Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Realms of the Untold brings humor and horror to the stage.

Realms of the Untold is a brand new anthology of short plays, written by local playwright Corey Volence, the scriptwriter of the award winning 2013 Orlando Fringe musical Key of E. These six short plays are written in a style meant to evoke classic horror and science fiction shows such as The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and Tales From The Crypt. These short stories are filled with the strange and the unknown, this production is sure to make you squirm, laugh, yelp in fright, and might just even give you some nightmares.

I went to a rehearsal in a suburban bungalow in Ivanhoe Village. Everything had been cleared from the living room except some set pieces and props. The opening play set the stage in a famous actors dressing room (Ken Luzadder). A star struck understudy (John Reid Adams) was greeted rudely. The boy had seen every performance. When he asked how to get ahead in the acting business, he was told that you need to sell your soul to the devil. A dark twist then redefined their roles.

Actress (Jan Taylor Hendricks) then took the center stage seated in a chair. She told a long story from her childhood. Her grandmother was from the old country and schoolkids spread rumors that the old woman was a witch. Another rumor circulated that a local lake was inhabited by a mysterious creature that ate children. When she told her grandmother the rumor, she got very serious and was warned to never go in the water. She promised, but like most childhood promises she eventually broke it. Classmates dared her to enter the lake. To save face she waded out in to the water. Jan's performance with a sweet southern accent was incredible. I stopped sketching and sat on the edge of my seat to find out what would happen to the little girl. I have no doubt there will be standing orations for this performance.

Each play has its own emotional tone. From one horrific moment, we cut to a light comedy about a couple who are debating about a lifetime commitment. The guy (Charles Krivan) is hesitant and lacks confidence. The girl (Monica Titus) has the absolute conviction that comes from a long life of experience. The conversation between these love birds was at times hilarious. I stopped sketching and simple enjoyed their banter. The commitment turns out to be far more eternal than what can be bought with a wedding ring. A commitment of 50 years or so seems trivial in the larger scheme of things.

Monica Titus also played the part of a social worker in an insane asylum. She interviewed Ken Luzadder  who was in a straight jacket. She set him free of his constraints and then he related the tale of the fateful day that put him behind bars. He described the day with absolute lucidity. Perhaps he was sane and falsely institutionalized. The memories he related however contradicted the facts as related by the social worker. The tension between the two of them escalated until he became violent. The rehearsal had to cut at that moment since props were missing that were needed for what would follow. I honestly don't know how this play ends, but I was left concerned for the social workers well being. Why on earth did she take off his straight jacket. He could very well be a Hannibal Lecter.

I can say without hesitation that this show is going to be one hell of a roller coaster ride. This will be a great way to kick off the Halloween season.

Show Dates: 
October 1 - Doors at 7 Show at 7:30
October 2 - Doors at 7 Show at 7:30
October 4 - Doors at 2 Show at 2:30
October 8 - Doors at 7 Show at 7:30
October 9 - Doors at 7 Show at 7:30
October 10 - Doors at 7 Show at 7:30

There will be discounted tickets for Military, Student, and Theme Park Employees with ID. Ticket Link

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Man's Dominion a true story about the nature of man.

There are some stories in American history that need to be told because they resonate through the ages. In September of 1916 the god fearing people of Erwin, Tennessee lynched an elephant named Mary. She was a star in Spark's World Famous Circus. The 18 year old elephant had grown up in captivity.  Red Elkridge, on his second day on the job got thrown and then had his  head crushed when  Mary stomped on his skull. For this, Mary was sent and to death, and the giant railroad cranes of  the Blue Ridge Railroad were to be the engines of her demise. She was chained by the neck and hung. Man's Dominion provided  a voice for ten witnesses and participants in this  horrific event.

Presented by Pachyderm Productions, Tim Powell performed  in this tour De-force one man show this one man show That brought ten characters to life. The play written by David Castro and directed by, Dennis Neal peals away the  layers to show man's basest nature. I've seen many one man shows at  Fringe but none of them compared  to the emotional punch of this  show. A circus ringmaster opened the show, setting the scene. The show became particularly powerful when Fish, an Irish Roustabout, spoke about the lynching feeling that Red, an outsider, deserved what he got. Captain Prescott who had seen slavery and lynching gave his insights into the white man's blood lust.  Reverend George McKee became more and more demonic as he spoke a boot man's dominion over the animals and the need for vengeance. Hobo Joe, a clown, had spent years working beside Mary and he blamed Red for his mishandling of the billhook. A bullhook is a sharp steel hook that is used to this day to inflict  pain when used to poke elephants where there skin is the most tender and sensitive. It is a tool of torture.

There was a talk back after the show. Tim who resides in Los Angeles confided that he had reached a low point in his career. He didn't even want to get up in the morning. He was introduced to David's play and his southern up bringing made him the perfect actor for the part. He asked Dennis Neal to direct. This was Tim's first one man show, and it was Dennis's directing debut.

There were just five shows of Man's Dominion at the Mad Cow Theater (54 West Church Street Orlando FL). The show is heading to the New York City next at the United Solo Festival on October 9th, 2015 in Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street, New York City). There is only one show at 7:30pm.
for tickets visit Man's Dominion Ticket sales and specify the 7:30pm showing on Friday, Oct 9th.

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.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Sunburst Convention For Professional Celebrity Impersonators featured a Love Boat themed party.

The Sunburst Convention For Professional Celebrity Impersonators is being held in the Florida Hotel in the Florida Mall, 1500 Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL.  The Convention's website explained, "The Sunburst Convention is a great and friendly environment helping promote the careers of Professional Celebrity Impersonators and Look  A Likes. This is a rather unique profession and we take it seriously. You can NOW see what it's about on NETFLIX!  Look for the movie/documentary "Just About Famous" and you will see what we are about!

I went to a Love Boat themed party on the second night of the convention. Greg showed up dressed up as Captain Stubing and all the attendees were encouraged to come in costume. Ginny Soskey a Hubspot section editor came to the convention from Boston. Before we were let in to the Hospitality suite she explained that there are 3 tiers in the celebrity look alike field. The first tier are the look alikes, they don't necessarily need costumes to resemble a celebrity. then there are the Celebrity impersonators. They research their celebrity's every mannerism and they often create their own costumes. The final tier are the tribute artists, they have the look, the costumes and they develop a complete act that they perform on stage.

One whole meeting room in the hotel had rows of tables with celebrity impersonators cards and promotional materials. Agents show up to the convention to scout for talent and Ilene Lieber who does PR for the convention told me that there were more agents than ever this year. Colonal Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame arrived and shook my hand. I thought his presence was appropriate since KFC is running ads now that have a Saturday Night Live comedian doubling as the Colonal. The actor didn't look like the Colonal so I suddenly lost faith in the brand. It was like they stole my belief in Santa Claus. Another look alike showed up is a stunning outfit with jewels and a fur lined hood. Her lips sparkled orange. I thought she was Lady Gaga but it turned out she was Cher. Captain Jack Sparrow staggered about with some thick brown swill in a bottle. It wasn't beer, perhaps it was a thick fermented cider.

The party was a blast. A tropical billboard was against one wall with a rail so celebrities could take a photo in an exotic island setting. As the room filled, people took selfies together.   The Blues Brothers hung out at the corner table. Dolly Parton later sat at the table to check her phone. The whole fun in attending the convention was trying to guess who was being impersonated. Yet this is a skill set I haven't developed. The last thing I wanted to do was walk up to someone and say "So, who are you supposed to be?" I kept my guesses private

Apparently Charo had appeared quite a few times on the Love Boat, so there was a rather hilarious hoochie coochie contest. On stage, The Ladies of Soul performed along with the L.O.S. Band from Vero Beach. They definitely got the attendees out on the dance floor. This was a rare instance where I didn't sketch the stage. Instead, I had to focus on the celebrity audience.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Just About Famous at the Sunburst Convention

I went to the Welcome Party at the Sunburst Convention For Professional Celebrity Impersonators, Tribute Artists and Look Alikes at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center (1500 Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL). The hotel was right in the Florida Mall so it took me some time to locate the place. I asked the concierge where I could find the Celebrity Convention and he said, "All the celebrities are down the hall to the right. There was a large empty room and I was about to look around some more to search other rooms. Paula Dean walked in and asked where everyone was. Just then we both heard laughter from behind a door. Inside people were watching a documentary titled "Just About Famous" about celebrity look alikes. "When fans cannot get close to the real thing, these professionals step in to fill the void. As the old adage goes, 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.' From a celebrity impersonator convention to their lives across the country, JUST ABOUT FAMOUS chronicles the few who have had the fortune, or curse, of looking like the most recognizable people on the planet." 

This wasn't a great sketch opportunity, but I began to realize that I as surrounded by celebrity look alikes. Right next to me was Gene Simmons, a band member from Kiss. What do you do when you discover you are sitting next to Gene Simmons? You sketch him of course. Also in the room was Johnny Depp, Barack Obama, and George Bush. Only a few were in full costume, but it was fun trying to figure out which celebrities I might be sketching. The film turned out to be much longer than expected so I had plenty of time to sketch.  I was pleased to see that a local pink haired actress who I only know as Barbie Rhinestone, had a prominent role in the film which is now on Netflix. It turns out she can become Marilyn Monroe and Katy Perry. She probably had the funniest moment in the film when she demonstrated a voice warm up exercise in which she screeched and flexed her fingers like cat talons. She made a cupcake bra for her Katie Perry persona that is hilarious. In the film she pointed out that she sort of hoped people would be impersonating her, but this was the next best thing.

Celebrity impersonators discussed how people react when they think they are in the presence of a celebrity. For some reason people feel the need to reach out and touch. One celebrity Look alike at the conference had a stalker. The guy drove four hours to cause trouble. Greg, one of the organizers of the event asked the trouble maker to step outside and the guy was escorted out of the hotel for trespassing. This is a community of people who look after each other. It also became clear from the documentary that this was a fun group of people to be around. The convention runs through Sunday September 27th.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Picks for September 26th and 27th.

Saturday September 26, 2015
8:30am to 6pm Sold Out.  FL Blog Con. Full Sail University 3300 University Boulevard, Winter Park, FL. FLBlogCon was founded on the principles of openly sharing experience and expertise with others. This conference provides one day where we cast aside differences in backgrounds, blogging topics, and competitive goals, and instead embrace coming together in the spirit of cooperation, helpfulness, and friendship. We know you will embrace this philosophy and focus on the great role models of professionalism set by yourself and your fellow bloggers. Most importantly, we want all bloggers to feel welcome and included, no matter their experience or background.

3pm to 3am Free.  ARTLando. Loch Haven Park, Orlando, FL. A celebration of Orlando's Arts and Culture. Featuring a performing arts showcase, outdoor art walk, live painting, and more! Pet friendly! After the sun goes down, experience Blue Star’s Varietease, Fretless Rock and the Rock Hard Review.

9pm to 11pm  $10 Super Jam Art Show For PEACE! Will's Pub, 1042 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL. A night of art, peace and music. With so much hate and bs going on in the world we thought a Super Jam Art Show for Peace would be a good way to promote something positive in our community. Feel free to share this event all around the FB. There will be live art, live music and there will also be a collaborative art piece (peace) that everyone can join in on!

Sunday September 27, 2015
10am to 12:30pm $10 Crealde Sketch Class.  Crealdé School of Art, 600 St Andrews Blvd, Winter Park, FL. Life drawing from  a nude model.

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

7pm to 9pm Free. Nerd Nite Orlando: Movie & Trivia Nite. The Geek Easy 114 S Semoran Blvd Suite 6, Winter Park, Florida.  Join Nerd Nite Orlando for our first ever movie and trivia nite! We'll be doing a round of science fiction trivia, as well as screening the classic comic sci-fi film, The Ice Pirates. Come meet up, drink, and learn something new!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Miami Project tent at Art Basel offered plenty of surprises.

This sketch of the entry to the Miami Project tent at Art Basel in Miami Showcases a sculpture by Mei Chin titled Cabinet of Craving. The large spider, 9 x 14 x 14 feet, was made of white oak, antique English bone ware (circa 1843), footed silver tray, steel, pigmented dye, and shellac.The sculpture is an homage to Louise Bourgeois, a Houston artist and friend, Jesse Lott, and Victoria artist, Madeline O’Connor. It assembles cross cultural adaptations found in furniture, ancient motifs mix bred with nationalist symbols, all under the influence of addictions that shape historical destinies. This crouching spider like monumental sculpture pushes it’s abdomen to the ceiling. Just behind this decorative mongrel visage, of an English bulldog and ancient Chinese “gluttonous” taotie mask, is Victorian-style glass case revealing it’s curious diet, an antique 1843 teapot upon a silver serving tray. The sculpture is a hybrid monster born out of addictions and manipulations of empires, in this case, the Victorian English craving for tea and porcelain, the Chinese desire for silver and the insidious and illegal trade of narcotics that lead to the Opium War.

A lounge chair and coffee table contrasted the sinister theme inherent in the spider. Catalogs where placed on the coffee table periodically that showed many o the artists works. I never picked up a catalog since I didn't want to carry around the weight. I was already carrying 3 sketchbook ins in my art bag.

I had wandered away from the crowd I was with so that I could find a quick sketch subject. Re-finding my friends was a challenge since every tent was packed with patrons. It was easy to develop "art burn" after a few hours at which point very work of art seems pretentious and homogenized. Most of the time I was focused of winding my way through the crowds rather than focusing on the art. I also rather enjoyed the fashionable people watching.

Terry's friend Elaine Pasekoff, had parked at a local parking lot, but Terry and I decided to stay later and then we took a bus back up to the condo in Miami Beach. Traffic is crazy at Art Basel, so taking the bus was a relief.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Sea Fair was a unique venue for viewing art at Art Basel.

The first Art Basel venue Terry and I went to was the Sea Fair on board the luxury yacht "Grand Lux" (100 Chopin Plaza Bay front Park South Dock Downtown Miami, FL). SeaFair offers a venue through which the world's finest galleries are able to deliver art to collectors' doorsteps in a unique, self-contained ultra-luxury seagoing venue. I sketched while Terry scouted out the galleries. Once my sketch was done, she showed me her favorite pieces. My favorite was a sketch done on a wrinkled up piece of paper. The wrinkles were incorporated into a large graphite drawing of an old man's face.

Sea Fair is the world’s first mobile mega yacht venue. The $40 million custom-built yacht was designed by internationally acclaimed yacht designer Luiz De Basto. At 228 feet and 2,800 international tons, it is the largest ship built for commercial operation on the Intracoastal Waterway and requires a draft of only 6.5 feet allowing it to dock at small yacht facilities in central city locations such as Chopin Plaza.

The well-appointed luxury venue features an impressive formal marble entryway, 28 individual exhibit spaces, a coffee bar, the Luxe Lounge, an open-air champagne and tapas bar on the aft deck, Sapore’, a formal glass-walled restaurant/club on Deck 3, Bistro360, an informal open-air restaurant and Bar360, a sky deck cocktail reception area.

Besides the dock side exhibition, the yacht took select patrons on sunset cruises, Brunch and Cay cruises and afternoon Bay cruises.  While enjoying the amenities, patrons could wander through the five decks which  offered 20 unique art galleries and luxury boutiques. Cruised featured local and internationally renowned artists, receptions, art performances and more. The yacht was ostentatious and pretentious which might help inspire wealthy patrons to want to buy art. It is a much better place to experience art than a convention center or outdoor tents. I preferred a quick walk through which minimized the risk of getting sea sick or experiencing art burn. From this venue, Terry and I rushed to a museum where an experimental dance performance was to take place.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Giving Tuesday raised funds for Florida Opera Theater.

Giving Tuesday was on December 2nd an this fundraiser was at the Women's Club of Winter Park (419 S Interlachen Ave, Winter Park, FL). The Club was founded in 1915, and is one of the oldest not-for-profit community organizations in Winter Park, Florida. Giving Tuesday was created by the non-profit sector to establish a day of pure giving; to any cause that you support, believe in or are passionate about. It's surrounded by the giving feeling of the holidays, so it turns out that it's quite a successful day in the area of fundraising.

I was contacted because the organizer wanted a live painter while there were live performances throughout the evening (kind of like what the Glazier's do at the Timucua White House). The original idea was to have patrons "add" something to this piece of art, so that it could be said that many people had a hand in creating this piece. People might add a few strokes themselves, or put their initials onto the canvas and the painter somehow include that as part of the painting.. The theme was to be "this is what the arts means to me". I had done this type of thing at the Sonesta Hotel for a Downtown Arts District fundraiser. I did the 18 foot wide Orlando skyline sketch and patrons could essentially paint by the numbers. It was a disaster that I had no desire to repeat. It isn't a great idea to give patrons that have been drinking wet paint. I did however decide to document the event with a sketch. Patrons still got to see a painting created live without getting their hands dirty.

The Florida Opera Theater singers were fantastic. This was a great way to warm up to the holiday season.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Art Basel is a yearly crucible to experience the art market.

Once a year, Terry and I drive down to Miami Beach to experience Art Basel. Art Basel draws tens of thousands of visitors, collectors, gallerists, artists, curators, and other art enthusiasts from across the globe, all coming to experience the highest quality of Modern and contemporary art. Terry and I stay with friends Elaine Pasekoff and Derek Hewitt. Elaine and Derek purchased three apartments in the same Miami Beach building, and they decorated them with themes from their world travels together. I believe this is the Africa suite. There is also a Paris themed suite. All of the floors were resurfaced and the kitchen was opened up by removing part of a wall to create a corner counter. The amount of work that went into these units is amazing, especially since Terry and I have had color swatches on our living room walls for the past decade.

The drive to Miami beach is a long one and we had to drive through torrential rain and the infuriating impatient Miami traffic around rush hour. By the time we arrived, we just wanted to relax. Elaine always has the Miami Herald, which is a good place to research which Art exhibits were generating some buzz. It is also fun to read about which celebrities were in town for the exclusive all night parties. Elaine and Derek know where all the best local restaurants are, so we eat out when we are there. The apartment is just a few blocks from the beach, so walking down to the beach as the sun sets is always an appealing way to end the day.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Drama erupts at Saint Mathew's Tavern with Joe's NYC Bar.

I always tell people that if you sketch on location, some drama always unfolds. David Lee invited me to sketch at Saint Mathew's Tavern (1300 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL) and there was drama in spades. I found a seat in the corner of the bar next to a large speaker and got to work. I sketch in bars all the time but I seldom get to experience this level of heart felt camaraderie and gut wrenching drama. From the outset I felt this was a bar where everybody knew my name and I was invested in these peoples lives. This was interactive theater at its best.

Joe's NYC Bar is an interactive, improvisational, immersive theatre experience in which the audience is transported to a bar on Manhattan's lower east side. Debuting as part of the 2001 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, Joe's ran for 4 years and 76 performances. This past March Joe’s returned from a ten year absence and was greeted with positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. The show sold out 5 of 6 shows in March and then all 4 performances at the 2015 Orlando International Fringe Festival. Ten years later, Joe’s has proven to be a concept and piece of theatre more relevant and popular than ever.

It was hard to tell where the play stopped and the inside jokes began. Some of the funniest moments were so topical that they had to be improvised. A straight laced Republican in a suit (Tim Williams) sat at my end of the bar and he seemed a bit out of place when everyone else was sleeveless or in T shirts. In a heated scene he confronted everyone saying "You don't know me. You don't know what I've been through." This was true of everyone in the bar. What unfolded slowly, pealed away the layers to expose the inner pain that drove defensive behaviors. Much later in the evening, the Republican returned to the bar and found his recently separated wife (Anitra Pritchard-Bryant) was present. The bar went silent before the couple confronted each other.

Christian Kelty originated the idea for this interactive show. The seed was planted when he worked in a Renaissance festival show that invited the audience to participate. In this age of social media people are often interested in the endless drama that surfaces online every day. We have become a society of reality show voyeurs. In this everyday bar setting it becomes easy to let go and become part of the scene. Over the course of the evening it was possible to get to walk a mile in each character's shoes. Even in this rehearsal, I wasn't sure who was an actor and who just happened to be there for a drink. With a sold out show, that fourth wall must be even more blurry. Add a couple of drinks and the line is further blurred. Live local music acts fill out the evening, making it a typical night in the Mill's 50 bar scene. Don't just go to see a show. Be the show.

6 Performances
Running September 13th-October 18th
Sunday Matinees ONLY!
3:00pm doors 3:30 Showtime

Tickets available at:
$17 in advance / $25 day of show

The stellar casts features: Anitra Pritchard-Bryant, Ali Flores, John Connon, Michael Marinaccio, Jenn Gannon, Simon Needham, Christian Kelty, David Lee, Tim Williams and Jodi Chase.

Musical Acts
9/20 The Smoking Jackets
9/27 and 10/4 Eugene Snowden (The Legendary JC’s) and Friends
10/11 DJ Jay Ross Barwick
10/18 TBA

Bolder Docs Presents The Florida Premiere of Conquering Kilimanjaro

Conquering Kilimanjaro is the first feature-length documentary from the Emmy Award-winning team at Growing Bolder Broadcasting. Conquering Kilimanjaro follows an inspiring group of 16 cancer survivors and cancer community advocates as they attempt to climb the world’s highest freestanding mountain in Tanzania, Africa. Conquering Kilimanjaro celebrates the irrepressible nature of the human spirit, providing hope and inspiration.  

Wendy Chioji, a Central Florida news anchor who beat breast cancer in 2001, was part of the climb just weeks after completing radiation and chemotherapy for thymic carcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. The cancer has now returned and Wendy has been accepted into a clinical trial that offers new hope. “Wendy will beat this like she beat breast cancer,” says Conquering Kilimanjaro filmmaker Marc Middleton. ”But we want to pause for a moment and make certain that she understands how much she means to so many. Wendy has always been about providing hope and inspiration to others and we want to return the favor. The night will included a special tribute and we’re donating a portion of the proceeds from the screening to LIVESTRONG in Wendy’s name.”

This incredibly documentary follows the lives of the climbers, first on the home front when they discover they have cancer and then on the mountain which becomes a symbol of their fight for life. Having just seen Everest in IMAX 3D I have a deep respect for the dangers any mountain climber faces. The fact that for cancer survivors wanted to reach the summit is inspiring. The 16 members of the Kilimanjaro summit team were, for the most part, complete strangers before meeting one another just one day before their adventure began. This climb built a lifelong bond between them all.

The film documented the romance of Bree and Stephen Sandlin. Bree is a marketing executive for Shell Oil, a mother of two and a breast cancer survivor, Bree celebrated her one year “cancerversary” on Mt. Kilimanjaro with her husband who she calls “the most sacrificing person I have ever met.”  On day 6 of the climb it snowed. Bree developed mountain sickness. She was given a steroid shot, but if it didn't work, she would have to turn back. "I am stronger than this mountain, that is all that matters." she said as she continued the climb battling nausea and headaches.

Dr. Robert Masson,  celebrated his birthday on the climb. LIVESTRONG CEO Doug Ulman was also on the climb. The empowering work his organization does was tarnished by Armstrong's fall from grace. Doug had malignant melanoma twice when he was 19 years old, so he understands the need for an empowering community of people who have survived cancer and want to give back hope to those who are battling cancer.

Day 7 was summit day. All 16 climbers left camp in the morning darkness with head lamps on. It would be a ten hour climb to the top. Wendy Chioji developed a nose bleed. Above 19,000 feet, every step was a challenge. The strong bond between the climbers gave them strength. On average, 37% of climbers to attempt to climb Kilimanjaro reach the top.  Every climber fought their way to the top and ultimately all 16 climbers made it to the summit. They often put the needs of other climbers above their own. There are 32 million cancer survivors in the world. It is important not only to survive, but to thrive. Wendy said, "It was the most amazing, life changing experience of my life." Bree said, "You can do anything you set your mind to."

"Hope is a waking dream." - Aristotle

Saturday, September 19, 2015

After the Tone set the tone at TONE.

Art in Odd Places: TONE / Orlando  has taken over Downtown Orlando on Magnolia Avenue between Anderson and Washington Streets from September 17-20th. It is a public and visual performance art Festival that presents art in unexpected places. I went downtown on September 17th to see Brian Feldman, a performance artist from Washington D.C. who used to hail from Orlando. I saw him running to and from his car getting the elements for his simple set, a small table with red legs supporting a tiny potted plant, a phone message book, and an old rotary phone. The title of his performance piece was "... after the tone."

The premise of his performance is that people seldom leave voice messages anymore. Instead, they might leave a text or a message on any number of social media options. I am a case in point. I seldom notice if my phone rings and there are 44 unanswered voice messages that I need to get to. I tend to respond immediately to texts or Facebook messages, however. With so many ways to communicate, I sometimes lose track of which method was used if I need to go back and reread a message. Voice messages may indeed become extinct. 

Joe Rosier was the first patron to approach Brian's table. Brian asked him to name someone who would be least likely to pick up their phone. Brian then wrote down Joe's message on a phone message book. Then Brian asked what tone of voice he should use to deliver the voice message. If the person picked up the phone, Brian would immediately hang up. Sure enough, on the first call, the person picked up and Brian hung up. Joe kind of cheated by calling back and asking the person to not pick up. On the second try, Brian delivered a voice message of endearment in a sultry voice.

A young woman approached Brian who knew nothing about his performance or even who he was. She agreed to leave a message with an ex-boyfriend. Her message was fascinating. She wanted him to know that, "You'll get your $50 and you were never a good boyfriend, what makes you think you'd be a good friend?" Brian's angered mafia voice tone sent the message with perfection. Another young woman asked Brian to deliver a voice message to congratulate a friend who just landed a new job in Chicago. Brian did his best to deliver the message in a hardy Chicago accent. He practiced, saying "Duh Bears" several times. The message ended with, "Oh, and you're hot".

Another artist, Klimchak, guy rode by on a bicycle wearing a flame patterned cape playing a theremin with strong speakers to belt out the sci-fi vibes. It rained for a few minutes and I ran for cover across the street to hide under the arched doorways of the History Cente, leaping over 6 Spanish Moss nests which had bars of Tone soap in them. Three nests were empty. Barbara Hartley later explained that the artist, Dina Mack, had purchased many bars of soap and the missing nests would be refilled each night. Michael Heidmann offered me his umbrella so that I could finish my sketch. Thankfully, the rain stopped long enough for me to finish. I'm so glad Orlando is small enough for this kind of neighborly gesture.

The Greek Orthodox Church around the corner had a food share earlier in the evening. That meant that some people walking past Brian's performance piece were more concerned with finding a place to sleep rather than art. Across the street and up the block a bit, a man lay down on his back among the landscaping outside the History Center. Later on a fire engine and an ambulance showed up with their sirens and blinking lights. The man was placed on a stretcher and whisked away on the ambulance. Brian felt terrible that he hadn't called the ambulance. With 50 or so art projects going on, I thought the man might have been a performance artist or maybe he was a homeless man taking a nap before police told him to move along. Being from NYC I'm kind of used to seeing people asleep on sidewalks. Never faint or collapse in a city setting. No one will notice.

After sketching Brian, I went to see an artist who was sealed inside a Plexiglas box. He was sketching his view from inside the box using day glow markers. Four large black lights illuminated him. Yellow plumbing elbows were all around the AT&T building and one of them had a matching elbow with a fist sticking out of it. On the corner of Washington and Magnolia, a 6 foot high board had an American flag and a gun range human silhouette with a target made with flowers. A black hand made from plywood reached up towards the cloudy sky. In the History Center Park, Halee Sommer showed me a storage pod that was set up as a darkroom where anyone could enter to learn how to develop black and white prints from negatives. My older brothers used to develop film in the basement and the smell of the chemicals brought memories flooding back. Amazingly, I only saw a fraction of the art on display. The Tone themed art continued all the way down to the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. As I walked back to my car, I passed a man asleep in an entryway to the AT&T building and kept on walking. Be sure to get downtown and experience TONE for yourself.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Picks for September 19th and 20th.

Saturday September 19, 2015
11am to 9pm Free. Art in Odd Places (Tone) Orlando, FL - Downtown, Magnolia St. from Anderson St. to Washington St. Tone is a visual and performance public art festival to take place on September 17-20 in downtown Orlando. Florida. Artworks and performances will engage and collaborate with the public and public spaces from artists of all disciplines, experiences and mediums.

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

7pm to 9pm Free. The Orlando Shuffle. Beardall Senior Center, 800 Delaney Avenue, Orlando, FL. Between Orange and Delaney Avenues. The Orlando Shuffle is always free, family-friendly, and fun. It takes place the 1st and 3rd Saturdays every month. Come play, learn, or just hangout. Retro attire is encouraged.

Sunday September 20, 2015
11am to 4pm Free. Art in Odd Places (Tone) Orlando, FL - Downtown, Magnolia St. from Anderson St. to Washington St. Tone is a visual and performance public art festival to take place on September 17-20 in downtown Orlando. Florida. Artworks and performances will engage and collaborate with the public and public spaces from artists of all disciplines, experiences and mediums.

5:30pm to ? $10 Southern Fried Sunday Country Covers Edition and Food Drive for Ferncreek Elementary. Wills Pub 1042 N Mills Ave, Orlando, Florida.  SFS is a special Country Covers edition of Southern Fried Sunday with performances by Giddy Up Go, Brian Chodorcoff and Bruce Schweizer, Rickey Dicken sand The Revival, Bobby Sanders Band, Tampa's Will Quinlan, Jackson Rodgers & Stephen Rock with Guests, Bradenton's Blue Mason Barter, Brian Chodorcoff and Wheeler Newman and Kaci-Jo Hibbard with Guests playing sets of tunes by some of country music's most well known musicians at Will's Pub and lil indies.
As always Free BBQ Dinner complements of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Poca's Hottest and chef'd up by Mykal Williams will be served to all in attendance until it's gone.
Doors at 5:30pm, Dinner at 6:30pm, get there early to get it!
This event is a food drive in conjunction with 1 in 4 Strike Against Hunger Project to help provide non-perishable food for the children of Ferncreek Elementary w/ $2 off the $10 cover with donation.

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.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Film Lester was screened at the White House.

Lester is a film written and directed by Banks Helfrich which was shot in Orlando.  This screening at the White House was the premiere screening of the film. What was thrilling for me was seeing so many familiar faces of actors I have sketched around the Orlando Arts scene. Another thing that struck me was how beautiful the Florida sky is when it is put on film.

Lester is a compulsive list maker, he loves legs. With the aid of four eccentric bike shop workmates, Lester sets out to find if he's remembered. To say Lester is quirky would be an understatement. Then again every character in the film is unique and quirky. Richard Regan Paul plays Lester. He runs an improvisational comedy class. The film interlaces interviews of people who talk about what it was like to meet Lester. In this way his existence is verified by peoples memories. In each Banks Helrich film I've seen, a beautiful red headed women plays an important roll. Kristen Wharton plays a woman who recognizes Lester, but after interacting with her, even being kissing by her, Lester realizes that she mistook him for someone else.

In a rather humorous scene, an actress enters the bike shop to ask advice. She was shot from the shoulders down and it was fun to watch the staff since they didn't know where they should look. When Lester rides his bike to a dance studio, he looks in to watch the students going through rather robotic movements. In a mall, he approaches a woman and asks if he can simply hold her leg. This odd request makes her feel young while it might have been off putting to others. We all hope to live on in others memories and Lester lives on in the memories of the people whose lives he touched.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bring Your Own Beamer at the Maitland Art Center

Bring Your Own Beamer Orlando was a one night gallery exhibition featuring explosions of light and movement by local and world renowned digital artists, designers and filmmakers. This is pop up projected experience included animated GIFs, motion graphics, interactive installations, video shorts, and more. BYOB Orlando is a collaborative effort by Snap! Orlando, and the Art and History Museum with Nathan Selikoff and Michael Forrest as the curators.It took place in the Germain Marvel Building, Art and History Museum campus (231 East Packwood Avenue, Maitland, FL).

Even more more important, the exhibit fell on my birthday, so I treated myself to a unique sketching experience. Since the show was all about high tech projections, I decided to execute my sketch on my tablet. I figured that way I would sort of blend in. It was tricking finding a spot where I wasn't blocking a projection beam. I sat right next to the projector that threw an animation of a view that looked like the camera was flying over a city of colorful cubes. I was most intrigued by  Ivan Depeña's piece which consisted of a blue screen that would explode like colorful fireworks when people walked in front of it. All evening children and adults moved in front of the screen to watch the color dance. On the floor was a tiny TV. I couldn't make out what was being shown but later when i got a drink, I met Carl Kickerbocker and he explained that the TV was showing one off his animated shorts. I decided to go back and I sat down in front of the TV to watch. Another projection was sampling colors from around the room and vibrations from a pan of water drove the image frequencies projected. I'm probably explaining that wrong, but it looked cool. This really was a world class exhibit. Exhibitions like this have occurred all around the world in cities like Moscow, Begota, Firenza,  NYC and Copenhagen to name a few. It is good to see Orlando catching up to the World art scene.

Artists in the Orlando BYOB exhibit included,

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Rusty Pliers shocked the crowd at Stardust Video and Coffee.

Saw Ewing was a lead cleanup artist at Disney Feature Animation. I worked under his guidance on the character Koda in Brother Bear. After Disney closed the Florida animation studio, I started work at Full Sail University and I worked closely with Sam as we taught college students the principles of animation using traditional pencils and paper. Sam had a dream of someday becoming a writer. He left Full Sail to follow that dream. I was happy to hear that Sam started a blog titled "Rusty Pliers."

Soon everyone referred to Sam as Rusty Pliers. I wondered what the moniker meant. My thought was that each artist that worked for Disney was a tool. For the duration we were tools with a set purpose, to create ageless films. When the studio was shut down there was little need for Animators who draw. We were discarded tools left to rust (rusty pliers) until we found new outlets for our talents. The Florida humidity has caused all the tools in my tool chest to rust. It is unavoidable with age.

This reading at Stardust Video and Coffee set the record straight. When Rusty Pliers got on the stage, he had an eye patch that made him look a bit like a pirate. He started reading tentatively at first outlining his early dreams of becoming an animator.  Half way into the reading he took a moment to adjust his eye patch. He moved it from his left eye to his right eye which caused laughter to erupt. "That's so much better." he said. "I didn't realize there were so many of you out there." It was a full house. Standing room only.

Rusty then read about his next career move into the porn industry. This is apparently a hard industry to break into. It was during the filming of a hot kitchen sex scene where rusty earned his name. He discovered some pliers on the set and he worked them into the scene in kinky ways best left to the imagination. When the scene had reached it's climax the director shouted, "You are going to be a star!" He wasn't referring to the actors however. He was referring to the rusty pliers.

When the reading was over, my sketch was done. Back by the bar, there was a table full of former Disney colleagues. John Pierro has been doing a painting a day of his quirky and somewhat sinister intertwining figures. Merritt Andrews has been working for Universal Studios the past few years. Pam Darley turned me on to a bar her husband loves called the Brass Tap and I hope to go there on a Drink And Draw outing soon. Darko Cesar and his wife Mirjana were there as well. Darko is discovering how to use TV Paint which is the industry standard for producing traditional animation using a digital tablet. Kathy Blacmore is still teaching art to kids and illustrating children's books. It was awesome to see Rusty Pliers laughing with friends. I had one grapefruit flavored beer and since I'm a light weight drinker, I laughed at even the simplest jokes. I was just happy to be surrounded by so much talent.

Monday, September 14, 2015

ODD3 had about 15 artists drinking, drawing and collaborating.

The third Orlando Drink and Draw (ODD3) fell on Labor Day. Artists were to meet at Redlight Redlight (2810 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL). I was afraid there might be holiday hours so I searched the web and found out the bar would be open from 5:30pm to 9:30pm. Since artists would start arriving around 6pm, I could relax. I went to see the movie Mission Impossible Rouge Nation, so I ended up arriving about an hour late. When I arrived,I bumped into Gay Geiger who was getting napkins from the food truck parked in front of Redlight Redlight. The building used to be a refrigeration sales store and the signage is still out front. The bar signage uses the same colors so it all blends in.

Gay was in the back room of the bar with her daughter. I glanced through her daughter's sketch journal latter that night and there was a stunning collage of characters from the Japanese animated film "My Neighbor Totoro."  I ran my fingers over the image to feel the amazing depth created. After that image I explored every page as if searching for Braille messages. This is what I love about this monthly event, I always get to discover and meet amazing artists.

In the front room Carlos Basabe was at a long table in the corner along with about 6 other artists. There was one seat available but when I sat in it, I found myself blinded by a projector which was projecting an image on the wall behind me. The blinding light wouldn't do so I set up at a table near by. Colin Boyer and a friend sat at my table. I'm learning names slowly and sent around a sign in sheet that I forgot about, so it was left behind. Once I started my sketch I was lost in thought. I started my sketch by drawing Brian OHalloran at the end of the bar lightly in pencil. A young couple sat at the table in front of Brian blocking my view. They became my center of interest. Brian did a digital sketch of the beer he was drinking. Later in the evening he took a picture of the bar maid and he took a shot of me at work. Brian is now doing a series of sketches of people.

I made a small accordion sketchbook and invited any interested artists to fill a page or two. When the sketch is unfurled you can see the stream of consciousness as each sketch builds off of the sketch preceding it. I'll bring the sketch to the next ODD event since it is a work in progress. Two young women were visiting Orlando from Walla Walla, Washington state and they heard about the event and joined us for the evening. They had bright markers and they added a splash of color to the nights sketch. Artists came an went in waves. All told I would say about 16 artists came out to mingle, drink and draw. I got to meet artists I'd never met before so to me the evening was a success.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Julie Norris moves from the Homestead.

In March of 2006 Julie and Chris Blanc established Dandelion Communitea cafe. It is a beloved organic cafe located in the heart of Orlando, Florida which serves healthy vegetarian fare and premium loose leaf tea. It is a landmark establishment attracting loyal locals as well as health conscious tourists. More than just a cafe, Dandelion is a gathering place for a diverse cross-section of people in the community with regular cultural events such as art openings, poetry night, eco-networking, moon circles, and other special events.

Julie Norris' homestead was less than a quarter mile from Dandilion. She had turned the Homestead into a place that brought people together as a community. Anytime I visited, I felt welcome. Julie made anyone and everyone feel at home. On December 30th she had to load her belongings onto a U-Haul truck.  The community that she had helped build now came to help her. Julie and Her daughter Maya stayed at friends homes until the lawsuit was settled. She now lives in Deland returning to Orlando once a week to host her radio show, Front Porch Radio. On that show she helps showcase and amplify voices that don't have a regular outlet. Sadly the homestead has since been torn down, being replaced by a townhouse.

"It's been a tough ten years" Julie said. She was just 26 when she established the Cafe with Chris Blanc. Then came the recession followed by an expensive drawn out lawsuit between the partners. Chris  filed to have the company dissolved due to what court documents say were management issues. Julie said that she wants to resolve the situation rather than dissolve the company, which could potentially put Dandelion out of business. This culminated in an expensive law suit that dragged on for well over a year.

Earlier this year the case was resolved and Julie gave up her stake in the company. She is now free to pursue other creative endeavors. Dandelion is still serving tea and hosting art events. From a post at, Julie explained, "It is with a light and liberated heart that I share the news that I am no longer an owner of Dandelion Communitea Cafe, having recently signed a settlement."

Julie has taken some much needed time this summer to  travel with her daughter Maya. The friends she visited helped pay for the trips. One thing she came away with after all the stress of the lawsuit is that she is loved. She found out that the friends who stand by you in the hard times are your true friends. Julie is bubbling with ideas about what creative path she wants to follow next. She is a graphic designer and she is passing that skill on to her daughter. It is a mother and daughter apprenticeship. She also has ideas for three separate businesses she would like to establish. Each project moving forward is intended to empower the women who help her run and grow the business. Julie learned much from the experiences in court that will help her new projects to succeed.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Robert Johnson tears it up on the Mushroom Stage.

0n November 29th, Terry and I went to Kim Bucheit's 24 hour "Old Sport" or "Black Friday Boycott" party. When it got dark, Robert Johnson set up his equipment on the Mushroom Stage. Blue Christmas lights were strung out on the stage and larger warm bulbs were hung around the periphery of the tent. Solar bulbs illuminated each of the 4 corner supports. About 15 feet from the tent a large bonfire snapped and glowed. For several songs Robert was joined by drummers who set the primal beat.

Robert has two original songs that I absolutely love. One is about an artist painting his masterpiece and the other is an ode to Orlando. Robert draws most of his influence from the road. He is a poet, writer, producer, and visual artist. For the past 3 years, he has spent his time recording demos for upcoming projects, and touring through America and parts of Europe. His solo sound is that of a gypsy-pop folk singer heavily influenced by American music of the 50’s; soul singers; and Euro gypsy music. Between sets, Robert offered me some of the good stuff to help me loosen up my line work. When the music died, everyone gathered around the fire to tell stories.

Some partiers had their tents. Terry and I had our sleeping bags and Kim was kind enough to find us some floor space.  The younger crowd stayed up all night keeping the fire burning. In the morning the fire kept us warm as we enjoyed mimosas and muffins By next year this stage will have been taken over by bulldozers to make way for a new parkway. Old Sport and Old Florida are slowly becoming things of the past.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Pick for September 12th and 13th.

Saturday September 12, 2015
10am to Noon Free. Understanding the Quilts of Gee's Bend. Winter Park Public Library, 460 E New England Ave, Winter Park, FL. As part of the opening weekend celebration for two new quilt exhibitions, there will be a public talk with featured quilt artist Louisiana Bendolph of the Gee's Bend Quilt Collective. Bendolph will be joined by her mother, Rita Mae Pettway, also an acclaimed Gee's Bend quilter.
Atlanta-based Matt Arnett of Tinwood Media, a photographer, filmmaker and researcher, also will join the presentation.

2pm to 7pm  $50 Imagination ~ A Creative Workshop with Artist Toni Taylor. Gods and Monsters 5250 International Drive; Suite E8, Orlando, Florida. Toni's first workshop at Gods & Monsters! In this workshop, she will guide you to exercise your imagination by turning an inanimate object into a living creature. This project will help you to step out of the box as you explore the possibilities. Once you're comfortable with your design, you'll transfer and paint it on a 16x20 canvas which will be provided along with water base paints and brushes. It's great for beginners, intermediates and experienced artists as well!
Gods & Monsters offers water, juice, wine and craft beer at their concession if you'd like to have a sip while you create. So have some fun while you bring something cool to life with Toni!
Fee: $50 covers 5 hr workshop, canvas and paint
List of materials to bring:
Sketch pad or drawing paper
Pencils, eraser
Your preferred brushes or paint
This takes place during the last week of Toni's 'Starchild's Odyssey' exhibit so it will be a great opportunity to view before it closes!

6:30pm to 10pm $20 VIP/ $15 General Admission/$10 Students. Play-In-A-Day 2015. Lake Howell High School, 4200 Dike Road, Winter Park, FL (Next to big Silver Hawk Statue) Enter thru Cafeteria). Kick-Off the 2015-16 Beth Marshall Presents season with our annual community favorite theatrical event, Play-In-A-Day. Over 100 artists work together to create short plays that are fully presented within the course of a 24-hours. (Partial Proceeds benefit the Beth Marshall Presents District 3 High School Scholarship Fund).
Tickets on sale now at
Or at Box Office on the night of event at Lake Howell beginning at 6pm.

Sunday September 13, 2015
Noon to 4pm Free. Educator Open House and Book Fair. Bookmark It 3201 Corrine Drive, Suite 109, Orlando, Florida. At Bookmark It we believe that creating a personal connection to books is one of the best ways to instill a love of reading in a child. So to kick off the school year, and provide educators an opportunity create programming that brings local, accomplished writers into the school or classroom, we have invited over 20 Central Florida authors/illustrators to join us for a special Central Florida Educators Open House/Book Fair on Sunday, September 13th from noon-4pm in East End Market’s beautiful APEX meeting space.
The casual open house setting will allow teachers to meet authors in person, preview (and purchase) their titles, collect school visit information, and review any specially designed curriculum or teaching tools that accompany their books. Rounding out the event will be a special pop-up ‘bookstore’ for school purchases offering a 20% educators discount and free school delivery for special orders.
Additionally, representatives from local, award-winning non-profit will be available for questions regarding their free after school programming for at-risk kids and annual creative writing teen anthology contest.

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

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.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A 24 Hour "Old Sport Party" in Sorrento FL.

The Old Sport party was also known as the Black Friday Boycott Party. The Wekiva Parkway is due to come through Kim Bucheit's property by this time next year, so friends went to enjoy Wise Acre Farm while they were able. It was time to make plans to chill out and share fun at Wise Acre Farm Thanksgiving weekend! Many of you "card carrying" party goers know the drill. If you have been meaning to come out to the farm, this is an ideal opportunity to enjoy it while it lasts (before the Wekiva Parkway goes through). It's a 24 hour extravaganza with something for everyone. Friends dropped in whenever it suited them, while others started early and went the distance.

In my sketch, friends were just beginning to gather on the porch. A propane heater and a bunch of solar lights had been purchased for the party. The solar lamps leaned toward the sun to catch the rays. There was a corn hole tournament and after the sun set, a bonfire was built for everyone to gather around. The open garage was where the bar was set up.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Black Friday Vendor Sale at Fashion Square Mall.

On November 28th, 2014 there was a Black Friday Artist Vendor Sale at Fashion Square Mall hosted by The Culture Xchange Gallery And Marketplace 3201 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, Florida. The sale was open to all Local Vendors of Arts and Crafts, Local Fashion Brands and Local Bands and Musicians.

I searched the Mall hoping to get a sketch of this vibrant local marked. What I found was a small assortment of artists at maybe 10 tables. Some canvases were simply leaning against a wall. None of the art interested me. I decided to leave but from the second level I found this great view of this bungee trampoline. The kids lined up to use it. The assistant would buckle all the harnesses and then she would press a button which would slowly tighten the bungee chords using a truck winch which would launch the child higher. As parents waited nervously, he would scream for more until fear overtook joy and then she would ease up, bringing the child back down to earth with progressively smaller jumps.

The art market vendors can be seen in the background of the sketch so I can say that I found what I was looking for. I found the Art Market a bit depressing, but Orlando will always find ways to trill and excite as long as you keep looking.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Falcon and Gallery is a haven for local artists.

The Falcon Bar and Gallery (819 E Washington St, Orlando, FL) always has local art to see. The shows usually have a theme. There was recently a Bill Murry themed show and I sketched a local actress and dancer for a show titled Porn. I went to the first social media Round table hosted by Mark Baratelli at IZEA and Melissa Marie, the Falcons owner was there. As a local business owner, she realized early on that social media is the way to promote business. Her bartenders are encouraged to use Snap Chat to share happenings at the bar with friends. I didn't even realize snap chat existed. Social Media keeps changing so fast, I need to keep up.

Mondays at the Falcon is for the men. Tuesdays are for locals, there is trivia, Uberbahn, open mics and DJs on most days of the week. On Sunday nights at 9pm there are the "Fear the Walking Dead" watch parties. You have to love a bar that caters to zombie loving patrons like myself.  If there is a zombie apocolipse, I'll be ready with a sharp sword and a sketchbook. Once a month, Mystery Sketch Theater, now hosted by Plinio Pinto, is a great way to loosen up and sketch cos-play models for $5. If you are a voyeur like me, the Falcon will satiate that guilty pleasure and your thirst. Now that I'm hosting Orlando Drink and Draw (ODD) on the first Monday of each month, I need to find out if the Falcon will host the growing band of vagabond artists one month.

Mark your calendar! The next event at the Falcon is DJ Lavidicus on Sunday September 11th starting at 9pm. Come out to hear the very best in Industrial, Goth, EBM, Synthpop and Darkwave. Everyone knows where they were on September 11th of 2009. If you drink enough this night, you might not remember as clearly. Never a cover, always a good time! (21+) If you check my AADW calendar, you will always find Falcon events in the mix.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Spamaot costumes get some loving care.

I went to the Orlando Shakespeare Theater (12 E Rollins St, Orlando, Florida), to sketch the preparations for the upcoming production of Spamalot. At the entrance to the theater, the giant Trojan Rabbit held a Spamalot banner. Jeff Ferree who built the bunny, works in the scene shop and advised me on the sketch options. He was working on a series of four inch deep wooden clouds that will illuminate thanks to a string of old fashioned big bulbed Christmas lights. It was a daunting job with the all the graceful jig saw cuts needed. He showed me the set which was insanely colorful and over the top like a Las Vegas production. The entire proscenium was surrounded by large bulbs like a marquee.

Jeff told me that all the costumes were rented from the national tour of the show. He walked me to the costume shop and that is where I settled. All the costumes suffered from constant wear and tear and close to a dozen seamstresses were at work repairing the damage. Each costume had to also be adjusted to fit the actors. Twice actors came in to have their measurements taken. I was graciously set up at a table near the air conditioning unit and I was warned that when it kicks on it can be quite loud. I was deep into the sketch when it burst to life. I almost jumped out of my skin.

Jeff searched the costume shop on a quest to find the golden crown worn by Tim Curry in the original Broadway production of the show. Unlike King Arthur, his quest was a success. With some coaxing he got me to wear the sacred coronet. The original  Broadway show opened in 2005. The book and lyrics are by Eric Idle and the music is by John Du Prez and Eric Idle The production won the Tony Award for Best Musical and was nominated for 14 Tony Awards. The final performance was in January of 2009. After 35 previews and 1,575 performances; it was seen by more than two million people and grossed over $175 million, recouping its initial production costs in under six months.

The Lady of the Lakes wears the gorgeous green gown with the sea shell shaped bustier.  An artificial leg sat on a table encased in armor. This clearly must be the leg of the dark knight who looses his leg in a sword fight only to claim it as a flesh wound. An armored breast plate stood next to the leg. A hole was later plumped to some flexible PVC tubing which I suspect will be used to spew blood. On the table next to me, an artificial head wore a knights helmet. A bulky shoulder piece had loose tubing and meaty viscera in the gaping neck wound. I believe this knight fell pray to a killer rabbit attack.

A delicate white gown was covered in sequins requiring hours of intricate repair. A multi layered garment with a rainbow of ruffly frills turned out to be vivacious and bouncy sleeves worthy of Carmen Miranda. Clearly this is not a show about subtly. The title of the play comes from a line in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, "We eat ham, and jam, and Spam a lot."

The Orlando production of Spamalot opens on September 9th and runs through October 11th.  Be sure to get your tickets now. I suspect many performances will sell out.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Jingle Eve offers gift options in Ivanhoe Village.

Jingle Eve happen every December in Ivanhoe Village. All the shops on Virginia Avenue are open late and Mark Baratelli's Food Truck Bazaar supplies the food. I had to pick up a painting from Bare Foot Spa which is on Virginia so I got a sketch and an errand done with one trip. Artist John Glassman Gardner discussed a project he started in which he pays artists to fill a page in a sketchbook. I offered to fill a page, but the sketchbook is still making the rounds in some artists studio.You might notice that even in December, Orlandoens dress in T Shirts, shorts and sandals. You gotta love that.

I didn't buy anything on this sketch outing but I discovered a glass shop that had all the tools and supplies needed to create stained glass windows. Bare Foot Spa (801 Virginia Dr, Orlando, Florida) always has exhibits of local artists in the front room. An exhibit curated by Parker Sketch will be opening this Saturday September 9th from 6pm to 9pm. The show is titled Television and it features art of television personalities, art of televisions, art of anything related to televisions. Here you will see classic television shows, cartoon characters, Atari, the evening news, and more. This show features 30 pieces of art by 17 different artists. I submitted one sketch done of Brian Feldman on the evening that all the analog signals were switched off. He had one analog TV for each station and one by one the sets switched to static. On that day if you had an analog TV, it became a relic and you had to go out and buy a digital TV. I wonder how much TV sales spiked around the country on that day. Anyway, stop on out to the opening if you are in Ivanhoe Village that day and say hi.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Reading Between the Wines was a hugely sucessful fundraiser for the Adult Literacy League.

Reading Between the Wines was held at the Orlando Science Center on March 22nd. The evening began with wine samples so patrons could wet their palette. Joyce, the executive Director of the Adult Literary League gathered patrons to their seats to introduce the evening. The League teaches adults how to read. One of the students became curious about my sketch and he introduced himself. His name was Eugine Curtis and he grew up looking at comics that he couldn't read. Heidi Cullen was another student who kept an eye on the future. Thanks to the Literary League she was able to pass her drivers test. Another 80 year old student is now able to stay fully connected being able to read in the digital age.

An auction was held in which people didn't bid on items, but instead raised their hand to bit what they could afford. The bidding went up to $3500 and then someone offered a matching bid that would match what had been raised so far.  The author who was brought in to talk to the audience was Tim Dorsey. He writes quirky books that delve into the twisted mind of a serial killer.As he put it, "The difference between a genius and a a lunatic is that genius has its limits. He told a story about how it is easy to get distracted when public speaking. He was facing an audience and noticed one guy in the back of the room who was looking at porn on his computer. This of course distracted Tim's train of thought. Luckily no one at Reading Between the Wines had a laptop open. The former Tampa Tribune reporter, originally from Riviera Beach, writes humorous crime novels featuring recurring character Serge A. Storms. Every story Tim told on stage Was hilarious, so I suspect his books must be a fun read.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Picks for September 12th and 13th.

Saturday September 12, 2015
 9am to 3pm Free. Sanford Farmers Market. Sanford on First & Magnolia. Weekly on Saturday.

6:30pm to 10:30pm $20 VIP/ $15 General Admission/$10 Students Play-In-A-Day 2015. Lake Howell High School, 4200 Dike Road, Winter Park, FL. Kick-Off the 2015-16 Beth Marshal Presents season with our annual community favorite theatrical event, Play-In-A-Day. Over 100 artists work together to create short plays that are fully presented within the course of a 24-hours.

9:30pm to 11:30pm Free but get some food and drink.  Son Flamenco. Hot blooded Spanish Flamenco dancing. Ceviche Tapas Orlando, 125 W Church St, Orlando, FL. Weekly on Saturday.

Sunday September 13, 2015
Noon to 4:30pm Free Family Day. The Mennello Museum of American Art, 900 East Princeton Street, Orlando, FL. The make-and-take craft table is open from noon-2:30 p.m., and docents are available to give mini-tours of the museum. Then it's open house in the galleries until 4:30 p.m.

Noon to 4pm Free. Educator Open House & Book Fair. Bookmark It 3201 Corrine Drive, Suite 109, Orlando, Florida. At Bookmark It we believe that creating a personal connection to books is one of the best ways to instill a love of reading in a child. So to kick off the school year, and provide educators an opportunity create programming that brings local, accomplished writers into the school or classroom, we have invited over 20 Central Florida authors/illustrators to join us for a special Central Florida Educators Open House/Book Fair on Sunday, September 13th from noon-4pm in East End Market’s beautiful APEX meeting space.
The casual open house setting will allow teachers to meet authors in person, preview (and purchase) their titles, collect school visit information, and review any specially designed curriculum or teaching tools that accompany their books. Rounding out the event will be a special pop-up ‘bookstore’ for school purchases offering a 20% educators discount and free school delivery for special orders.
Additionally, representatives from local, award-winning non-profit will be available for questions regarding their free after school programming for at-risk kids and annual creative writing teen anthology contest.

1pm to 3pm $5 Film Slam. Enzian Theater, South Orlando Avenue, Maitland, FL. Originally a project of University of Central Florida's Downtown Media Arts Center, Enzian became the home of FilmSlam when DMAC closed in 2006. Now in its fifth year at Enzian, FilmSlam continues to be a popular outlet for indie and student filmmakers throughout the State of Florida.
FilmSlam will usually be held on the second Sunday of each month at 1PM at Enzian.
Come Celebrate Independents Day!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Artists explore Mummies of the World.

Mummies of the World is now at the Orlando Science Center (777 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL).
Weeks before I had met a little girl who had been on a field trip to the Mummies exhibit. I asked her if any of the mummies were wrapped in bandages with their arms raised like in the movies. She explained that only one mummy was wrapped. Having seen the real thing, she thought it silly to think that mummies should roam the earth. From the gift shop she had purchased little pills that would turn into dinosaurs when moistened. I warned her that she should make sure she was outside when she dropped the pills into water since dinosaurs can be huge.

A mummy is the dead body of an animal or a human that been preserved after death so that it does not decompose. To be considered a mummy and not just a skeleton, the body must keep some of its soft tissue, such as its hair, skin or muscles. The exhibit had shrunken heads, Egyptian mummies, Peruvian mummies, medical specimens and many mummies that were preserved naturally.

I walked the exhibit quickly in search of my sketch opportunities. Science Center staff who were also artists had been invited to sketch mummies on this day. They were in strategic locations throughout the exhibit and each of them was sketching a different specimen. Their creations will ultimately become an original work of art that will be displayed in the exhibit once it’s completed. In the Burns Collection room, I was fascinated by David Matteson who was hunched over his book doing erasure poetry inspired by the screaming mummy. He said that Edmund Munch created Der Schrei der Natur ("The Scream of Nature") after observing a mummy similar to this one. I don't know if this is fact or fiction, but this mummy with its bony fingers raised up to its face does indeed look like it is screaming. He was working in a book about mortality rather than a sketchbook. He darkened lines of copy or individual words to find hidden poems within the books copy. His piece will address our morbid fascination with death and how we all fear and then must ultimately accept this inescapable truth.

Adam Wade Lavigne, the Science Center's facility assistant, introduced himself. I'm always surprised and pleased when another artist knows about my sketching obsession.He was doing an amazing sketch of a mummies upper torso that was very accurate and expressive. I admired how large he was working.

A third artist, Jake White, the development director for the Science Center, was sketching the prone mummy behind David, but he lost interest and decided to sketch a Peruvian child that had been found in a basket naturally preserved by the dry heat. The child's skull had been elongated by being pressed between two boards. These elongated skulls were considered beautiful at the time. Royalty would employ a third board which would create a pointed skull. The brain ultimately adapts expanding into the heightened skull with no ill effects to reasoning or intelligence. The mummy had been CT scanned and a computer created the skeleton and the skull as 3D computer prints. The bones had markings that hinted that the child had experienced malnutrition and stress.

Don't miss this rare opportunity to stare death in the face and learn about ancient cultures. Mummies will be at the Science Center with a limited time engagement through the fall.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

DRIP Local Art Nights are a hidden gem on International Dive.

Drip Local Art Nights are always fun. On this evening I sketched Allure A. Abelo as she danced in the Drip paint can shower. Allure isn't a Drip Dancer but she was fine with dancing in the green paint. I always admire anyone who shares their art with abandon. Anytime I sketch at drip, I find myself using colors with pure intensity and brightness.

Dancers from BalaChandra Belly Dance also performed, using the main bar area as their stage. I admire the way they catch the audiences attention, not just with the amazing fluid hip movements, but with sly knowing smiles.

If there is a cutting edge performer in Orlando you will likely find them at Drip Art Nights. They usually occur on the 4th Thursday of every month. Since there are so many visual artists and performers, my sketching opportunities are limitless. The increasing popularity of the event is however, making it hard for me to find a spot to sketch without seeing a wall of peoples backs and butts. To date I've always found an angle that works.

My drink of choice for the evening was angry orchards and there was a fabulous $5 taco bar with all the fixings.

I bumped into Allure at my exhibition opening at Winter Park's City Hall. She is active in the urban dance scene and plans to sponsor future events. B-Boy dance competitions are incredible to sketch so I'm hoping she plans to bring more of that energy to Orlando.