Saturday, June 16, 2018

Parkland, Florida Memorial

I spent the morning sketching jury selection for the Noor Salman Trial here in Orlando and then Pam Schwartz and myself drove south to Parkland, Florida where 17 students and faulty had been killed on Valentines Day in a mass shooting. Now, one month later memorial  items had to be cleared because an event was planned for this main stage in Pine Trails Park. The first impression of the town was that it is highly manicured giving the impression of suburban affluence. Seeing the memorial of course immediately reminded me of Pulse. 17 angels stood on stage with golden wings. I read the names of those killed on poster boards for the first time. In the field behind me there were 17 event tents protecting the 17 crosses. Some crosses had been switched out for stars of David.

It was a very windy day. Several tents had been blown over and more would do so as the storm progressed. Loose paper items from the memorial were blowing around, only stopping when they got wedged up against a fence. I heard that someone from a home in the neighborhood brought back items that had blown into her yard. Pam inspected the memorial and then began to return items and anchor them down.

Two high school students were looking at the memorial as I sketched. The girl collapsed to her knees. The boy put his hand on her shoulder waiting for her to regain her composure. It had only been about one month since the shooting. Then he approached me. I braced myself, he might consider my sketching to be disrespectful. Most people don't understand why I do what I do. What he said took me off guard. He said, "I appreciate that you are sketching. We need to remember. People view sketches differently than they view photos. Thank you." Considering that he must have been in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the day of the shooting, this was an incredibly enlightened view. I got choked up, but cleared my eyes so I could finish the sketch.

Jeff Schwartz who heads up the Parkland Historical Society had invited Pam and I to stay at his home for the night.  Later that evening we would be meeting at City Hall so Pam could share her experiences and offer advice on how to collect and preserve the items from the memorials in Parkland.

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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