Saturday, January 14, 2017
Once a month, I host a free sketch outing called, ODD (Orlando Drink and Draw). The first ODD event of 2017 was held at Wally's Mills Avenue Liquors, (1001 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803).
Wally's is a landmark dive bar with a rocking jukebox, serving beer and stiff drinks since 1954. My original goal for ODD was to visit Orlando's best dive bars. Wally's definitely is x epitome of a drive bar.
Upon entering, there is a liquor store to the right with a wide assortment of bottles. Opposite that, two men sat at a table looking at a sports event on the tube. The bar itself is in the back. A U shaped bar fills the tight space. The wallpaper of nude women is the first thing the caught my eyes. I picked a stool at the corner of the bar and ordered a Rolling Rock. Two guys and a gal sat opposite me. Patrons go to Wally's with one objective, and that is to get drunk. The two guys seemed pretty wasted. The woman, sporting a nose ring and a skull cap fingered her phone and kept her friends amused with the latest Facebook news. Within minutes of starting the sketch, one of the guys came over to see what I was up to. It turns out he is an artist himself and he spoke for some time about the quick two minute sketches he once did of the patrons at the bar. I overheard some of their conversation which was largely about who had slept with whom and the emotional ramifications. Orlando is a small down, and news travels fast on the streets.
Another bar patron approached me and he said my sketch reminded him of the work of a short little French artist. He got down on his knees to demonstrate the artists height, and I shouted, "Toulouse!" He had seen a movie about Toulouse Lautrec which was made back in the 60s. He said if Toulouse were to enter Wally's, he would be sketching, just like me. Though my sketch wasn't finished, he asked if he could share what I was doing. He lifted the sketchbook like a sacred document and shared it with everyone who was in the sketch. A poet entered the bar through the back door. He was asked to chime in on t sketch and he said, "I only can express an opinion about literature, I don' know much about visual arts." Then he looked at the sketch and simply shouted "Damn!" He is a man who knows how to use words. The bar maid checked on my progress several times.
Linda Saracino showed up and then Viviana Castro. Viviana could only stay for 20 minutes so she rushed to get a thumbnail sketch done. Then Wendy Wallenberg showed up and she lit up the Internet with a selfie and controversy. Online, Elizabeth Maupin said she had bee warned to never go in the place. She is an artist but I haven't convinced her to whip out her sketchbook yet. Out in the parking lot Wendy kept yelling at cars that parked to near her Porche. The guys windows were rolled down, so they might have heard her. I was afraid she might start a brawl.
The night was an adventure. We listened to some good Beetles music on the Jukebox, joked with the regulars and had a couple of beers while sketching. Then Wendy stepped in despite the smoke to make the evening true ODD.