Wednesday, August 16, 2017

First Orlando Urban Sketching Workshop at the Orlando Public Library.

This is a very quick sketch I did in the Orlando Public Library (101 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801) at the First Orlando Urban Sketching Workshop. This  first of 10 weekly workshops focused on using simple shaped to place small intimate objects on the page.  We used the magnolia room as a studio for the first two hours.  There we sketched from busts of Abraham Lincoln and small statues of American Buffalo. We experimented with blind contour and using a simple shape to define the shape before focusing on detail.

For the last hour I sett the students free to explore the third floor of the Library. The  goal was to catch an intimate detail and I let the students interpret that as they pleased. I did quick sketches for each student offering suggestions on what to consider as their sketch progressed. Then I settled in and did this quick sketch. There wasn't time to add color, so on this rare instance I finished the painting back at my studio days later.

We all gathered at the rainbow of books at the end off a hallway for a group photo with everyone holding up their favorite sketch. I am having fun creating worksheets and course materials for these 10 workshops. The Worldwide Urban Sketchers organization was founded 10 years ago and they are celebrating by offering 10 long term workshops at cities around the world. The goal is to encourage more artists to carry sketchbooks and discover the world, one drawing at a time.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Orlando Urban Sketching Workshop 2 at Dixon Toconderoga.

The second Orlando Urban Sketching Workshop was held at Dixon Ticonderoga's headquarters (615 Crescent Executive Ct #500, Lake Mary, FL 32746). Dixon Ticonderoga is best known for making those ubiquitous 2B yellow pencils that you will find being used in most classrooms and many artists studios, mine included. It was a rainy afternoon on a Friday but all the attendees braved the weather and rush hour traffic. Rachel Fox, Dixon's Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator greeted us in the lobby and guided us to a small classroom set up on the first floor. The room is clearly for younger students with bright picnic tables and a salt water fish tank in the corner, but it suited us just fine.

Rachel showed us some of the art products we would be able to play with and then escorted us upstairs to the Ticonderoga museum and curator, executive assistant Donna Cochran, who offered us a brief tour of the art work that the company has collected over its 200 year history. The jewel of the collection is a Norman Rockwell painting that was one of 3 paintings stolen from the Ticonderoga offices in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1975. This one painting titled "Grandfather and Grandson." was later recovered by police but the other two have yet to be found. The painting has since been cleaned and is worth an estimated 4 million dollars.

In the museum was an old green machine with a hopper that was used to sharpen pencils. The pencils would be rolled over a cylinder of sandpaper. Our time in the museum was limited, so we all immediately set about sketching artifacts and the scene. Everyone was encouraged to take photos of some of the incredible artwork created using the Ticonderoga pencils.

Dixon is one of America's oldest companies, created by a merger of the Joseph Dixon Crucible Corp. with the Bryn Mawr Corp., a Pennsylvania company dating back to 1794 when the company built the first highway in America between Philadelphia and Lancaster. The highway was 62 miles long.  Joseph Dixon began making pencils in the 1830s. Dixon used Cedar wood from Cedar key until the supply ran out. Graphite was mined from the town of Ticonderoga in Upstate New York. During the Civil War, soldiers needed pencils so they could write home. Quill pens with ink weren't a good option to be used on a battle field. In the early years, machines turned out 86,000 pencils a day. The company also made wooden boxes for the model T when it was first rolled off the assembly line. The crayon company willed this automotive order from 1914 until the 1960s. The Dixon Ticonderoga company has since expanded to include other art supplies like Prang, Das, Oriole, Lyra, Daler Rowney, and Canson.

Back in the classroom, we put watercolor on the sketched since wet media wasn't allowed in the museum. I handed out workshop material that covered one, two and three point perspective, I invited everyone to take one of the sketches from the collection and do a sketch that showed the horizon and vanishing point used by the artist. I also asked them to take one item from the collection and interpret it 3 different ways using the three different perspectives. We were encouraged to use Dixon art supplies and at the end we each were given a Canson sketchbook. Students were asked to write an article about the experience and share it on the Orlando Urban Sketcher's Facebook group page. Each of these workshops is a new adventure. Each attendee is quickly becoming an Orlando sketch correspondent.

The Third Orlando Urban Sketching Workshop will be at the Orange County Regional History Center on August 19th starting at 6PM. We will be sketching models of Historic Orange county architecture to further hone our perspective and composition skills. Tickets are $35 and available from Eventbrite.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Do Good Date Night at Second Harvest.

Kristen Manieri who founded the Orlando Date Night blog hosted a Do Good Date Night at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida (411 Mercy Dr, Orlando, Florida 32805). Couples were invited to a night of pitching in for a good cause combined with date night fun with your sweetie. An hour was spent sorting food during this very busy time of year. Skids full of large boxed items were lined up on the left and couples walked down the line inserting items in a baggie as they moved to the right. Finished bags were sealed and then packed into boxes on the right. It became a playful and then efficient assembly line with a bit of a competitive spirit.

Then the second hour was spent enjoying gourmet bites (burger slider station and more) and sipping one great beer or wine, which were included with the $20 tickets. Additional glasses of wine or beer could be purchased. Entertainment was provided by Curtis Earth Trivia, who led a fun trivia game complete with prizes for the top three winners.

The Do Good Date Night is a 100% non-profit event series that joins couples with local non-profits through a fun and connective volunteer project. Couples volunteer for about an hour and then enjoy food, refreshments and entertainment.

The next Do Good Date Night is coming up in Orlando on Friday, September 15, 2017. Tickets go on sale 8/24. The Do Good Date Night series is expanding into Tampa, FL and Asheville, NC.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bass Pro Shops

I needed a new pair of hiking boots. The soles of my old set had literally started to flap loose. I was beginning to look like Charlie Chaplin's Tramp. Before getting the boots, I decided to get a sketch of the large fish tank in the middle of the huge Bass Pro Shops warehouse store. Bobcats, deer and bears roamed above in a taxidermy diorama. Water cascaded down the false rocks into the tank. Behind me, rows of guns were for sale, but I'm not in the marked for an assault rifle.

While working on the sketch, a friend from Boston called whose back had seized up, making it impossible to get out of bed. Someone had to go over and help with getting dressed. It was apparently an awkward scene. Being on my own, the thought of not getting out of bed and staring at the ceiling was a rather terrifying thought. On the other hand, I was in the middle of the sketch and wanted to get back to it. I listened, but kept my hands active. That evening I sent several get well presents. My friend made a full recovery.

I found the boots I needed and went to the register. My credit card didn't work. I asked the cashier to try a second time. I had to leave bootless. That evening I was contacted by my bank. My identity had been stolen and someone had tried to make purchases with my card out of state. The bank had canceled my card. Thankfully the incident didn't cost me any money, but it was a major inconvenience. This was the second time my identity has been stolen. Last year someone filed a tax return in my name and got a refund. In this digital age identity fraud seems to run rampant. I have turned to using cash,which is a solid, old school analog way to make a purchase.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Merry Widow at the Rep.

I went to a dress rehearsal of The Merry Widow, directed and re-conceptualized by Eric Pinder, and conducted by Aaron Collins. Pam Schwartz and I searched for and found an open stage door. The cast could be heard warming up their voices in the distance. A life-sized model of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang sat tireless back stage. It was a challenge to find a way into the theater without walking onto the stage. I could see that the cast was dressed to the nines from the wings. This production features the best vocal talent in the area with members of the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra in the pit. I was excited to sketch the pit in action. Not many productions feature a live orchestra so predominantly. The steam punk themed set must have been left over from the previous show. Perhaps it was intended to indicate the complicated gears of love.

Leading lady, Hanna, (Claire Tendl) inherits a fortune from her late husband. The year is 2005, and she is so wealthy that everyone who is anyone in Silicon Valley is vying to get into her inner circle in order to gain access to a piece of her wealth, in the range of $300 million. Believing that a new marriage is the best way to secure her inheritance, business mogul friend, Baron, (John Segers) springs into action with the help of his own wife, (Eliza Healy Dopira) to find Hanna the right husband. It proves to not be as easy as it seems. The clever widow has her sights set on the charming and reckless Daniel, (Kevin Romero) a former college flame. There is only one problem, he has no intention of sacrificing his bachelor lifestyle for the comfort of marriage. He has a "wealth" of ladies to keep him entertained, and not even the promise of Hanna's fortune can pull him away from his drunken escapades. Rendezvous are rampant. Complications abound.

The cast of about 20 often filled the stage with a party atmosphere. Claire Tendl's singing was amazing. Kevin Romero acted with a drunken vaudevillian bravado, his body often struck in an arching curved gesture. The modernization of the show was most obvious in the third act which took place in a strip club called Maxim's, complete with a stripper's pole, on which Dawn Humphries gave an athletic performance. I wouldn't mind this being an Olympic event. Money was thrown everywhere, as the other dancers gyrated on several chairs. Then the club abruptly emptied leaving the lead couple, Hannah and Dan, playfully holding onto the pole and spinning around it together.

The Merry Widow will be presented in the Edyth Bush Theatre at the Orlando Repertory Theatre (1001 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL 32803). Tickets are on sale now with local Orlando shows August 10th through the 13th. There will be two satellite shows in Melbourne and Vero Beach August 19th.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Friday, August 11, 2017

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

Saturday August 12, 2017
4 PM to 6PM - Free. Young Voices. JB Callaman Center, 102 North Parramore Ave, Orlando. Teen Open Mic Every second Saturday of the month.

9 PM to 2 AM - Free. Perseid Meteor Shower. Night sky. According to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke, the Perseids are perhaps the most popular meteor shower of the year. Typical rates are about 80 meteors an hour, but in outburst years (such as in 2016) the rate can be between 150-200 meteors an hour. The meteor shower's actual peak is around 1 PM EDT on August 12, which means that the night before and the night after will both have good rates; Cooke said the show would be slightly better in the predawn hours of Aug. 12, but that there would be a decent show both nights.

7 PM to 10 PM - $25 to $35. The Merry Widow. Orlando Repertory Theatre, 1001 E Princeton St, Orlando, Florida 32803. A modernized version of Franz Lehár’s Operetta. This production features the best vocal talent in the area with members of the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra. Rendezvous are rampant. Complications abound.

Sunday August 13, 2017
10 AM to Noon -  Free. Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation Class.  University, 5200 Vineland Rd, Orlando, FL 32811. The Method of Heartfulness A simple and practical way to experience the heart’s unlimited resources.

Noon to 1 PM - Free. Yoga. North East corner of Lake Eola Park near the Red Gazebo.

2 PM to 5 PM - $25 to $35. The Merry Widow. Orlando Repertory Theatre, 1001 E Princeton St, Orlando, Florida 32803. A modernized version of Franz Lehár’s Operetta. This production features the best vocal talent in the area with members of the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra. Rendezvous are rampant. Complications abound.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

ODD at Elixer.

The June Orlando Drink and Draw (ODD) was going to be held at another bar on Orange Avenue, but that bar was closed. At the last minute I sent out a message on Facebook letting artists know that we would have to go to Elixer (9 W Washington St, Orlando, FL 32801) right down the block. Pam Schwartz and I arrived first and I started working on the panoramic view of the bar right away.

I got a text from Stella Arbelaez saying she would be there soon with her daughter Laura. Laura is taking a summer theater class and so they were right nearby. She spent the duration of the ODD event going over her lines at the next table. I tried to arrange a chance to sketch a rehearsal but the schedule never worked out.

Anna Ast also managed to find our group. She recently moved here from Russia and according to her, my book is used as a text book there for a group of artists who gather to do Urban Sketches. This is pretty exciting news, and I am hoping to see a copy of the book in Russian at a future ODD outing. Anna founded a cake decoration business here in Central Florida and her husband is a pilot.

We all just drew the bar for the first hour, and then I decided we all needed to sketch each other. I timed the drawings at 5 minutes, and artists had to face off to sketch one another. The artist being drawn, would sign the sketch made of them which makes for a simple way to learn the names of everyone at the table. One of my sketches was done blind, which means that I never looked at the sketch as I put lines on the page, only at the person's face. These sketches are always fun since you never know what you are going to get.

All sketches are available for sale as a print or original. Contact the artist for details.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Great Florida Road Trip Tacky Tourist Party.

The Orange County Regional History Center (65 E Central Blvd, Orlando, Florida 32801) held an evening of historic proportions as they saluted the Tacky Tourist in Florida. The event was free for History Center members and a $10 suggested donation for others. Rain certainly did its part to thin the crowd and it was pouring when I arrived.

There was a book talk with Cathy Salustri, author of Backroads of Paradise: A Journey to Rediscover Old Florida. After the slide presentation the audience could test their Florida knowledge with trivia.  I was invited to be one of three judges for the Tacky Tourist Costume Contest. The winner wore every conceivable piece of tacky tourist paraphernalia, shopping bags were full of Disney plush toys and trinkets. Shuffleboard was offered in the lobby. I managed to win a round thus reclaiming my dignity as a shuffle board champion.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The I-4 Band at La Maschera Parisian.

The Downtown Arts District hosted a fundraising event at The Abbey (100 S Eola Dr #100, Orlando, FL 32801). Patrons enjoyed a journey back to Paris in the 1890s, when impressionist artistist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec created his most famous works of art. The birthplace of modern can-can dance, the Montmartre neighborhood is the symbol of creativity, pleasure, beauty, and celebration.

The I-4 Band was performing on stage when I arrived, so I set up immediately to sketch. The lead singer had on a gorgeous black dress that was quite reminiscent of the can-can era. Guests did a great job of dressing up in their Parisian best. I did a second sketch near the bar and was considering a third sketch of the dance floor, when friends invited me to their table. It is sometimes frustrating to only have time to do one or two sketches, when this event clearly had inspiration for dozens of them. It is important to learn, however, that sometimes it is nice to let go and just enjoy the moment.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Barbara Poma remembers Pulse's inspiration and growth.

Barbara Poma was born in Connecticut and her family moved to Florida when she was 10 years old. in 1987 she moved to Orlando. Her brother John was four years older than her and he got her into trouble as a child. He was the source of entertainment and centered the family. Barbara graduated from UCF and started teaching. She got married young and that marriage only lasted two years. Around that time her brother John died from complications associated with AIDS. To honor her brother she dreamed of opening a clean and beautiful gay club. Gay clubs were known as being seedy she wanted to create something clean and inviting. She remarried and with her husband ran a series of restaurants. Ron Legler knew about her brother and suggested she try opening a club. The name Pulse was to honor of her brothers pulse living on through the establishment.

The original design of Pulse was in three rooms. First was the all white room which has LED lights that would change color turning the color of the room from red to blue, etc. The dance floor was in the center room and then there was the smaller dancer performance stage room. The club used to be an Italian Restaurant and she has a good time remodeling. Her husband referred to Pulse as an expensive hobby.

Her favorite night was Drag Night. Boys would come as girls and girls would come as boys. Employees came up with ideas for events. Comedians came in, and gay days brought people from all around the world in. We enjoyed ourselves. Twisted Tuesdays drew a young crowd. They were young people trying to find their way. There was a talent nigh and and every four to six weeks there would be a finale. Pulse had some amazing talent develop over the years. 19 year old kids would blossom into full on performers. Wednesday was College Night. That evening was popular for 12 years. Friday became Hip Hop Night. Every room had its own DJ. Saturday Nights were Latin Night for the past few years. Employees just didn't leave Pulse and if they did move on to a new career path, they often returned. We were family. Pulse was the second home for many people. The purpose of a gay bar is to be a second home. Often someones own family will not accept them.

Pulse had just recently been renovated. The white room was removed and the place returned to the original South Beach and Miami vibe. The new look was amazing. Gay days had just finished and the club was gearing up for its anniversary in July... The evening of June 12, 2016 interrupted that anniversary.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The First of 10 Orlando Urban Sketching Workshops.

The first of 10 X 10 Orlando Urban Sketching Workshops was held at the Orlando Public Library (101 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801) in the Magnolia Room. The brutalist style architecture of the building makes it feel like it belongs in a futuristic non-Utopian society as in George Orwell's 1984. Classical music is pumped into the lobby and when the automatic doors open, you can feel a rush of inviting cold air hit you as you walk by.

Urban Sketchers is celebrating 10 years by inviting sketchers from around the world to attend ten on location workshops with an Urban Sketching official instructor! The 10 workshops will cover three themes:
1. Little Stories.
2. Medium Stories.
3. Great Stories.

The Goals of the progressive workshops are to:
1. Show stories from Orlando, one drawing at a time
2. Improve drawing skills
3. Learn how to select, frame and design visual stories on a page
4. Learn how writing and drawing can work together to communicate more to your audience
5. Experience the advantages of group learning and seeing the many paths to success

For the first workshop I started with simple shapes like squares, circles, and triangles. We sketched the simple shapes and then sketched them as dimensional objects on the page. The most important building block to understand for me is the cube and we sketched it from all different angles as if it were dice on a roulette table. We then softened the edges of the cube and stretched, bent and twisted the shapes on the page. Being able to sketch that form from any angle is critical.

We then focused on contour drawing by doing blind contours before more controlled contour drawing of Abe Lincoln statues and buffalo statues. We then focused on producing a more finished still life of our art supplies. We used watercolor for the first time and I offered sketch suggestions to each student as their work was in progress.

 The library sketch with all the computers shown above was broken down into simple shapes. We left the classroom and found small intimate things to sketch throughout the library. The goal of each sketch was that the object chosen should have a story. As part of the workshop each student is encouraged to write about their experience and post those articles on the Urban Sketch Workshop Group page on Facebook. I am excited about the line up of venues that is coming up. We will be sketching exhibits and historic building models at the Orange County Regional History Center, the Ticonderoga Museum which is devoted to the humble pencil, a Celebrity Impersonators Convention, Zombietoberfest, the Creative City Project and Skeletons at The Museum of Osteology. By the end of the 10 workshops, I hope to have helped inspire some new Urban Sketch Correspondents.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Daddy Issues at the Parliament House.Footlight Theater in

Coming direct from its Off Broadway premiere, Daddy Issues written and directed by David Goldyn is coming to the Footlight Theater in the Parliament House (410 North Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando FL). Pam Schwartz and I went to a dress rehearsal. Walking in, we passed a drag queen bingo session going on at the bar. The cast sat in the audience for the first hour or so since Blue Estrella was working power nailing baseboards to the walls, framed show posters were hung on the wall with care. We all waited with anticipation for a white door to arrive which went stage left. I had to resist drawing any furniture since it had been pushed around the stage to make room for set construction. An air compressor that looked like a cross between a Roomba and R2D2 was eventually removed.

Donald Moscowitz (Wes Miles) has overbearing parents. Don’t we all? He is trying to live his life as a gay man in 1980s New York as a struggling actor no less. Of course his parents are in denial about his lifestyle, disapprove of his career choice, and question his flair for decoration. To get his family to stop kvetching, Donald needs a son. With the help of his ballsy best friend Henrietta (Darby Ballard) and rising drag queen Levi (Tim Garnham), Donald hires the ten-year-old kid (Rhysee Silvestro) from downstairs to play his son. What could go wrong?

This fast-paced new comedy, takes audiences on a fun ride to remind us just how far we’ll go for family.  Both Henrietta and Levi want to play the part of Donald's long lost girlfriend that he dated in college, before he realized he was gay. When his grandmother (Jack LeDoux) brings home the real college girlfriend, Mary Ellen (Melanie Leon) who happens to be the mom of the 10-year-old son Donald has hired. Melanie was always thick into the drink, having named her son Johnnie Walker. Her off kilter performance certainly added humor to the third act.

Donald's father Sid (Joe Zimmer) and grandmother approach the boy to find out if he has been circumcised, only to be pulled away by Donald. The show was a fun romp. It was just as fun to watch the actors who performed with selfless abandon since there was no audience. For instance, rehearsing the bows for the first time brought out some over the top styles.

Daddy Issues opens Friday August 4th at Footlight Theater.
Tickets are $20  7:30PM to 10:30PM
Show Dates are
Friday August 4
Saturday August 5
Friday August 11
Saturday August 12
Friday August 18
Saturday August 19
Monday August 21 (Industry Night)
Saturday August 26

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Friday, August 4, 2017

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

Saturday August 5, 2017
8 AM to 5 PM - $100-$399 Widow Empowerment Weekend. Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel, 5445 Forbes Pl, Orlando, FL 32812. Registration is OPEN. 200 ladies will come together for a very special weekend! #Orlando #Florida #TeamCompassion #ModernWidowsClub #2017WEW

3 PM to 6 PM - $35-$300 1st of 10 Orlando Urban Sketch Workshops. Orlando Public Library 101 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801. The first Orlando Urban Sketch Workshop will cover Little Stories (Microcosm, Small Objects). I encourage artists to bring a small personal object that has personal meaning. We will discuss how everyday objects can tell a story. 

We will warm up doing contour drawings in which more time is spent looking at objects rather than looking at the sketch page. The fact that a sketch isn't perfect is an excuse to loosen up and have fun with the process. I will do quick sketches for each student to drive home ideas that could help with each sketch in progress. Each sketch is a step towards slower and more deliberate observation.

After classroom discussion and sketches, we will branch out and sketch small isolated scenes in the library. You could sketch someone reading, or focus on some small items in the library collection. The idea is to find something small and intimate to sketch. The library closes as 6 PM and we will meet in the classroom just before closing to look at all the sketches done and compare notes.

Thomas Thorspecken (Thor) has been an official Urban Sketching instructor for two years. For 8 years he has been documenting arts and culture throughout Central Florida with one sketch a day for his online news site Thor was an animation artist for Disney Feature Animation for 10 years and has taught courses at Full Sail University and Elie Animation Academy.
If there are any questions, contact Thor at

7:30 PM to 9:30 AM - $20.  Daddy IssuesFootlight Theatre at the Parliament House Resort (410 N Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32805)  Donald Moscowitz has overbearing parents.  Don't we ALL?

Sunday August 6, 2017
10 AM to 4 PM - Free. Lake Eola Farmers Market. South East corner of Lake Eola Park. Weekly.

10 AM to Noon - Free. Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation Class. University, 5200 Vineland Rd, Orlando, FL 32811. The Method of Heartfulness A simple and practical way to experience the heart’s unlimited resources. 

Noon to 1 PM - Free. Yoga. Lake Eola near the red gazebo.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Artlando in Lock Haven Park.

In 2016 I was asked to participate in Artlando at Loch Haven Park (900 E Princeton St, Orlando, Florida). Over 80 artists cover the lawn with their displays, selling and creating art. Art created on-site was to be entered into a competition with thousands of dollars offered as awards. 100% of revenue from art sales went directly to the artists. I set up my tent the night before. The next day I had to teach classes all day, so I asked Bonnie Sprung to help man the tent for the duration of the event. She did a great job selling quite a few t-shirts. She offered her own art as well which gave some variety to the work offered. I am starting to realize that small ticket items are the only things that move at an outdoor festival like this.

There was a Toyota 'paint by numbers' exhibit which asked the community to paint in a mural by local artists, which covered an entire Toyota with art. Local artists also painted Juice Bike racks to be used at Juice Bike locations, which is a way to display art year-round in Orlando. I haven't seen these painted bike racks yet, if you spot one, please let me know.

The outdoor performing arts stage featured Orlando’s most prominent performing arts organizations showcased throughout the day and into the night. From Orlando Ballet to Orlando Fringe, programming transitions from kid-friendly in the morning, to general audience in the afternoon, and acts for mature audiences in the evening at Artlando After Dark.

As the host sponsor, the Orlando Museum of Art is an integral part of Artlando. The museum provided an air conditioned environment and housed exhibits from participating galleries.When I got to the park late in the afternoon, it immediately started to rain. Loud speakers announced that a strong storm was heading to Central Florida and that there would be high winds and tons of lightning. We were all warned to get off the lawn. When there was a lull in the downpour, I packed up my tent early. Just as I loaded it into the car, it started to pour again. I returned to Loch Haven Park later that night to pick up my empty tent. Many tents had been mangled in the high winds and looked like umbrellas that had been turned inside out and put in a blender. Oddly my old tent sat serenely alone among the carnage as if a cyclone had decided to stop and spin around it, hitting everything else in its path.

Mark your calendar, Artlando will return to Loch Haven Park on September 30, 2017 from 11 AM to 11 PM.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Creative City Project's VIP Night of Global Influence.

This night featured some compelling performances by several Central Florida artists organizations, some of the 2017 partnerships, and an exclusive look at the exciting future of Creative City Project.  The biggest announcement by founder, Cole Nesmith, was the unveiling of the new identity of the annual Creative City Project, to IMMERSE The evening showcased the next steps in fulfilling the mission to “shape the global perception of Orlando as a city known for innovation and creativity.”

More than 1,000 artists and performers bring the heart of the city to life! This year, you will find yourself surrounded with inspiration. Just one example is a performance by the 100 piece CFCArts Symphony Orchestra on 5 stages, surrounding the audience with an immersive orchestral experience. Artists will invite you in to become part of the experience. The fusion of performance and technology extend beyond the stage. The artists of IMMERSE will inspire you to live creatively everyday.

Mark your calendar! The Creative City Project will present the annual event, IMMERSE, on October 21, 2017. Tickets this year range form $10 to $100. There are also a limited number of free tickets available.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Wekiva Paint Out Gala.

The Orlando based Oak Hill Drifters span the rockabilly, country and early R&B genres with ease, with nods to Janis Martin, Bob Wills, The Everly Brothers, Little Willie John and Charlie Feathers. The high energy provided by Craig Roy's upright bass and the kicking drums by Tom Pearce kept feet moving and heads nodding, and the dual vocals and harmonies from Tom Cooper and Rachel Decker rounded out the band. They were on their own dock on the Wekiva river which acted as the stage.

A gala was going on for the yearly Wekiva Paint Out. There were food tents, beverages, and plenty of tables set up on the lawn. Rather than eat or hobnob, I set up behind a palmetto on a dock opposite the band. Since most folks ignored the music, I had a front row seat to enjoy and sketch the show. I was most attracted to the opposing warm and cool colors and I let them collide brightly on my digital tablet. After the sketch was done, I walked through the tent where all the wet plein air paintings were being exhibited. Close to 30 artists had been creating landscape paintings around Wekiva Island all week. You could see bugs caught in the paint, like in Neolithic Amber.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Monday, July 31, 2017

In the Artist's Studio fundraiser at Mad Cow Theater.

Mad Cow Theater's In the Artist's Studio fundraiser featured Merline Labissière, Lifetime’s “Project Runway” season 14 contestant as the guest artist for the Downtown Arts District's visiting artist program. The program was moderated by television and radio personality, Marc McEwen, who is best known for his role on CBS This Morning and as an anchor for WKMG-TV, Local 6 News.

A VIP meet-and-greet began at 6 pm. Labissière, a Miami-based designer, uses architecturally inspired design to create distinctive apparel for professional women. A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, Labissière is a frequent lecturer and advocate for teaching fashion design to inner-city youth. She sat next to me as I sketched the stage prior to her being interviewed. Being an artist herself she loved what I do.

Merline's family came from Haiti in a very small makeshift boat. She remembers the very real thought that were the boat to sink, a decision would have to be made about who goes overboard. Her mom is illiterate and she always wanted a better life for her daughter. Merline was shy when she arrived, partly because she was just learning to speak English.

At Savannah College of Art and Design, she studied architecture. She took some art classes and remembers finding out that the opposite of orange is blue, "Say what?" Architecture is the mother of all art, and it offers the foundation on which other art forms are built, but she decided that fashion was her calling. To create her garments, she needed to focus on sketching. At first, her mom was less than thrilled with her desire to go into fashion.

She found out about auditions for Project Runway, a reality TV show about fashion, in Miami. She made it through the first audition, but on the callback, she needed to work on her craft. She needed a week to sulk. After her private pity party, she decided that she couldn't wait for opportunity and instead she would create her own fashion collection. It seems that anytime something amazing happens in her life, it comes after everything has fallen apart. At her first fashion runway show she had butterflies to the third power, she totally understands why celebrities do drugs. Her fashion designs are edgy using architectural straight lines to break up forms. Dresses on display resembled jigsaw puzzles with intricate cut out designs.

At another audition for Project Runway, she was cast on the show. She pointed out that all the contestants were on the show because they were broke. Although not the final winner, the show made her a celebrity and her work seen by millions. Everyone wants people to see their work and say, "I get you." The trouble with being an artist is that so much of your identity is wrapped up in what you create. If someone doesn't like it, that can be devastating. She turned to Christ and her identity is held strong in her faith. When Merline's mom saw her daughter's success, she came around and fully supported her career choice.

Merline now teaches middle school and high school kids to get out of the studio for inspiration. She has shifted her focus to enterprise, business plans, and branding. Someone showed her how to crochet and she finds that a relaxing hobby. She is now planning to return to architecture. Life has different seasons and there is always room to grow. She specifically schedules one day off a week to rejuvenate and after hearing her speak , I decided to do the same. She loves going on walks, writing, drawing, going to museums, and galleries. She specifically schedules time for fun and, darn it, that is a great idea as well. God, there isn't enough time in each day to do everything if you stay curious and inspired.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

An Oral History with Carmen Capo.

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo was 20 years old when he was murdered at the Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. Pam Schwartz, interpreter Laura Cowie, and I sat with his mother Carmen Capo to learn a little about her son. I know very little Spanish, so the details are few until the interview is transcribed. Luis had recently moved to Orlando from Nashville, Tennessee to pursue a career in acting and dancing. Carmen said that they were the first family to be told what had happened. In the days that followed the shooting, she kept hoping that he was alive. The first time she got to see him was at his funeral.

Luis worked for Target which held a memorial as did Starbucks. Target paid for his viewing and they went above and beyond to help the family. They hired several of Luis's brothers as managers after the shooting. On a table in the dining room area there were 15 albums of card and boxes of gifts from around the world.

Mini is a tiny chihuahua who barked incessantly when we first entered the house. Once we each let her smell our hands she calmed right down, napping for the duration of the oral history. Mini was Luis's baby, he spoiled that pup with doggie spas and doggie hotels. He would spend anything for the dog's health. Mini had a princess bed with curtains, a doggie bathing suit and a doggie car seat. She was clearly daddy's girl. After June 12th, the puppy ran to Luis's room and hid under the bed. To this day the dog looks at the door with anticipation anytime someone enters. She still thinks Luis might enter that door someday.

Carmen and Luis's dad have been separated for 15 years. He wasn't accepting of his son, and never gave him a dime in alimony. The dad wasn't in the picture for the other sons either. Carmen got a star tattoo with her son's name and birth date. She feels that her son finally achieved the stardom he had hoped for after his death.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Inspiration Mural stairwell.

Michael Pilato from Philadelphia and Yuri Karabash from the Ukraine used the second floor studio space above Anthony's Pizza as a place to paint the first mural devoted to the 49 victims of the Pulse tragedy. Chimene Pindar Hurst arranged for home school students to paint a mural up the narrow staircase leading to the studio. Susan Gromala Crary, an artist who has done murals on Disney property, volunteered to get the kids started on the project.

She had each student do small thumbnail sketches of ideas they wanted included in the mural. Since social media like twitter and Facebook are so important to the kids, she found that the power of words had to be incorporated. Ultimately large flowers were painted with 49 heart shaped pedals. A rainbow exploded it's bright colors up the steps. Then words were incorporated like inspire, and positive.

Any creative endeavor has its setbacks and happy accidents. While painting a large section of the rainbow, a cup of bright yellow paint spilled on the steps. Rather than getting upset about the spill, Susan encouraged the kids to incorporate the yellow into the overall design and concept. Each student dipped their hand in the puddle and hand prints were placed on each step. A videographer recorded the afternoon of creative working and singing. Each painter had their own technique which Susan encouraged. One girl used tiny strokes with a tiny brush to fill in sections of the mural. She persisted and completed the work. In the end that is what matters most, something new and unexpected was created.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Weekend Top 6 Picks for July 29th and 30th.

Saturday July 29, 2017 
9 AM to 3 PM - $95  Urban Sketching Class. Thomas Thorspecken (Thor) of Analog Artist Digital World is the instructor. Crealde School of Art, 600 St. Andrews Blvd, Winter Park, FL 32792. Main Campus Room: 1A. One day class.  Learn the essentials of sketching by leaving the studio to sketch in the community. Classroom session will focus on sketching a clothed model and work toward capturing the entire setting. Use a sketchbook the way a photojournalist uses a camera. The goal is to produce finished sketches using pen and ink, then apply watercolor—all within a two-hour period.
Members $75 • Non-members $95
Thomas Thorspecken studied animation and illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and worked for ten years in NYC as a freelance illustrator and at Florida Disney Feature Animation for ten years. In 2009, he made a news year’s resolution to do one sketch a day and share it with a worldwide online community of Urban Sketchers through his blog Analog Artists Digital World.

Noon to 3PM - Free. National Dance Day Free Dance Classes. Marshall Ellis Dance School, 1300 La Quinta Drive, Orlando, Florida 32809.
Ballet Class 12:30 pm-1:30 pm
Contemporary Class 2:00 pm-3:00 pm
National Dance Dance Performance 4:00 pm-5:00 pm

6 PM to 8 PM - Free. Talk, Themes of Racial Injustice and Student/Youth Rights. Cornell Fine Arts Museum, 1000 Holt Avenue-2765, Winter Park, FL 32789. Chardo Richardson, President, Central Florida Chapter of the ACLU.

Sunday July 30, 2017
10 AM to Noon - Free. Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation Class. University, 5200 Vineland Rd, Orlando, FL 32811. The Method of Heartfulness A simple and practical way to experience the heart’s unlimited resources.

Noon to 1 PM - Free. Yoga. Lake Eola near red gazebo. Bring your own mat.

Noon to 3 PM - Free Will Donation. Music at the Casa. Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, 656 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. Anthology Quartet.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Rasha Mubarak discusses her life after Pulse.

On a sketch excursion to The GLBT Center, I watched Rasha Mubarack, Orlando's regional coordinator for the Council for American /Islamic Relations, as she was interviewed on camera. The Center was holding an event in which a large group of people gathered to offer love and support for Manchester via a video message.

She explained in an oral history at the Orange County Regional History Center, that she was exposed to injustice as a child. Her uncle was a successful businessman who lived in Isleworth Florida. His home was invaded, probably because he was Islamic. Islamaphobia had become mainstream in America. When exposed to one injustice, you become aware of others. A sheik was at the site where hospitalized names were read from a list. If the name of your loved one wasn't on the list, then it was a worst case scenario. Parents and loved ones were in despair. Some were banging their heads on the walls. This was a hard scene to re-live.

At the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts vigil, Rasha was one of the people on hand to read the names of the 49 victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre. Back stage, she was nervous about the idea of being a Muslim reading the names. Backstage, there was pain and comfort. Reading the names was shattering. Each name had the age next to it. Each of these people have stories. The Methodist Church across the street rang the bell for every name on the list. That moment seemed to last an eternity. Everyone assembled comforted each other. There is mercy in adversity. We are all in this together.

Right after the Pulse Nightclub massacre, Rasha felt personally affected. She went to her mosque as usual and realized that no one else knew what was going on. When she got home, she was hyperventilating and felt the full weight of the tragedy. She was soon called upon to do an interview outside Pulse. It all seemed unreal. How could someone really kill 49 people? This was clearly not a person of god, any god. That first week after Pulse, she was asked many times, "How are you?" Her stock response was, "I'm OK." One man told her something that stuck with her, "God puts you where he wants you." When he told her that, everything else seemed OK. She just needed to do the right thing, be on the right side, and keep going.

There was a backlash after Pulse, but it could have been a lot worse. Islamaphobia has increased 500% in Central Florida in the past year. What side of history do you want to be on? The Council for American /Islamic Relations is fighting for civil liberties for all Americans. At a Democratic partisan event, Rasha was pulled aside for appearing "suspicious." She fights for marginalized people and found herself marginalized.

Orlando is a place where people come to get away. On June 12, a criminal tried to dismantle that. He forever changed the lives of 49 families. How do we react when our world is disturbed? Our hearts fall in and out of love with everything. Out hearts have memory. We need to remember the beauty that came out of it all. We need to understand the diversity and stand for civil liberties for everyone.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Passion PR Five-Year Anniversary Bash!

I went with Pam Schwartz to Gilt Nightclub (740 Bennett Rd, Orlando, Florida 32803) for the Passion PR Five Year Anniversary Bash. Ilene Lieber who runs Passion PR has always been great about helping me promote events.

The evening promised to be an Explosion of Live Entertainment All Night. There were complimentary cocktails and light bites from 7 pm to 8 pm, photo opportunities, swag bags, DJ music and more. Celebrity look alikes were everywhere. Mariah Carey got on stage and did an admirable lip sync performance. Austin Powers worked his smarmy British charm on all the ladies.

I decided to sketch the poker table. Pam kept winning and placed some huge bets that brought back amazing returns. I took her place when she went to the bathroom and kept loosing. The guy next to Pam had a few too many drinks and was boisterous and a bit obnoxious each time he won a hand. Michelle Jones who founded the Violectric String band was also on a winning streak. There really wasn't any payout for winning (other than Mardi Gras beads and candy), so there was no harm in taking chances. When it was time to go, Pam tried to bet all her chips and loose but she kept winning, stacking up a mountain of chips. All the money earned at the event went towards supporting Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Interview with Ricardo J. Negron Almodovar.

Ricardo J. Negron Almodovar liked to go out just about every Saturday night. On the evening of June 12, 2016 he was at a food truck event around 10:30 PM before taking an Uber over to Pulse Nightclub by himself. He got there right before the midnight show. There was a performer from NYC there that night, and she was by the bar. Her act was as Jennifer Lopez, it was all very campy. Kate was the bartender.

Ricardo had just closed out his bar tab when it all started. He thought that the loud bangs might just be a part of the music. Then he saw people fall to the floor. Was there a fight outside, he thought to himself, perhaps the gun fire was outside in the parking lot.  The bar he was at was close to a door to the patio. Before he knew what happened someone was on top of him. Glass was shattering all around him. When he finally got out to the patio, he paused. It was dark outside. He couldn't see the gate. People were crushing into each other since the doorway acted like a funnel. The wood fence was 7 to 8 feet tall and he started trying to kick it down. the person next to him found the gate door and Ricardo fell in the crush of people trying to get out. People ran over him, stepping on him. He lost a shoe in the chaos.

He was worried that the argument might be outside and that there might be somebody shooting there. When he got out, a girl was asking if anyone spoke Spanish just before she was offered a ride. Her friend was also trampled.

Ricardo works for Proyecto Somos Orlando, powered by the Hispanic Federation. In the immediate aftermath of the Pulse Nightclub massacre, the Hispanic Federation, through its Orlando office, joined forces with local Latino-led institutions to create Proyecto Somos Orlando as a campaign to coordinate the city’s Latino social services sector and raise awareness of the need to provide the victims and their families with high-quality culturally-competent assistance. The organization will address the long-term needs for mental health services that are culturally competent and bilingual.

Ricardo travels quite a bit for the job. He has considered leaving Orlando but the job keeps him here. Orlando no longer feels like home. Any time he goes on a date, Pulse always comes up. Pulse always hangs over any relationship. He has made friends with other survivors. They interact just like any friends unless one of them has a breakdown moment. He really didn't want to be in Orlando for the one year. He feels that the entire Pulse building should be brought down. The site could feel like Central Park, whatever become of the site, the families should decide. People who weren't there shouldn't step in and try to make a name for themselves. People who lost love ones should have the primary input.

There have been mornings that Ricardo has had trouble getting up. He has a Pulse tattoo on his arm, it is a rainbow EKG line with a heart interrupting the beat. He has a much bigger tattoo on his right pectoral muscle. He wants people to live and let live. This shouldn't have happened. What the world needs is acceptance, mental health assistance, and gun laws. It all comes down to education. If the younger generation learns acceptance, the world could be a better place.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Wallaby Ranch.

Wallaby Ranch (1805 Deen Still Rd, Davenport, FL 33897) is the first full-time Aerotow Hang Gliding Flight Park in the World. Open seven days a week since 1991. Flying in a hang glider at Wallaby Ranch is exhilarating, but much of the thrill comes from the anticipation and camaraderie even before the wings take to the sky. Air currents are best in the morning, so we were encouraged to get up at the break of dawn. Breakfast and coffee were available at the barn and everyone sat at the picnic tables chatting until the currents were just right. Malcom Jones, who founded Wallaby Ranch, has flown more tandem flights than anyone else in the world. He knows how to read the current and is known for never taking any unnecessary chances.

My flight took off without a hitch, but by the time we got back to the ground, Malcom had decided that the winds had changed making it unsafe for other tandem flights to take off. I got to experience the quiet thrill of soaring and seeing a rainbow encircling the shadow of my wings in the clouds. I was at the ranch to celebrate Pam Schwartz's birthday and unfortunately, she was grounded. She did get to take flight the next day and was equally impressed with the experience.

Most of the fun at the ranch happens on the ground, meeting new people who share a passion for flight. There is a pool that became mission central for much of the afternoon as people relaxed and soaked to stay cool. Pam and I took to the pool almost immediately upon arrival to watch the sunset. Once the sun went down, horse flies and dragon flies buzzed my ears causing me to flail and destroy the peace. In the evening, everyone gathered in the barn for dinner, games and music. We played a rather risque word game that was fun to play with strangers. One player would read a card that set up a situation and then each player had to put in their own card that they felt was the most funny or inappropriate way to finish the thought. You could tell if your card had worked if everyone else laughed at the result. When my card was read each time, I swear you could hear crickets chirping. I didn't win.

Guitar and harmonica music set the tone for the rest of the evening and everyone sang along. The feeling of community being among people who fly is intoxicating and I can understand how learning to fly solo can become an obsession. 20 hours of tandem flights are needed before a pilot can fly solo. I heard that it is possible to stay in the air for hours if the winds are just right. My flight was video recorded from start to finish with a Go Pro camera mounted on the wing. It is amazing to relive the experience from the comfort of a couch.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hairspray at the Dr. Phillis Center for the Performing Arts.

Hairspray is being presented by Encore! Cast Performing Arts at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (445 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, Florida 32801) on July 22 and 23rd.  I went to a cue to cue rehearsal in which the cast went over certain numbers to block choreography and check lighting. Singers didn't perform "all out" so this was just a chance to see certain scenes in the broadest sense. Actors were relaxed and joked with each other during the run through. Judging from how much fun they had working with each other, I can say that this is likely to be a very fun show to watch. Two giant hair spray cans flanked the sides of the stage and are rigged to spray out puffs of stage smoke. I want to see the final show just to find out how they are incorporated. The opening number, "Good Morning Baltimore" was rehearsed with the lead singing her heart out and it was stellar. I was a little disappointed that the flasher had some clothes on under his trench coat, but maybe most of the audience will miss that from their angle.

The 1950s are out, and change is in the air! Hairspray, winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, is a family-friendly musical, piled bouffant-high with laughter, romance and deliriously tuneful songs.

It is 1962 in Baltimore, and the lovable plus-size teen, Tracy Turnblad, has only one desire – to dance on the popular "Corny Collins Show." When her dream comes true, Tracy is transformed from social outcast to sudden star. She must use her newfound power to dethrone the reigning Teen Queen, win the affections of heartthrob, Link Larkin, and integrate a TV network... all without denting her 'do!

Show date: July 22-23, 2017
Show times vary
Tickets start at $20
Walt Disney Theater

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

An Interview with Billy Manes at Watermark.

On June 30th Pam Schwartz, Dan Bradfield and I entered the Watermark offices to conduct an oral history with editor-in-chief Billy Manes about the events following the Pulse Nightclub massacre. Billy grew up in Florida and was a bit of a club kid.  He suffered much adversity and sexual abuse in his childhood. At the time, he felt that Florida is a place without history, so you have to make your own history.  In 2005 he ran for mayor, being the first openly gay candidate to do so. He felt he was the best choice to replace the then suspended Mayor Buddy Dyer specifically because he's not a politician.

He met Alan Jordan who was very different than himself and they had a long relationship. "We were very Burt and Taylor in our relationship." said Billy. On Easter Sunday of 2012 Alan shot himself in front of Billy. Alan had HIV but didn't want to admit he was positive. Billy watched his love die in front of him. Alan's family took everything a redneck could need, despite the long relationship, even threatening to take the ring off of Billy's finger. Billy fought them in court and won back some of his possessions. He decided to become more purposeful about these issues. "Trying to save someone else saved me." said Billy. There is a documentary that was filmed entitled " Billy and Alan".

As a senior writer at the Orlando Weekly, Billy found his voice as he made jokes about Tallahassee government policy which is often, "so fucking boring". Billy Manes was hired by the Watermark in 2015. As I sketched, I found the black blinds strangely ominous. He coughed once, and Pam commiserated since she had a cough for 6 months after cleaning up dead flowers and collecting items at the Pulse Memorial sites for the One Orlando Collection.

"I only remember 5AM on June 12th." Billy said. He used to work there, when it was Dante's. He was friends with the owners and staff. It wasn't "divey" at all. It was a good place to come together. At 5 AM his husband Anthony Mauss woke up. He told Billy not to look at his phone. Billy of course looked at his phone and was immediately pulled on for an MSNBC interview. Unshaven and uncombed he spoke with Tamron Hall. As he spoke, he realized that he didn't know if his friends were alive who worked at Pulse.

This was a hate crime and Billy was annoyed at any news organization that would white-wash this fact by playing up the terrorist theories. On that first morning, a mother drove by and she asked if her son was alive. Billy said he would try and find out.

After Pulse, the whole tone, everything changed. Billy suddenly found himself in a whirlwind of interviews by over 7 networks in the days following. Watermark approached the following weeks with a three step program. They did a glossy cover, a story about the psychology behind the attack and stories about the need for gun control. In the barrage of activity, he stopped caring about himself. Watermark was at every event. Billy reflected, "It is still amazing to me. You can say 49, but imagine the moms and families having to deal with probate, the law."

Our oral history interview was just an hour long. We wanted to get together for a second interview to grapple with the intricacies of the weeks following Pulse in more depth. Shortly after this interview Billy Manes said he was "let go" from Watermark on Friday, July 14th. In a Facebook post on the following Sunday Billy shared, "I was effectively let go on Friday and it wasn't easy and it wasn't psychologically easy. I wanted to give Watermark the chance to break the news. Not sure why, but it was fair enough. Best to the future editor and please keep up...the work. I'll figure something new. I always do."

Billy died just after 4 p.m. on Friday, July 21, at the age of 45, surrounded by his husband Anthony Mauss, friends and family at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

The loss is a shock to me. Billy and I were both born on May 22 and he playfully reminded me of this each year via Facebook.  Having lived through so much tragedy, Billy always injected humor into every exchange. He will be deeply missed. He helped to write Orlando's history while joking about the political forces that stifle Orlando's future.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Weekend Top 6 Picks for July 22nd and 23rd.

Saturday July 22, 2017
10 AM to 1 PM - Free. Empowerment Event. Art of Fitness Personal Training and Yoga, 5154 Dr Phillips Blvd, Orlando, Florida 32819. Five speakers offer the tools you need to get the life you want. From miracles to mindset, exercise to meditation, join us as we bring you serious empowerment.

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

10:30 PM to Midnight - Free. Son Flamenco. Ceviche Tapas Orlando, 125 W Church St, Orlando, FL.

Sunday July 23, 2017
10 AM to Noon - Free.  Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation Class. University, 5200 Vineland Rd, Orlando, FL 32811. The Method of Heartfulness A simple and practical way to experience the heart’s unlimited resources.

10 AM to Noon - Free. Florida Gospel Jam. Fish on Fire, 7937 Daetwyler Drive, Belle Isle, FL. Every 2nd and 4th Sunday.

10 PM to Midnight - Free (but get a coffee!) Comedy Open Mic. Austin's Coffee, 929 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL. Come out & laugh, or give it a try yourself.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Blue Spring State Park.

For my birthday, Pam Schwartz got me two fountain pens to draw with.We also decided to take the day off, and go to Blue Spring (2100 W. French Avenue Orange City, FL 32763). She has a kayak and there are also rentals, so we explored the spring and the Saint Johns River. Pam had a waterproof bag to hold any art supplies and phones. We seem to have amazing luck seeing wildlife anytime we explore around Orlando. We kayaked down a tiny tributary that is not very accessible to normal sized boats. The prows of our kayaks split the river grass until the stream once again opened up. Beautiful white flowers were just opening up on Lilly pads.

On a more open stretch, we spotted a river otter swimming back and forth across the stream. He must have been on the hunt for fish and he didn't seem to mind our presence. He swam towards us for a closer look. Large birds were building nests in the brush and I could hear the chicks as we floated by. When we paddled into Blue Spring itself, we came across a manatee that was slowly making her way out towards the open river water. The spring water is much clearer than the river water making the manatee easy to see. She approached Pam's kayak and boop-snooted her boat to say hello. Pam got some amazing photos before the manatee decided to gently swim out to the murky river.

I had brought along my snorkel and mask and we decided to hike upstream to the source of the spring. The water is a constant 73 degrees year round. The stream is surprisingly strong. It is hard to imagine that much water gushing up from a single hole in the ground. 102 million US gallons (390,000 m3) of water flow out of Blue Spring into the St. Johns River every day. At the large watering hole at Blue Springs source, we found a large rock to sit on and I got out my new fountain pen to try out. Unknown to me, the ink was not waterproof, so when I added watercolor to the sketch, the ink bleed into each color I applied. Flesh tones quickly turned black. Rather than fight the new media, I just let it be and applied very light washes. Back at the studio later, I replaced the ink with Noodler's ink, which is waterproof, and now the pen is in constant use every day.

Swimming over the Blue Spring itself is amazing. You have to kick hard to go against the stream. I dove down to a tree trunk which had fallen over the stream below the water's surface. Water pressure in my ears kept me from going down any further, but I could see scuba divers down below me exploring the depths. I much prefer exploring above the water where pen lines and washes can capture any scene in some form or another.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Quickies at the Orlando International Fringe Festival.

Quickies was a series of four short plays presented at the Orlando International Fringe Festival at Breakthrough Theater ( 421 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park). Written by Tracy Jane Smith, the opening “Sex and a Story,” was about how how Scheherazade, meant to serve as a sex slave, kept her head through cunning, despite the fact that she could be beheaded if she displeased the prince.

In “Meet the Pets,” a boy brings his girlfriend home to his apartment for the first time.On the couch, his cat, Mr. Cuddles (Ryan Roberson) clearly owns the place, acting like British royalty. His self satisfaction is hilarious and a great contrast to the the dog who bounds around the scene with unlimited joy and enthusiasm. Daisy, the golden retriever, loves the new girl while Mr. Cuddles treats her with disdain.

In "Welcome to Intercourse" two female students find themselves stranded in Amish Country when the car engine gives out. They meet two young Amish men and despite their differences, things heat up. The final show, "Buried" is about a distraught young woman who wanders the stage with a shovel. her idea of eternal love involved digging a hole.

As a fan of Tracy Jane Smith's sensual dark humor, I hope to catch a sketch of "Jim Reaper, A Play about Life Death and other Comedies."  After twenty years of marriage, recent divorcee Blanche flirts with an oddly irresistible man named Jim at a party, while insurance-adjuster Bob tries to avoid him at all costs. Knowledgeable party-goer Doris identifies Jim as THE Jim Reaper, and the fates of his respective guests are revealed in a card game. A score of dark metaphors comes to life in this fun personification of death as a reasonable, friendly guy just doing his job.

Performances at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Santos Dantin Theater (812 E Rollins St, Orlando, Florida 32803). 
July 28, 29, & 30
August 4, 5, & 6
Saturdays at 8 pm
Sundays at 3 pm

Tickets are $18 general admission, $15 for seniors 55+, students and military with ID. Tickets may be purchased online at or at the PRT box office at point of sale. Cash and credit card accepted; no checks please. For seating reservations only, please contact (407) 761-2683.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Guinness Presented True Sound Live at Rogue Pub.

An impromptu road trip to South Carolina ended at Rogue Pub (3076 Curry Ford Rd, Orlando, Florida 32806). True Sound is a music project based in the greater Orlando area. Drawing upon various musical influences, they have developed a unique, polished sound. The lighting in the pub was set up on the dart boards rather than the band, so the performers were dark silhouettes against the bright wall. I did what I could with the low light setting. Hayley Rose, and Ben Wozniak performed covers and several of Ben's original songs. One original was about experiencing a German park and the song was fun and lively. Another song was about settling into routines rather than seizing each day.

Ben had just been on a whirlwind road trip with his uncle John Naughton, Pam Schwartz and myself. We went as far north as Charleston on the 4 day trip, seeking out historical sites and coffee shops all along the way. In Savannah we went to the fabulous Mrs. Wilkes restaurant which serves the food Thanksgiving style in bowls that are passed around large tables that seat multiple guests family style. There were over 20 different dishes served along with fried chicken, meat loaf, collared greens, macaroni and cheese and a wide variety of vegetables. It was definitely the highlight of the trip, but we also found other restaurants that were true gems.

The final day of the road trip was a marathon sprint to be sure Ben made it to his gig at Rogue Pub. I ordered a Hefferweissen, Pam had some sour passion fruit Schnoodlepip and John had a chocolate stout that was delicious. After the band's first set, Guinness offered beers on the house, so I nursed Guinness as I completed the sketch. We had vacationed hard and I was exhausted by the end of the evening. The beers further relaxed me. Ben's brother, Josh Wozniak, joined the group for the last set, doing percussion by banging a wooden box (a cajón) he sat on. This was a fun evening and a fun way to cap off an amazing trip.

All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.