Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Göreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia Turkey.


Cappadocia lies in in the heartland of what is now Turkey. Fairy Chimney rock formations are scattered all around the town of Göreme. Though still cold, pink blossoms were bursting open in some trees while most trees were barren. The time that the Göreme was first settled is unclear, but it could date back as the Hittite era, between 1800 and 1200 B.C. The location was central between rivaling empires, such as the Greeks and Persians, leading the natives to tunnel into the rock to escape the political turmoil. Christianity prevailed as the primary religion in the region, which is evident from many rock churches that can still be seen today.

After the sketch was done, I met Terry to tour the inner carved rooms, halls and churches. Signs help tourists on the in self guided tours. I can't imagine that living in these stone caves could have been  comfortable. It must have been drafty and cold in the winter. Our hotel room was carved into the rock as well. A large bathroom was the primary room carved out and there was a honeycomb of notches carved into the walls which made for convenient storage for towels and clothing. With modern electricity and plumbing cave living can be quite luxurious.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

The Grand Bazaar (Turkish: Kapalıçarşı, meaning ‘Covered Bazaar’; also Büyük Çarşı, meaning ‘Grand Bazaar) in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. In 2014, it is listed number 1 among the world's most-visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors.

The place is a cavernous riot of activity, bustle and bright colors. Beautiful mosaics cover much of the intricate inner arch ways. Red Turkish flags hung above many shop entrances. Terry of course shopped as I sketched.  I sat outside a jewelry shop and the shop owner took quite an interest in what I was doing. It is traditional to offer shoppers a cup of tea and I was offered a cup as well. You can see several tiny tea cups resting on a silver plate on the floor of my sketch. The merchant was in his late 50's with a thick grey mustache' He spoke fluent English and he told me That he has run the family business for over 30 years.  He also told me that much of the tile work was done by local students.

The construction of the Grand Bazaar Began in 1455 shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople and was finished in 1460. Fires, earthquakes and other calamities ravaged the market through it's long history, but it always recovered. The uncovered streets around the market a r just as crowded and bustling. Terry and I took a culinary tour of the market to taste food from some of the hidden gems of restaurants that can be found everywhere. We sampled cheeses and learned how the locals shop. Shopping at the Bazaar is a real adventure. Finding Terry after the sketch was done was another adventure.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hagia Sofya in Istanbul Turkey.


Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet Mh., Ayasofya Meydanı, Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey, (from the Greek: Ἁγία Σοφία, "Holy Wisdom"; Turkish: Ayasofya) is a former Christian patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) in Istanbul, Turkey. Built in 537 it served as an Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who ordered this main church of Orthodox Christianity converted into a mosque. By that point, the church had fallen into a state of disrepair. It remained a mosque until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum in 1935. Although a museum the minarets still broadcast the daily Muslim prayers.

As I worked on this sketch, Terry went inside to explore the museum. A young Turkish girl let me know she was also an artist. We did our best to communicate using the universal language of sketching. She showed me her quick sketches, and I showed her mine. I probably learned more about her from that quick exchange of images than if we had chatted for hours. A picture is worth a thousand words.

The large public square bustled with activity. Hagia Sophia is one of the top tourist attractions in Istanbul. Women covered head to toe in black burkas were among the tourists. It seemed a contradiction to see them fingering their iPhones.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Istanbul Turkey Day 1.


Terry's niece Alison Brown works for the United States State Department and was stationed in Istanbul, Turkey. Istanbul is an exciting highly populated city that straddles Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait. The Old City reflects cultural influences of the many empires that once ruled here. In the Sultanahmet district, the open-air, Roman-era Hippodrome was for centuries the site of chariot races, and Egyptian obelisks remain. This is a city I would love to live in. There is so much history and culture that needs to be sketched.

Just getting from the airport, to Alison's high rise apartment was an adventure. Once the taxi got off the highways, which were lavishly decorated with thousands of Daffodils, the side streets started snaking up hills. The streets get very narrow with cars are parked on both besides of the street . Every block becomes a game of dare as drivers face off for the narrow passage in opposite directions. Alison's apartment building had guards at the driveway entrance with steel stanchions that could lower into the pavement when a car is cleared. One window of Alison's apartment looked like it had been hit by a bullet causing a hairline crack. Alison didn't think much of it. 

Terry played with Louie, Allison's French Bulldog, as I did this sketch. Afterward, we explored the area to find a restaurant. Not knowing the language, we just pointed at item on the menu. Turkey never let us down, the food was always delicious. The hole in the wall restaurant we found turned out to be a place we returned to time time again.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Cabana Bay Beach Resort has a 1950s themed ambience.


Cabana Bay Beach Resort, 6550 Adventure Way, Orlando, FL, is a new place to stay right near Universal Studios. It is no more than a quarter mile from my studio and I watched as it was built up on a huge dirt lot next to the theme park. The lobby has retro themed 1950s TV commercials running all day. The pool area is expansive with a large lazy river around the perimeter. I walked in to see how the of he half lives. Tourists have it made in Orlando. Yet this retreat is far removed from the culture that can be found in Orlando every day.

This central a rest o the resort has all possible amenities lit restaurants, movie screenings, and constant watery bliss. Why would tourists brave the hot parks when they can relax here. Tickets were purchased and commitments made so most of these people were probable recovering from the sweat and heat stroke they endured in the parks. Guests benefits include, early Universal Studios Park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, one hour before the theme park opens (valid theme park admission required) and complimentary shuttle buses and walking paths to both Universal Orlando theme parks and Universal City Walk.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

With the T-Rex at Downtown Disney.


A former Disney Feature Animation background painter was having a show at one of the Disney Stores at the Downtown Disney.The invite was wrong however and he wasn't in the store when I stopped by to say hello. Since I was there, I walked around to find something to sketch. The Marketplace is a hectic place to sketch. Everyone seems to be in a rush to make last minute purchases before they head home. The eye catching Dinosaur bones stop tourists in their tracks for a brief photo opportunity. The Dinosaurs are part of a themed restaurant Called T-Rex Cafe, (1676 Buena Vista Dr, Orlando, FL) that is always jam packed. They serve adventures rather than ordinary meals. American eats plus animatronic dinosaurs and an underwater aquarium draw crowds in Downtown Disney.

Friday, March 25, 2016

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

Saturday March 26, 2016
9am to 3:30pm $40 NYC Urban Sketch Workshop. Pearl Studios which are located at 519 Eight Avenue. That's located between West 35 and 36th Streets. We reserved Studio F, which is on the 12th floor. I will be offering an Urban Sketching workshop in NYC. The primary focus will b on populating a sketch wit multiple people and in the afternoon, we will sketch on location in the city. I'm very excited to meet about 40 New York City Urban Sketchers. Afterwards, we will go o for drinks and perhaps more sketching.

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

8pm to 11pm Free but get a drink. Jazz Saturdays. Cork and Fork American Grill5180 S. Conway Road, Belle Isle, FL. Jazz Saturdays will feature live entertainment by Jazzanova musicians. Cork & Fork American Grill happily announces the launch of a new menu starting Wednesday, March 23, featuring even more tasty dishes made fresh daily to add to Cork & Fork’s already popular menu that’s made the Belle Isle eatery a favorite amongst foodies, locals and visitors throughout Central Florida.

Sunday March 27, 2016
Noon to 2pm. Free but get food and drink. Florida Gospel Jam. Fish on Fire 7937 Daetwyler Drive Belle Isle FL. Every 2nd and 4th Sunday.

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

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

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lake Eola sculptures light up the night.


Any time I sketch at a venue in downtown Orlando, I park near Lake Eola. At night, the fountain is lit up as we r as the sculptures that were put in last year. They were put in place by an organization called See Art Orlando. This sculpture is called, "Take Flight" by Douwe Blumberg, sponsored by Darden.

Douwe was born in Los Angeles of two amateur artists, his artistic gifts were evident early on.  During a childhood that was almost a continual art education, he spent some formative years in Europe being exposed to western artistic traditions.  Later he attended the University of Southern California’s prestigious Idyllwild School of the Arts and Music.  This was followed up with four years of sculpture/metal working education during which he won many national awards.  His education was capped by an apprenticeship at a CA art foundry where he mastered the many facets of creating bronzes.  Hence his “art education” consisted of a unique and healthy mix of traditional schooling with hands-on apprenticeship.  He attributes his ability to work in varied techniques and styles to this style of learning.

Upon graduation however, he did not immediately pursue an art career.  Instead, he became a professional horse trainer, a career he pursued for 18 years at his ranch outside of L.A.  Gradually, however, he started sculpting again, albeit part time, and began accepting commissions.  As demand for his work grew, he was forced to choose between the two careers; his lifelong passion of sculpting won out.  Closing his barn in 2000, he relocated to centrally located Kentucky where he has a studio and home north of Lexington.  Douwe has completed well over 200 private and public commissions and has numerous awards, residencies and shows to his credit.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.


Nia Vardalos wrote this endearing and incredibly funny movie about the Portokalos family. I didn't see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 1, so I went into this premiere rather blind. The line to get into the free screening wrapped around the building. I walked past a guard and asked him if that was the line for the wedding. He said, "That's the line for the premiere. Not sure what movie it is." I told him that I had confused the movie for Mama Mia, a musical with music by Abba that I hated. A friend let me know that My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, was probably going to be a fun ride. Everyone in line got a card for a free Baklava at Little Greek Restaurant! Not sure if, or when I'll cash that in.

I was laughing out loud for most of the movie, and fell in love with this crazy family. Nia Plays the part of Toula, who married Ian, which must have caused some chaos in the first movie since Ian isn't Greek. Probably the most heart warming moment in the movie came when Toula's father, Gus, met his brother whom the whole family had chipped in with air miles, to fly in from Greece. The brother from Greece resented that his brother left his home country. Gus sent money over seas to prove his success to his brother but the money was always returned. These crusty old men faced off and finally years of resentment melted away and they hugged. I got choked up. After several shots of Ouzo they were laughing like children. In Greek, Gus told his brother that his son in law isn't bad for a gringo. Ian responds in Greek, "You aren't bad yourself for a grumpy old man." They are shocked he has learned Greek and they all have another shot and laughed.

Still working in her parents' Greek restaurant, Toula's daughter Paris is growing up. She is getting ready to graduate high school and Toula and Ian are experiencing marital issues. It is hard to find romance with the demands of everyday life and the demands of an insanely close family. Toula's struggle to give her daughter room to grow is beautiful an heart breaking. When Toula's parents find out they were never officially married, because a priest forgot to sign the marriage license. Gus wants to immediately get married, but his wife Maria, wants a proper proposal after 50 years together.

Hilarity ensues as the family chips in to make the wedding bigger and better with many tasteless touches. They forget to hire limousines and police officers volunteer get the couple to the church with sirens blazing. The women are jostled and panicked but the men in the back of their cop car are laughing up a storm drinking Ouzo which spills with each sharp turn. The wedding reception is boisterous, loud with plenty of Greek dancing. The movie is a joyous celebration of life with all of its laughter and drama. I had a grand time and the audience applauded when the credits rolled. Definitely get out and see this movie, you will laugh until you cry. The movie opens March 25th at a theater near you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Bloody Jug Band performed at the Hourglass.


John Theisen, the lead singer of the Bloody Jug Band, ordered some cards with a sketch I did of the band at Fringe. We met behind The Hour Glass (480 S Ronald Reagan Blvd Longwood, FL) where we made the exchange. I decided to stay to watch the first set and have a drink. There must have been a comic con convention in town because folks at the next table were dressed in Star Wars regalia. i wish they had made it into the sketch, but they sat down after the scene was blocked in.

The Bloody Jug Band draws inspiration from historic Jug bands of the 1920’s and 30’s as well as the darker side of Blues and Rock n’ Roll, The Band carves out its own niche in a genre of music that has never seen such a bloody incarnation. Their high energy dark themed music is quite addictive. I love that tips go into a tiny coffin. Salvador Dali overlooked the performance with a smirk as if in approval of the sinister, surreal lyrics and driving beat.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Watching Basketball at Miller's.


It had been a long day. Terry let me know she was going to watch a basketball game at Craig Miller's Field House (7958 Via Delagio Way Orlando FL). The Portland Pilots were playing the Golden State Warriors. The game was starting late, after 10pm. I arrived first. There was music thumping inside. I waited a few minutes for Terry to pull into the parking lot. We entered together and Terry found a large screen TV behind the bar that had the game on. There were dozens of TVs, each broadcasting a different game. A DJ however was in charge of all the audio. The bar maid couldn't her us in our attempt to place an order. Terry typed on her phone and showed the bar maid what she wanted. I ordered a Stella. Mostly because I like shouting Stella!

When I started sketching, Terry moved three bar stools away. Since the sketch was started I stayed where I was. A guy ordered a beer and dropped it on the floor between Terry and I. Glass shards and beer splashed everywhere. There was the frantic activity of sweeping up the glass and mopping the beer. On TV the sweat was being mopped off the court. I wondered who each person was at the bar. A couple of women danced to the DJ's beats. A cheap light show illuminated my sketchbook pink and then blue. The bar maid was quite entertaining. She danced to the songs she liked, and kept dancing as she poured drinks with a flourish. As I finished up the sketch, I paid more attention to the game. The warriors were way in the lead, like 90 to 60. There was no way Portland would catch up in the fourth quarter. The seat beside Terry was leaning forward against the bar like it as reserved. I decided to call it a night. I paid for my $11 drink and went home to get some sleep. I had to teach the next morning.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

All about-Race and power near Blue Box 6.

I had arranged to meet Hurricane Maria at Blue Box 8 near the Lynx Bus Station. 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. Performing outside the boxes can result in 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

I arrived a little late and didn't see Maria. I assumed she was running late and started sketching. My darn cell phone was dead because my car charger was broken. There was no way to contact her. I finished as much of the sketch a I could, and assumed that I could place Maria in the sketch when she arrived. She is a caricature artist and she planned to set up shop in the Blue Box. I probably sketched for an hour and a half, completing most of the watercolor with an open space that I left blank. If anyone reading this is interested, I could sketch you into this incomplete sketch in about half an hour. I will not post the sketch until it has a performer utilizing the box. Become part of The Blue Box Initiative.

I packed up an decided to head home. As I approached a huge construction site near the Bob Carr Theater, I saw Maria talking to several construction workers. She had gone to the wrong Blue Box and was deep in conversation about race and power. Blue Box number 6 had been ripped up due to the construction. As the conversation went on, I realized that the blue boxes represent first amendment zones, where freedom of express to is allowed.

The construction worker was explaining how blacks have been marginalized throughout history. The us Census would redefine the race every time there was census. They were redefined as blacks, negros, African Americans and other names. Poor neighborhoods were fractured and split up with redistricting. He asked each of us where our ancestors came from. Regardless of our past, he said we all have Moorish blood in us. Maria responded, "I prefer to just think of us as the human race."
He spoke of a true and divine knowledge of yourself, historically speaking. People have been calling themselves everything but what they are, and so they are never able to take their proper place in the national and international affairs of men all over the world. they have been mentally robbed of their inherent and invincible manhood, by being robbed of their nationhood. The west African Moorish Empire expanded into Europe conquering Spain in 711 AD. This was the greatest power in Europe at the time and its influence spread resulting in the Renaissance. Apparently Abraham Lincoln was assassinated because he understood this Moorish commonality. The same was true of Dr. Martin Luthar King. One of King's aid stepped aside to open a pathway for a sniper's bullet.

The local school the the worker used to go to used to inspire students to greatness. Then teachers were brought in from out of the community and the students were no longer taught civic pride. Drugs ravaged the neighborhood causing further collapse. These drugs were specifically introduce in impoverished neighborhoods. This backfired however because then others could get cheap drugs there and the drug plagues spread could not be stopped.

With my sketch done, I decided to slip away. Free speech was very much alive near Blue Box number 6. I asked Maria if she was willing to set up for a short time in Blue Box number 8, but she had to get over to Audubon Park where she would be doing caricatures at the Monday night farmers market in the Stardust Video and Coffee parking lot.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Whale pulls at every heart string.


The Whale, written by Samuel D. Hunter, and Produced by Beth Marshall Presents will make its Central Florida Regional Premiere on March 18th. I arrived at a dress rehearsal about an hour before the run through of the show. Director, Rob Winn Anderson, wanted to revise several scenes that had kinks to be worked out. Ellie, Rachel Comeau read a book review she had written about Moby Dick. The play is book ended by her heart felt review, and it's significance only becomes clear as her relation ship with her father Charlie, Michael Wanzie comes to light. The stage set by Tom Mangeri, felt like a diorama on stilts. At key moments in the play, blue and green lights would flicker on beneath the stage making it seem like the set were floating above dock moorings.

Charlie is effectively eating himself to death. His marriage to Mary, Beth Marshall, fell apart when he fell in love with another man. Estranged from his daughter, he wants to get to know her at the end of his life. He bribes her to spend time with him, by offering to help her with her school work, and offering her what turns out to be a sizable inheritance since he never leaves his apartment. Ellie is strong willed, smart, vicious, and sharp tongued but bored by school and her classmates.  She created a blog in which she complains about everyone she knows. 

Liz, Jamie Middleton, is Charlie's health aid. She also seems scarred by life, and her morose barbed dialogue offers some of the shows biggest-laughs. Elder Thomas, Anthony Pyatt Jr. a Mormon missionary enters Charlie's apartment to give Charlie gods word. When Liz finds Thomas preaching to Charlie she rips into his beliefs. When Ellie an Thomas meet, she manages to erode his holy facade and she has him smoking weed and confessing that he isn't exactly who he claims to be. 

Ellie's harsh embittered view of the world is fueled be be parents divorce. Charlie teaches an online writing course, and his lessons to his students reflect what he wishes he could pass on to his daughter. He implores his students to stop editing and rewriting every sentence. Instead, he begs them to just write from the heart. This brings us back to the moment when he asks Ellie to read her book review. The paper had been given an F because it was a review of the wrong book. Ellie was furious at her father and hadn't bothered to read the review. She cursed her father's request to read, not because she hated him, but because she loved him and was furious at how he had let his health go. She had written the book review years before and it highlighted how the book seemed to reflect what was happening in her own life. Although she was angered by life, this paper proved that she had a heart and cared a bout everyone around her. Anyone who could write such a heartfelt review would also have the talent to share many more stories that would touch others. My eyes welled up as she read her paper. Ellie's eyes welled up as well. For the first time, Charlie rose from his chair and he struggled to cross the room to reach out the his daughter. She was amazing, beautiful and his life's greatest accomplishment. 

The show combines humor with absolutely heart wrenching sadness. It celebrates what it truly means to be alive, and the strong bond of family even when it is dysfunctional. Although dark and bitter, the show also exudes hope, despite all odds. 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.


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

Winter Garden Theatre 160 W Plant St, Winter Garden, Florida
Tickets: $21 - $28

Friday, March 18, 2016

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

Saturday March 19, 2016 
9am to 2pm Free. Transference. Galloway Community Gallery at the Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 W Lyman Ave,Winter Park, FL. Transference reflects the notion that a contemporary artist's practice is born of influence, transference, exchange and inheritance. Art is not created in a void; it's a product of our current time and the place and develops from an awareness of individual and collective experiences. It is a phenomenological exchange, a transference of understanding between artist and viewer. Exhibition opens March 7 and runs through April 3.
List of artists:
Rachel Simmons
Martha L. Lent
Dina Mack
Brittany Metz
Patricia Lois Nuss
Dawn Roe

9am to 6pm All weekend. Free. Winter Park Art Festival. Central Park (Winter Park's first amendment-zone). Be sure to create something on the opposite side of Park Avenue, or boycott.

5pm to 11pm Free. Cfl Creates the Crooks Club and EDEDRON. The Imperial at Washburn Imports-Sanford 116 E 1st St, Sanford, Florida. Apartment E Frankie presents in the round room "Ededron" inspirational original local artwork. One night only!, CFL creates Collective presents their debut event "The Crooks Club",and special guests. Acoustic performances throughout the evening in the main room. also: the Apartment YOU installation "works in progress" and as usual we have the room in the back where all are encouraged to bring up to (3) three pieces of art ready to hang that night! No prior drop off on this one.. spotlighting a solo artist in round room monthly, and filling the room on the spot in the back galleries..all mediums accepted! 5-11pm, all ages, meet and greet spotlighted artist meet and greet at 8pm,and the stage shows begin!

Sunday March 20, 2016
1pm to 11pm $8 Will's A Faire at Southern Fried Sundays Presented by The Lovely. Will's Pub 1042 N Mills Ave, Orlando, Florida. Will’s A Faire at Southern Fried Sunday Presented by The Lovely. Sunday March 20th. A one day retro, vintage, local and handmade market with live music, food and fun indoors and out!
Bands performing outside from 1:30pm-8:30pm: JUNO smile, Fast Preacher, SKIP, Zap Dragon & The Attack, Oak Hill Drifters, Circa and Timothy Eerie. Inside Will's, after 7pm: Ben Prestage and The Downgetters! The outdoor music is free to the public and all ages are welcome. Bring the Family! The later inside show is an $8 cover & 21+. Food Trucks: Daydream Pizza, Caro-Bama BBQ and more.

2pm to 5pm Potluck. Crow - Coordinated Response on Wellness. True Serenity, 1100 Montana St, Orlando, FL. Crow - Coordinated Response on Wellness will be born on March 20th.   An explanation of Crow, the principles of Crow and vision will be laid out.  It will be pot luck style.   Please bring something to share or contribute $5 to the space.  “Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.”
― Ann Voskamp

2pm to 4pm $24 - $28. The Whale. Garden Theatre 160 W Plant St, Winter Garden, Florida 34787
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.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Arnold Palmer Invitational snarls traffic in Bay Hill.


I live in North Bay which is directly adjacent to the Bay Hill Golf Course. Once a year my quiet suburban street becomes a driveway for all the manic golf fans intent on finding a parking spot right at the Bay Hill Golf Club. A residents pass card comes in the mail that must be kept in my car so that I am not turned away from access to the drive home. Parking at Bay Hill is very limited. Some neighbors allow parking on their lawns and then golf cart access to the entrance. Ten temporary lots are created just for this event on the golf course greens. Cars park all over the rolling greens with black mesh fencing put in place probably to protect some cars from stray golf balls. I took a stroll down to the course one evening to get a sketch of the circus atmosphere. Cars were leaving in a steady stream. Mini buses were parked to transport workers, volunteers and attendees to off site parking lots.

It was the golden hour right before the sun set. Trees lit up y warm orange. A Peregrine falcon swooped over the golf course. Puzzle piece foam pads try to protect some grassy areas from the worst of the automotive tire damage. I decided to set up across from the Invitational entrance. Historic billboard photos lined the drive with photos of past Invitational winners. The competition began in 1954. A family waited to be picked up. Clearly the competition for the day was over and this was the time of the mass exodus.

The Invitational began on March 14th and continues through March 20. A Practise, Pro-Am badge is $50 for the week, allowing you to follow your favorite player on their practise rounds on Monday through Wednesday. A weekly club house badge is $250 allowing on site parking, access to the clubhouse and great views of the greens.

The Arnold Palmer Invitational holds a place of high stature in professional golf. The tournament, one of the premiere-event jewels on the PGA Tour, annually attracts one of the strongest fields of the season to one of the circuit's finest courses with the entire production overseen and directed by one of the game's all-time greats, Arnold Palmer. Its stature is attributable primarily to Palmer and the tremendous respect that he has among his peers in tournament golf.

I hare never actually sketched and reported on the tournament. I only realize it is going on when traffic gets crazy and blimps circle overhead. Some year, I need to get a press pass and spend a solid day sketching the event.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Best of Orlando Party.


Every year, The Orlando Weekly has its readers vote on the Best of Orlando. The Best of issue is a great way to scan the best restaurants, bars, shows, and all other venues. It is a great resource that helps me decide where to sketch. All of the 2015 winners were invited to The Beacham (46 N Orange Ave, Orlando, Florida). This is the biggest, bad ass, invitation-only party of the year. I didn't win an award in 2015, but I pulled strings to get in to document the party. I immediately wanted to get up above the crush of the crowd. There was a bouncer at the staircase that wanted a password, so I searched for an Orlando Weekly staffer to get the needed word. I met friends on the ground floor, but the music was so loud that we couldn't talk.

The two bars downstairs were constantly packed. I admired the bar staff that had to work at lightning speed to keep up with the demand. Obsessionally friends would stop to say hello. Some were Facebook friends I had never met in person. An artist, is far more approachable than a photographer. Photographers have more fun getting people to pose. Some people are just curious. It is always rewarding when people know what it is that I am doing. It makes my life as an artist so much easier. The music pulsed an the disco ball twirled. Besides the Beacham, four other clubs were tied into the party, including, The Social, Aero, Olde 64, and The Patio.

Since I didn't have an award to pick up, I didn't stay long after the sketch was done. It felt good to unwind walking around Lake Eola after all the noise of the party. All the activity inspires quick decisions and thus a rougher sketch. But I also love the calm of being alone and enjoying quiet scenery. I got to experience both in one night.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

National Dance Day at the Orlando Ballet Central Campus.


The National Dance Day free morning dance sessions consisted of creative movement in the Orlando Ballet Central Campus. Dancers lined up at the barres to warm up and stretch. Besides this main room, there were many smaller dance studios in the same building. By lunch time the place was packed. There was seating along one wall of the dance studio, and many of the sketch crawlers sat there along with the stage moms.

Some artists did gestural studies of individual dancers while others, like myself, focused on the overall scene. Dancers stretched not only on the dance floor, but in the hallways as well. The room cleared a bit when lunch time rolled around, but I kept throwing watercolor washes on the page until the afternoon sessions began.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Day Devoted to Dance.


Holly Harris, a talented local choreographer and dancer helped bring National Dance Day to Orlando.  National Dance Day celebrates dance by offering a whole day of free dance instruction to anyone who attends. This incredible event just happened to fall on the same day as the 48th International Sketch Crawl, so I contacted Holly, a she agreed to allow artists to sketch the entire day's activities.

This year’s event encouraged families and friends to begin the morning of July 25 at the National Dance Day Orlando (NDDO) Community Celebration, located at Orlando Cultural Park, (the lawn in front of the Loch Haven Neighborhood Center) to participate in exercises, dance routines, and performances by Central Florida dance professionals.

Within walking distance of the park is the Orlando Ballet Central Campus where 30 free specialized dance classes will be offered throughout the day to ages 3-100, including special needs movement classes. Central Florida dance company directors, choreographers, and fitness instructors will share different styles of dance through body conditioning, dance technique, and choreography at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.

National Dance Day Orlando desires to bring educational, community-driven dance opportunities to non-dancers and dancers alike! About six artists came out to sketch for the day.

The day began at 8:30am with  Stretches and Cardio
9:00am - 1st National Dance Day Routine
9:30am - Performances by Professional Central Florida Dance Companies
10:00am - 2nd National Dance Day Routine
10:30am - Performances by Professional Central Florida Dance Companies

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Spring Urban Sketching Course at Elite Animation Academy.

This spring, I will be teaching an Urban Sketching Course at Elite Animation Academy (8933 Conroy Windermere Rd, Orlando, FL 32835). The 11 week Course is on Thursdays, from March 31 until June 9. Students should be 10 years and up. Adults are welcome. The time of the course is from 4:30 to 6:30 PM. The cost is $250 per month plus one time $50 enrollment fee and $25 per session supply fee.

Enroll online.:  Terms of enrollment: This is an 11 week course. Your credit card will be charged a monthly fee of $250 Per month, per course. All credit cards are securely kept on file for future credit card billings. Student attendance is mandatory, only sign up if you are willing to give us the time to make you a better artist. No refunds or credit will be given once booking is confirmed.

The students will learn the basic principles used in creating an urban sketch. Principles include, shape, form, line, value, color, space, composition, emphasis, rhythm, and exaggeration, balance, proportion, harmony, variety, and texture. All classes will consist of a brief lecture in class followed by sketches done outside the classroom. We will stay close together as a class while students are encouraged to sketch what interests them the most. If it is hot, we will seek out an air conditioned venue, if it is nice out, we will sketch outside. Students are also encouraged to write about their experiences and to always carry a sketchbook a a visual journal. Discover Orlando, one sketch at a time.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Moon Jelly illuminated the In-between series.


On Saturday March 5th, Moon Jelly performed at the Gallery at Avalon Island as part of the monthly In-between series. When I arrived at the upstairs theater, Kate Shults was setting up the lighting and video effects. Hanging vines had their branches wrapped in foil as if to protect them from harmful radiation or alien attack. A vibrant green lamp caught my eye to anchor the scene and I sat in the front row to start sketching. Steven Head, the guitarist made a comment about all the "foiliage".  He let me know that his family would be sitting to my left. He was also surprised that I was working digitally. He got ready to perform by putting on a pair of glitter socks. A photographer asked all the band members to hold plants and she photographed them before the show.

I just wanted to be sure I was fine where I was seated before committing to the sketch. Moriah Lorraine Russo sat next to me, and I felt at ease since she is an artist herself. My concern was that the room would go dark and I would be be the jerk with a giant illuminated tablet. People have been shot in Florida for turning on their digital devices in a dark theater. She reassured me that she enjoyed watching the sketch develop. Hopefully others felt the same. 

Timothy Murray, the other Moon Jelly guitarist, held up the small purple vase to let people know that they could place any tips inside since they were not getting paid for this gig. He was good about reminding the audience that he would be making the announcement multiple times.

Anna Wallace, the lead singer also performed on an Omnichord. She had on giant eyelashes and plenty of glitter around her eyes. The bands music is classified as pop psych. "Round, soft, colorful, senseless and unknowing. Polka-dots can't stay alone; like the communicative life of people, two or three polka-dots become movement... Polka-dots are a way to infinity." - Yayoi Kusama. Before the show, band members joked that it was hard to be weird but accessible. 

The music flowed and ebbed with a mysterious electron vibe. One song flowed seamlessly into another. The lyrics were quirky and fun. I absolutely loved the show which took me back to the brooding seamless concerts of Pink Floyd. Moon Jelly however had a much light flair. Blurred and pixelated images flickered on the screens. Listening was like a dream in which you find you are floating, a bit out control, but certain that things will work out. The audience went wild when the music found its resolution. Moon Jelly was the opening act for Mutual Benefit. I felt satiated when their set was done and decided to slip out before Mutual Benefit was set up. It was a great concert in a great venue. 

After the show, I got to see the plein air art show now hanging in the gallery. Kelly Medford, an American Artist has been living in Rome where she does a plein air painting every day. We collaborated on an Orlando Sketch Tour workshop on Valentines Day weekend and it was such a fun experience.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Weekend Top 6 Picks for March 12th and 13th

Saturday March 12, 2016 
7:30pm to 9:30pm Free. Erik Deckers Potluck. Kerouac House 1418 Cloister Street Orlando FL.  Bring a dish or some wine. Meet the new resident author and mingle with Orlando Literati.

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

10:30pm to 12:30pm Free but get drinks or food. Son Flamenco. Ceviche Tapas Orlando, 125 W Church St, Orlando, FL. Hot Flamenco dancing live on stage.

Sunday March 13, 2016
Noon to 2pm Donation based. Community YogART class: 7 Chakra series. Artegon Marketplace 5250 International Dr, Orlando, Florida. Every 2nd Sunday of the month YogART will be hosting FREE Color Therapy Yoga classes for the community at Artegon Marketplace (located in the community room across from section B6 - use movie theater entrance).
The "7 Chakra Series" will focus each class on each individual chakra: breaking down it's color, meaning, location and function. This particular class will revolve around our second major energy point known as "The Sacral Chakra".
Color Therapy glasses will also be provided for those who wish to experience the effects of color therapy. Orange will be the primary focus for our Root Chakra but you may wear any color you want to work with.
This is an ALL LEVELS class which incorporates stretching, breathing exercises and light yoga poses geared around the Sacral Chakra.
 We also have a color wheel on our site that explains the benefit of each color (glasses) Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.
Please bring your own yoga mat and prepare to unwind
Check out our lovely YogART instructor's website for more info on her, and some great articles. *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. Thank you! Namaste ~
For more info contact us.


1pm to 4 pm Free. Inclusion Day Open House. Albin Polasek Museum And Sculpture Gardens 633 Osceola Ave, Winter Park, Florida. If you love our current HANDS-ON sculpture exhibition then you don’t want to miss experiencing Inclusion Day! Switch up how you normally experience art and the world around you in this activity-filled day. In celebration of all of our individual uniqueness and in conjunction with our current exhibit, “Sight Unseen: Touchable Sculpture,” the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens announces its first ever Inclusion Day. The Polasek historic home, gallery, sculpture gardens will be FREE admission for this special open-house event. Join us for a memorable Sunday afternoon exploring what’s on trend in contemporary sculpture, and learn about modern approaches to art and disabilities. We believe art is for everyone, so bring the whole family and sit down in the beautiful gardens and enjoy complimentary, therapeutic art activities. All skill levels, ages, and disabilities welcome!
The VSA, the State Organization on Arts and Disabilities, will be showcasing their student’s work all day, in addition to the interactive sculpture on display in the Polasek Gallery. Come see the sculpture created by these brilliant VSA and UCP students, and see how their creations were inspired. A special presentation by VSA guest speaker will be held at 1:30 p.m. in the Historic Capen House. Participate in hands-on art projects in the garden with museum curator, Rachel Frisby, where you use the braille alphabet to create art to take home. At 2:00 p.m. members of The Greater Orlando Council for the Blind will lead a walk through sculpture tour and expose both sighted and non-sighted visitors alike to a new way of experiencing art. Try using a cane and feel the world of texture around you in this blindfolded, eye-opening experience you’ll want to try! Talk and describe what you’re “seeing” with your hands. Members of the local drumming group “Rhythm Metamorphosis” will give an informal drumming performance at 3:00 in the garden. Throughout the day, visitors are encouraged to FEEL the beat and participate with the group! Drum circles are a fantastic way to express your own unique rhythms and have fun playing a tactical instrument. Members of the Florida Sculptor’s Guild will also on site to show sculpture being made LIVE. Watch them create as they demo throughout the afternoon, and learn more about their process. Bring a camera and your friends and family for this special open-house celebrating our senses!

2pm to 4pm $5, free to MMAA members. Artist Talk: Albert Paley. The Mennello Museum of American Art, 900 East Princeton Street, Orlando, FL. Internationally renowned metal artist Albert Paley talks about the works in his new traveling exhibition: Albert Paley: Forging Sculpture 1979-2015. Exhibition continues through April 10.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Last Speakeasy.


The Speakeasy was an Orlando institution for decades. Tod Caviness organized the monthly showcase of poets, authors and storytellers who would converge on Will's Pub (1042 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL3) once a month.A documentary was shot about the speakeasy when the first Will's Pub shot down. The documentary covered the history of this spoken word event in Orlando. When Will's Pub re-opened at a new location, the Speakeasy was also resurrected.

July 21st however marked the final evening for The Speakeasy' The literary scene in Orlando has grown by leaps and bounds. Todd is now a married man with a young son. Whatever the reason might be, The Speakeasy has faded into history. Cardboard Tod Caviness masks were scattered on all the tables. On the all was a sign from the now demolished Coach Dining Room which was part of The Red Fox Lounge where Mark Wayne and Lorna Lamby used to perform their over the top camp and fun lounge act. The Red Fox Lounge was a beloved Winter Park watering hole for 50 years. Mark and Lorna entertained crowds for 23 years but sadly Mark passed away. Their act is rumored to have inspired a Saturday Night Live skit, "The Culp Family Musical Performances," starring Will Ferrell and Ana Gasteyer.

Michael Pierre read the most memorable piece on this historic evening. He walked among the tables rather than stand on the stage. His poem described the speakeasy history while lampooning many of the writers who had shared drinks and read over the years. I have sketched at The Speakeasy quite a few times over the years, and I've seen creative types drink and do things that are best left to the blurry reaches of unrecorded history. Michael couldn't see his handwriting in the dark, so Frankie Messina illuminated the pages by following Michael with his his cell phone. Then Frankie covered his face with a Tod mask to add an extra touch of humorous magic to the moment. It was a somewhat sad evening but the best way to face that sadness is with a laugh and more than a few drinks.  

The curtain falls and time marches on but I'm thankful I got to witness just some of the magic and mayhem that each Speakeasy generated. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Evoca 1 paints a mural at Falcon Bar in Thornton Park.


Artist Evoca1 paint original artwork on the wall outside The Falcon Bar and Gallery last week. The artwork is curated by The Falcon and sponsored by Thornton Park District Main Street.

About the artist: Dominican-born and Miami-based, Evoca1 is a figurative painter, designer and muralist, who is strongly influenced by his Latin American culture. Founder of Sketches for Mankind, Evoca1 works to raise awareness to important local and world issues through art. His powerful imagery can be seen on walls from Mexico to Peru to England.

About this project: The Falcon become a fan of Evoca1 after seeing his work in the Wynwood Arts District in Miami during Art Basel a few years back and then again more recently in Saint Petersburg, FL during the Shine On Mural Festival. His figurative style is what attracted us to his work and is also what makes it unique from the more traditional mural styles. Evoca1 and The Falcon chatted about what makes The Falcon Bar and Gallery and Thornton Park District distinctive and he came up with a concept that compliments our beautiful historic neighborhood and the uniqueness of The Falcon Bar and Gallery.

I loved how boldly the artist worked. His first bold brushstrokes that blocked in the composition where still visible as I sketched. He used a large paint pan as a palette and worked on the mural like it was an oil painting, gradually building up the lights.  He used a large flat house paint brush as his tool of choice. He spent most of the well refining the mural. Periodically admirers would stop and ask a few questions.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Inbetween Series brings cutting edge music downtown.


On the third Monday of every month, The Gallery at Avalon Island (39 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, Florida) hosts the In-between Series. It is called the In-between Series because the art gallery is in-between shows. Soon after the concert, new art is loaded into the gallery and hung. Steven Head was listed on the invitation, but the trio consisted of, Doug Mathews on base, Mark Piszczek on sax and Chris Cortez on Guitar. Mark explained that one of the pieces was autobiographical having to do with his childhood growing up on the space coast. Mark's father was a devout fan of classical music and it played daily on the family phonograph. This early exposure to concert music and the presence of highly competent music teachers, instilled a love of music that later turned into a life long passion.

The music from this Jazz trio was both soothing and cutting edge.  The low resonant base contrasted the energetic searching melody of the sax. There was a yearning to the music, an endless reaching out. There is no better music to sketch too.

Mark and Chris have been working on opening a new music venue called The Blue Bamboo Music Center for the Arts at 1905 Kentucky Avenue just south of Fairbanks in Winter Park. He showed me plans for the 4,000 square foot warehouse which will become a studio quality performance space. The venue will feature state of the art sound, grand piano, back line equipment, stage lighting and a large projection screen, it will also be set up to record concert and performance video in high definition. The Center will also serve as an art gallery featuring local and international artists.

Unfortunately City codes and ordinances have tied up the construction and renovation. Creating a new arts venue in Orlando is not an easy task. The Center will hopefully open in 2016. It is a sure sign that the arts continue to grow in Central Florida.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Drinks at the Grand Bohemian.


I went to the Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando (325 S Orange Ave, Orlando, Florida) to meet Greg Dobbs who wanted to share a children's book he had written. I first met Greg when I sketched Santa Claus from a distance at the Millenia Mall. Security chased me off, since apparently creating a sketch at the mall is verboten.  I wrote a poem poking fun at the situation, and months later Greg wrote me a poem in response inviting me to sketch Santa up close and personal. I showed up on Christmas Eve to witness the last minute crush as parents waited in line in hopes that their children could sit in Santa's lap before the Mall shut down. Getting the children distracted and delighted was Greg's job. Not an easy task give the high stake stress filled situation.

Greg's story was a delightful tale of a young boy and his grandfather who worked for a fire house. It would be a fun story to illustrate, if I could entrench myself with an old established fire house with the old fashion pole and some historic trucks. I have this idea of casting for the book much as actors are cast for a play or a movie. I would storyboard the book just like a movie and then pose the cast for each scene.  Their is no publisher set for the book yet so any work I do would be on spec. The project remains on the back burner.

Greg's daughter Flynn Dobbs also met me for a drink that day. She is now the youngest curator to ever work at the Grand Bohemian. Both of her parents are artists, so she has grown up in a creative environment. Greg's wife does monumental figurative sculptures and of four Greg is a photographer and writer. We discussed the possibility of my sketching events at the hotel. It is an exciting possibility. The Grand Bohemian could become my Moulin Rouge.

Tonight on March 7th at 7 pm I am hosting ODD (Orlando Drink  and Draw) at the Grand Bohemian. Orlando Drink and Draw ventures to a new bar each month to sample beers and sketch. There is no model fee and no instruction. This is just a chance to get out, meet fellow artists and draw. I have an infinite accordion sketchbook that artists have contributed to since the first Drink and Draw. Also I like to have artists face off for quick 5 minute portraits. Artists change chairs until every artist has met and sketched every other artist. I'll dress up a bit for this evening among artists.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Blue Boxes are disappearing but the law requiring their use is still on the books.


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. 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 speech. They are Orlando's First Amendment Zones.

On February 29th Mandi Ilene Schiff offered to do a body painting in Blue Box number 6. On the map, the box is located near the Bob Carr Theater on West Livingston Street. Because of construction this street can only be approached from the West off of Parramore Avenue. Mandi arrived before me and was waiting in front of the UCF Center of Emerging Media. Her model, Yvonne Clar, hadn't arrived yet. I began searching across the street for the blue box. The problem was that half of the street and sidewalk was ripped up and now fenced off due to construction.

A guard from UCF came out and asked if he could help us navigate the construction to get to downtown Orlando. My experience with people who say, "Can I help you?" is that they will be an obstruction to my completing a sketch. Though he went back inside the UCF lobby, I knew we were on his radar. Our search for the blue box was out of the ordinary. Mandi and I decided to settle in front of a large blue banner that was the logo for the construction company that was digging up this prime real estate. Mandi's idea was to camouflage the model, so she disappeared against the Blue sign. As she unloaded her paints and brushes, the guard came out and shouted "You can't be setting up over there!" I thought it odd that he didn't cross the street to speak to us. He was like a dog who barked at the edge of its property. I shouted out, "Why is that?" He shouted back that he had to protect the high school kids. That is odd, I thought, UCF is a college, there are no minors. I contacted a UCF instructor I know, just to verify that this guard has no idea of the age of the students he sees everyday.

Since I was getting over a cold, I decided to walk across the street so I didn't have to shout. I told him that I was documenting the 27 blue boxes and explained what they are for. I showed him the location of blue box number 6 on the city map figuring he might help me in locating it. "I don't know anything about no blue boxes, all I know is that you can't set up over there. I have to keep these kids safe. There are pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers who are always hanging around this area." Now, If I was a prostitute I wouldn't work this abandoned stretch of road, I thought. Did he think Mandi was a prostitute? He would definitely have a heart attack if the model took off her shirt in front of the school. This was a loosing battle, since we didn't have the security of a blue box to stand in, I decided we needed to move to the next blue box which was half a block East near I-4. I shook the guards hand, thanked him for his help, and we headed East.


Blue Box number 7 was also torn up by construction, but there was a hint of several blue dotted lines remaining on a curb. Yellow caution tape separated us from being able to stand in the patch of dirt which had once been the blue box.  We decided instead to set up outside the rented fence near the Orlando Centroplex sign. Yvonne showed up just as Mandi was settled in. I was in the midst of blocking in my sketch, and I didn't want to spread my cold, so I kept working. This was the first time that the performers were not protected by actually standing inside a  blue box. The stakes were high, but Mandi and the model bravely took the chance. City codes on indecent exposure had been researched, and the model could have legally been painted in nothing but pasties and panties, but Nix Herrera another body painter, had advised Mandi against taking the chance. It could have resulted in regulations for an art form that has so far stayed off the city commissioners radars.

With a liberating flourish, the model took of her shirt and her black bra defied any notion of indecent exposure. The race was on to complete the sketch and body painting before we were caught. Mandi began by painting a blue box on Yvonne's belly, then she began painting iconic Orlando imagery, like a swan, the fountain, an orange breast, and the skyline wedged in Yvonne's cleavage. Ten minutes into the sketch, I felt that art had won. I had enough on the page, so that even if police or security stopped us, I could finish the sketch back at the studio. A construction worker asked what are were doing. I discussed the blue boxes and explained that we would be done within an hour. "I don't mind." he said with a smile.  Theo Lotz, the Flying Horse Editions director from UCF also asked about our project and I quickly explained the Blue Box Initiative. I get excited, having the chance to explain the need for free artistic expression. His bus arrived and he had to run off mid sentence.

We were right near a bus stop and each time a bus stopped you could see a dozen passengers with then noses pressed against the windows. A driver honked his approval. My quick rough sketches don't do Mandi's amazing work  justice. Be sure to check out these photos her fiance Robert Johnston took. It certainly felt like we were tempting fate on this day, but some amazing art was created.  Yvonne became a gorgeous living postcard that celebrated the City Beautiful.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Dance Theater of Orlando Presents Touch.


I went to a tech rehearsal for Dance Theater of Orlando's presentation of Touch, The Human Experience. The Dance Theater of Orlando is funded by ME Dance a not-for-profit organization founded by Marshall Ellis in 2011. The ME Theater is located at 1300 La Quinta Drive Orlando Florida which is 2 short drive so of the Florida Mall. I arrived just as Alex Schudde Ellis was opening the theater. The dancers stretched in preparation of the run through of the show.

Touch follows the lives of twelve people who are dealing with their vulnerable lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during the Great Depression. In the pre-show, video was projected of a UPA era cartoon that encouraged people to invest in the stock market. What followed was a montage of black and white photos from the Great Depression. The minimal set gave hints of a shanty town. A narrator related the history as President Roosevelt created New Deal programs to help raise the country from it poverty.

As the story unfolds, we are first introduced to Billy (Abram Garcia) and Diamond Jackie (Alex Schudde), the lead couple whose story is interwoven throughout the show to showcase how they handle their relationship struggle through trying times after Billy develops a fascination for the Fish Lady (Sara Rose Smith). The dynamic chemistry portrayed during their introductory dance will have the audience fall in love with these characters and cheer for the recuperation of their relationship throughout the struggles, but only time will tell what will become of their relationship.

As the show continues, the audience is continually introduced to a cast of new characters who all hold endearing traits that evolve through the show as they each try to figure out how to survive the Great Depression and find their true selves. The wide assortment of personalities include: Vibes Man (Christopher McKenzie) who is searching for his lost soul; Frank and Mary (Nathan Greenberg and Lauren Sherwood), the wide-eyed, innocent and bashful coming-of-age couple in the countryside; and many others who represent different social and economic classes.

As all of their lives come together, there is one inevitable factor that continues to motivate them to push through: the human touch. Despite their own struggles, they make an effort to help raise each other up it ultimately leads to each character reawakening. Each song from Bruce Springsteen is specifically selected to represent the emotions and current hardships of the characters, which creates a smooth, consistent transition between all of the different stories as they blend together.

Charlie Chaplin as The Dictator filled the theater with his speech that stressed peace and compassion. After seeing so many images of suffering during the depression his speech stressed that war is never the answer.  I have seen the Dictator on TV, but seeing it larger than life certainly makes an impression like OZ's visage in smoke.

By the last number, it becomes clear that love conquers all. All twelve dancers  filled the stage with their energy. Lauren Sherwood leaped and flew with endless grace supported by a male dancer. This is when dance seems magical as it defies gravity's pull. Couples united and hope endured as Springsteen's music roared it's approval.

Mark Your Calendars. 
Touch, the Human Experience runs...
March 4-6 at 8:30pm and March 11-13 at 8:30pm
ME Theater 1300 La Quinta Drive Orlando FL 32809
Tickets are $20

Friday, March 4, 2016

Weekend Top 6 Picks for March 5th and 6th.

Saturday March 5, 2016
7pm to 9pm Free. Brewery Tour. Orlando Brewing, 1301 Atlanta Ave, Orlando, FL.

8pm to 10pm Free. Marc With a C's record release party for "Unicorns Get More Bacon!" The Geek Easy 114 S Semoran Blvd, Ste 6, Winter Park, Florida. Marc With a C's new album is called "Unicorns Get More Bacon". It'll be out on Tuesday, March 8th. But... come and celebrate the new stuff with a full-on rock show! Marc will be backed by Jim Myers and Emmit Dobbyn, and the show will be opened by the fantastic Uke-A-Ladies! Doors at 8 PM, show begins at 9 PM. No live streams, just an up-close, personal, loud and sweaty concert. Free and all ages!

8:30pm to 10:30pm $20 Touch, The Human Experience. Me Dance Theater of Orlando 1300 La Quinta Drive Orlando FL. Follow the lives of twelve humans in dealing with their vulnerable lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during the Great Depression.

Sunday March 6, 2016 
10am to 5pm Free. Art In The Park ll. Shadow Bay Park is conveniently located near the corner of Turkey Lake Rd and Conroy Rd, less than 2 miles down the street from Universal Studios. You are invited to another Art In The Park event where artists can come together to create, share good vibes and ideas picnic style while relaxing in a peaceful park setting! There are no specific agendas or expectations on what you may wish to create and all modalities are welcomed... drawing, painting, writing, sculpting, crafting, photography, etc. If anyone would like to work on a communal mural that's great too! You can bring blankets or chairs for your seating comfort along with a picnic basket or cooler along with any supplies you may need. I usually listen to Pandora on my little speaker but anyone interested in playing gentle acoustic music with their instruments is fine. Friends are also welcomed to join you. For those with children, there's a jungle gym playground located near the rest rooms.
This is a free event with ample free parking available. Bathrooms are also on the premises. There are trash receptacles throughout the park so please leave the area as tidy as you found it. Shadow Bay Park is conveniently located near the corner of Turkey Lake Rd and Conroy Rd, less than 2 miles down the street from Universal Studios. Let's hope for great weather but in the event of rain, the event will be rescheduled.

Noon to 3pm Free. Music at the Casa, Amy  Xaychaleune.  Casa Feliz 656 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL. Violinist Amy Xaychaleune (Amy X.) received her Masters of Music Performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and her Bachelors at Florida State University. After returning from the UK, she has performed with the Evita Broadway Tour, Sting, and Adam Levine. She is currently performing in local orchestras (including Brevard Symphony and Orlando Philharmonic), Disney World (Mo'rockin, Harambe Nights, and Candlelight Processional), Universal Studios as a soloist (Diagon Alley/King's Cross Station), and with touring acts.

2pm to 4pm Free. Grady Kimsey: Artists Talk. Hannibal Square Heritage Center 642 W New England Ave, Winter Park, Florida. "Art Legends of Orange County: Grady Kimsey – Progressions, Works by Former Students" at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, February 5th to April 2nd, 2016.
Featuring Henry Sinn
Randy Smith
Cheryl Smith
Kyle
Pam Coffman
Sa Sisaleumsak
Terry Sisaleumsak
Jay Spalding
Carlos Richmond
Melissa Kimsey-Hickman
Paula Pell
Greg Freeman
Cindy Freeman
Lynn Warnicke
Marty Whipple

With eight decades of life experiences to draw upon for inspiration, Grady Kimsey enjoys critical and popular success as a sculptor, potter, painter and instructor. He earned his B.A. in fine arts from the University of Tennessee in 1950, and then completed his master's in education from Rollins College in Winter Park in 1969. Kimsey served as a professor of art for 20 years at Seminole Community College, where he founded the Fine Arts Gallery in 1980. His awards are many, including The Council of Arts and Sciences for Central Florida Award for "Outstanding Achievement in the Arts" and a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship. In the dual exhibitions co-curated by Barbara Tiffany, Curator of Gallery Do not sketch outside at this Exhibitions and Manager of Painting & Drawing, and David Cumbie, Sculpture Garden Curator and Sculpture Studio Manager, both Grady Kimsey's enduring creative spirit and his extensive mentor ship over many decades are honored. 
Do not sketch outside at this event. You could be imprisoned for 60 days and fined $500. 
 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Base Orlando Pin Ups Pose with Hot Rods.


After sketching all the body painters and models inside the Majestic Event Center (801 North John Young Parkway, Orlando, FL) I walked outside and ordered a hot dog from the food truck and settled in to sketch the hot rods on display. I was then rewarded as the models came outside to pose next to the cars. Rosie the riveter was the first, and she showed off her biceps. Her  tattoo on her muscular arm read, "We Can Do It!" The model with the heart shaped glasses had a yellow bikini painted on. She feigned surprise as she pursed her lips as if to say oooh!

Mandi Ilene Schiff the Base Orlando organizer has volunteered to be part of the Blue Box Initiative next Monday. She will setup a body painting station in one of the side walk boxes and work for several hours. Her blue box is near the Bob Carr Theater. That entire block is under construction, so there is little foot traffic except for UCF Center of Emerging Media Students. Body Painting on the streets of downtown Orlando should push the limits of what is considered to expression in the City Beautiful. To date, I haven't seen a single police cruiser while doing a blue box sketch. Perhaps this will finally be a case that catches an officer's attention.

Mark your Calendars! The next Base Orlando event is Pop-Art themed and is tonight, on March 3, from 8pm to 11pm at the Majestic Event Center (801 North John Young Parkway, Orlando, FL). Tickets are $10 to $25.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Base Orlando: Hot Rods and Pin Ups


I love sketching body painters at work. Majestic Event Center (801 North John Young Parkway, Orlando, FL) opens early to let the painters get a head start on their creations before the public arrives. B.A.S.E. stands for Body Art Showcase and Exhibit. This time around they were body painting Hot Rod and Pin Up themed models. More than a dozen body painted models got transformed into works of art. Local artists were selling their goods, hot rod cars were be on display for photos, burlesque dancers showcased their talents, a food truck was vending outside, the bar served specials all night.

Some models were transformed into pin-striped hot rods, while others became World War II pin ups. As the sun set, the venue filled up. Once the sketch was done, I went outside to get d hot dog, and check out the muscle cars.

Entertainment by:
Corsets and Cuties
Balachandra Belly Dance
Team Rush

Mark your Calendars! The next Base Orlando event is Pop-Art themed on March 3, from 8pm to 11pm at the Majestic Event Center (801 North John Young Parkway, Orlando, FL). Tickets are $10 to $25.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Bottoms Up. A Celebration of the Life of Matt McGrath.


A memorial was held for Matt McGrath at the Harp and Celt (25 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, FL).  Matt was just 48 when he died suddenly from cancer. Few people realized he was even sick. Perhaps he wanted everyone to remember him as the vibrant and active person he always was.  He played ice hockey regularly at the RDV Ice Den. His hot Irish blood was perfect for the heat of competitive sports. Matt's home was the birth place of so many local theater productions. Often the first readings of a script would happen on his back patio. During the day he was an accountant but in the evening, he became a theatrical producer. Rather than having friends remember him in a stodgy funeral home he insisted that they all get drunk and tell stories at his favorite Irish pub in downtown Orlando.

Matt was a bit of an enigma. This is how he described himself online, "Open minded, fun and outgoing guy, who has a very diverse set of interests. I like to stay busy and participate in many activities from softball and hockey, to theater and art." His home which was just a block from an Irish pub in College Park was the home base for many independent theatrical productions. I sketched in his "man cave", a personal pub complete with a stripper pole and rubber boobies hanging on the wall, on many occasions. Matt had friends in many circles. I bumped into one of his long time work colleges at the bar and at the front door of the bar I ran into the magnificent Irish musicians, Vicki Gish, Scott Vocca, and Kathleen Cavinagh, who perform at Claddagh Cottage Irish Pub (4308 Curry Ford Rd., Orlando, FL) on every other Wednesday. I never knew that Matt I loved their music. Odd that our paths didn't cross at that pub.

Someone got up to speak about Matt's love of Irish Music. Anyone with an instrument can join in and play at the Claddagh Cottage music sessions. Matt wanted to join in so much, that he brought a triangle. Someone shouted out that the reason he needed a triangle, was because he broke so man glasses by hitting them with a spoon. Now a triangle is no more of a traditional Irish instrument than say a cow bell. The regular Irish musicians humored him and performed traditional pieces that in theory could incorporate the triangle. Matt joined in, but he kept missing the beats, much to the amusement of everyone in the bar. It got so bad that someone stole the triangle to keep him quiet. The person telling the story had purchased a new triangle in Matt's honor, along with a fancy triangle stand. He got choked up as he explained that it will be framed and hung in the bar in Matt's honor. Brian Sikorsky told me that Patty Sheehan said she was going to make a bar stool in his honor. The Orlando Fringe will be renaming the beer tent, "The Matt McGrath Beer Tent" in his memory..

Brian told me of the day five beautiful actresses flew in from London for the Orlando International Fringe Festival. They were from Haste Theater Company and the play they were presenting was called Oyster Boy. Anyway Brian called them to see if they had landed OK. It turned out the they were already at Matt's house enjoying drinks. Brian laughed. Matt never met a beautiful woman that he didn't love. A slide flickered on the screen, showing Matt in a red T-Shirt that said, "You'll do."

The slide show was projected on a screen above the door for the duration of the memorial. Matt as a toddler who had just learned to walk, held beer bottle. Most of the photos showed Matt in the company of beautiful women, On an airplane, he had beautiful stewardess in each arm. So many of Orlando' beautiful actresses, dancers and models were draw to Matt like moths to a flame. One actress spoke about how Matt helped her with homework in exchange for his getting to see her breasts. An older woman with raspy voice got up to the microphone an shouted, "Matt was that rare bread of a man, he was a nice guy! Around Christmas, he shared the multiple presents he got for all of his girlfriends. He wanted to be democratic. Like I said, He was a nice guy."

Slides showed Matt jumping out of an airplane, on a zip line, swilling beer with busty German bar maids and traveling the world. He has "been to 5 of the 7 continents. Was lucky enough to see the great wall and the Spinx." He lived large and loved life. He mixed with different groups of people, that didn't tend to mingle together. Some of my dearest friends posed beside him. Even friends who preferred anonymity blossomed in his company. Some of Orlando's most beautiful women entered the bar in honor of a man who knew how to make them feel special. My favorite slide showed three men and a woman in a woman's bathroom with McGrath written across their bums. He wrote his name across so many hearts and asses. At the bar, some people couldn't stop crying. Others shaved stories and couldn't stop laughing. As the Irish musicians performed, Matt got his wish as we ate and drank in his honor, tapping our feet to the Irish music. Seize the day and love every moment, because our time is limited. Perhaps we can't live forever, but we can try to create something that will.