Saturday, June 30, 2018

Tai Chi in Central Park

I rented a place in Winter Park two summers ago. Since I lived there, I started looking for local events to sketch and when I found out that Tai Chi was offered in Central Park, I had to go out and sketch. I arrived early, sat on a bench in the shade and started sketching where I assumed they would set up in the grass.

Back in 1998 I was working for Disney Feature Animation on the film, Mulan which is set in China. During the making of that film I studied Tai Chi as a way to unwind from the stress of production. I knew the moves and could have joined in on this day, but I decided instead to focus on the zen of creating the sketch.

When the Tai Chi participants showed up they set up on the main stage which is usually reserved for musical performances. Rather than start the sketch over, I just placed them on the green grass where I felt they belonged. Of course Tai Chi could be interpreted as a form of dance and an art form.

Creating art is forbidden by city ordinance in Winter Park. According to the Ordinance, artists a lumped together with street performers..."Perform and performance means to engage in any of the following activities: acting; singing; playing musical instruments; puppetry; pantomiming, miming; performing or demonstrating magic or acts of illusion; dancing; juggling; or the public display of and composition or creation of crafts, sculpture, artistry, writings, or compositions, including the application of brush, pastel, crayon, pencil, or other similar objects applied to paper, cardboard, canvas, cloth or to other similar medium." I still wonder if a digital sketch is exempt.

"Prohibited public area means the pedestrian accessed public areas of the Central Business and Hannibal Square Districts along Park Avenue from Fairbanks Avenue to Swoope Avenue, and along New England Avenue from Park Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue including the area within fifty (50) feet of the public right-of-way of Park A venue and New England Avenue on the public lanes, streets, thoroughfares, and ways, including the Winter Park train station and the public property at
what is  known as the Winter Park Farmer's Market and the Winter Park Historical Association located at 200 West New England Avenue, excluding public performance zones as provided in subsection ( d)(2). "

The city of Winter Park does allow for a "Weekend of the Arts" in February. Thankfully, no police wrestled me to the ground to take my pencil and the shops on Park Avenue hummed and generated profits despite my anarchistic decision to sketch performers at their craft.

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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