Monday, September 28, 2015

A whale rolled into Orlando.

Poncili Creacion presented Ballenarca at the Winter Park Public Library. I believe Ballenarca is derived from baleen, which whales use to strain and eat krill,and ark, as in a large sea vessel. They had just come from Miami's Art Basel where a Whale Arc seemed quite in order. The whale was constructed on a boat trailer.  Car jacks held up the whales massive jaw. Large metal ribs were covered with fiberglass. There was a wide cast of foam characters in the show. Orlando has a strong puppetry community thanks to Heather Henson's Ibex puppetryHannah Miller and Jack Fields were there. I would say that half the audience were puppeteers and the other half were excited children. There isn't much of a difference between the two.

The show was colorful and surreal. There was a four legged dog fish, a red character that looked like a cross between a tooth and a heart, and an eight foot high centipede. When the centipede interacted with the kids, the squealed with delight. Kids easily accept the characters and can quickly imagine the world they inhabit. This was no longer a parking lot, but a magical under sea world. Kids don't react the same way when high tech movies force feed every digital detail.

After the performance, kids were invited inside the whale's open mouth. The puppeteers needed to drive the whale to Heather Henson's warehouse where it would stay for the night. They would be on the road the next day to their next open air stage. I was invited to have dinner with the cast at Loving Hut and I jumped at the chance. On the drive to the restaurant I ended up driving right behind the whale. The tale had to be removed for the drive, but the whale still grinned at me. You don't see a whale in traffic very often. At Loving Hut, one member of the cast was fascinated by one of my brush pens. He did a drawing of a mysterious dark haired girl with straight bangs, in the back of my sketchbook. He signed it Poncili.

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

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