Monday, February 29, 2016

The Whale surfaces at the Winter Garden Theater.


On June 22, 2015, I went to the Winter Garden Theater (160 W Plant St, Winter Garden, FL) to sketch auditions for "The Whale." March 18th will be the Central Florida Regional Premiere of this play written by Samuel D. Hunter and staged by Beth Marshal Presents. I love sketching auditions, I get to witness so many talented actors that all bring their own creative take to the characters. This isn't a story about a great white whale, but instead an intimate look at a father daughter relationship. 

On the outskirts of Mormon Country, Idaho, a six-hundred-pound recluse hides away in his apartment eating himself to death. Desperate to reconnect with his long-estranged daughter, he reaches out to her, only to find a viciously sharp-tongued and wildly unhappy teen. In this gripping and big-hearted drama, The Whale tells the story of a man's last chance at redemption, and of finding beauty in the most unexpected places. This play was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play. It won a Lucille Lortel Award for Best Play and won a Drama Desk Special Award for Significant Contribution to Theatre.

Cast
Charlie – Michael Wanzie
Ellie – Rachel Comeau
Liz – Jamie Middleton
Elder Thomas – Anthony Pyatt Jr.
Mary – Beth Marshall

Production Team
Rob Winn Anderson – Director
Anastasia Kurtiak – Stage Manager
David Merchant – Assistant Stage Manager
Tom Mangeri – Set Design
Amy Hadley – Light Design
J.G. Lantiqua – Sound Design
Marcy Singhaus – Costume Design

Dates:  March 18 to April 3, 2016
Thursday 8pm, Friday 8pm, Saturday 2pm (April 2) & 8pm, Sunday 2pm
Industry Night: Monday, March 28
 

Tickets: $21 - $28
Special pricing for opening night, Thursday performances, seniors and students.

This show contains adult language and scenes. Recommended for mature audiences.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dancers Improvise in Blue Box #5.


27 Blue Boxes are painted on sidewalks in Downtown Orlando. These boxes were put in place for panhandlers and buskers. Busking is possible only during day light hours. Although set up for panhandlers, police often insist street performers must use the blue boxes. Performing outside the boxes can result in 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. These Boxes represent the only places downtown where theoretically there is freedom of expression.

On February 22nd, Corinne Mele from Red Right Return Dance Company encouraged a group of dancers to utilize Blue Box # 5 as their stage. They had just rolled off of a performance of Guard Down at the Orange Studio on February 20th. They had also rehearsed the night before, but that didn't dampen their enthusiasm to perform on the streets of Orlando.

I was the first to arrive and anxiously searched for the box with map in hand. The last one had been spray washed away but this one was pristine, looking like it had been painted yesterday. I got a text from Corinne. Construction had blocked access to this street from the East. I redirected her to let her know that the street was still approachable from the West from Parramore. Soon dancers started to arrive. Corinne drove a cute little car that was covered in an ad for hint which I believe makes flavored waters. The dancers came prepared, with water and sunscreen.

They were concerned that this was a rather small stage. All movement had to be linear and having two dancers abreast, limited what they could do. Corinne walked the blue dotted line like a circus high wire performer. She did a pirouette and when she spun out of the box, she abruptly stopped and walked like a pedestrian to re-enter the box from a new location. Dancers soon realized that their extensions would most certainly cut outside the plane established by the blue box stage but with one foot planted inside the box they decided they were within the letter of the law. The dancers had two collection bowls set out. There was however no foot traffic on the sidewalk. We were one block away from the UCF Center of Emerging Media and the Bob Carr Theater. Construction effectively cut off all vehicular traffic. The only hope for a tip might come from a student. Towards the end of the dance company's improve session, a single pedestrian approached on our side of the sidewalk, Corinne bet the he would cross over to the other side of the street to avoid coming to close to the art. Sure enough twenty yards from us, he crossed over to steer clear. In a town where art is seldom experienced in public, it can be intimidating for the uninitiated. There is no fourth wall to protect the audience. Art in public is a rare beast that must be caged in blue boxes.

Heidi Busher and Corinne were the first dancers to perform a duet on the tight painted stage. They supported can other and negotiated the tight squeeze past each other. Paige Maxwell bent over backwards like a sheet of paper folded in half. Her goal was to grab her own ankles. She grabbed one but the second eluded her. I was absolutely astonished by her flexibility. Kim Matovina displayed incredible feats of strength and balance usually reserved for gymnasts. She balanced on one hand and folded in her limbs balancing with her face inches from the pavement. She then did a headstand using her forearms for support. All five dancers got in the box and tried to duplicate the move for a photo. Not everyone had the strength, but for the flash of an instant they all held the pose.

After several hours of dancing, everyone was sweaty and tired. Paige was unexpectedly hit in the face when another dancer spun with her leg extended, effectively doing a back kick. I heard the smack as if it were a sound effect in a Japanese Kung Fu movie. Paige's eyes watered and she held her nose. Luckily there was no blood. On a larger stage the dancers would not need to be so dangerously close.

Though no tips went into the tip jars, and not a single pedestrian walked by, it was a beautiful day and I'm so thankful that these beautiful dancers shared their talents to help point out that art should not be boxed in. Winter Park will never experience such a spontaneous outburst of creativity expressed on a sidewalk in public. These aren't criminals, but highly educated and trained professionals who love their craft and share it openly. Such joyous outbursts of creativity might happen more often if Orlando City Commissioners didn't create ordinances that effectively treat artists, dancers and performers as panhandlers that need to be boxed in.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Weekend Top 6 Picks for February 27th and 28th.

Saturday February 27, 2016 
10am to 4pm Free. Sanford Farmers Market. First and Magnolia in Sanford FL. An intimate farmer's market.

7pm to 9pm $20 suggested donation. Living Room Theater. Diana Rodriguez Portillo Home 1316 Portland Ave. Orlando, FL. Tisse Mallon, Banks Helfrich and Jack Graham present an experiential, exclusive, invite only performance in a living room.
This unique 70 minute show consists of short segments focused on fun, connection and authenticity. From the funny to the serious, from the commonplace to the absurd, these original works take the audience on an emotional journey.
A few things for you to know:
- Due to the intimate nature of the show, no late arrivals can be accommodated.
- While not lewd or vulgar, this show is recommended for ages 18 and up.
- The show lasts approx. 70 minutes.
- There will be time for discussion afterward.
NOTE: Due to limited space, we can only accommodate a certain number of people. If you have a plus one, please let your host know they can insure there is space for everyone!

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

Sunday February 28, 2016
Noon to 2pm Free, but grab a bite to eat. Florida Gospel Jam. Fish on Fire 7937 Daetwyler Drive Belle Isle FL. Every 2nd and 4th Sunday.

2pm to 4pm Free but get a coffee. Irish Music. Olivia's Coffee House, 108 N Bay St, Eustis, FL.

10pm to Midnight. Free but get coffee. Solo Acoustic Spoken Word. Natura Coffee & Tea, 12078 Collegiate Way, Orlando, FL. 407 482-5000

Friday, February 26, 2016

Doug Rhodehamel builds the Star Wars Universe.


Doug Rhodehamel is a big fan of Star Wars. He also makes things from junk. He is combining these two passions of his into one big galactic sized project. He has begun building 15 Star Wars vehicles from trash and surplus at 1/10 scale. That's big. Bigger than any toys you grew up with, but what's better, they will light up, have sound effects and play music and sound bites... LOUD! But to do so I need to hire electronics nerds and well as machinists. That cost some cash. To finish this collection I will need your help.

Doug talked about growing up on Star Wars. He is an avid collector, of Star Wars Action figures and models, but they tended to lack quality construction and any sense of a grand scale. He first imagined one of the Imperial Walkers being six feet tall, so that a viewer would be eye to eye with the cockpit. This hasn't been built yet. Instead he is focusing his efforts on completing the first of three X-Wing Fighters. The photon torpedo tubes will illuminate with sound effects, and the re are lasers at the ends of the wings. Large speakers will be mounted inside the fuselage of the model and the wings will animate open using an actuator.  All of this is being constructed out of plastic corrugated political sighs. Eventually the ships will be painted to hide the politicians names. Finally, here is a great as to up-cycle all these abandon political signs after each election.

Tonight, Friday February 26th at Stardust Video and Coffee (1842 Winter Park Rd, Orlando, FL) Doug will be showing off the progress on the X-Wing Fighter and the Tai-Fighter with lots of buttons for you to press. This is a Fundraiser. Any funds you can donate will help finish this project. It will be more than amazing and well worth it! See you there and May The Force Be With You!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Drip Art Nights are full surprises.


Drip Local Art Night features visual artists, Performance artists, burlesque troupes, body painters, dancers, belly dancers, and art installations. I love sketching this monthly event because I always find something new and exciting to draw. Drip is Orlando's grunge version of the Moulan Rouge. I arrived as artists were setting up their booths and focused on the bar. One Drippy was getting her T-shirt cutting station set up. She cuts up the whip Drip T-shirts and bees the fabric creating a unique pattern of flesh and brilliant day glow blue.

A drip dancer Roxanne Faye LeBlanc had just died her hair a deep red in purple. She dances the part of the lusty Red in the Drip show. I sketched he as she filled out paperwork a the bar and again when she did something a the left end of the bar. I do this quite often, populating a sketch with one person's activities. I do believe the guys seated at the bar were on person at different times as well. Soon enough however, the place was so packed that you couldn't even s the bar. The main Drip Show is no longer performed on Art Night, which means The re is more room for artists to set up their wares.

Set-up for artists started at 6:30 and the doors opened at 8 PM. My favorite performance was by BalaChandra Belly Dance. I run into these dancers a love town. I have to learn to sketch faster to catch their fast moving hips and fluid motions. Since I function at a much slower pace when I sketch, I sometimes miss some acts as I rush to complete a sketch that was started.

Mark Your Calendar! The next Drip Local Art Night is Thursday, March 24 with the doors opening at 8pm. If yo u haven't been to Drip then what are yo u waiting for. Get out and experience some local art. 8747 International Dr Suite 102 (Behind Denny's and Senor Frogs) Orlando Florida. Art nights are every other month. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

50,000 mile check up.

I brought my Prius in to the Toyota of Orlando Dealership for its 50,000 mile all points check up. Because of the Holidays and m procrastination, the car was quite over due based on my odometer. I like to wait at the dealership while the work is done because there are always people waiting around to draw. They chat on the is phones, conducts business or finger their phone surfing social media. A large screen TV behind me was blaring some program that claimed that they have pertinent evidence in unsolved murders. A young college girl was murder and they had audio that apparently was from the killers cell phone. She shouted the killers name and cried for help. The show host then played | audio for the devastated parents to hear so the camera co get their reaction. I didn't look. I tried to block it out.

My tires were well worn. I knew this from the last time, I had the car in for an oil change. There was z sale, buy three tires and get the fourth tire free. The damage was still over $500.  I ended up having t wait an extra hour and a half. Since I was sketching, the time flew buy. My car is probably in better shape and healthier than I am. It is time to think about getting a tune up myself. I've put in quite a few miles since I saw a doctor last.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Journey into Mindful Meditation.


I attended a weekly Study Group that meets at Peter Carlson’s house (1818 Carrigan Ave., Winter Park FL) on Wednesday evenings from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. After 45 minutes of meditation, various aspects of Buddhist teachings are discussed. The study group is open to anyone who has completed a meditation retreat or taken a course on Buddhist meditation or psychology. My goal of course was to sketch, which I consider my own form of meditation. I now realize that I was under qualified to attend since I have never attended a retreat. I got to the home about 15 minutes early since I was told that at 7pm the doors close and no one else can enter until the meditation was complete.  I thought I would need my art stool, since I assumed, quite correctly, that people would be seated on the floor. The meditation occurs in a tiny retreat behind the home. There however was a chain link fence blocking access to the meditation retreat. Walking in the dark, I felt I might be trespassing. I knocked on the front door and Peter assured me that I could go out back.

The small building was dark a empty. I was the first to arrive. I found a light switch and made my way to the meditation room which had dozens of chairs along three of the walls. I didn't expect chairs. I settled into a corner chair and lightly penciled in the overall composition as I waited for people to arrive. I placed all my pencils and pens in a row on the floor, because I didn't want to be searching for things during the meditation which would be noisy. Peter had a comfortable looking mattress throne with an adjustable desk set up for his computer. A sculpted goddess head looked out in all directions. Two participants sat on the floor with pillows to cushion their spines. Others sat in chairs, out of the view of my sketch. Peter said, "lets begin." and the room became completely silent.

45 minutes seems like a short period of time to complete sketch since most of my sketches take two hours to complete. My first lines were rushed but I started to notice that the fast pen strokes seemed quite loud in the silence. A calm washed over me and the pen began to explore with quiet deliberation. Even so, the pens journey made a sound quite louder the my own breath. the line slowed down even more to a snails speed and each line became more deliberate and more confidently observed. True observation takes quiet deliberation. The line work completed itself with time to spare. I resisted the temptation to reach for other tools since bending over would have created loud rustling noises. This forced me to focus on one deliberate task without interruption.

A Buddhist prayer bowl quietly sounded announcing the end of meditation. Everyone took a five minute break and then returned for the discussion. Peter was just getting over a harsh cold that developed at his last retreat. He spoke of his mindful awareness and acceptance as symptoms developed. People who meditate often have the inner strength to heal quickly. As we were leaving, I realized that everyone but me had left their shoes at the from door. I also realized when I got home that I had left my art stool in the meditation hall. Clearly that was a sign that I needed to return.

The next week I returned with no sketchbook in hand. I wanted to experience meditation first hand without the distractions of sketching. I've never been comfortable sitting cross legged on a floor, but I figured if I found just the right pillow I could pull it off.  I had observed the perfect posture of friends and wanted to see if I could quiet my mind the same way. I wedged two pillows under my knees for extra support. I closed my eyes and relaxed rocking my butt side to side to settle into the pillow. I rolled my neck snapping cartilage. The room was completely silent except for the sound of a ceiling fan. Blue and green orbs danced and flowed together on the insides of my eyelids. My breathing seemed loud. My lower back ached so I breathed deeper which straightened my spine.  Why do I keep having to swallow? I focused on my breath again and relaxed. I began imagining the room in the green and blue patterns swimming in my eyelids. As I imagined this new world of swimming forms the prayer bowl quietly sounded. Wow. Time had flown by. Had I meditated? I'm not sure. The fact that I sketch daily means that I already quiet my mind to achieve a sure focus. Perhaps that is good training for this looking inward.

The talk was about five precepts or commitments needed for awakening. Peter discussed how harmony and compassion were not important to early hominids. Charles Darwin's theory of the fang and claw pointed out that only the most aggressive of a species survives. If that were true, then loving kindness would be seen as weakness. But daily mindfulness offers strength. The second commitment is be mindful of how desire affects our choices. This relates to our compulsive and addictive tendencies relating to social media. I rely on social media in my quest to find new sketch opportunities. I need to realize when this becomes a form of distraction.  A third commitment is to avoid aggression and hostility. This can be in every social interaction. A more modern commitment is towards the ecology of the planet. For early man this wasn't a concern but today careless abuse of our resources can have lasting impacts for future generations.

It was reassuring to be in a room full of people seeking compassion and an increased interpersonal trust. I haven't decided if extended meditations are for me. I like the idea of doing a quiet 60 breath meditation each time I leave the studio to go on location to sketch. Life is ever changing. For me this study group answered my yearning to "Eat, Pray and Trust."

Monday, February 22, 2016

The John Wesley Dutton House is undergoing some major restoration.


The plan was to drive up to Deland Florida to sketch an antique car show. After parking my car, I started walking downtown and stopped in front of this skeletal structure. Capitals and bases of the front porch columns were stripped away. The plaster columns themselves were hollowed out exposing the four by four posts that actually support the porch. The upper floor railings were replaced with two by fours and the inner wood structure was exposed on the second floor balconies. I couldn't resist the temptation to sketch this once grand estate which was now in a desolate part of town.

In 1993 the DeLand City Commission voted to demolish the John Wesley Dutton House, an architecturally significant site that local historic buffs had been fighting to save for more than two years. The demolition ball was poised to strike until Peter Warrick, a publishing executive from Fort Lauderdale became the new owner. He formed a nonprofit organization that would help to restore the large house, which needs repairs. Complete restoration, which Warrick estimated would take at least five years, will return the house to its original charm and allow opening it to the public as a historic showcase. Twenty two years later, the restorations are still not complete.

Built in 1910 for $25,000 by turpentine magnate John Wesley Dutton, the stately two-story house at 332 W. New York Ave., was once ''the talk of the town,'' said Sidney Johnston, president of Historic DeLand, Inc., a group of local citizens who tried to purchase the house in 1992. Dutton lived in the house with his wife and seven children until 1911. It changed hands several times, including stints as a meeting hall, a funeral parlor and a rooming house called the Colonial Arms Apartments. It then went vacant for years. Warrick estimated that repair on the house will cost him from $150,000 to $225,000 or more. H would seem that the funds dried up before the restoration could be completed. The historic restoration fund now depends on grants from private donations. ECHO Funds of $234,800 in 2006 secured the outer envelope of the structure to reduce further interior damage. Once re-opened the historic structure will be used as a cultural center.

Paranormal investigators have wandered the buildings dark rooms to see if ghosts reside inside. Investigators found cold spots in certain rooms, heard banging noises and saw floating orbs. Is this conclusive evidence? That depends on what you believe. Dark storm clouds rolled in as I sketched and lightning flashed on the horizon. I rushed to complete the sketch before becoming a statistic. A group of African American girls walked by and one looked over me shoulder. "Did you do that here?" she asked. Sigh. "Yes." She is an artist, so I encourage her to keep sketching. They made their way downtown full of energy. Perhaps someday I will return to sketch the building in all it's former glory. The economy of the surrounding neighborhood however implies that the restoration might take a couple of more decades.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Kattya Graham performed in Blue Box #5.

27 Blue Boxes are painted on sidewalks in Downtown Orlando. These boxes are for panhandlers and buskers. Busking is possible only during day light hours. Although set up for panhandlers, police often insist street performers must use the blue boxes. If a police officer receives a complaint or witnesses a street performer asking for money, that officer can "take the appropriate action related to that issue, a warning is an option, but so is arrest." said Sgt. Barb Jones of the Orlando Police Department. Performing outside the boxes can result in 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. In 2002, former Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood killed a proposal to allow street performers in downtown Orlando, saying that would be "inconsistent" with the city's ordinances that ban panhandling.

Kattya Graham volunteered to perform in Blue Box #5 on the Corner of Amelia Street and Orange Avenue. This corner is near the Court House parking garage. As I arrived on foot, I searched for the now familiar blue dotted lines that delineate a box about 5 by 15 feet. For the first time the were no blue lines. There were red lines and orange lines that surveyors put down as they plan where to dig for electric and plumbing pipes. I checked the City Hall issued Blue Box map and this it was the right spot. The blue lines must have been power spray washed away. There was a small blue plate above the street drainage. It said, "No dumping, all water drains into lakes."  The spray washed blue paint must now be in Lake Eola.  The blue plate became our Blue Box.

Kattya arrived and unpacked her guitar and set up her music stand. At first she put her collection pan right on the blue plate and then she decided it made more sense to put it out behind her for pedestrians to see. As a joke she stood on her tip toes on top of the blue plate. There weren't many pedestrians, at most three people walked by in the two hours we were on that street corner. There were however plenty of cars that had to stop at the stoplight as they waited to drive West across Orange Avenue. Kattya got to watch drivers reactions. Many drivers smiled through their closed car windows. Three women rolled down their windows to listen better while men did the opposite, by rolling up their windows. Perhaps they feared she would rush up to them and squeegee clean their windows and demand money. Only one pedestrian glanced over his shoulder at Kattya as he was waiting to cross over Orange Avenue. No one ever dropped an money in her tip pan. She has just recorded a new album of original songs and several covers at the Timucua White House. Benoit Glasier is now polishing the sound mix.

Kattya grew up in Mexico City which is the largest city in the world. She started busked in Mexico City when she was 18 years old. Crime was rampant, but she never had an incident as she performed. Here in Orlando for the past 15 years, she feels safe, but performing on a city street corner didn't, seem appropriate. She performed beautiful Mexican ballads in Spanish. After one song, she said me, "I'm glad most people don't understand the lyrics, the last song was about being a drunk." I laughed. The music was soothing and lyrical, at times being drowned out by honking horns, or the sound of the Sun Rail train roaring by a block away. Her brightly embroidered blouse was the only bright note of color on the otherwise grey street corner. Had she performed on block south, closer to the entrance to the court house, there would have been a constant stream of lawyers and jurors who would pass her on their way to find lunch. There is no blue box one block south however.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Tin Roof is a new live music venue on International Drive.

Event Planners from around the country descended on the Orland Convention Center for an event planner's conference. I was invited to sketch at a lunch time event of some of the countries top planners. The event was to take place at The Tin Roof (8371 International Dr, Orlando, FL). Stacey Paul Barbie was the event planner who asked me to help out. She asked me to join her for lunch at the Tin Roof in order to make plans. 

We were offered a sampler of the restaurant's best appetizers. I was told that the chief had whipped together a new macaroni and cheese dish that had chicken and a crumble crust. I ordered that and it was amazing. I also sampled some raw tuna which was quite good as a lite bite. 

The Tin Roof has a down home country feel to it. Antique signs from the 1950s adorn the walls and the furniture feels like it was lifted straight out of a 1950s diner. I had to meet in with the venue's tech guy and we set it up so that I could sketch on my tablet and the image would appear on every TV screen in the venue. On the day of the event, my logo flashed on the screens as an event sponsor. That was a proud moment.

After the meeting, I relaxed and sketched the venue. Being right next to the Orlando Eye Ferris wheel, there was a light crowd of tourists who would stop in for lunch. The venue probably gets much more crowded at night when live music acts hit the stage. I need to get on their mail in list so that I can return sketch some performances.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Golden Body Painting at Nude Nite.


If you missed Nude Nite here in Orlando this Valentines Day, keep in mind that it will also be happening on March 3-5 in Tampa Florida. The sketch opportunities are clearly limitless. On my second night going to the venue, I decided to focus on Base Orlando body painters. I know Lori Babson Jessup, the body painter in the foreground from sketching dancers in town. Spiraling filigree were painted in Lori's cleavage making it hard not to look there. Base Orlando is a group of Body painters who gather regularly and paint their models with a given theme. A recent Base Orlando event had a steampunk theme. It was clear the steampunk inspired Lori's body painting on this Nude Nite. The model had golden chain mail on her shoulders and breasts and gears interconnected on her  legs.

Lori had an assistant to help with the work. Photographers would move in for their shots and the disperse like waves crashing against the shore. Some couples were concerned about the paint, perhaps because of the scene in Goldfinger in which a gorgeous woman died because she was painted head to toe in gold paint. Lori would reassure people that the paint water based theater paint that. completely non-toxic. Lori would at times stand on the platform with the model and other times she stood below on the floor. One time she was on the platform and so focused on her painting, that g almost tumbled off the platform. She laughed and then curtsied to the assembled crowd. "Thanks folks, I'll be here all night." As if the slip was all part of the act.

With my sketch done, to was tempted to try another, but I was exhausted. t had been teaching an Urban sketching Workshop all day with Kelly Medford at the Mennello Museum. We had 14 students and it was such a gorgeous day. Nudc Nite was the icing on the cake of a perfect day.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Nude Nite offers three evenings of sensual art and performance.

Nude Nite swept in to Artegon, (5250 International Dr, Orlando, FL) on February 11th to 13th. Nude Nite is a dazzling art and entertainment event celebrating the beauty of the nude. The show brings together hundreds of artists for three evenings of visual art, performance and a cast of characters both in costume and out. Show was 21+.

I parked near the Cinemark Theater but when I walked inside, a guard was closing up the mall. H turns out that Nude Nite is on the opposite end of the mall, and I had to walk around on the outside to get there. One small sign on the mall lawn pointed towards "The Art Show". There was a line near the Nude Nite entrance. I was surprised that the woman at the ticket table knew my name and ushered me in. I was given a NN hand stamp. Why was a hand stamp needed? Perhaps some couples might go out to their car for a quickly, and then return inside for more entertainment.

Art was everywhere. Chairs and umbrellas hung from the high industrial ceilings. Some paintings had been sold. Bernie Martin had a red dot on a nude watercolor selling for $350. A burlesque dancer was performing on the main stage, and the crowd was so dense that I abandoned any notion of sketching any performance on stage. Instead, I explored the outer edges of the venue.

I focused on this sensual dancer who vogued and gyrated all evening.  Her sensual swimsuit was painted on along with her ruffled collar. No pasties hid her nipples. She was popular as a photo opportunity with couples posing near the cage, pursing their lips like Zoolander. A sign advised patrons to respect the performer, and Do Not Touch! That sign was common throughout the venue. The dancer took a break just as I was starting to apply color to the sketch. There is no door to the cage, so she had to squeeze through the bars. That in itself was a sensual act of liberation. I patiently painted the background until she returned.

I was standing near a sculpture that resembled a male phallus with spikes sticking out of it. I kept getting asked if I was the sculptor. A photo of nude women posing and intertwining formed the image of a human skill. A gaping open mouthed facade lead patrons in to a hall of mirrors. Several artists asked about my tablet which seems a liability, because no one ever asked what type of sketchbook I was using.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Angel Jones in Blue Box Number 3.


27 Blue Boxes are painted on sidewalks in Downtown Orlando. These boxes are for panhandlers and buskers. Back when they were painted, they were referred to as beggars boxes. Panhandling is possible only during day light hours. Although set up for panhandlers, police often insist street performers must use the blue boxes. If you loiter on the sidewalk, you are suspect. Performing outside the boxes can result in 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. I have started a series of 27 sketches in which performers utilize these Blue Boxes. These Boxes represent the only places downtown where theoretically there is complete freedom of expression.

Angel Jones is a Fashion designer, stylist, model, writer, and artist from Melbourne Florida. Angel has spearheaded a Facebook group called, "Artists Unite! A group formed to protect all artists and our freedom" This page unites artists from around the state as cities like Winter Park and Saint Augustine create unconstitutional laws limiting freedom of expression. Orlando doesn't have an ordinance specifically banning artistic freedom of expression, but the police do not see the difference between creative expression and panhandling. 

Finding these blue boxes is a bit of a treasury hunt. I arrived at the intersection of Amelia and Hughey and found a complex jumble of spray painted marks. Surveyors are marking up the sidewalks probably to keep track of electrical and plumbing lines. A block a way the "Creative Village" is now a desert of sand and dirt. Sidewalks and pavement are all being ripped up for whatever is to come. There are several Blue Boxes in this construction zone which may no longer exist. 

Angel was a bright splash of color on an otherwise drab and grey downtown street corner. She created handmade Victorian cupcake dress herself with countless hours spent sewing the brightly patterned fabrics. Her wig was bright pink an her necklace had every color of the rainbow. Angel's Insanity and Bazaar Bazaar the clothing line, features her unique handmade creations. She chatted about her army brat upbringing and leaving home at the age of 15. Although considered the black sheep by her family, she clearly made the right choice to pursue an art inspired life. At protests she is the most exuberant champion for artistic freedom of expression.. She is a dynamic force who you definitely want on your side.

Students from Orlando Tech were the most common pedestrians. They would often stop to chat with Angel to find out what we were up to. A father and daughter on bike stopped to watch me sketch for bit. She is an artist and wanted to know how I sketch so fast. My advice was to loosen up and accept the imperfections. A sketch by definition is incomplete. A bright pink Lynx bus rushed by accentuating the pinks in Angel's hair and dress for a moment. 

I never saw a police patrol car.  The police station is several blocks to the south of this Blue Box. Angel didn't have an open case, or tip jar and if she did, I doubt any bills would have been dropped in. Once again the blue box was far removed from businesses where executives in suits might wander out during their lunch hour. They were safe from the threat of art. If you know someone who might want to join the Blue Box Initiative, send them to the group page which is where these sketch sessions are scheduled once a week.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Orlando Story Club - Resolution!


The Downtown Arts District and The Abbey (100 S Eola Dr, Orlando, Florida) presented the first Orlando Story Club event of 2016: Resolution! Admission was $5 at the door.  Producer/Director Robin Cowie, produces the unique and fun series, in which anyone who wishes to tell a personal story is invited to put their name in a hat, and selected individuals are chosen at random to showcase their story telling for the enrichment of the Orlando community.  Judges award prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.  A guest story teller headlines every show, which has its own theme, and food, drinks and laughter are available in abundance.  The January Orlando Story Club theme was “Resolution,” and the benefiting charity was the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida, which provide safe places to learn and grow for nearly 14,000 at-risk children in the local community every year.

The word resolution has two great meanings for stories:
1. a firm decision to do or not to do something.
2. the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter

Cowie formed Orlando Story Club and held the first event in March of 2014 after returning to Orlando from Los Angeles where he participated in a similar story telling group.  “It’s important to talk about the value of sharing your story,” says Cowie, alumni of the University of Central Florida.  “There is a reason why in a hectic, intense, media bombarded world the simple act of standing up and sharing your story is so enjoyable.  Anyone can put their name in a hat to tell a story.  This process is almost therapeutic for both the audience and the tellers.”  He continues, “I believe storytelling has more power to unite and build community than any other activity.  By sharing our raw life experiences with complete strangers we build incredibly strong bonds.  Besides, it's always a truly hilarious and entertaining experience, and the proceeds benefit great local causes.”

 Banks Helfrich and Tisse Mallon from Living room Theater gave brief performances between storytellers based on audience prompts which were in a pink plastic storage container.  Robin acted as the MC, picking names from a hat and introducing the storytellers. My vote for the funniest Resolution story was told is Mike Calvo. He had a seeing eye dog who sat next to me to watch his masters story. Mike was assisted on the stage and stepped up to the microphone. He told a story a bout go, drinking with several buddies who ended up having to many drinks. There were smart enough to realize that they shouldn't drive in their condition. Mike however was sober. The only problem was that Mike didn't have a drivers license and he is blind. Where there is a will there is away, and his friends resolved to teach Mike how to drive. He got behind the wheel and slowly did loops around the parking lot with his friends shouting guidance. A policeman noticed the uncertain driving and he flashed his lights. He asked for Mikes license and registration which wasn't available. Then he asked Mike to step out of the vehicle. Mike did so and unfurled his fold up tapping cane which snapped to attention. "You have got to be kidding me." the officer responded. He called for back up just to share the experience because no one would believe him back at the station.

Mark tour Calendar! The next Orlando Story Club is March 2. Doors open at 6pm for food and drink. Show, laughter, and awe starts at 7pm. The March theme is "Body". Like it or lump it we are all born with our bodies. It seems much of our life is spent just taking care of them. Join us as the Orlando Story Club explores our topsy turvey relationship with them. Every part will be explored! Anyone who wants to tell a story can put their name in the hat. Bring friends!



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.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Do Good Date Night at Quantum Leap Winery


Happy Valentines Day. 

Kristen Walmsley-Manieri, founder of Orlando Date Night Guide, has organized a wonderful series of "Do Good Date Nights".  This sold out evening, right before Valentines Day had couples putting together sanitation. kits for Clean the World. The event was held at Quantum Leap Winery (1312 Wilfred Drive Orland FL).  A core value of Quantum Leap's business plan is to find an environmentally friendly solution for transporting wine to markets and ultimately the consumer. They have reinvented the wine-to-market delivery process. They search for good quality, sustainable grown wine, wherever they are around the world but transport it in large vessels to the Orlando winery. It is in this facility where wine is stored, finished, blended and packaged. This process substantially reduces the carbon footprint associated with traditional wine production.

Clean the World gathers soap, shampoo and other disguarded items from thousands of hotels world wide and recycles them to create clean hygiene kits for third world countries. Most hotel guests stay for just one night and all those bars of soap used to go to landfills. Now that soap saves lives. They recycle soap and create hope. Nearly one in 5 child deaths in third world countries is due to diarrhea, about 1.5 million lives lost every year. Diarrheal diseases also contribute to malnutrition, stunted growth, burden in healthcare costs and time lost at school or work. Research studies have demonstrated that the risk of diarrhea can be reduced 44-47% through hand washing interventions. Promotion of hand washing with soap has been shown to reduce the risk of acute respiratory infection in children below the age of 5 by half. Handwashing promotion campaigns are increasingly being implemented as part of an effort to improve child survival.

The couples gathered at long tables topped with hygiene products. The person standing at the wine barrels started the production line by grabbing a plastic bag and putting a bar of soap in. The bag was then passed down the line where other items were put in the bags. The stakes were heightened when it was announced that this was a race, with prizes. Laughter and competitive joking ensued as everyone raced to do good. The first full box of packaged goods brought a cheer from the leading team. Other teams rushed to catch up, while the foreground team seemed more concerned with pristine and neat kits. Full boxes were stacked on a skit beside me and before you knew it, that skit was full.

After the Clean the World packaging was complete, everyone was given a tour of the winery. I listened in as I continued to splash watercolors on the page. Several couples admired my sketch. One woman thought she was pictured in the sketch, although it wasn't her, I placed black striped on her shirt in the sketch to match what she was wearing as she spoke to me. That delighted her and she called her husband over. One of the Clean the World marketing people came over and he said to me, "How does it feel to make people happy everyday." I don't actually think many people notice what I do daily, but his comment certainly warmed my heart.

After the tour, couples went in the front of the winery where tables were set up to create a perfect blend of wine. The winery's best wine is named after a co-owners rescue dog named Kaley. This perfect blend of wines was developed over many months. The couples were given samples of the wines that were used to create this magical blend. The table that came closest to matching the blends taste would get a prize. There was another prize for the table that created their own delicious and unique blend. One person had to be the mixer and measurer and the most important member of the team had to be good at math to calculate the percentages used. Crackers and cheese were also on each table to cleans the palette. The excitement in the room bubbled up even as the rules were explained. The expert wine tasters would remix the blends based on the percentages couples gave them. The race was on to discover the perfect blend of tastes. Taste and smell are my weaker senses. On top of that I'm not exactly a math wiz. I left as the room buzzed with excitement. I know I'll be back however to get a bottle of that magic blend.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Fairvilla Megastore presented 5 Senses of Sexy: A Valentine's Party.


I followed the 104.1 talk radio station truck into the parking lot of Fairvilla Megastore (1740 North Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, Florida). Two lovely ladies at the entrance gave me a pink wrist band, two drink tickets, and a card that listed all the vendors I should visit during the course of the night. I've never been inside the adult store before, so I was a bit nervous and excited. I explored the store before deciding what to sketch. There were two floors of every imaginable sex toy, lotion, lingerie and leather. Several employees knew about AADW and soon I was being given a  tour.

The senses included:
Taste: Complimentary cocktails, sweets and treats.
Touch: Pug Kissing Booth, Presented by Pug Rescue of Florida.
Sight: A performance by Big Bang Boom! Cabaret Hear, and The Poetry Vending Machine
Smell: Pheremone perfumes and massage candles.

Nikki Meir showed me a vibrator from the Rabbit Company. The company had black T-Shirts with what looked like a pink human nose on it. It turned out the nose was actually the company logo which features Rabbit ears. The vibrator I was shown was small, fitting neatly in the palm of my hand. It comes apart and resembles a thumb drive for a computer. This small USB plug is how the device is quickly recharged. It was purple and had the shape of a goats hoof, or as I later realized, small rabbit ears. Those vibrating ears could be slipped like two fingers around any sensitive spots. I immediately saw its appeal.

Upstairs there was a bed set up with restraints. Couples could try out the restraint system to see if it suited their needs. There was a game called "Pin the cock on the jock" which featured a bold bulls eye right where you would expect it. I decided to sketch the more refined and subtle Poetry Vending Machine. The vending machine is featured at the International Fringe Festival each year. Tod Caviness explained that the poems written at Fringe get most interesting late at night when patrons have been drinking too many beers at the beer tent. They give the poets several words to act as inspiration and late at night all those words become deprived and filthy. That is why the Poetry Vending Machine fit right in at Fairvilla. Some of Orlando's best poets came out for the event. Actually, perhaps all of Orlando's male poets came out for the night. A Haiku was just $2 and a custom poem was $5. At the end of the evening, Todd, who is now a dad, walked away with multiple red whips and eye masks. They were some mighty fine spoils for an evening of writing poetry.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

Weekend Top 6 Picks for February 13th and 14th.

Saturday February 13, 2016
10am to 5pm $125. Orlando Sketch Tour offers visitors and local artists a chance to slow down, see and sketch the true Orlando. Thor from Analog Artist Digital World and Kelly Medford a plein air painter from Rome Italy will be your guides for this full day sketching tour around the Mennello Museum of Art. We will meet at 10am at a small gazebo just to the east of the Mennello museum on the lake shore.
The Indie-Folkfest happening on the 13th puts a twist on the traditional Orlando Folk Festival turning it into a Valentine’s Day-themed family folk picnic that features local music, art and food. They partnered with East End Market for food, Joseph Martens for the music lineup, as well as local bars to throw a fun-filled picnic in the beautiful Sculpture Garden of The Mennello Museum of American Art. Approximately 3,000 guests – including plenty of dogs and kids – spread out picnic blankets, make Valentine cards and enjoy a daylong lineup of music against the backdrop of Lake Formosa in the winter sunshine.
The sketch tour will be part of a day dedicated to Music + Art + Picnic + Love. At 10am before the Folkfest gets started, Kelly Medford will give a lesson in composing landscape scenes. Her insights in to light, color and environment should get everyone accustomed to the pastoral lakeside setting. After we all finish our first sketch, we'll break for lunch and then Thor will give tips on how to populate your sketches. The focus will be on adding multiple figures into to scene to add depth and tell a story. We will then spend the afternoon creating multiple sketches of performers on the stage, or patrons enjoying the festival. The sketch opportunities are limitless. Kelly and Thor will circulate to offer tips and suggestions.
All skill levels are welcome you can be a full time artist or a weekend dabber and you will sill pick up something to help spark the rewarding trend of documenting your life with sketches.
Each student gets a complete Urban Sketching Kit that includes:
hardbound sketchbook,
travel sized watercolor palette,
pencil and eraser,
micron pen,
Pentel water brush
all enclosed in a zippered carrying case.

6pm to Midnight $22 Nude Nite. Artegon 5250 International Dr, Orlando, FL.Nude Nite is a dazzling art and entertainment event celebrating the beauty of the nude. Nude Nite brings together hundreds of artists for three evenings of visual art, performance and a cast of characters both in costume and out...  Open to the public, tickets can be purchased at the door. Show is 21+. 

8pm to 11:30pm Now That's What I Call The 90s! The Abbey 100 S Eola Dr, Orlando, Florida. Don't be clueless! Grab your LA Gear and get jiggy #atTheAbbey as we celebrate all things 90s! Dance to the music and videos you love while enjoying drink specials all night long! No cover
21+


Sunday February 14, 2016 Valentines Day 
11am to 5pm Free. The 2016 Dragon Parade Lunar New Year Festival. Orlando Fashion Square, 3201 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL. The 2016 Dragon Parade Lunar New Year Festival will take place on Sunday, February 14 from 11am until 5pm at Fashion Square Mall.
Sponsors include Bright House Networks, Fashion Square Mall, Florida Hospital and Walgreen's.
For sponsor, vendor and parade information:
www.centralfloridadragonparade.org 


9am to 5pm $200. Nude Couples Portraits. Couples reserve a two hour time slot and Thor executes an intimate couples portrait. Couples are reclined in bed and settle into a relaxed embrace. The couple then gets to keep their favorite sketch. 

1pm to 4pm Donations. Fur, Fun and Folk Art. Jeanine Taylor Folk Art, 211 E. 1st St., Sanford, FL. Have your precious pet captured forever in the charming folk art style by internationally acclaimed folk artist, Theresa Disney. Bring your pet in person or a photo and for a donation, Theresa will paint them on canvas in her inimitable style. Talk about a unique Valentines Day gift for that special someone and a real family treasure.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pepper's Ghost appeared at Nerd Nite Orlando XXVIII.


Nerd Nite Orlando is an evening of entertaining yet thought-provoking talks across many disciplines, all while the audience drinks along in a casual bar atmosphere. Speakers present for 15-20 minutes each on a fascinating subject of their choice, often in an uncanny and unconventional way. Following each presentation is a brief question and answer session with the audience. The event happens at The Geek Easy 114 S Semoran Blvd Suite 6, Winter Park, Florida.

The most fascinating talk was by Travis Winkler about Pepper's ghost which is an illusion technique used in theater, amusement parks, museums, television, and concerts. In 1862, inventor Henry Dircks developed the Dircksian Phantasmagoria, his version of the long-established phantasmagoria performances. This technique was used to make a ghost appear on-stage. He tried unsuccessfully to sell his idea to theaters. It required that theaters be completely rebuilt to support the effect, which they found too costly to consider. Later in the year, Dircks set up a booth at the Royal Polytechnic, where it was seen by John Pepper.

Pepper realized that the method could be modified to make it easy to incorporate into existing theatres. Pepper first showed the effect during a scene of Charles Dickens's The Haunted Man, to great success. Pepper's implementation of the effect tied his name to it permanently. Dircks eventually signed over to Pepper all financial rights in their joint patent. Though Pepper tried many times to give credit to Dircks, the title "Pepper's ghost" endured.

Theaters have had reasons to stage the appearances of ghosts for centuries. Early attempts at making ghosts appear involved trap doors, ramps and dollies that could make a figure appear to weightlessly appear in a scene. The Pepper's Ghost technique does away with all the rope, pulleys and trap doors. The audience views a stage or room with various objects in it. On command, ghostly objects appear to fade in or out of existence in the room, or objects in the room magically transform into different objects. The effect is achieved with a carefully angle sheet of glass.

The basic trick involves a stage that is specially arranged into two rooms, one that people can see into or the stage as a whole, and a second that is hidden to the side, the "blue room". The plate of glass (or Plexiglas or plastic film) is placed somewhere in the main room at an angle that reflects the view of the blue room towards the audience. Generally this is arranged with the blue room to one side of the stage, and the plate on the stage rotated around its vertical axis at 45 degrees. Care must be taken to make the glass as invisible as possible, normally hiding the lower edge in patterning on the floor and ensuring lights do not reflect off it. When the lights are bright in the main room and dark in the blue room, the reflected image cannot be seen. When the lighting in the blue room is increased, often with the main room lights dimming to make the effect more pronounced, the reflection becomes visible and the objects within the blue room seem to appear in thin air.

 Notable examples of the illusion are virtual pop stars and the appearance of "ghosts" at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. Hidden in the corner of the stage at Nerd Night was a glass box. It was unveiled and the used for a magic trick. Inside the glass box was a light bulb. The light bulb miraculously disappeared using the principles of Pepper's Ghost. Even knowing how the trick was done, it was impressive given the theatrics of the performance.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Art of Beer at Artegon.


Artegon is located where the old Festival Bay Mall used to be, at 5250 International Drive near all the Outlet Malls. The promoters pitched the venue as an exotic artist's market. In the first months, quite a few local artists set up shop in cages to sell their art. Robin Van Arsdol, (RV) took over a large gallery space near the movie theater which was prime retail space. He left as did most other artist's. At a First Thursdays even at The Orlando Museum of art, I asked him why he left Artegon. His response was rather simple, "They lied to me." I left it at than.

The metal cages have been replaced by walls that give the market a more quaint feeling. The cage ceilings remain. In the large open area at the center of Artegon, a sky trail was set up. In the first few months after Artegon opened, a tourist fell to his death from this attraction. I was told that benches were placed around the body to keep people away. Today there is a six foot open topped box that could be used for the same purpose. Four people could lift the four walled box and place it where it was needed. Only the tallest people could peek inside.

The Art of Beer was hell in this large open area. Free samples of beer were dispensed to the long lines of people. John Jacob Williams performed covers with his guitar. The music was just background noise as people waited for their free beer. Mark your calendar, the Art of Beer happens on the Second Tuesday of every month, at 5 p.m. Don't climb up into the rafters after you have had a few.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Dawn Branch Works "Journey" has been posponed.


I went to a Dawn Branch Works dance rehearsal for "Journey". The show is describe as a walk through faith. One section of new choreography was being worked out. Dawn sat leaning against the mirrored wall. Dancers gathered as a group and then one was asked to volunteer to fall backwards. When the dancers stood became their spot in the new gelled scene. Cindy Michelle Heen was the dancer who offered the most support when the dancer fell back. This move was rehearsed many times giving me a chance to capture every dancers gesture while studying the staging as a whole. I'm amazed by the trust and faith the dancers have in each other. It was fascinating to watch as chance encounters fell into place as the final choreography. Dancers and the choreographer added their creative input. Another dance felt like laborers working in the field who dreamed of freedom expressed in dance.

Dawn Branch Works was formed after The Center for Contemporary dance brought choreographer Dawn Branch together with local professional dancers for a project for the 2012 Olympics. The experience of dancing together was so rewarding that the group decided to work together after the project's conclusion and form a professional company. "A creative bond was formed among the artists," says Branch, "Sometimes things just fall into place, and this was one of those divine moments." Inaugural member Lindsey Salfran agrees: "Collaboration between the dancers of DBW and Dawn Branch is an exciting experience. We are constantly pushed beyond our perceived imitations--you dance in ways you never thought you could dance before, and you feel the difference at every rehearsal."

I was sad to find out that "Journey" the show has been postponed . The new dates will be in the spring to summer season. Previously purchased tickets to the January show will be honored at the upcoming dates.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Emotions Dance Presents Untold Stories.


Emotions Dance has a new rehearsal space at 105 Melody Lane west. Casselberry, FL. Founder and choreographer, Larissa Humiston,  greeted me in the lobby. Others in the lobby turned out to be members of the Emotions Dance board of directors. They were here to see a full run through of the latest show entitled, UntoId Stories.  This show explores stories of everyday life with a message of courage and hope. The performance engages audiences with stories about struggles to inspire dialogue and societal change.

The new rehearsal space is cavernous. Larissa let the board know that she has developed so m mad skills as a light in designer. Indeed each dance piece was colorfully lit, giving the individual piece their own color tone from warm to cool. The first dance had two dancers in black tights who wore white kabuki masks. This gave the dance a rather mysterious and primal feel. I was amazed by how many young new dancers were in the company. I didn't count but there must have been over a dozen. This allowed some dancers to rest and change costume as of he performed. Several powerful dancers from last year were gone, but I was amazed by the new talent.

The black costuming was replace by white flowing that its in the next dance. Earthy weighted movements turned to a graceful flowing routine. The spark that ignites each performance is always an inner emotion. A dancers face and body gesture can show that emotion and bring it to light. I usually identify with one dancers crisp performance and I follow that one dancer and use line to try and rediscover what they are expressing.

In the notes session after the run through, It became clear that different dancers helped choreograph each piece. In one dance, the performers wore loose men's stiff collared dress shirts. One dancer was bound in a red ribbon. The choreographer explained that it was a story about diabetes which is an invisible affliction. The ribbon was unfurled and it tied all the dancers together with one crimson line.

Other dances felt familiar, like being reunited with old friends. Larissa's touch must have been in those routines. Angst, hope, and striving all radiated through in the dances. The modern dance was at times gymnastic as dancers tumbled and supported each other. It takes an amazing amount of trust to know you will be caught when to fall.

Untold Stories
Friday Feb 19 and Saturday Feb 20 at 8pm.
Lowndes Shakespeare Center’s Mandell Theatre (812 E. Rollins St. Orlando).
Pre-sale ticketing will be available until Feb 15 GA $18 and Students/Seniors are $14. At the door- general audience is $20 and Students/Seniors (65+) are $15

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Art in the Chambers & Sculpture Lighting Party.


Terry Olson invited guests for light refreshments to celebrate the Judy Albertson-Louis Peterson Galleries Art in the Chambers opening, part of Art Legends of Orange County.  Art Legends is remembrance of distinguished artists and patrons of the arts who made their mark between 1932 and 1982, critical years in local development of the visual arts. The chambers show features Judy Albertson and Louise Peterson all year, with others like Grady Kimsey and Steve Lotz being featured for shorter exhibitions. Later that evening there was a lighting ceremony on the lawn for the Temporary Sculpture Exhibition at 201 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, FL.

I arrived as the sun was setting and wanted to catch the orange glow on the Christian condominium or retirement home. I found it ironic that the was a red light on top of the cross. Perhaps they were worried it might get hit by a low flying aircraft. In the foreground was a wooden sculpture by Julia Ousley titled Skyline I I. As it grew darker, the lights came on to illuminate the sculptures. One artist, walking y the Chambers Opening joked with me saying " You could get arrested for doing that." I laughed, but as a matter of fact he was right. I could be mistake for a panhandle outside my designated blue box. It was a cold night for Orlando, so I had on my wood cap and put up my hood to conserve heat. the tablet processor helped keep my fingers a bit warm.

I never did get inside, since capturing the light in the cold was challenging enough. Gradually people wandered outside to take pictures. Then everything went black for the official lighting ceremony. Banks Helfrich and his wife stopped to say hello. They asked if I as going to SAK Comedy Lab after m sketch, and ironically, I was. I've been bumping into them all over town. My plan was to meet Terry for a night out, but she had to work late. The huge blue wind chimes remained silent.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

ODD 8 at Ten 10 Brewing.


The tenth Orlando Drink and Draw (ODD) was held at Ten 10 Brewing (1010 Virginia Dr, Orlando, FL) . I arrived a bit early, because I had done one of the 27 Blue Box Initiative sketches earlier in the day and it made no sense to drive all the way back to the studio. When I entered, David Charles, who used to run Blank Space across from the Orlando Public Library, was working on a new brew that was simmering over a burner. He enjoyed how one of my articles shook up Orlando's arts community. We had a laugh about how some artists get so upset when other artists hit the mainstream. I prefer to celebrate the accomplishment. David had organized a Ten 10 Brewing Art Market, but after a lackluster turn out of interested artists, he has decided to put the market to rest for a bit while he lives his life. When I asked his advice on a new beer to taste he made me a beer sampler with four shot glass sized sips of beer tucked into a wooden stand. 


The beers I tasted as I worked on my sketch were, Dinkey Line, which is an original light brew dedicated to the exercise trail that runs past the Brewery. Westphalia Alt was a German beer which is what I drank for the rest of the evening. Chronically Mismanaged was a coffee flavored dark beer that I rather liked, and Havakow was a dark beer that didn't suit my taste. 

Colin Boyer was the first artist to arrive, and he joined me in sketching the bar as artists arrived. What I love about ODD is that different artists stop out each time, so I get to meet artists of all types. I do my usual Urban Sketch and then I get to learn from other artists experiences. ODD is half sketching and half social. Tom Schneider and his girlfriend Erin Marie Page were the next to arrive. I like that ODD has become a creative date night experience. Erin went to school for illustration and she appreciated getting her feet wet by sketching again. Tom works security but loves to draw. 


I was very happy when Brendan O'Connor,  who writes for The Bungalower, stopped out with his brother. I had seen pictures of Brendan dressed as a Merman at the Gasperilla Festival in Tampa. Brendan was joined by Godzilla at Gasperilla an he said it was quite the experience. Having huge inflated muscles guarantees that you will be molested all day. When he begged for some time to go to the bathroom, people got insulted. If that is what fame tastes like, he had enough, thank you very much. He had a wonderful Chinese watercolor set with bright vibrant colors. Unfortunately the O'Connors, could only stay for part of the night. They had another party to hit. 
To mix things up and get everyone sketching fast, I suggested we do 5 minute ruthless portraits. Artists faced each other and sketched. Since everyone was sketching there was no one posing. If you wanted to catch someone's eyes you would have to wait for their quick glances up. I don't really sketch portraits much, so it is new territory for me. There was a change of the guards as Brendan and his brother left and Rob showed up with his posse of artists. They jumped right into the 5 minute sketches. Artists shuffled around the table to meet someone new and sketch. I asked everyone to pass their sketchbooks around and sign any sketches of themselves.This is a good way for me to learn everyone's names, but so me of the artsy signatures are hard to decipher.

Afterwards, we all settled in to work on our own projects. Stephanie Kell had a wonderful sketchbook full of exotic demons and creatures. She renders these drawing slowly over time adding infinite detail and an incredible valve range. She had a case of art pens that is truly enviable. The sketchbook had grey paper and she worked the lights and darks from this grey base. Some artists came from a cartoon background while others came from a traditional life drawing background. Colin's drawings sparked to life during the 5 minute sessions. He accentuated the deep shadows on peoples faces leaving detail to the imagination. Rob talked about his recent divorce and how his art remains a constant as he starts all over again. He filled a page with light blue pencil studies of wooden totems and people. At Universal Studios he helped create a large totem pole that was coated in cement and painted to look like carved wood. The studio wants to bring him in full time but he prefers the freedom of freelance. We talked about finding time to discover a personal style and the inner conflicts that tend to hold artists back. As he said, "We are our own worst enemy." It is refreshing to share a beer with someone who knows that art isn't easy.

Mark your Calendar. The next ODD will be March 7th from 6pm to 9pm at The Grand Bohemian Hotel  (325 S Orange Ave, Orlando, Florida).

Friday, February 5, 2016

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

Saturday February 6, 2015 
10am to 6pm $11 Melbourne Renaissance Fair. Wickham Park 2500 Parkway Drive Melbourne FL. All weekend. Prepare to step back in time to a simpler way of life and the festival atmosphere of a charming Olde World Faire day in Renaissance Europe.
From the glories of William the Conqueror through the Golden Age of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and beyond. When armored knights traveled the countryside competing for fortune and fame, these festivals were a time of celebration, revelry and merriment throughout the countryside.
The lush, tree-filled Shire of Wickham will be a re-creation of a late 14th Century European Tournament and Market Faire. Think Canterbury Tales a Knights Tale laden with whimsical characters from lore and legend thrown in for your entertainment pleasure. The age of romance, chivalry and adventure will be recreated among the wonders of nature in this idyllic Brevard County setting. http://brevardrenaissancefair.com/

10am to 5pm Free. Art in the Park- Spring 2016. Mead Gardens 1300 S Denning Dr, Winter Park, Florida. his is the first Art in the Park of the year my friends, Let's us come together in the spirit of creative expression and gather at Mead Gardens. This is the perfect time to unwind in nature, create art, share, and tap into the creative flow together! Bring your friends, or make new ones!
Let's create together at art in the park- Any kind of art/craft/music that makes you feel happy.
This isn't an organization, it's a group of like-minded artists coming together to create, network and inspire one another in this beautiful, public garden.
We will set up on the other side of the picnic pavilion across the street from the greenhouse. When coming into the front entrance of the gardens, it is to the right of the Pavilion. If that location is not available the day of the event, a new location will be posted on this page. This event is totally free and open to anyone who wants to participate! All forms of artwork are encouraged.
Things to bring- art supplies, picnic supplies, chairs, blankets, musical instruments, friends, snacks, drinks, natural bug spray, cameras, business cards, words of encouragement, and positive energy, Since we are spending time at this park, we are NOT allowed to sell any items but we can meet and mingle and promote upcoming events. Bathrooms are available at the gardens. There are no restaurants on the premises, please bring any snacks you wish to consume. Parking is available on a first come, first serve basis. Please carry out what you carry in and take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints.
In the event of rain, the event will be rescheduled.
Call 828-974-1105 if you have any questions.

7pm to 10pm Free. HAROLD GARDE: Last of the Game Changers. Henao Contemporary Center 5601 Edgewater Dr, Orlando, Florida. Since America's inception our artists tended to copy what was going on in other countries, and though the 18th and 19th centuries saw the US producing masters like John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, the Peale painters, Frederic Church, Heade, Kensett, Audubon, and so on, the US was always considered second tier to European artists.
However "A new vanguard emerged in the early 1940s, primarily in New York, where a small group of loosely affiliated artists created a stylistically diverse body of work that introduced radical new directions in art—and shifted the art world's focus... Breaking away from accepted conventions in both technique and subject matter, the artists made monumentally scaled works that stood as reflections of their individual psyches—and in doing so, attempted to tap into universal inner sources. These artists valued spontaneity and improvisation, and they accorded the highest importance to process. Their work resists stylistic categorization, but it can be clustered around two basic inclinations: an emphasis on dynamic, energetic gesture, in contrast to a reflective, cerebral focus on more open fields of color. In either case, the imagery was primarily abstract. Even when depicting images based on visual realities, the Abstract Expressionists favored a highly abstracted mode." (Met Museum, http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/abex/hd_abex.htm)
Harold Garde, immersed in the New York art world just as Abstract Expressionism was gaining world wide attention, is one of the few true artists who are courageous enough to continue to make no concessions to prettiness or fashion, whose singleness of purpose inspires us all to tell more truth, to examine more deeply and honestly our own lives for what is personally and profoundly human. Garde is the real thing, an artist of passion, integrity and commitment, unafraid of failure, unable to compromise his vision. He personifies the artist archetype, believing totally in the personal and social necessity of art. He gives other artists courage. -Robert Shetterly

Sunday February 7, 2016 
1pm to 4pm Donation. Fur, Fun and Folk Art. Jeanine Taylor Folk Art, 211 E. 1st St., Sanford, FL. Have your precious pet captured forever in the charming folk art style by internationally acclaimed folk artist, Theresa Disney. Bring your pet in person or a photo and for a donation, Theresa will paint them on canvas in her inimitable style. Talk about a unique Valentines Day gift for that special someone and a real family treasure.

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

10pm to Midnight Free but get a coffee. 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.
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Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Blue Box Initiative - Michael Sloan.

On February 1, I picked up Micihael Sloan from his home and brought him to the Blue Box on Lake Dot on Colonial Drive one block West of the I-4 overpass. It was tricky finding his place so we ended up running about a half hour late. As a quick recap in case you are a new reader, Orlando passed an ordinance back in the 1990s making it illegal to panhandle in Downtown Orlando. 27 blue boxes were painted on the sidewalks as free speech zones. From sunrise to sunset it is legal to panhandle in these blue boxes.

On our drive too to  the  blue  box site,  Micihael explained that he used to perform downtown about 15 years ago and he was told that he must move to a blue. In Orlando performers seem  too be considered panhandlers with talent. I've been told to move along by police while sketching downtown but I was never instructed to go to a box. Anyway, I decided to ask performers to come out to each of the 27 boxes so that I can sketch performers at each of the sites. The plan is to do one sketch a week, usually on Mondays. The Blue Box Initiative group page was set up to organize and schedule performances.

As we were setting up, a man in a red shirt who introduced himself as Juju joked around with Micihael. He sat down in the shade and shouted to us, "Hey, come over here in the shade, I want to hear the music." Micihael shouted back, "We can't, I have to stay in the blue box."  It was brutally hot. I realized that I need to bring sunscreen to these blue box sketch outings. The several days of col weather are already a though of the past. Micihael kept his guitar case open, but no one ever dropped any bills inside. It was hard to hear the music over the constant rush of car traffic. I could pick out that he was making up lyrics on the fly about being put in blue boxes. He was singing the blue box blues. Besides singing, Micihael did some Tai Chi which made it look like he was channeling the automotive dissonance. He also had just enough room in the box to do several cart wheels. Cars honked their approval, a loud automotive standing ovation.

There was some foot traffic. Perhaps 20 people wandered by during the performance. A young woman in a black dress walked by with a luggage cart. She reminded me of drug sales reps I have seen in doctors offices. She was actually Jenna Smith, a UCF journalism student who wanted to report on the Blue Box Initiative. She unpacked a tripod and sizable TV news camera. She was the reporter and camera woman all rolled into one. The black dress was a mistake because the sun was unrelenting. She never filmed herself asking the questions, perhaps she did that later.

Juju became infatuated with what I was doing. He stood behind me the whole time doing a play by play announcement of every item I put on the page. I'm usually oblivious to on lookers, but he was hard to ignore. A bicyclist with dreads and a wicker basket stopped for the longest time to listen. He spoke with Jenna about the social divides created by capitalism. Around 1pm a car stopped in front of the box, and a woman asked if we wanted sandwiches. My hands were busy with the sketch so I didn't accept. Juju however accepted for us all. He gave Micihael some fruit and he offer me a cookie. I tried to refuse but he insisted, so I accepted his offering and put it in my bag. It was from the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and I ate it on the drive home. It was delicious.

Jenna stayed with us right until the sketch was complete. She then interviewed us with beautiful Lake Dot as the back drop. She plans to interview City Commissioners, so she is doing some in depth reporting on the issue. I bumped into City Commissioner Patty Sheehan that night and she was amazed by Winter Parks ordinance that bans artists. She asked me, "Orlando doesn't do that do they?" It seemed odd that she was asking me. I mentioned the blue boxes which is an ordinance she helped spearhead.  I don't think she realized the the blue boxes hurt the Orlando arts scene. "Well, if you need anything from me, let me know." she said as she left.

Cole Nesmith organized a huge one night event called "The Creative City Project." He got performing arts groups to come together downtown for a solid evening of performances outside on Orange Avenue downtown. I was told that in the beginning, Cole was instructed that the performances would have to be in the Blue Boxes which make for rather small stages. Cole worked closely with politicians to create an amazing event that took over Orange Avenue for five blocks.  But that was for one night only. If Orlando truly embraced creativity downtown then every evening the city streets could come alive. For now outdoor creativity is shoved aside into isolated blue boxes.