of beer growlers.)

6pm to 8pm Free. Smash Entertainment Networking Party. Actors, Dancers, Singers, Models, Photographers, Directors, Writers, Make-Up Artists, Costumers, Stage Managers, Lighting Designers, Sound Designers, Editors, Cinematographers... If you love working on Theatre or Film this event is for you! Bring your head shots, resumes, demo reels, cameras, voices, and portfolios to this wonderful night of fun, food and friends.
There will be an entire Green Screen Sound Stage and fully functional A.D.R. Sound Room available! Feel free to take a few pictures or record a song! We will also be cooking plenty of food on the grill for anyone who is hungry. This event is BYOB. See all of you there!

Sunday February 8, 2015
1pm to 3pm Free. Script Reading Workshop. Sleuths Mystery Dinner Show, 8267 International Drive, Orlando, FL. Read and workshop plays.

2pm to 6pm Free. Grand Opening Celebration at Animal Healing Solutions. Animal Healing Solutions, 1117 East Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs, FL. Come by and see the new place, find out more about what we do, and meet Dr. Fasano with Animal Healing Solutions , Teresa with Sparkling K9s ( and Cherylann with Puppy Love Therapy.
Pets Welcome! Appetizers and Drinks provided. Stop by anytime! Feel free to bring a friend or invite anyone who might be interested.

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

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 5, 2015

Miller's Field House has so many TV's it is hard to know where to look.

On July 19th, Terry and I went to Miller's Field House (7958 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando, FL) to watch the Chargers battle against the Chiefs in the playoffs. Well, Terry watched the playoffs and I sketched. Terry grew up in San Diego, so she always roots for the Chargers, even if she is the only person in the room doing so. The place was packed with fans, Many wearing the jersey of their favorite team. I ordered a burger and a beer and got to work.

The game was pretty close for a while, but by the second half, Terry was groaning far more than she was cheering. The Chargers lost which sealed their fate for the season, they would not be going to the Super Bowl. 0n my several trips to the bathroom, I realized that the bar also had seating outside, and it was just as crowded out there. People would come in shifts, watching a game and then heading out. The bar must do a brisk business since the drinks kept flowing as long as there were games and commentary.

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

A Pecha Kucha rehearsal is as much fun as the main event.

Pecha Kucha means chit chat in Japanese. The event features speakers who give fast paced presentations. Power point is used to show 20 images and the speakers have 20 seconds to talk about each slide. The slides are timed and run automatically, so there is no going back or speaking for too long. All the presentations on this night were about movies. For the rehearsal, the audience consisted of fellow presenters. They offer encouragement and notes for each presentation. They had rehearsed in past weeks, so they got to watch as their talks evolved and got better.

Kent Vanderberg gave a moving talk about video production and the need for play in the life of adults. He filmed a documentary about people from a renaissance fair here in Central Florida. He followed several characters everyday lives and compared that to their Renaissance Fair personalities.  We all need to seize every moment of every day. It is the playful and intimate moments that make life worth living. All work, and no play, makes Jack a dull boy. Worrying and rushing through life leaves little room for what really matters.

Eddie Selover, who keeps Pecha Kucha alive here in Orlando was a presenter as well. He reminisced about James Bond. Eddie, back in 1963 had a model of James Bond's car, which could fire missiles, had bullet proof glass and many other high tech spy features. I used to have a very similar car. I also remember having a brief case that had hidden compartments and a toy knife that would detach at the tap of a button. Eddie grew up on Bond films until his parents cut him off because the films got too sexually explicit. Eddies experience with the opposite sex was very different than 007's. Whereas Bond might confidently have a woman in every port, Eddie was surprised any time a girl noticed him. His life took a swift and exiting change when Eddie met his wife.  Life is an adventure that should be lived to its fullest. You don't need to be a spy to recognize that.

Matt Moeller from SAK comedy lab gave a fast paced rap presentation on how to write a script. It was a real education, and hilarious at the same time. The lyrics came fast and furious and the beat stayed constant throughout. When the lyrics worked and he hit his stride, the presentation was pure magic. He followed the hero's journey using images from Star Wars as examples.

Mark Your Calendars! Pecha Kucha, "Talking Pictures" will be on Friday February 6th at 7pm at the Orange Studio, (1121 North Mills Avenue). Tickets are $11. This show is sold 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

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The most authentic Oktoberfest in Orlando is at the German American Society.

Each year I like to get to the German American Society (381 Orange Ln, Casselberry, FL) to sketch during Oktoberfest. This year, on October 24th, I was joined by a young UCF journalism student named Deanna Ferrante.I met Deanna at Artlando in Lock Haven Park and she seemed quite fascinated by what I do. She decided to use me as a subject for an article she has to research for her journalism class. So far she has interviewed my wife and several others. Since I consider my daily sketches a form of journalism, it makes sense for her to find what I do interesting.

Parking was hard to find, and for the first time I paid $5 to park at a nearby business. Getting into Oktoberfest is also $5, which gets you a wristband. Most of the action is behind the Liederkranz hall. A gazebo was set up for music and dancing in the center of the back yard. Long tables filled the yard with crowds of people drinking beer. I decided to go inside where a stage was set up in front of a huge photo of a German castle. Several accordion players and a saxophone player provided the music for traditional German dances. Tyrolean liederhosen outfits were everywhere. A small banner in front of the performers announced, "Beer is proof that God loves us." There was a collection of different sized cow bells, but they weren't used in the time I was sketching.

Where I sat was right next to where the teen aged dancers would congregate before they went out on the dance floor. The women wore white puffy sleeved blouses and a black bodice that cinched their wastes tight. The blue plaid dress and apron would billow out like a whirling dervish whenever they danced. The men would stomp and slap their heals as they danced. They would also help guide the women in a direction as they were spinning. One female dancer spun out of control as she exited the dance floor and she tripped on the stage. She wasn't hurt and the adrenalin kept her spinning just as fast for the next dance.

The dancers became fascinated with my sketch and several crowded around to see what it looked like. Deanna used the opportunity to interview several of them. The main reason she stopped out was to observe first hand what a typical sketch excursion is like. She also interviewed people at my table. She didn't ask me any questions, instead letting me work. Once in a while I would shout out a thought or two, trying to be helpful.

With the sketch finished, I decided to call it a day. The sketch opportunities were endless, but I decided to get home. I bumped into artist Leslie Silvia and her husband Jared on the way out, so I could have lingered and drank a beer, but I'm a lightweight when it comes to drinking. I get a headache the second I take a sip. Deanna said she got what she needed for the article and she headed back to UCF. I liked her approach. She gets right into the thick of the action to find the story. I'll be curious to find out what the article turns out like.

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 3, 2015

Every Monday as the sun sets, the Audubon Community Market offers fresh local produce.

Stardust Video and Coffee ( 1842 Winter Park Road, Orlando, FL) becomes a vibrant Community Market every Monday. When the weather is good, the parking lot fills with vendor's tents. When it rains, the market shrinks and moves inside. On this particular Monday I sketched vendors offering fresh baked goods and holistic herbs and oils.

It turned out that the vendors son was a bit of an artist, and he sketched me as I sketched the scene. The costumer, with the green head band and purple shirt was a Disney theme park employee. I also recognized he as being a very active Fringe Festival volunteer. Shopping is only half the objective in this small intimate market. Most of the time is spent socializing and catching up with friends.

As the flow of costumers slowed at the Audubon Community Market, the Disney employee sat with the vendor and her sons behind the table. A mysterious ceremony took place where they all held hands. Perhaps there was healing involved, or a spiritual look inward. I should have asked about it when my sketch was done since I could probably use some of what was offered. Lately my body has started to revolt against my horrible diet and constant work by forcing me to slow down with splitting headaches. Doctors only offer drugs but I would rather find a more holistic approach to improving my health.

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 2, 2015

The Cameo vintage sign is burning bright again.

A small black and white photo framed on the back wall of Snap! Orlando shows the historic Cameo Theater with its original signage. Building owner Jorge Boone applied to the Orlando City Counsel to have a replica of the original Cameo sign put back on top of the building "to re-establish the identity of the building and bring a sense of history and place to the area." The project is expected to cost around $29,000 and the city agreed to Boone's request for $14,000 through the facade program. The new 18-foot-long sign will use the same retro font as the original, and it will be lit with more than 300 LED bulbs.

The Cameo Theater first opened opened on Christmas Day, 1940. It was a latecomer in Orlando’s movie theaters, and was located just a block west of the Vogue Theater. Open for only a few years (maybe less than five), the Cameo sat abandoned for years, save for an occasional booking by a evangelical group.

The building was remodeled and occupied for years by IBM. Since then it has had many occupants, and has often been vacant. The marquee still stands. In October 2008, it was in use as a live performance space, but had closed by Summer of 2009. By early-2010, it had reopened and was available ‘For Rent’, and several groups had regular performances, primarily live music.

Today the Cameo Theater is home to Snap! Orlando, a hip gallery that is bringing cutting edge exhibits to Orlando. The owners, Patrick and Holly Kahn  also have expanded Snap into a gallery space in Miami and they seem to have finally created a gallery worthy of a top class city here in Orlando.  Nearly 1200 people came to celebrate Snaps one year anniversary, and the lighting of the Cameo sign on January 23, 2015. As Patrick said "Thank you to all of our partners, supporters, Snap! team members and friends who joined us last night! Our deepest appreciation and love to the exceptional Jorge Boone and Magdalena Dalsjo for reviving the Cameo sign, and sponsoring the public art fence, created by Chris Scala. In 2015 Snap is planning a citywide event with pop-up art exhibits, lectures with guest speakers, workshops, and other educational and cultural events. Announcements 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

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Artlando main stage hosted amazing talents.

I only sketched at the Artlando main stage in Lock Haven Park once. The Orlando Concert Band kicked off the event in the morning. There was a small group of people right in front of the stage while most of the artists were still setting up their tents or chatting. John Phillips Sousa marches and patriotic orchestrations got the day started. I was seated in a patch of shadow created by the stages canopy. As the sun rose, I had to keep scooting forward to stay in the shade. The small audience around me was doing the same.

As the day progressed, clouds rolled in and it rained. That didn't stop performers from showcasing their talents on the stage. Phantasmagoria and Emotions Dance performed and I watched them without sketching. Sometimes it is nice to put the pen down and just let a performance sweep over you.  When the sun went down, a DJ took to the stage and the lawn became a dance party.

Taking down my tent was more of a challenge than setting it up. As I lowered the telescoping legs, it leaned against my neighbors tent a bit. They seemed quite annoyed with me but no damage was done. I rolled my stuff up and stored it curbside. I then hiked the half mile or so to my car and drove back to pick everything up. It turned out that award money was given to the artist picked by all the artists that day. G. Lemus was awarded $1000 and he also won a contest for painting a lion, which is the symbol of Orlando's new soccer team. I made about $18 to $20 in card sales and finished 3 sketches, so the day wasn't a total bust.

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