Sunday, January 31, 2016

Monday Night Jazz Jam at Bar Louie.


On the first Monday of each month, Bar Louie (7335 W. Sand Lake Rd. Orlando, Fl) comes alive with some of Orlando's top Musicians and Vocalists performing live Jazz. Some of the talent is Internationally known. The show features Joseph Jevanni on the Keys, Jacqueline Jones doing Vocals, Carl Lewis on the Sax, Doc on trumpet, Franklin on flute, Jerome on the drums and many more. the evening is hosted by Yvonne Coleman, MNJJ Co-Founder and Radio Personality Jazzy103.com

I arrived at around 7:30pm and the musicians were setting up the stage. Yvonne welcomed me warmly and suggested I sit in the area set aside for musicians between sets. Musicians and vocalist rotated throughout the night on stage. These Jane performers are a warm tightly knit community. Some singers including Jacqueline Jones are in their golden years but like a fine wine, age only enriches their musical spirit and love of life.

Carol Stein got on stage and performed on the keys. With one song, she didn't know all the lyrics, so she made up lyrics on the fly to hilarious effect. She and Jacqueline are board members of the Steinway Piano Society for Under Privileged Youth. This charity supplies pianos and piano lessons to underprivileged children who might otherwise never be exposed to music. All tips went to the Steinway Piano Society. Each month money is raised for some local charity.

This sketch was actually sold to John Glassman Gardner even before it was created. John has a large hand bound sketchbook with rough  watercolor paper. He hires an artist to fill a spread and then hands it off to another artist. When it is filled, it will be quite a collectors item. I'm honored to be the second artist to contribute to the sketchbook. The first artist was Pekar, who painted a sexy green Medusa in 2010.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Jim Ivy's Tangled Bell Ensemble at Avalon Island


The In-between Series is held at The Gallery at Avalon Island (39 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, Florida) features unique musical acts in the art gallery when one art show has come down and another is about to be mounted. In May, the gallery hosted Jim Ivy's Tangled Bell Ensemble. The performance used the early 20th century poetry work of Japanese author Akiko Yosano as inspiration for the performance entitled “Midaregami" (Tangled Hair). Jim, who performed on saxophone and acted as the conductor, assembled a cast of 11 members. Many of these performers met for the first time that evening.

Though structured, since there was sheet music, the evening also featured mystical and haunting improvisation. Several Buddhist prayer bowls and a hanger found their way into the music mix. The Japanese lyrics added to the my site of the orchestrated store that unfolded. Wires flowed like tangled hair from sound boards and the electronic signals were mixed by a sound man working on his laptop. When the singer stepped up to the mic, the piece felt operatic in scope.

Improvisation shifted from one band member to the next with unexpected twists and turns. Ivy let loose on his sax in a joyous explosion. However, much of the performance was abstract and tinted with sadness. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Weekend Top 6 Picks for January 30th and 31st.

Saturday January 30, 2016
10am to 6pm $11.  Melborne Renaissance Fair. All weekend. Wickham Park 2500 Parkway Drive Melborne FL. http://brevardrenaissancefair.com/contact/directions/

8pm to 10pm Free. Star Wars Mash-Up Art Show. The Falcon Bar and Gallery  819 E Washington St, Orlando, Florida. Art show curated by The Art of Plinio Pinto!
Bianca Roman-Stumpff
Brandon Geurts
Danny Haas
Dawn Schreiner
DJ Clulow
Dwayne Broughton
Gina Marie
Herb Zischkau IV
Josh Otterbacher
Keith Carlson
Keith P. Rein
Mike Victa
Melissa Olson
Nathaniel Rios (2nes Unoe)
Plinio Pinto

8:30pm to 10:30pm Free. Open Mic. The Geek Easy 114 S. Semoran Blvd Suite #6, Winter Park, Florida.  Featuring Amy Watkins and Superhero Poetry. Open to all: Musicians-Lyricists-Artists-and Poets of all kinds. Bring out the cape and have some fun. http://poetry.meetup.com/362/

Sunday January 31, 2016
10am to 4pm. Free.  Lake Eola Farmers Market. South East corner of Lake Eola around the huge Live Oak.

2pm to 4pm Free. Yoga. Lake Eola Park, 195 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, FL. Near Red Pagoda. Weekly.

10pm to Midnight. Free, but get to coffee. Comedy open Mic. Austin's Coffee, 929 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL. Free comedy show! Come out and laugh, or give it a try yourself.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Start of the Blue Box Initiative.


There are 27 Blue Boxes painted on the sidewalks in Downtown Orlando. These boxes were painted in an effort to control panhandling. Citizens complained about aggressive panhandling, so an ordinance was drafted making it illegal to panhandle downtown. The blue boxes were created to protect first amendment rights, of freedom of speech. They are referred to as Exempt Zones. The city's official position is that street performing is allowed in downtown Orlando as long a the performer doesn't block pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk and they are not soliciting. If the performer has an open music case or a hat, the police will assume that the performer is busking or begging. In Orlando there is no difference between a performer and a panhandler. The penalty for performing downtown outside of a blue box is 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

An accordion player I was sketching at Lake Eola was told that his performance was illegal because his accordion case was open. He was forced to move along. There are no blue boxes in Lake Eola, so the performer packed up and went home. These isolated blue boxes are hard to find, and few people know where they are. Most people are amazed that such an Orwellian idea exists. I thought the accordion music added a festive touch to the day. The best experiences I have had in traveling to cities around the world has been when I discover some astonishing talent performing on the streets or in parks. Disney hires artists to perform on the streets to give tourists a feeling of being in a vibrant creative place. It is a shame that Orlando claims to support the arts but artists who perform in public are treated like criminals.

I've been told to move along several times by police. I didn't have an open case, but my very presence on a sidewalk is considered a hindrance to the safe flow of pedestrian traffic. I am only two feet wide and I always make every effort to stay out of peoples way. Now if you have ever been downtown, you might realize that Orlando isn't bustling with pedestrians elbowing each other for sidewalk space. I've sketched downtown at rush hour, and the city seems completely deserted except for all the car traffic. Orlando natives drive to their parking garage and then drive home at the end of the day without ever stepping outside.

The Orlando panhandling Ordinance wasn't written for performers or artists, but the police tell anyone who is doing something creative to go to a blue box. Because of this I have decided to start the Blue Box Initiative. I plan to sketch 27 performers in each of the 27 Blue Boxes. I found a map that shows where each of these boxes are. Some are worn away from neglect, but I hope to sketch performances at each site regardless. My main objective is to show that artists are not beggars and that encouraging performers to perform in public would add a vibrant spark of life to the downtown scene. The blue boxes are however in isolated spots of downtown. It would be nice if creativity could flourish everywhere. Every sketch I have done in the past outside of a blue box could have landed me in jail. It would be nice to sketch without the fear of arrest.

The first performer to answer the Blue Box Initiative call, was violinist, Ariah Deason, who used to perform on Park Avenue in Winter Park,  before that city made it illegal to be creative on Park Avenue, Hannibal Square and New England Avenue. Ariah's mom Kristi explained that in one night last Christmas season, her daughter, made over $150 in one evening by performing on Park Avenue. Ariah is astonishingly talented. She has been playing violin since the age of five, and is now sixteen. She rehearses four hours every day. She is currently concert master of Florida Youth Orchestra's Philharmonia and has also played with the Ka Malinali band accompanying traditional Mexican folk music as well as original music. She is currently studying classical violin under Joni Roos at Rollins College and her future musical projects include a Persian music folk band, live performance for an original dance production at The Dancer's Edge studio in Winter Park and Irish fiddling. She is also passionate about art and photography and is hoping to integrate all of them into her life path. She regularly performs at weddings. The idea that Winter Park now considers her beautiful performances criminal is mind boggling. 

The Blue Box I met the Deason family at was on Colonial Drive at Lake Dot.  Unfortunately this box was already occupied. I spoke with Cheryl who occupies the box every day from 6am to 6pm. Once the sun sets, it is illegal to panhandle in Orlando even in a Blue Box. Cheryl is diabetic requiring insulin shots. She has applied for medical disability but has to wait 18 months for the paperwork to clear before she can be helped. I explained the Blue Box Initiative to her and she gave me advice on other blue boxes to look for. When the Deason' arrived, I asked Cheryl if she would like to share the box and she could keep any money raised. The ordinance states that there can only be one person per blue box. She said however that family or friends can share a blue box. She is used to being alone, so I met the Deason's one block to the east in front of the Salvation Army. I gave Cheryl several dollars for her help and advice. She is barely visible in the sketch wearing a pink shirt and seated on the sidewalk, a block away.

Ariah opened he violin case and began to perform. Her uplifting music blended with the rush of traffic on Colonial Drive. Several cars honked their approval. The family had blue checkered blanket and they sat picnic style on the Salvation Army lawn. Dad took pictures with his daughters SLR camera while the youngest daughter, Kristi joined me in doing an Urban Sketch. After watching her sister perform for a while, Tiva worked up the nerve to put her ballet shoes on and dance to Ariah's music. Tiva has been studying classical ballet in the Cecchetti method for five years at The Dancer's Edge Studio in Winter Park. She Participates in two production companies there. She also plays viola and is a member of the Florida Youth Symphony's Overture Strings Orchestra. Tiva wore a shirt with a giant heart on it. The Salvation Army sign pointed out, that, "Love isn't Love unless it is shared. Come join us." She was thin and graceful creating beautiful lines of action.

Pedestrians were rare. Several skate boarders rolled by, and Ariah was narrowly missed by a swerving bicycle. A man with red shorts lingered for sometime  talking into his cell phone. In the back of my mind, I imagined him being an undercover cop calling for backup to stop this flagrant display of art. A news truck rumbled by, but they were in a rush to get to an accident or murder. I never spotted a police car. As usual art celebrated life went mostly unnoticed. I fell in love with the entire Deason family. It was a beautiful day with inspired music and dance. For me it was the perfect way to start the Blue Box initiative. With one Blue Box sketched, I have 26 to go. The plan is to sketch one a week, usually on Mondays. If you know someone who would like to become part of project, please let me know. I'll add them to the Blue Box Initiative group page on Facebook. 

Although Ariah's violin case was open, no money was ever dropped inside. At most 5 people passed by on this deserted stretch of sidewalk on one of Orlando's busiest roads. I doubt Cheryl made much in her Blue Box that day. After we were done Kristi gave he youngest daughter some money to give to Cheryl. Excited, her daughter sprinted off and had to be called back. "Wait for us. We'll all go together." This family knew how to share the love.
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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

ODD7 was held at Maxine's on Shine.


On January 7th we held the first Orlando Drink and Draw (ODD) event of the new year at Maxine's on Shine (337 N Shine Ave, Orlando, Florida). Several tables were pushed together in front of the stage and amazingly eight artists filled every single seat. Two couples had heard about the event thanks to the Orlando Weekly. Actually all the artists were new to the experience except Audrey Zinder who runs the Sunday open figure drawing sessions at Crealde. I keep saying I wan to go each week for figure drawing but I've made a commitment to keep Sundays "Sketch free" so that I ha a day of rest. the only thing I do on Sundays is put together the week end Top 6 Picks.

I took the waitresses advice on a red wine and ordered muscles as an appetizer and then a full seafood stew. The food was amazing, and, since I was sketching the stage the dinner lingered for hours. I tend to get lost in the sketch for a while and then surface to play host for a bit. I have an ongoing project which is an eternal accordion sketchbook. It is often 2 good way to get new artists a chance to sketch something silly and small. I was quite happy that two writers joined the ODD group on this sketch outing. Janet Benge in a high heel respected author and she has just started doing watercolors. Her charming sketches might someday work their way into a children book. Logan Anderson is y poet who I see quite often at  events in town. He reminds me of an Urban Sketcher because he always has a leather satchel over his shoulder in which he carries his writing supplies. Where I catch a scene using lines and washes, he digs deep into the scene with his words.

Since there were three couples, I suggested that artists face each other and do five minute ruthless portraits of each other. The energy at the table multiplied as they worked, and then there was plenty of laughter when the five minute were up. This is a great was for artists to break the ice. Conversations blossomed. I learned where to find some real talented tattoo artists. I've sketched tattoo artists at work before and I am fascinated by the long labor of love. One artist had tried to be a tattoo artist, but the constant buzz of the electric needle caused his hand to go numb. It is sort of like wanting to be a sea captain but finding out you get sea sick.

Nick Landess performed for well over two hours on piano and guitar. I often feel like I'm the only person in a room who truly focuses on the talent that plays live background music in a bar, restaurant or at an event. I'm convinced that I become invisible when I'm sketching. I admire a performer who can work despite all the conversations going on in a room. Once my sketch ass done, I shouted to be heard at the vibrant conversation be the artists at the table. I had more red wines than I should have. A song on the radio on the drive home caused me to pause and remember a  Disney Feature Animation friend, Christine Lawrence Finney, who had died unexpectedly at the age of 47. The evenings frivolity turned to sadness. "Something touched me deep inside, the day the music died."
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Twisted Tuesday at the Red Lion Pub.


Twisted Tuesday is a weekly event every Tuesday held at the Red Lion Pub (3784 Howell Branch Rd, Winter Park, Florida). It features a free home-cooked meal every Tuesday but of course donations are greatly appreciated. Rahoe Productions and Representation provides Live Music from 7:30pm-10:30pm every Tuesday and the Red Lion Pub provides a DJ thereafter alongside a friendly environment to showcase talents such as hula-hooping, fire-arts, LED-arts, juggling, stilt-walking and much more.

I went to the Red Lion Pub in December to meet Andy Matchett who wanted to buy a print for the holidays. He was at the end of the bar when I arrived. He had pulled together a successful Kickstarter to create vinyl albums of the soundtrack to his very successful Fringe play, The Key of E. He wrote all the music for this apocalyptic rock musical. All though there was enough money raised to cut the albums, he still needs more money for the packaging.

When Andy left, I took his bar stool and sketched down the length of the bar. There was free food by the front windows, but unfortunately I had already eaten. I ordered a beer from the tap that looked like a fish. Rosmarie Ryan the pub's owner looked over my shoulder and rather liked the sketch. She offered me another beer which I gladly accepted from her daughter, Mikayla, working the taps. The place gradually got more crowded as the evening progressed.

Outside, someone was playing an old upright piano with its innards exposed. Vendors had blankets set up to sell crystals and some local art. I chatted with a fellow that called himself, Dali Lama, about art for a while. I want to return here some Twisted Tuesday to sketch the fire spinners and hula hoopers in the parking lot. I need to arrive later which is when these activities heat up. There is a warm inviting atmosphere to the pub, like these people get to reunite every Tuesday.

When I got home, Terry told me to take off my clothes and take a shower. I'm lucky in that I have a weak sense of smell, but apparently I reeked of cigarette smoke. Even my skin sponged up the smell.  Next time I sketch at Twisted Tuesdays, I'll spend far more time outside where there is plenty of vibrant local culture and a breeze.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Florida is Not a Vacation: a Poetry Reading.


The Kerouac House (1418 Clouser Ave, Orlando, Florida) hosts a resident author about every four months. Authors are picked by a committee that reads through over 300 submissions. Resident authors do not need to worry about room and board. They get time to strictly focus on their writing. I had sketched Kerouac House resident Ciara Shuttleworth hard at work as she crafted her poetry in the back of the Kerouac House. Besides being one of the more prolific writers, she was also one of the most social writers. She would hold court late into the night on the front porch of the bungalow with local authors and artists.

The reading on March 25, 2015 was Ciara's chance to share her poetry with Orlando literati. Visit in a authors are often surprised by Orlando's vibrant literary community. She decided to share the limelight with Florida poets that were dear friends, Sandra Simonds, and Erin Hoover. Ciara created fictionalized biographies for her friends that combined myth and heroism. These histories were worth the price of admission alone. Two more tame biographies follow.

Erin Hoover is a poet living in Tallahassee, Florida, with work published in Prairie Schooner, Gargoyle, Redivider, and Sugar House Review, and anthologized in Best New Poets 2013. Erin edits The Southeast Review in addition to volunteering for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is a PhD candidate in Florida State University's Creative Writing Program. Before moving to Florida, she worked as a communications director in New York City and co-founded Late Night Library, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustaining book culture and supporting authors early in their careers. Her Twitter is @ErinHoover.

Ciara Shuttleworth was born in San Francisco and grew up in Nebraska, Nevada, and Washington state. Her poetry has been published in journals and anthologies, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Confrontation, The New Yorker, The Norton Introduction to Literature 11e, and The Southern Review. Shuttleworth received an MFA in poetry from University of Idaho, a BFA in painting/drawing from the San Francisco Art Institute, and a BA in studio art from Gustavus Adolphus College.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Lake Eola at night.

I did This sketch before the Orlando Drink and Draw (ODD) at Falcon Bar and Gallery (819 E Washington St, Orlando, FL). I got to Falcon Bar early and it wasn't open yet. So, with an hour to kill, I walked to Lake Eola to do a nocturnal sketch. The park had Christmas light decorations up and the loud speakers were blaring sappy holiday tunes. I wonder how these ducks, swans, geese and grebes can stand listen to the mall music all day. They must feel like disgruntled store employees who have to listen to the same music over and over again during the holidays.

A lone man with a backpack was feeding the ducks, so he became my reason to stop and sketch. There are signs all around the lake that stress that the ducks and swans are on a very strict diet. Feeding them bread is harmful their health. That doesn't stop well meaning people who perhaps can't red or don't care.

In 2010 about nine swans were stolen from Lake Eola. Four swans were recovered from an exotic-animal rescue in Lake Butler, a small town about 30 miles north of Gainesville. The birds had been purchased for $700. The owner of the animal rescue was in shock. He was not a suspect in the theft. The birds were easy to identify because they each have an embedded micro chip. One of the birds, a blind black Australian swan named Bruno, has lived at Lake Eola for years. That same year, two suspects stole two docile black swans by corralling them into their car. These two swans were recovered and returned to the lake.

In 2011 Goeffre Peter Smart, 24, stole a large white swan. A witness saw him walk in down Robinson street with the swan. A trail of fed the lead the police straight to the suspects home  in the Eola Heights neighborhood at 1023 Ridgewood Street about three blocks from Lake Eola. The swan was in Smart's backyard unharmed. It is safe to say Smart wasn't that smart. He faced charges of grand theft, grand theft of a commercially farmed animal, being in a park after hours and animal cruelty. His bail was set at $3,050.

In 2012 Another man, John Wynne, waded into the lake and sieved a black swan named Ruffles by the neck and pulled it to shore. He held the bird hanging by its neck and said to passers by, "Hey look at this.'' He was charged with animal cruelty and grand theft with a $1,000 bond.  He was about to face trial when a key witness backed out, and Wynne walked free. In 2013, Lawrence Labonte, 51, was accused of deliberately allowing his dog to attack one of the iconic swans at Lake Eola Park, named Joe, who later had to be euthanized. He unleashed his Dachshund and encouraged it to attack. A witness took photos of the attack and Lawrence's face. So what is the penalty for cruelty to animals in Orlando? From my quick research, it is just a $5000 fine.  In none of the above cases, did I read about a conviction.

In researching the history of abuse and theft it becomes clear that the captive Lake Eola swans face danger every day from the citizens of Orlando. This is animal abuse or par with keeping Killer Whales in captivity at Sea World. About 40 swans have been kept at Lake Eola since the 1920s. Does this history of cruelty date that far back? I bet it does. If swans attack, they have every reason to defend themselves. The swans have had their wings clipped, an amputation that prevents them from flying and escaping from danger. If the swans had all their flight feathers, they certainly wouldn't stay at Lake Eola.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Ibex Puppetry brings Earth Day to life.


Earth Day at Lake Eola fell on the same day as the World Wide Sketch Crawl. The Earth Day organizers were kind enough to let me have a tent set up where local artists could meet for the Sketch Crawl. The Analog Artist Digital World tent was right next to the Ibex Puppetry tent. Artists really had plenty to draw right from the tent. After lunch, I did this sketch of the Music Garden set up by Ibex Puppetry. Martin Wolf Murphy and Mark DeMaio supervised any children who wanted to beat the drums.

Another tent was set up in the Ibex camp where kids could do crafts. They could create the own miniature world or create a kite. The animal puppets that can be seen in the background of this sketch came to life for a parade every few hours. The sea turtle would glide gracefully and the Florida Panther would pounce forward with ferocity. The drummers would join in setting the beat of the procession.

The urban sketchers did explore the rest o the Earth Dan festivities, so the tent was just used when a sketcher wanted a break from the sun. About 5 artists showed this day and sketched together. Sometimes an artist will miss the group, and just sketch on their own. There is so much to see and sketch. It is nice I no longer be an outsider looking in, but to be an active participant in the festivities.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Weekend Top 6 Picks for January 23rd and 24th.

Saturday January 23, 2016 
 9am to 5pm Free. Steampunk Industrial Show. Renningers Mount Dora Flea Market and Antique Center 20651 US-441, Mount Dora, Florida. A weekend of fantasy and hard core industrial including great original art in all media such as clothing, jewelry, Victorian hats, shoes, antiques of all types. Live music. Call 352-383-8393. http://www.renningers.net

10am to 4pm Free. Sanford Farmers Market. Sanford at First and Magnolia. A small farmer's market in the heart of Historic Sanford.

7pm to 9pm Free. Brewery Tour. Orlando Brewing, 1301 Atlanta Ave, Orlando, FL.

Sunday January 24, 2016 
9am to 5pm Free. Steampunk Industrial Show. Renningers Mount Dora Flea Market and Antique Center 20651 US-441, Mount Dora, Florida. A weekend of fantasy and hard core industrial including great original art in all media such as clothing, jewelry, Victorian hats, shoes, antiques of all types. Live music. Call 352-383-8393. http://www.renningers.net

Noon to 2pm Free but grab a bite. Fish on Fire 7937 Daetwyler Drive Belle Isle FL. Every 2nd and 4th Sunday.

2pm to 4pm Free but get coffee. Irish Music. Olivia's Coffee House, 108 N Bay St, Eustis, FL. http://www.oliviascoffeehouse.com/

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Couples Cook off at Aggressive Appliances.


Kristen Manieri the founder and editor of Orlando Date Night Guide was kind enough to invite M to document the championship finals for the second annual Couples Cook off happened on November 14. 2015 at Aggressive Appliances (617 Mercy Dr, Orlando, FL). Each of the four couples had then own state of the art kitchen in which to prepare their dish. I settled in at The Viking kitchen. I presumed the coup would arrive wearing Viking horn helmets, but it turned out this Viking is a brand of kitchen cabinet makers. I actually knew Rachel DesPlains because she had volunteers to pose to be in the Mennello Museum Mural. She and her boyfriend Mark Mastrangelo prepared a Filipino Chicken Adobo with a red cabbage slaw with orange vinaigrette.. Although I didn't taste it, it looked delicious. Since they were the subject of my sketch, I was of course rooting for them to win. The room became crowded with spectators who s in all the chairs at the kitchen counter. I decided not to sketch the crowd to leave the kitchen and the cooking couple fully exposed.

There were plenty of gourmet bites and spirited sips for spectators while the finalist couples duked it out for the title of Orlando’s Top Culinary Couple! The  Cook-Off, is a fast-paced, hands-on cooking competition, that brought together some pretty awesome home cooks throughout the preliminary rounds in October. After two heated rounds of competition at Aggressive Appliances, four finalists have now advanced to the Cook-Off Finals. People kept offering m food samples but my hands were busy.
Participating local vendors included: Whole Foods Winter Park, The Ancient Olive, Wild Ocean Seafood Market, Orlando Meats, Winter Park Distilling, My Father’s Table Cheesecake, Market to Table Cuisine, Olde Hearth Bread Co., Emma Bean, Quantum Leap Winery and beer from Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen.

Competitors were all given all the same main ingredients, and then the spice and secondary ingredient table was unveiled and contestant wrestled to grab what they needed.  Unfortunately Rachel and he boyfriend came in third place. Matthew and Kristin Cyr were the winners. They walked away with some amazing grand prizes, including a two-night gourmet getaway to JW Marriott, Grande Lakes, a Wolf gourmet blender, Tassimo coffee system, and Miele canister vacuum or a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The weekly Ocoee Parking Lot Bluegrass Jam.


Every Friday on the corner of Maguire and Colonial in Ocoee, musicians gather in the parking lot behind the Twisty Treat ice cream shop to perform Bluegrass music. This tradition began 25 years ago. Different musicians show up each week to sit in. Outside this tight circle of performers, locals in the know, stop out with their lawn chairs to watch. A large semi truck cab was parked nearby with it's loud diesel engine rumbling. He must have been parked there to watch. Children laughed from the windows of a white family van. My bet is this that parents had the heater on to stay warm.

The Ocoee Parking Lot Bluegrass Jam is a well-established, open jam and has welcomes pickers of all skill levels. People of all ages and backgrounds enjoy the Jams. It’s very much a place for families, young couples, retirees, children, pets, and tourists. Weather permitting the Jam begins every Friday evening at 6:30.

The orange glow lighting under the parking lot lamp was magical. On this night the temperate was down in the low 60's with a crisp wind to add a wind chill factor. When the musicians took a break to get another layer of clothes, I did the same. With a skull cap and wind breaker jacket, I was nice and toasty. I recognized most of the folk songs and sang along. "Will the Circle be Unbroken" seemed particularly appropriate sung by this tight knit circle of friends. Between songs they might ask about a musician who hadn't shown. It was clear they look out for each other.

This is one of the few old Florida traditions that remains in a digital age where the world speeds by. There is a comforting small town warmth that comes from watching this parking lot jam. It is like the feeling , had as a child when first watching a small town parade. Musicians and locals would catch up and chat between sets.

I worked on my Wacom tablet since I figured the computer CPU might help warm my hands. A banjo player complained the his fingers were cold. He later told me the he came to watch one of the parking lot jam sessions and one of the musicians walked up to him and asked, "Do you play banjo?" "Why yes, how did you know?" the man responded. "you look like a banjo player". Since the banjo was in his car, he ended up performing from that night onward.

Locals looked over my shoulder to watch the sketch in progress. "You should show that to Paul." I was told. Paul has shot about 200 YouTube videos of these spontaneous parking lot jams. Because of these videos, people come from around the world to watch or sit in on a jam. The digital age has made this home grown tradition internationally known. After about an hour, the group began to disperse. I was disappointed because I could have used another hour to help refine the warm lighting in the scene. A sketch by definition is never quite finished however so I had to accept what I could catch in the time I had.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Special Event planners meet on the Orlando Eye.


The Orlando Eye is a giant Ferris wheel in Orlando, Florida. It carried its first passenger on April 29, 2015 and is one of the newest attractions in Orlando and the largest observation wheel on the East Coast. Special Event planners from around the country had gathered at the Orlando Convention Center. Stacey Paul Barabe organized an event in which planners would go on the Eye and brainstorm ideas on how to improve their industry. About ten people could fit in each capsule and a moderator asked questions to generate feedback and ideas.

In the digital age, it seems that people feel that all ides are in the public domain. One organizer told the horror story of pitching an idea that the client rejected and then they produced the concept on their own.  He learned about this theft when they asked him to pitch ideas for another event several years later. The packet he was given had photos of past events and he saw all his creative ideas had been used without consent or payment. The moderator was from England and there the industry is standardized. She was shocked at how little thought is put into public safety at events in the United States. She suggested that architects have a standard where they are paid up front for their time and that Event Planners should do the same. The issues are very much like the problems faced by illustrators today. People love creativity, the just don't want to pay for it.

We went perhaps a quarter of the way up, when the wheel stopped, and then went in reverse. We guessed that an Event planner in another capsule must have gotten claustrophobic and had to get off. When we were 400 feet up, the meeting was put on hold, so everyone could enjoy the view and take pictures. The Orlando skyline was visible to the North East along with a new roller coaster that looks like the Saint Lewis Arch. Epcot was visible to the South West because of that big sphere but the castle was hard to see. I was told that on a clear day you can see all the way to the space coast. The eye does a full rotation in 20 minutes. That meant that I had to rush the sketch. When you get off, the wheel is still spinning, and you step onto an arched ramp back to the platform. You exit of course through a gift shop. Outside the eye, two women in long flowing blue gowns were balanced on long poles. It was another great sketch opportunity but I needed to get to the Tin Roof to get to work creating back up sketches for the lunch meeting.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Special Event at the Tin Roof.


Stacey Paul Barabie asked me to help out at a event lunch held at the Tin Roof (8371 International Dr, Orlando, FL). The lunch us for Special Events planner who had gathered at the Orlando Convention Center. My role was to execute a sketch that highlighted key concepts from attendees. The day for them started with a trip on the Orlando Eye which is a brand new huge Ferris Wheel which just went up on International Drive. About ten attendees would get onto a capsule on the eye w a moderator who would as them questions about how them questions about how they feel they could improve the event planning industry. 

I got to the Tin Roof around 10pm.  The band, Sweet Bea and the Boys was busy setting up their sound equipment.It decided to do the sketch digitally and the signal w then transferred to all the flat screen TVs that lined the room. I just had to plug the HDMI cable into my tablet and then I relaxed to draw the stage. I had to wait about an hour before I got on the Eye to sketch one of the meetings. Buses arrived full of conventioneers who then crowded in to a waiting area at the base of the Eye. There they were served champagne an cookies. Albert Einstein from Madam Tussuad's Wax Museum was also there for photo opportunities. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Willer Newman performed at the Current Galleries in Sanford.


The Home Show at the Current Galleries (202 E.1st Street Sanford Florida)  was the debut event in the new galleries. The venue welcomes new artists and edgy space for professional seasoned artists as well. Frankie Messina curated the show. He has an amazing ability to bring together talented artists of all disciplines. Wheeler Newman performed an earthy set of his original music. Abstract 60s patterns were animated on the screen behind him. His wife came up to sing one song with the solo acoustic guitar as back up.

In the background is a small conference room. Every wall had art on it. In the conference room one conceptual piece consisted of a blender filled with free water and a live gold fish. This piece made me uneasy and rather annoyed. It reminded me of the Japanese practice of self in small plastic key chains with live animals, like turtles and fish trapped inside. Once the oxygen runs out, the animals die. It is incredibly inhumane. In another way it reminded me of Sea World's killer whales who have to live in enclosures rather than the open ocean. Art is meant to elicit an emotional response, and on that level, it succeeded

In front of the stage was an old fashioned type writer and some books. This hinted at the fact that the evening also featured some poetry. There were several chairs throughout the venue and once occupied, there would be an impromptu poetry reading. Naomi Butterfield sat down and read one of her poems. There was performance art and art installations in the back hall. There was something happening at every turn. , could have stayed all night, but the was already my second sketch, and I decided to call it a night.

On Saturday January 16th, The Current Galleries featured Paper Trail. The opening was from 5pm to 11pm. Frankie explained, "This is the first Installation, (a 4 month work in progress) of 27 year plus years of collected history of Central Florida's growth in Arts, Music, Writing, Film, Nightlife, Business, and all Culture as captured in print media, newspapers, circulations, zines, newsletters, chapbooks, novels, club flyers, art show posters. A cultural history that you can touch! " Featuring in the (soon to be) famous "round room" a special collaborative installation by newly married couple Kimme and Ededron.

Other upcoming shows at Current Gallery.  
January 23rd solo show. 
January 30th solo show. 
February 6th solo show.
February 13th solo show. February 20th Swan Song.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Trojan Rabbit.


Jeff Ferree created this life sized Trojan Rabbit. He works in the scene shop at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, so he's good at building stuff. He based his design on the Trojan Bunny in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The Bunny popped up all around town, to promote the Orlando Shakespeare production of Spamalot. First Thursday

This sketch was done at Earth Day which also happened to fall on the Same day as the World Wide Sketch Crawl. I put out an invitation on Facebook to host the Orlando Crawl and about 5 or 6 artists showed up during the course of the day. As we sketched the rabbit, most of the crawlers Sat on the retaining wall to my right. I sat leaning back against a palm tree, and right next to me was a water bowl for dogs Which was used quite often by parched over heated dogs. The smoothie truck was quite popular among the humans who also wanted to cool down. I believe it was The Art Reach people who started blowing bubbles that floated in to the scene.

Jeff used the rabbit to attract peoples attention and then inform them about Spamalot. As I did this sketch,  I realized that there was nothing inside. I later contacted Jeff, and suggested that the bunny could be a good art gallery. When the bunny was moved outside the Shakespeare theater during the International Fringe Festival, Jeff allowed me to mount a show of Fringe related sketches inside. After Earth Day someone actually stole the bunnies tail. Who would steal a bunny tail? It makes for an odd useless trophy. Jeff let me use a scene shop drill which made it easy for me to mount the frames to the walls using brackets which made it near impossible to take a frame off the wall much like paintings in hotel rooms. The bunny was retired after its last appearance outside the Orlando Museum of Art for an animal themed First Thursday, which is a bit of a meat market for singles with some art. Once again I mounted prints inside. I don't think many people ventured inside.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Weekend Top 6 Pick for January 16th and 17th.

Saturday January 16, 2016 
 8am to 9pm All weekend. $20 in advance. $25 at the gate. Scottish Highland Games. Central Winds Park 1000 E. SR 434 Winter Springs, Florida. The history and culture of these events are centuries old and we are honored to represent that heritage at the Central Florida Scottish Highland Games. Experience traditional highland athletics, dance, art, music, culture, food and a Gaelic spirit that will we hope will awaken your soul!
The Scottish-American Society of Central Florida was founded in 1976 to celebrate and carry on the Scottish traditions here in the U.S. The purpose of this organization is to provide education to the Central Florida community through schools, churches, civic lectures and demonstrations, as well as organizing and hosting the annual Central Florida Scottish Highland Games held on the third weekend in January.

 10am to 10pm All weekend. $19.95 for adults, $17.95 for students and seniors, $13.95 for youth (ages 3–11), and free for children 2 and under. Otronicon Orlando Science Center | 777 E. Princeton St. | Orlando, FL. Now in its 11th year, Otronicon is the premiere technology event that you can’t afford to miss!
At Otronicon, guests walk on the cutting edge through state-of-the-art simulation and gaming technologies, including military and medical simulators not typically available to the public. Experience simulators, expert speakers, panels, robots, virtual reality, video games and more.
Learn about STEM careers and Interact with technology created by local companies including Lockheed Martin, EA SPORTS, Disney, and more! The event will also include an art gallery that fuses tech and art together, an indie game developer showcase, gaming competitions, and a variety of speakers and workshops designed to excite, engage, and inspire our future workforce.
Regardless of your background – whether you are in the tech industry or just have a passion for learning – Otronicon engages guests of all ages to imagine the possibilities of the ever-growing and diverse digital media industry.

5pm to 11pm Free. Paper Trail Exhibit. Current Galleries 116 E. 1st street Historic Downtown Sanford. Main room installation by the current gallery directors and open collaborative mixed works show by YOU.
"First Installation (a 4 month work in progress) 27 year plus years of collected history of Central Florida's growth in Arts, Music, Writing, Film, Nightlife, Business, and all Culture as captured in print media, newspapers, circulations, zines, newsletters, chapbooks, novels, club flyers, art show posters. A cultural history that you can touch! "
Featuring in the (soon to be) famous "round room" a special collaborative installation by newly married couple Kimme and Ededron.
A Collaborative Art show. - all styles of art, no theme, and all subjects welcome. This is an open show with no rules.

Sunday January 17, 2016
1pm to 6pm Free. Ten 10 Art Market. Ten 10 Brewing Company 1010 Virginia Dr, Orlando, Florida. A Visual Art-Centric Market at the new brewery..next to the trail in a big parking lot with live local music (old vinyl spinning during day..set or two from local musicians mixed genres)..everybody promotes & pulls heads..permission from Alden Electric Supply (neighbor) enables tons of visitor parking..maybe get some interactive art stuff going..hopefully create a regular place to be outside & get together, surrounded by great: local art, music, food, & drink...so if that sounds like good times then..please join us! Art..music..food..beer ...plus other interesting things...
Every 3rd Sunday

8.45am to 5pm $20 in advance. $25 at the gate. Highland Games. Central Winds Park 1000 E. SR 434 Winter Springs, Florida. http://www.flascot.com/

10am to 4pm Free. Lake Eola  Farmer's Market. South East corner of the park.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Rise, an Acrobatic Play was rehearsed at Orlando Gymnastics.


Rise, an Acrobatic Play is a moving, futuristic coming-of-age story about a group of high school students dreaming of being world-class entertainers. Under the direction of their new Diverse Physical Talents teacher, Mr. Sam Simon, each student hopes to achieve greatness and win one of two paid understudy roles in the Dream Empire, a well-known traveling circus. As the students improve upon their talents and performance presence, they struggle to keep love, friendship and rivalry balanced in their lives. Rise is a new theatrical experience that will electrify the mind and inspire audiences to overcome all obstacles and rise to the top. Local Central Florida performers Tiffany Lamwatt and Felix Betancourt play the lead roles of Max and Courtney, and 2007 World Gymnastics Champion Shayla Worley makes a special appearance as Julie.

I went to rehearsal of Rise at Orlando Gymnastics (11821 Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando FL).The gymnasium was massive with a cheer leading squad rehearsing in one area and parkour gymnast jumping over hurdles and doing somersaults. The Rise dancers had an area set a side for all the costumes in their show. This was a dress rehearsal so everyone changed before the rehearsal got underway. The cheer leading team had to finish up be for the dancers could take to the staging area.

The first routine to be rehearsed was a Tango which had the male dance in formal black and the  female dancers in pure white and flaming red. The dance incorporated tradition tango with an urban hip hop twist. One dancer had performed with Drip Dance in the past, so I knew he would bring a fresh athleticism to the mix. Most of the routine was solidly set in place, but some spontaneous improve worked it way in as well.

The second routine to be rehearsed was called "Virtual Reality". A middle school aged brother and sister team practiced martial arts with wild abandon while an aerialist performed in a rotating metal ring. This routine was modern and hip with dancers occupying all corners of the stage. One dancer moved like a mime whose body reacted to the music as if being hit by electric shocks. The younger dancer then moved all around the stage on a hoover board. The routine ended with a hard core first person fist fight that was beautifully choreographed to the music. As the music slowed, the final punches were thrown.

Rise is a bit of a cross between Stomp, and Cirque du Soleil. There was s vibrant camaraderie between the dancers. At any moment, a dancer might try something new, and if it pushed the boundaries, other performers would laugh and cheer.

Mark your calendar. Rise will be performed Saturday January 16th, starting at 7 pm at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts 445 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, Florida 32801, Tickets are $33.75.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Winter Park welcomes Dogs and bans Artists.


On December 14, 2015 the City of Winter Park passed an ordinance that makes it illegal for artists to "perform" on Park Avenue, New England Avenue and Hannibal Square.  "Perform" is broadly defined as, ,"acting, singing, playing musical instruments, pantomime, mime, magic, dancing, artistry or the sale of visual art and wares." The broad definition is because a city can't discriminate based on content. Any artist caught performing could face 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. To protect our first amendment rights, the city designated Winter Park's Central Park as a "First Amendment Zone." This will make the annual Winter Park Sidewalk Art festival happening this coming March, a perfectly legal money maker for the City and Park Avenue merchants. If I try and sketch that festival from the opposite side of Park Avenue however, I could go to jail. It could be argued that taking a cell phone photo could be considered "artistry" or even witchery so keep those phones in your pockets people.

The ordinance, "finds that the existence of street performers … would interfere with the public health, safety and welfare of the pedestrian traffic … [by] attracting audiences which congest the prohibited public area" and would "adversely affect the city's interests in the aesthetics in a city with a unique historic downtown district." To think that a visual artist might attract an audience that could block traffic is ridiculous. Most people don't even notice an artist at work. I'm also surprised they think artists are a public health hazard and ruin a city's aesthetics.

The ordinance was modeled after a similar ordinance in Saint Augustine which bans street performers and artists. That ordinance is being contested in court. That ruling is still pending. Winter Park merchants decided they need the ordinance because of some rather loud street performers. One band allegedly used a car battery to power amplifiers that blasted the music so loud that nearby merchants couldn't hear their own store muzak or thoughts. Rather than come up with an ordinance to ban amplified music or restrict noise above a certain decibel level, the city decided to ban all artists. Visual artists are not street performers. They are no more intrusive than a person reading a book, or an iPad. This is something that city officials and law makers do not seem to understand.

On January 5th, I was invited by a Winter Park merchant to sketch and report on the opening of their new men's department store. I got to the store a bit early and peaked inside to find the place rather empty. It looked like a boring sketch opportunity.  Instead I strolled up Park Avenue with every intent to break the law. I stopped in front of Bank of America and decided to sketch a group of men having a bottle of wine outside the Wine Room. The scene reminded me of a cafe painted by Van Gogh in Provence. Thank god police didn't catch him in the act. Flames flickered up in the vertical space heaters at Luma. For once it was cool enough out so that I wouldn't sweat as I sketched. One person walking by joked that my sketch wasn't complete, since I didn't include the bank's ATM. Another person wanted to shoot a photo of me at work. I allowed it, but now realize that the photo could be incriminating evidence in a court of law.

It turns out, that an old friend, was one of the men at the table. He was seated facing away from me, so I didn't notice him at first. When he got up to leave he noticed me sketching and came over to say hello. He joked that most of the men at the table were deviants, but little did he know that he was speaking to a hardened criminal practicing his dark and mysterious craft. I love the warm glow of Park Avenue at night, but I was lucky that I wasn't caught as I tried to capture it. Winter Park is now a place that doesn't welcome artists, so I will simply no longer consider it one of my sketching destinations, unless there are protests against this insane new ordinance. After finishing a sketch, I usually order a drink or food, but this night I slipped away like a criminal into the night.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Base Orlando keeps pushing the boundries of themed Body Painting.


I arrived at BASE Orlando "British Invasion" Body Painting Show at the Majestic Event Center, (801 North John Young Parkway, Orlando, FL) a bit early so I could watch the talented body painters transforming models into living works of art. I immediately decided to focus on Nix Herrera who was painting a group of model to camouflage them against a British flag. A camera was set up on a tripod and from the camera' vantage point the models blended in perfectly with the flag. The artists had to consult the came often to be sure they were on track.

Some of Orlando's top entertainers also be performed on stage throughout the evening. Entertainment included BalaChandra Belly Dance, Corsets and Cuties, and Rock Hard Revue Team Rush.Vendors were also set up around the venue so there was plenty of art and fashion. For me, the event is always an exciting and challenging sketch opportunity, as I document the models who are transformed as I sketch.

BASE brings together the talents of renowned Face and Body Painter Mandi Ilene who has been painting for over a decade, and Photographer Robert Johnston. From humble beginnings of face painting at princess parties, Mandi was inspired to see the entire body as a canvas and potential work of art. Since then, she has won multiple face and body painting awards, painted across the state, on cruise ships and in the Bahamas and currently does face painting in Orlando. Mandi and her dynamic team now bring their work together at BASE Orlando for an imaginative experience unlike anything else.

After her community of body painters spent years gathering in bars or homes to practice and exhibit their art, Mandi founded BASE in an effort to reach out to a wider audience and produce a complete art show. After many wildly successful events, Mandi and her team continue to offer visitors a remarkable experience through their one-of-a-kind collection of local artists and performers.


Mark your calendars! On January 14th, Base Orlando will present the Steampunk Body Paint Art Show at the Majestic Event Center. Doors open at 8pm. Tickets are $11.54 to $27.37. I'm excited about the Steampunk Show. I can already imagine the women being transformed into exotic mechanized creatures. Since the event features artwork on nude models, all guests should be over 18.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Little Sketch that no one Loves.

I have 7 large format prints on display at the Orlando Public Library downtown (101 E Central Blvd Orlando FL). The show was hung on New Year's Eve and will be on display through February. The prints are on the ground floor just past the book checkout counters to the right. Hanging the work was an adventure in itself.

I originally threw 8 prints into the back seat of my car and secured them with the seat belt and a bungee chord. I was told that a parking spot was reserved for me behind the library in the loading dock area. Unfortunately all those spaces were full, so I parked in the loading dock itself. The entry to the mail room was through those large plastic strips you might find in a meat locker. I tried to keep the strips from slapping the frames. Calls had to be made before I could enter the library through two locked doors. I was offered help bringing the framed pieces inside, two at a time. With the help, we only had to make two trips to my car. Once the pieces were inside I was told I would have to move my car. There was metered parking nearby, but instead I drove about half a mile away to get some free suburban parking.

On the long hike back to the library I started thinking about one of the prints. The sketch in question had been done at the opening of Morgan Wilson's first one woman show at Falcon Bar and Gallery. Her work in the show titled The Holy and Obscene, was sensual, edgy and surreal. She has an amazing ability to capture the female form while making you think about America's prudish views about sexuality.  The fact that I documented her opening made me a bit deviant by association.

The same print had hung in the Winter Park Chambers for several months along with about 25 other framed origin sketches. When that show came down, I was told that The Holy and Obscene piece had been taken down half a through the run of the show because a commissioner noticed the F-Bomb written on a woman's tiara. I decided that I might have to open the frame and cut a Post-it note and cover the tiara.  Jessica Earley is an artist who also works at the library, and I figured she might be willing to help with the edit. As luck would have it, there was a Post-it in my pocket.

When I finally got back to the library, the piece I had been debating about was turned to the wall. I walked up behind two staff members who where discussing the piece. They didn't even mention the F-Bomb. What they had noticed was a male phallus. I didn't even remember drawing a phallus. I imagined the infamous hidden tower in Disney's Little Mermaid poster. I took a second look, and sure enough, there it was, flaccid, small and Morgan was shooting a cell phone photo of it.

When Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, he painted the monumental figures naked. After his death, an unknown artist was hired to paint thin fabric over the exposed men. In one fresco next to the alter, Michelangelo depicted Saint Peter willingly offered himself as a martyr. He was nude as both heroes and the humble were depicted, because he was naked before God. The frescoes were renovated over a 20 year period and in 1994 the Chapel was re-opened. The restorers left the flimsy fabric censorship in place opening an ongoing debate in the art community.

Now I'm wondering if I should have edited Morgan's work as it was depicted in my sketch. I drew a phallus without a second thought and yet it means that the sketch can never be exhibited publicly in Orlando. As an artist I have sketched hundreds of different nude models in figure drawing classes over the years. The naked human form is something I celebrate. I do, however understand and respect the Library's policy. For that reason, I decided not to start placing Post-it notes all over the sketch. Instead, I quietly removed the forbidden art from public view.

Across from the men's room, Martha Merritt was exhibiting mirrors framed with hundreds of shells. She showed me one framed aquatic skeleton that resembled a creature from outer space. Hidden within the structure she pointed out the shape of a crucifixion cross. She went on to explain that sand dollars have religious significance because they have 5 teeth that resemble holy doves.  I found it fascinating that there could be so much hidden religious significance in shells.  The day was a lesson in the Holy and Obscene. I still absolutely love Morgan's paintings. She pokes fun at a society that celebrates its guns but hides sensuality. If you happen to stop by the library be sure to check out the shells for a taste of the holy, and then see my prints if you dare. You might want to bring along some Post-it notes just in case.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The goal isn't to live forever, but to create something that will.


In April of 2015 there was a reunion for the former Florida artists of Walt Disney Feature Animation. The reunion was held in an Elk Lodge down in Kissimmee. The Orlando, Florida based animation studio closed on Monday, January 12, 2004, putting approximately 250 artists, technicians and other personnel out of work. This followed the cancellation of the feature, A Few Good Ghosts, which was being developed by the studio. Artists scattered to the wind but many, myself included, stayed since Orlando had become home.

At Disney I got to work side by side with many of the best artists in the world. The reunion was an incredible experience because so many of these artists had re-invented themselves. Aaron Blaise who co-directed Brother Bear, had worked on a digital feature film about elephants, but that studio closed down as well before the film was completed. He has since moved back to Central Florida and now instructs Creature Teacher courses online.  I've looked at several of his instructional videos and always pick up something new. He also had a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise money for another animated feature film called Art Story.

Christine Lawrence Finney, who had been the head of the clean-up animation department at the studio, gave me a warm hug and smiled as she said "I thought you would have changed the world by now."  She had an amazing gift for making people around her want to live up to their full potential. Her eternal smile reminded me of all the things the were great about working at Disney Feature Animation, a sense of family, friends and pride in making some amazing films.

On a table in the front of the room were seven photos of Disney artists who had passed away. One was Kevin Proctor who had been in my intern group when we first started at the studio. He went into the layout department which drew the backgrounds for the films. At lunch time I would often sneak in a sketch of my co-workers, and I caught a sketch of Kevin as he worked on a drawing of Lilo's kitchen for the film Lilo and Stitch. Pres Romanillos had been the lead animator for Shan Yu in Mulan. Christine was the lead of the team of clean up animation artists who created the final drawings that went up on the big screen for this character. As she said "Drawing in his shadow was one of the highlights of my Disney career! He was extraordinary!! His passion was contagious...forever an inspiration."

I danced for one song at the reunion, but spent most of my time in the back room finding out what artists were doing now as well as adding a sketch to a memorial book that was for Bob's family. Christine and her husband Trey were now accomplished plein air painters. Photos were layered thick on tables and we could dig through to find the memories of a crew of artists who took pride in their work and knew how to celebrate as well.

Bob Walker who had co-directed Brother Bear with Aaron Blaise had passed away unexpectedly just before the reunion. Aaron related a story about the day Bob had been given a computer at Disney. Bob had a large stack of papers next to the computer, and he called Aaron in to ask a question. He pointed at the stack of papers and said,  " How do I get this in there?" Laura Ashborne Sacks said a few words in Bod's memory, her voice cracked as she looked back, "The goal isn't to live forever, but to create something that will. Everyone in this room should be proud of the work we created." This heart felt sentiment got me choked up as well. I will always miss the intense collaboration with incredible artists but know that those films we created will live on for generations.

That brings me to the reason I started writing this article. Christine Lawrence Finney passed away suddenly on January 5, 2016. She was just 47 years old. I honestly can't wrap my head around this. She was so vibrant at the reunion. She was such a joy to work for.  Terry remembered that when we moved to Orlando, we were invited to a Disney artist party in Winter Park and to this day she remembers how warm and welcoming Christine was. Photos of Christine keep getting posted online and each heightens the loss of an incredible artist and a shining personality. On the evening after I heard the news, I had to host an event called Orlando Drink and Draw. I had more wine than I should have to numb the thoughts in the back of my mind, and on the dive home, I cried for the first time when American Pie by Don McLean played on the radio.  In my inebriated state, the song encapsulated my sense of loss. "Something touched me deep inside the day the music died." I pulled off the road to sing along, calm down, and sober up. The title of this site, Analog Artist Digital World, hints at the idea that traditional hand drawn animation might die because of the advent of computer animation. Christine's death makes me feel that the magic of hand drawn animation might indeed become a lost art.  She inspired so many of us to push ourselves. Perhaps creating is the only way to eventually come to terms with the loss.

Christine always paid tribute to the special people in her life, "To all my family, friends, mentors, and supporters thanks for the safety net! You teach me how to fly." She taught everyone she met how to fly as well.

Soar on. Christine.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Home at the Current Galleries in Sanford Fl.


Frankie Messina of Apartment E is something of an Orlando institution. For years he has brought artists together from all disciplines. Visual artists mingle with writers, musicians, an performers of all kinds. He has begun curating shows at The Current Galleries (202 E.1st Street Historic Sanford Florida). " The theme of this show held in March 2015, was Home. "The road to a friend's house is never long." It was a collective art and performance show where pieces or expressions were of "your home" or what "home" means to you.

This was the debut event in in the new galleries and Frankie was excited to build new relationships and connections between Sanford, Orlando and all the cities around and in between. The new Gallery was kicked off with an amazing opening night during the monthly Sanford Art Walk  that featured poets, instillation art, musicians and of course visual artists.  Tais Phillips combined poetry with an overhead projector to create an interactive experience where poets could see their words projected large on the wall. 



In the room next to me, mailboxes were mounted on the wall. Patrons were invited to write an inspirational note and put it in one of the mailboxes for future patrons to read. Scott Pantke and his wife Nicole from Blast Studios occupied a studio space where they encouraged people to give air brush painting a try. Just dropping off a painting for the show was an adventure, because Frankie had artists meet him behind the gallery and a spiral staircase lead up to the second floor gallery.

Admission was to the public and the opening was more like a non stop party rather than a formal opening. A 10% commission off work sold went to Apartment E's Blanket Orlando Project for the homeless, held every year in November. This in itself is an inspiring story of how one person with a pick up truck and a big heart, can make a big difference when they decide to make a positive change. Every year that true gets filled to overflowing to help people who need to battle the cold through Orlando's winter months. One of Frankie's favorite sayings is, "What you don't give away, is lost."

Friday, January 8, 2016

Weekend Top 6 Picks for December 9th and 10th.

Saturday December 9, 2016
10am to 4pm Free. Sanford Farmers Market. First and Magnolia in Sanford FL.

8pm to 10pm $5 Second Saturdays in Sanford. 202 S Sanford Ave, Sanford, FL. Live music event featuring 2 stages, drink specials and more.

8:30pm to 10:30pm Free. The Geek Easy with Amy Watkins and Open Mic. The Geek Easy 114 S. Semoran Blvd Suite #6, Winter Park, Florida. Open to all: Musicians-Lyricists-Artists-and Poets of all kinds. Bring out the cape and have some fun. http://poetry.meetup.com/362/

Sunday December 10, 2016 
11am to Noon. Donation based. Throat Chakra (Color Therapy) yoga class : 7 chakra series. Artegon Studio One 5250 International Dr, Ste D6, Orlando, Florida. This 2nd Sunday of January, YogART will be hosting a donation based Color Therapy Yoga class for the community at Studio One inside of Artegon Marketplace.
This class is a continuation of our "7 Chakra Series" that focuses each class on an individual chakra: breaking down its color, meaning, location and function. This particular class will revolve around our fifth major energy point known as "The Throat Chakra"
This is an ALL LEVELS class which incorporates stretching, breathing exercises and light yoga poses geared to balance and improve the aspects of your life correlating to the Throat Chakra.
Color Therapy glasses will also be provided for those who wish to experience the healing and restorative effects of color has on the mind and body. Blue will be the primary focus for our Throat Chakra class, but you may wear any color that resonates with you.
We also have a color wheel on our site that explains the benefit of each color (glasses) Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. http://www.yogartinc.com/color-therapy-chart/
Bring your own yoga mat - we will have a limited amount of spare mats.
Check out our lovely YogART instructor's website for more info on her, amazing recipes, and a variety of health based articles including yoga:
www.jamiecrowell.com
Any children who attend must be able to participate in the session quietly to respect the space of other guests. If your child is unable to partake without disruption we ask that you please refrain from bringing them.
info@yogartinc.com

1pm to 5pm Free. Family Day on the Second Sunday. 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.

2pm to 4pm Free. Script Reading Workshop. Sleuths Mystery Dinner Show, 8267 International Drive, Orlando, FL. Read and workshop plays.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Dawn Branch Dance presents Eden.


Cindy Michelle Heen, a dancer I've sketched before, was kind enough to invite me to a rehearsal of Dawn Branch Work's production of Eden. The show is a soulful reflection on the challenging journey toward self-actualization and spiritual connection in this story of Eve as she leaves the Garden of Eden and attempts to assimilate with the world outside. With a cast of performers aged 8 to adult, Eden features both professional and emerging artists. Branch says, “The idea of creating a work to give honor to the Lord is exciting. It’s clean, wholesome and necessary for outreach. If we can introduce God to one viewer, then I’m pleased. It’s evangelism through the Arts.”

Cindy and Celinah Umaray who performs as Eve talked to me briefly before warming up. Celinah who came from NYC, was incredible slender. She looked like she couldn't be older than 16 but she is actual 19. She is the only dancer, I've ever met who wants people to know she is older than she looks. When Eve exits Eden she is confronted with the challenges of modern life. In that way the dances theme unites the old traditions story with a modern aesthetic. Although the show has a religious theme, it is also secular, offering inspiring dance that is universally understandable. The other dance I sketched was Eva who worked so hard she flushed red. Dawn stood at the front of the dance studio watching ever line the dancers created.

Cindy confided in me that once I saw Celinah dance, I would see why she was cast as Eve. Indeed, as she stretched at  the barre, I was amazed by her flexibility and the fluid lines she produced with every movement. She would arch her back, and lift a leg straight up over her head while entwining arm for support. I tried to sketch the stretch several times, but it was such an extreme pose, that it didn't look humanly possible in a sketch. She never danced full out but even her warm up routine was incredibly graceful and fluid. Her grey hoodie and ponytail overlapped and added a flourish to every move. In the corner of the dance studio, dancers listened to the music for the show and I assume watched video tapes from a prior rehearsal. As the choreography is nailed down, it becomes important to see how every dancer helps to fill the canvas of the stage.

Branch explained, "I love the idea of having an empty canvas of space and utilizing the dancers to fill it up with color and shapes and theme. The dancers are so open to trying different styles." Branch goes on to explain that her choreographic style is a fusion of ballet and modern dance along with elements of hip hop. "It's a beautiful and creatively challenging combination of movement that demands enormous technical strength; dancers execute rapid and innovative choreographic transitions that appear as effortless as breathing," says Branch.I love that her description of empty space sounds just like my process as I find a way to fill a page when I sketch.

Mark your calendar! Eden will be on Sunday, March 6, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM at Orlando Repertory Theater (1001 East Princeton Street Orlando, FL). Tickets are $22.09–$32.64.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A quite New Year's Eve.


On New Year's Eve, I ventured out right at sunset to do one last sketch of holiday decorations. I drive past this house every day and the lawn is covered with flaccid piles of plastic. The plan was to go to Drip for New Year's Eve, so I wanted to get the sketch done early so that I could just be social a the party. Rudolf's head rotated left and right surveying the scene. There was an inflatable manger as well, but it was partially inflated, y it was hard to figure out who was who. The helicopter rotor kept turning, but sadly the minions didn't slide down the slide that looked like a high healed shoe.

A woman, whom I had startled on a previous sketch outing walked by with her dog, Shadow, and l presume her daughter and possibly her mother. She asked if I was an artist and when l responded, "yes I am", she replied, "Well isn't that nice. " It was nice to see a family going out for an evening stroll together. A dad and his daughter walked by and he made some remark, suggesting his daughter should fly the helicopter. Fireworks burst in the distance, possibly from Sea World or Disney. Smaller fireworks were also being shot out over the lakes in the neighborhood.  I was actually sweating the entire time I sketched. Winter seems to have forgotten Orlando this year.

Instead of going out, I took a long hot bath to relax. Zorro our pet cockatoo sat on a wicker basket on the bathroom sink counter. When I slipped into the tub, he got curious and marched over. The counter overlooked the tub,and he stood at the edge and bowed his head down looking like he wanted to jump in. Now, a cockatoo isn't like a duck, they don't have webbed feet and they can't swim. He changed his mind, and instead grabbed my eye glasses and threw them in the tub to spite me. I splashed water on him, and he didn't like that one bit. He backed up, but a portable mirror on the counter got in his way. Trying to back up around it, he slipped and fell off the counter. He flapped his wings to cushion the fall, and ended up flying directly into the tub. I scooped him up before he went under water, but he got soaked. I put him back on the counter, and he marched back to the safety of his basket. When he perched on the wicker handle, he lifted a soaking wet claw and looked at it in confusion as water dripped from his talon. He certainly helped make the final moments of the year unexpectedly entertaining.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Culture Pop! Not Your Typical Art Opening.


I went to the Maitland Art Center (231 E Packwood Ave, Maitland, Florida) to sketch at Culture Pop. The evening featured the opening of "Contemporary and Historic Landscapes," with works by Bruce Marsh, Dawn Roe and pieces on loan from the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. In addition to being among the first to see new exhibitions, guests also enjoy live music, poetry readings, complimentary food & cash bar with fine wines, craft beer and more.

Activities on the campus grounds included open artist studios and a pop-up exhibit by one of the A&H’s Artists-in-Action, Martha Lent. I decided to sketch The Actomatics, who had set up their band equipment on what used to be an abandoned shuffleboard court. They had a string of white Christmas Light strung across the top of all the instruments and it made for a magical display. Shadow, who was on the keyboards, introduced herself. There was unfortunately very few people in the audience. Besides myself there were only three other people seated in the folding chairs. That didn't hinder the spirits of Shadow, Rick an of Shadow, John and Rick however. They performed a magnificent set of all original tunes. As a true artist, you don't always need an audience. Some birds sing for the pure joy of singing. I sketch and write, not knowing if a word is heard, or a sketch seen.


Several times, I was offered complimentary appetizers from Creations Catering and Events. The server was a young woman who is an artist herself. She was very curious about the Wacom tablet I was using to sketch. She is excited about the new Apple iPad Pro that came out and she is hoping it might find its way under her tree this Christmas.

In the Mayan Courtyard, there were literary readings by the DIY MFA Readers: Danielle Kessinger, Misty Watkins and Karen Price. I didn't make it over that way to sketch. As I left, I did get a chance to see Martha Lent's large colorful paintings, as she took the art off the walls and loaded it into her car. I admire her large bold works which make me wish that I was working so large.