Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pulse victim families paint portraits.

The Orlando Traveling Mural organized by Colleen Ardaman at the Orlando Police Department (1250 West South Street, Orlando Fl). Artist Jeff Sonskin (Paint the Trail) offered advice to paint portraits of their loved ones lost. He had prepared panels that essentially allowed family members to paint by number.

Painting at this session were a Venezuelan family consisting of Aileen Caleos Carillo, the sister of Simon Adrian Carillo Fernandez who died at the age of 31. Along Aileen was her sister Ariani, her mom and her boyfriend in the red shirt. With her back to me was Emily Addison the partner of Dionka Draton. The woman with the curly hair is Daphnie Josaphat, the aunt of Jason Benjamin Josaphat who died at the age of 49. Daphne encouraged Mina Justice, the mother of Eddie Justice  who died at the age of 30, to come out and paint. Zack Osborne was the videographer and he helped supervise. Three Orlando Police swat team members entered and were introduce to the families. Jeff Sonskin was always mixing paint and offering advice.

A reporter sat down and interviewed Mina. She talked lovingly about her son Eddie who was a prankster. He was a real mama's boy. After her son died, she was unable to leave her home. For months she avoided contact with everyone. Daphnie had dragged her out to paint. She admitted that working on the portrait made her happy. She has been feeling endless pain and loss but the simple act of putting paint on the panel occupied her mind and honored her son's memory. She wanted to get it right.

Across the room several long tables were pushed up together and canvases were covered with hand prints. The ,"We, Are a Hand print" campaign encourages families, survivors, first responders and politicians to add their hand print to the mosaic. 71 police officers added their hand prints to the project and to date 11 politicians. The painting sessions continued the next day and Jeff is also taking portraits to families homes to be sure every family member can add their talent to the process.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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