Monday, February 15, 2016

The Mardi Gras Soiree at Dexter's of Winter Park.


I got to Dexter's of Winter Park (558 W New England Ave, Winter Park, Florida) fairly early to get a table with a decent view of the band. I explained that I needed to sketch and the Maitra d' set me up front and center.  Fat Tuesday was being celebrated in grand style with a fantastic celebration of life and music. The Brown Bag Brass Band was already playing New Orleans standards loud and proud. I had received a text from Frankie Messina earlier in the day about the Mardi Gras Soiree. A friend from my past who I worked with over 30 years ago at Zip Mailing, is snow birding in Winter Park for several months. I told her about the Soiree and she had to weight her options between a Condo Association meeting or Mardi Gras. She arrived as I was finishing up my first sketch.

One of the patrons at the table next to me had a decibel reading app on his smart phone. He pointed it out to me and the needle kept spiking to over 103 decibels. The woman with him liked my sketch and I typed my site URL onto her smart phone. She said she could set me up with new clients. I really should always carry business cards A woman seated next to my friend shouted in her ear. The two of them were the first to get up to dance as I kept sketching.

The second act was Louisianna's own Beth McKee and the Local Brass Band Heroes.  Fat Tire Beer was offering specials all night, so that is what I drank to loosen up the line work. Beth's band got everyone in Dexter's on their feet. With my second sketch done, I had to get up and dance as well to "When the Saints Go Marching In". Beth asked the Brown Bag Brass Band to join in and we were all dancing only inches from the musicians. Frankie got on the dance floor and gave me a high five.

When all the festivities died down, my friend and I got a chance to talk at length. Catching up on 30 plus years of history takes time. I had no idea that she had become an artist since the last time I saw her, and I scrolled through her art on my cell phone. She creates intricate worlds with flowing volumetric forms. Some feel like intimate looks inside of living organisms. Colors were vibrant and though abstract, the work seemed familiar and alive. Round canvases give some of the paintings a calming appeal. At Zip Mail in Tenafly NJ, we were trained to become machines who collated, tied and moved a constant stream of junk mail. From that industrial crucible it is amazing that art managed to take root and thrive.

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