Thursday, March 28, 2019

Mini CityArts

City Arts Orlando Celebrated its Grand Opening In The Historic Rogers Kiene Building In Downtown Orlando. The Downtown Arts District’s gallery marked the opening of its new location with a ribbon cutting with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orlando City Commissioners. When Pam Schwartz and I arrived on the scene the gallery was too packed to get inside. Another artist, Jonathan Stemberger, was already set up across the street documenting the scene on a large yellow canvas. I have seen him at other events recording history much the way I do, so I was pleased to get a chance to meet him. He gave me his card, or so I thought. When I got home and took it out of my pocket, it turned out to be a sticker with a silhouette of a Jackal-ope on it.

I worked from the far corner to sketch the crowd pressing through the doors below the historic spire. While working, Gladiola Sotomayor shared with me photos she had taken of the mural we had worked on together that now hangs in the Orlando International Airport. I have been through the airport multiple time and not seen it yet. At sunset there is a golden column of light that shines down Pine Street only on the Rogers Kiene tower. It was exciting to see, and I splashed down some vibrant yellows and oranges in response.

With the sketch done, Pam and I went inside to explore. This building offers far less space than the former City Arts Factory a few blocks away. Artists still have to pay for the right to exhibit their work. Inside it was very crowded and the music was highly amplified. Violinist Michelle Jones performed all night. I admire how she is turning the violin into a hip pop instrument.

I was most curious about the new gallery space upstairs that had formerly been a screening room for films. The stadium seating had been removed to open up the room. I have seen and sketched so many amazing performances in that space over the years, so it will be missed by me. Now it was filled with artwork created by patients in the Integrative Medicine department at Orlando Health. The program is called Arts in Medicine. I sketched Andrea Canny who was part of a similar program funded by LIVESTRONG. A dancer was in the center of the room, so it was impossible to get close to any of the paintings on display. 

The hall ways upstairs are narrow and a woman knocked into several paintings causing them to slip on their hooks, almost falling off the wall. Another woman slammed her hand against the canvas saving it from slipping further. Together they righted the canvases. Across from them, Heisenberg, from Breaking Bad glared, his portrait covered in blue crystals of Meth.

 Though there might not have been enough space, the people who love visual arts spilled out into the street.

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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