Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Shakes 30th Anniversary Gala

The Shakes (812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL 32803) pulled out all the stops to create an amazing 30th Anniversary Gala this year. Gorgeous blue and pink curtains were hung at the entrance and a shimmering silver carpet was rolled out to the entry door. High columns of glistening crystals lined the walk. Inside, a line built up for picking up programs and bidding numbers. Food stations were set up throughout the Shakes, both inside and out. I settled in immediately at a standing table to sketch since I knew that time would be limited.

I focused my attention on Capa Restaurant from Four Seasons. Capa is a luxurious rooftop restaurant at Walt Disney World resort. They were serving Cerdo, which is pork belly, rhubarb, and hazelnuts covered in a rich creamy sauce with bright sprigs of garnish. It was like an extra thick cut of bacon lightly crispy at the edges. I sketched madly as they prepared plate after plate of food. For the most part I just drank Coke to keep my sketching buzz on. Pam Schwartz explored the various food stations and brought back samples. I tried lamb shank that was delicious. Somehow a chunk of mashed potato got wedged between my palette and sketchbook. I only discovered it when I finished the sketch and started cleaning up.

Several patrons were charmed that I was sketching. One woman stopped to tell all about her two daughters, one is bohemian and an artist herself, and the other is a type A personality. Another couple started talking about the vibe of the arts scene in Italy. I started talking about Provence, confusing it for Italy because I was so focused on my sketch.

The fundraising portion of the evening was an amazing success. I had a print in the silent auction and it was sold, though I didn't see the final bid. The auction held in the theater itself offered several dream stay-cations and a dinner for 100 friends. These packages went for thousands of dollars. Bidding for the Shakespeare education programing was extremely lively. Tallahassee has cut the arts budget by more than 90% this year so fundraising is more important than ever.

Jim Helsinger and Scott Maxwell both told stories about Harriet Lake who has just died this year. It seems everyone who met Harriet has a story about her. She always made an impression. She used to always sit in the same front row seats and though she was offered comps she would insist on paying. However she would at times show up unannounced and want to sit in her seat. Because of this, the staff of the Shakes always kept those two seats open until the last minute.  Jim announced that a plaque will be added and those seats will forever be known as Harriet's seats.

In the Heights is now playing at the Shakes and in that musical residents of Washington Heights dreamed of what it would be like to win the lottery worth $96,000. The cast of In the Heights took to the stage to perform $96,000. In a stroke of genius, Jim Helsinger asked how much money had been raised in the silent auction and the live auction so far. We were just about $5,000 short of $96,000 dollars. Bidding was opened again and in the excitement over $96,000 dollars was raised.

The cast of In the Heights then performed a cabaret that ended with the entire cast performing the opening number of In the Heights. I lived In the Heights for 10 years as a struggling artist in New York City, so I identify with the hopes and dreams of that barrio.  It was a rousing and fitting end to a very successful gala.

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 analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com

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