Showing posts with label Ibex Puppetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ibex Puppetry. Show all posts

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Ibex Puppetry brings Earth Day to life.


Earth Day at Lake Eola fell on the same day as the World Wide Sketch Crawl. The Earth Day organizers were kind enough to let me have a tent set up where local artists could meet for the Sketch Crawl. The Analog Artist Digital World tent was right next to the Ibex Puppetry tent. Artists really had plenty to draw right from the tent. After lunch, I did this sketch of the Music Garden set up by Ibex Puppetry. Martin Wolf Murphy and Mark DeMaio supervised any children who wanted to beat the drums.

Another tent was set up in the Ibex camp where kids could do crafts. They could create the own miniature world or create a kite. The animal puppets that can be seen in the background of this sketch came to life for a parade every few hours. The sea turtle would glide gracefully and the Florida Panther would pounce forward with ferocity. The drummers would join in setting the beat of the procession.

The urban sketchers did explore the rest o the Earth Dan festivities, so the tent was just used when a sketcher wanted a break from the sun. About 5 artists showed this day and sketched together. Sometimes an artist will miss the group, and just sketch on their own. There is so much to see and sketch. It is nice I no longer be an outsider looking in, but to be an active participant in the festivities.

Monday, September 28, 2015

A whale rolled into Orlando.


Poncili Creacion presented Ballenarca at the Winter Park Public Library. I believe Ballenarca is derived from baleen, which whales use to strain and eat krill,and ark, as in a large sea vessel. They had just come from Miami's Art Basel where a Whale Arc seemed quite in order. The whale was constructed on a boat trailer.  Car jacks held up the whales massive jaw. Large metal ribs were covered with fiberglass. There was a wide cast of foam characters in the show. Orlando has a strong puppetry community thanks to Heather Henson's Ibex puppetryHannah Miller and Jack Fields were there. I would say that half the audience were puppeteers and the other half were excited children. There isn't much of a difference between the two.

The show was colorful and surreal. There was a four legged dog fish, a red character that looked like a cross between a tooth and a heart, and an eight foot high centipede. When the centipede interacted with the kids, the squealed with delight. Kids easily accept the characters and can quickly imagine the world they inhabit. This was no longer a parking lot, but a magical under sea world. Kids don't react the same way when high tech movies force feed every digital detail.

After the performance, kids were invited inside the whale's open mouth. The puppeteers needed to drive the whale to Heather Henson's warehouse where it would stay for the night. They would be on the road the next day to their next open air stage. I was invited to have dinner with the cast at Loving Hut and I jumped at the chance. On the drive to the restaurant I ended up driving right behind the whale. The tale had to be removed for the drive, but the whale still grinned at me. You don't see a whale in traffic very often. At Loving Hut, one member of the cast was fascinated by one of my brush pens. He did a drawing of a mysterious dark haired girl with straight bangs, in the back of my sketchbook. He signed it Poncili.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Jammin' Drum School offers a weekly class in worldbeat hand drumming.


There is nothing more primal than the beat of hand drums. Greywolf offers weekly classes every Friday at The Orlando Aikido Dojo (3764 Howell Branch Road, Winter Park, FL). At 7:00 pm the beginner Jammin! drumming class starts with with Greywolf and Mark DeMaio. They offer insights into proper dembe hand technique; drills and fundamental orchestrated multi-part rhythms. In the class I sketched, there was one beginner, Susan, and soon she was holding her own. Judy, in a pony tail, seemed like a regular beside her was Mark, who I've seen perform at Earth Day for Heather Henson's Ibex puppetry. Greywolf I have seen many times at drum circles and at world beat gigs around town. Sven who was right beside me had a fascinating intricate tattoo on his bicep.

At 8:00 pm Intermediate class Jammin! class appropriate for all levels begins. All levels are welcome. Greywolf offers insights into Samba drumming with  Djun-djun and other stick techniques along with more complex rhythms. Dun-Dun parts and solo phrases for basic rhythms are covered. I found it funny that Djun-djun and Dun-Dun sound just like the beats created on the drums.  This class is all Sambas, all the time thanks to the insistence of students.

At 9:00 pm the Advanced Jammin! course with Greywolf offers Additional instrumentation and yet more complex rhythms; odd time signatures; performance breaks and leads along with Ensemble pieces. As an example of complex rhythms Greywolf showed us a You Tube video he helped produce based on a ticking beat. Sketching to these complex rhythms is a real pleasure. The beats set the pace as lines danced on the page. People often tell me, "I can't draw a straight line." I bet some people feel that they couldn't keep a beat. But after one session with Greywolf, they would be proved wrong. If you are looking for a fun date night. This would be it.

Any class is $12.
Any two or more classes on the same night is $10 each.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

2nd Annual Broomstick Pony Derby


On Saturday May 4th, (Kentucky Derby Day), The Broomstick Pony Derby was held on the street in front of Urban ReThink (625 E Central Blvd, Orlando, Fl). The Broomstick Pony Derby is a season-long celebration of Orlando’s play-spirited, civic-minded, try-curious, tri-athlete, road racing and audacious-arts-appreciating community. The Derby route was over the bricked blocks of E. Central Blvd in Downtown Orlando, roughly between Summerlin and Osceola Ave. These roads were closed off beginning at 2:00pm on Derby Day.

During the Broomstick Pony Derby, folks of all ages create and race handmade broomstick ponies, zebras, ostriches, you name it. Where do the ponies come from? They were made during our spring Broomstick Pony Workshops led by local artists, including Ibex Puppetry and Clay Curiosities. The festivities celebrate community and creativity and will raise funds, friends, and awareness for enhancing Urban ReThink’s operations and programming.

People and ponies danced in the streets to music provided by DJ Si Rajadhyax  Food and drink specials were offered by Thornton Park businesses, there was a Raffle, Pony parade, featuring pony marchers and an all-kazoo band.

When I got there, the DJ was getting set up. There was a threat of showers and when I felt a few drops, I took cover under the ReThink awning. Necole Pynn assured me that there was no way it could rain on Pony Derby day. People's broomstick ponies were all lined up along the fence. The rain never came and by the time I finished sketching the DJ the street was crowded. The pony parade involved all the racers gathering in a large circle and passing the pony's around so everyone got to see the handiwork. A couple was dressed as salt and pepper shakers. One horse rode a broomstick human. There were Unicorns and a sea horse. Some kids were in costume with cowboy hats, frilly dressed and a Bo Peep outfit. In the relay, the Hot Llama Mamas and the amazing kids from Misty Forest were hard to beat.  Contestants were told not to run, but in the heat of the race the fine line between a fast skip and a run was blurred. The youngest contestants, trailing the pack often got the most boisterous cheers as they approached the finish line.






Sunday, April 28, 2013

Earth Day Gator


Since everything was certainly under control at my Earth Day tent, I ventured out to do another sketch. I had sketched Ibex Puppetry's huge inflatable gator years ago, but I decided it was worth sketching again. An added bonus was that Oliver Kilkenny was playing accordion. He wore a palm frond hat and sun glasses. His music added a sort of French flair to the event except when he played "It's a Small World After All" which was a crude reminder that we were in Disney's backyard.

The woman selling ice pops next to me stood on a small step stool behind her cart. She told me she felt like Scarlet Ohara from "Gone with the Wind" when scarlet had to man a booth at the social when all she wanted to do was dance. She shook her booty to the beat of the accordion and offered Oliver a free pop for the entertainment. She had come all the way from Jacksonville to be at Earth Day and very few people were stopping to sample her wares.

A park ranger walked up to Oliver and told him he couldn't play his accordion because he didn't have a permit. In Orlando, if you perform in public, it is considered busking, or begging. There is a small blue box painted on the pavement somewhere near the court house. That blue square is the one place where public performance is allowed. Oliver put away his accordion, collected his ice pop and moved along. The silence once he left was deafening.

Janice Böhrk McIntosh who volunteered to help me at the event ended up getting a $45 parking ticket on a street that was NOT marked very well to say no parking. You are able to tell by the entire row of cars who received parking tickets at a this city event! The city really knows how to rake in the bucks! This is how they reward citizens who are trying to make the world a better place.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Earth Day Endangered Species

On April 20th there was a huge Earth Day Festival at Lake Eola. For the first time ever, I agreed to put up an artist tent to promote this site. I framed ten sketchbooks printed some business cards and figured I could sell some of the remaining T-Shirts from the Sonesta Hotel mural. The night before, I packed the car and at 7AM the next morning I was ready to head out. I had used the tent extensively when I painted an outdoor mural for the Mennello Museum over the summer. Now painting outside in the summer is insane and I'm sure the tent had saved me from overheating.

Hurricane Maria helped me find the spot to set up my tent. During setup, people helped each other out. For instance the tent next to me shared their sand bags which would help keep the tents from blowing over.  Rain was predicted but it was a bright sunny morning as I erected the tent. The sketchbook frames were hung back to back on electric wires. They spun in the wind like Calder sculptures. Compared to other exotic tents, mine seemed a bit barren, but that is what my art is like, no flash, just substance.

I had put a call out on Facebook for volunteers who could man the tent while I sketched. Janice Böhrk McIntosh and Patti Matchett answered the call. Janice agreed to come bright and early and Patti agreed to come in the afternoon. Janice arrived and I explained that she could sell some T-Shirts and hand out business cards to people that were interested. She was excited to get started and I walked over to the Ibex Puppetry area to sketch the puppets that would be in the Endangered Species Parade. In the background of my sketch you can see a tow truck removing a parked car. Business as usual it the city beautiful.

As I sketched the display, all the puppeteers posed for a photo. Of course it was tempting to try and sketch them all in, but I knew they would all be gone as soon as the camera shutter clicked. April Tennyson mugged for me but she knew I wouldn't have time to sketch her in. Necole Pynn who was at the Broomstick Pony tent had a kazoo. She asked me for a good kazoo tune and I wracked my brain to come up with "Jack the knife". She seemed pleased as she hummed the tune through the instrument.

The Endangered Species Parade began and all the puppets came to life. Heather Henson, the founder of Ibex Puppetry, took hold of the Manatee and breathed life into him. Her mother, Jane Henson, had recently died, but today was a celebration of life. To the beat of a drum the parade flowed past me with grace and rhythm. The children followed with paper puppets they had made in the craft tent.

With my sketch done, I went to check on Janice. She had sold every single T-Shirt and most of the business cards had been handed out. I was in shock and delighted. Within the first hour, all my merchandise was sold and she was telling everyone who would listen about my project to document Orlando Culture one sketch at a time. What a godsend. There is no way I could have accomplished that. All hopes and expectations had been exceeded.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Corridor Project at Plaza Live

Patrick Greene helped facilitate a parking lot performance before the Deerhoof concert at Plaza Live. It was the second Corridor Project production.  When I got there it was just starting to get dark. Patrick had a megaphone and there was some negotiating with the Plaza Live staff to clear an area in the parking lot for a staging place. Having no idea what was to come, I decided to step back and sketch a long shot of the parking lot scene to see what developed. Hannah Miller parked a pickup truck and pulled out a huge tree trunk set piece. A car was asked to park at the end of the row to avoid any other cars from driving into the staging area. I saw brown sheets being unfurled on the pavement and on the tailgates of parked cars. The parking lane was being converted into a forest glen.

An Ibex puppetry kite hinted that the performance was about to start, so I finished the sketch and moved closer. Voci Dance performed with the help of Tiny Waves and The Shine Shed Collective. Performers were all dressed in exotic woodland creature costumes. The dancers moved nimbly between the tree trunks, performing to live music. I sketched a strange bird-like creature with drums before he marched off into the woods. I wasn't sure if Sarah Lockhard was a fox, beaver or a hound but all the dancers moved with grace. Hip bones became headdress eyes and antlers. It was all very primal. When the performance ended, sheets and set pieces quickly were gathered up and the magic disappeared.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Nativity Rehearsal


I went to the Henson's Pineloch warehouse on December 12th to sketch a rehearsal of The Nativity. Rehearsals were held most weeknights for two weeks from about 7:30 to 10pm. All of those rehearsals were for two performances on December 22 at Pinocchio's Marionette Theater in the Altimonte Mall. The oldest story in Christian history was made new in this retelling with live music, and the gorgeous puppets from IBEX Puppetry and the Jim Henson Company. This puppet production was spearheaded by Jane Henson, the wife of Jim Henson of Muppet's fame.  Jane helped Jim in the early days of television production but then abandoned puppetry to raise her family. He youngest daughter, Heather Henson helped her bring this production to life.

The warehouse was cavernous, filled with boxes and bins full of foam, fabric and assorted puppet parts.  There were woodworking benches and large kites suspended from the ceiling. If you were to imagine Santa's toy factory, this would fit the bill. I decided to sit behind the table where the performing puppets were stored. Gabriel with his gossamer wings dominated the table. A dark sinister and conniving Herod stood beside him, visible through his transparent wings. Mary, Joseph and the three kings also waited to begin their performances. A train rumbled by adding an industrial edge to this period piece.

From this angle, I could see the puppeteers who had to crouch down behind the stage setting to stay out of the future audience's view. Sean Keohane, the director corralled the cast and explained how important the telling of the story would be. It was something parents could share with there children. Sarah Lockhard worked with the Virgin Mary rod puppet. Her face expressed every emotion as she moved the puppet. It was fascinating watching actors become lost in the subtle performers.  The word, marionette,  means “tiny Mary” and  was derived from the puppets used in medieval mystery and miracle plays.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Interactive Puppetry


At the opening of the Handmade Puppet Dreams exhibit at City Arts Factory, Heather Henson, the founder of Ibex Puppet Company, had just opened a present from a friend. She held a sleek sculpture of a deer or ram or maybe it was an ibex. All the colorful tissue paper was on the floor, and a light breeze from someone passing by caused a sheet to move, begging me to play. I was reminded of a an interactive art performance by actress and puppeteer, Rebekah Lane, on October 16th as part of the Creative City Project. She staged her performances four times at different locations around Lake Eola. When I arrived she was stuffing colorful tissue paper into brightly colored shopping bags. She explained to me that the idea for the performance came about after she attended a recent puppetry workshop. She learned about the work of Albrecht Roser. She explained that there are two ways to approach a story. First you can write a story and then find the materials with which to tell the story. The other approach is to let the materials influence and mold the story.

I was excited at the prospect of a performance in public catching people by surprise. A small foot ladder held a wicker rattle, an iHome stereo player and some thin green wire strands.  The puppet show banner hung from a flaccid length of PVC. She eventually found an existing sign near her staging area to support the banner. She turned on the stereo, playing some Felliniesque music and she approached passers by to try and drum up an audience. First three then five people gathered. Her performance was in mime. She offered the five people the shopping bags with delight in her eyes. They riffled inside the bags looking for what she was offering. All the colorful tissue paper was in the way. Then she extracted a bright blue tissue from a bag. Playfully, she crumpled the tissue into a long worm-like shape. She crouched down and had the tissue crawl about in the grass and then look around quizzically. Others played along. Soon there was a procession of caterpillars in the grass.

They moved to the ladder where a tissue paper cocoon was built and suspended with the silky wire strands. The caterpillars went inside and later emerged. Rebekah took the newly emerged tissue and she lifted it up into the breeze. It floated and danced in the wind. Every one's tissues flew up in the air like graduation caps hesitant to return to any head. People ran after their creatures before they could be blown into the lake. Rebekah then folded her tissue, creating wings and her hand acted as the body and legs of a butterfly. A little girl was delighted when the butterfly landed on her head. There was an innocent Gelsomina joy in this performance that playfully asked people to imagine life in the colorful, and inanimate, while offering them the luxury of play. Sometimes we all need a little reminder that life isn't all about meetings and schedules.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Handmade Pupppet Dreams Halloween


Halloween is coming and Handmade Puppet Dreams is ready to show Orlando, FL its darker side. In addition to a 15-foot display of puppets in City Arts Factory, this ghastly gallery exhibit will feature a 2-hour loop of Handmade Puppet Dreams creepiest, crawliest, Halloween-iest films for the public to enjoy any time during open gallery hours (11:00AM till 6:00PM) through the end of October!

 The 3rd year of the Annual Dia de los Muertos and Monster Factory. Co-produced by The Downtown Arts District, Tacatantán Records, and Pink Hair Productions, this exhibit features the work of international, national, and local artists and, this year, will feature a gallery installation by IBEX Puppetry spotlighting Heather Henson's Handmade Puppet Dreams! The Handmade Puppet Dreams segment of the gallery will feature puppets from the films of Ron Binion (AlienCow Puppet Show Redux), David Michael Friend (Moonfishing), Sam Koji Hale (Yamasong), Lyon Hill (Junk Palace and Incubus), Kevin McTurk (The Narrative of Victor Karloch), and Scotty Shoemaker, Tony Giordano, and Jason Murphy(Harker). Screenings will include The Narrative of Victor Karloch, Suck-A-Thumb, AlienCow Puppet Show Redux, Calalilly, Harker, Incubus, In the House of the Sin Eater, Junk Palace, Yamasong, Moonfishing, and Graveyard Jamboree.

Hannah Miller was busy getting the puppets ready for display on the day before the opening.  Midway through the install she turned on the flat screen TV to show the films. Each of the puppets I sketched were in the films. It was like having movie actors pose who are eternally patient. My favorite short film was Moonfishing which had gorgeous silhouetted settings with curvacious Art Nouveau organic curls, and a magical heart warming story. When pizza arrived at 1PM, all the other people who were hanging art disappeared never to be seen again. Hannah called Jack Fields to help as she finished the installation. I admired their teamwork when hanging the posters high on the wall. Hanging a show is hard work.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Broomstick Pony Workshop


Preparations are underway at Urban ReThink for Orlando's first ever Broomstick Pony Derby. Megan Boye, from Ibex Puppetry, brought along a wide assortment of materials for people to use to create their own broomstick pony. I was most impressed when she lugged in a huge military knapsack that was bulging at the seams. It turned out that the knapsack was full of fluff which would be used to stuff each horse head.

I followed a mom and daughter team as they created their red striped pony. In the conference room all the supplies were spread out on a long table and people were free to pick anything they wanted for their creations.  The room was a constant flurry of activity as head patterns were cut, hot glued and sewn. Every horse head was unique.

Orlando used to host fun quirky events like the Cumquat Parade. The Broomstick Pony Derby is  attempting to bring back that fun, civic minded, artistic sense of community. Folks of all ages will create and race handmade broomstick ponies, zebras, ostriches, aliens, you name it. Spectators will enjoy light-hearted races with whimsical outcomes. The Derby celebrate community and creativity and will raise funds, friends, and awareness for enhancing Urban ReThink’s operations and programming.There is one more pony making workshop on August 16th at 6:25PM to 9PM. There is a Broomstick Pony Showing, TONIGHT from 6:25PM to 9PM. The Derby will take place on Saturday, September 22, 9:00 to 11:00 am on Central Boulevard outside of Urban ReThink. May the best horse win. Broomstick pony galloping to local businesses will continue after the big race!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Macabre Vignettes

At the historic Cameo Theater at 1013 East Colonial Drive, Tamara Marke-Lares set up an astounding, mysterious and strange collection of life sized Marionettes. I went to see Macabre Vignettes on Halloween day to see the "Lights Up" family friendly version of the show. Playful kid friendly puppet shows were going on all day while the sinister large marionettes watched and waited. One puppet show was about trying to find a Pumpkin. It is fun to watch the kids who are totally engrossed in the performances. When the kids realized that the puppet wasn't holding a pumpkin but instead had an orange they stood up and shouted waving their hands. The puppet would insist it looked like a pumpkin but the kids would shout "No. No! That's an Orange!" When the puppet asked for the orange back, a boy hurled it back hitting the puppet. All the kids laughed with delight.
I sat in the evil animatronics lab doing this sketch. One woman walked up to me and said "Oh, I thought you were part of the display." Periodically a puppeteer would go up to one of the giant marionettes and start manipulating the strings. Children were invited to try working the puppets. The walls were covered with dark sinister paintings and scattered about were strange and unexpected sculptures. I suspect this cheerful environment must become a very scary place once the lights go down. This is without a doubt the most creative and exciting Halloween display in town.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

No Strings Attached

The Gallery at Avalon Island hosted an opening reception for No Strings Attached. This show which kicks off the 2009 Orlando Puppet Festival, features work from puppetry artists from around the nation. I particularly like the work of Tamara Marke - Lares. Her work used found objects which were elegantly incorporated into puppets. For instance a crab claw suddenly became a puppets head. Bones, wood, wire and a wide assortment of materials became a character walking across dead leaves. Expect the whimsical and unexpected when you go to see this show. Many of the works have a European maturity about them. These are not the generic puppets I grew up watching.
As I stood in the corner of the gallery sketching, a group of school children gathered at the store front window I was standing near. They were hopping up and down trying to see what I was working on. They started tapping on the glass and I decided to show then the unfinished sketch. Jeff Wirth walked up to me and before I recognized him he said, "I am sorry sir, we are going to have to ask you to leave, there is no sketching in this gallery." My stomach tightened before I realized it was Jeff and then I started to laugh. Later as I was finishing the sketch I bumped into costume designer Kelly - Ann Salazar who told me I had to check out the puppet show going on upstairs. I am glad she did because the shadow puppet show was delightful to watch and I got to sit right next to the puppeteers as they worked. I had to run off to another event so unfortunately I didn't get a sketch, but I might return.
With my sketchbooks tucked away, I finally decided to get some cheese and crackers which was to be my dinner for the night. Here I ran into Heather Henson who had just returned from months of wandering the country going from one puppet festival to another. She told me about the Burning Man event held in the Black Rock Desert 120 miles north of Reno Nevada. It is hard to describe burning man but it is the ultimate in large scale creative expression. Going to this event is one of the things on my list of places I must go to before I die.
The Avalon Gallery hours are Tuesday through Thursday 11AM to 4PM. There are also some very cool shows coming up like Macabre Vignettes and "The Bride of Wildenstein" the musical on October 29th-31st ,10:30pm at the Cameo Theater, 1013 East Colonial Drive. Tickets are $10.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Heather Henson at the History Center

Heather Henson the daughter of Jim Henson, of Muppets fame, gave a at a lunchtime bag lunch talk about her fathers work at the History Center. She began the talk by showing early black and white television commercials her dad was doing at the beginning of his career. This early advertising work was surprisingly violent and over the top. The dead pan expressions on the Muppets made the zany skits all the more funny.
There was some trouble with the audio so she began talking over the muffled soundtrack. She explained that Kermit the Frog had originally been made from parts of one of her mother's coats. In the early days her mom had been much more involved in the day to day production work.
Answering a question from the audience, Heather explained that holidays in the Henson home involved creating everything from scratch. Christmas ornaments would be simple Styrofoam which was then hand decorated by the children.
Heather has formed her own puppet company here in town called Ibex Puppetry and I follow their work as often as I can.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Panther and the Crane Rehearsals


Rehearsals for Panther and the Crane went on all day long. It was rather windy at first which caused some problems with the screen that was tied up between some trees. A hard gust caused the screen to collapse and it had to be re-tied up. You can still see the ladder leaning up against the tree. Besides the inflatable gator there were also several bronze gators and a statue of a gator wrestler which are permanent fixtures in the park. By the time I sketched this the puppeteers had already run through the performance at least twice and they were getting ready to get some supper. This sketch gives a good overall view of the staging area they had to work with.
Heather Henson introduced herself to me while I was sketching. Actually she didn't mention her name at first and was just talking about my blog. She was wearing shorts and a blue tee shirt, she had bright green tape hanging off her shorts for some reason and I assumed at first that she must be a stage hand running around taping together anything that needed taping. She was unassuming in every way. When she did mention her name I did double take but was very pleased to finally meet her. She once again stressed that I could sketch at will and I couldn't have been happier. I knew this was a very busy day for her so I got to work and let her run.
For the performance that night, I put my sketchbook down and just watched the show for the first time. It was a beautiful performance. At one point I spotted the mother crane sitting on the nest I had seen Tamara fixing that morning. Two puppeteers were needed to perform her graceful motions. I then saw the egg she was sitting on and I was shocked to tears when it cracked open and she lovingly preened the chick. There is magic in puppetry.

Gator Devours IBEX Rehearsal


As I approached Orlando Regional History Center, I heard music which I assumed to be for the rehearsal and then I was surprised to see his huge inflatable gator throwing his head back like Godzilla on a rampage. This is not a regular feature in downtown Orlando and was in place just for tonight's performance of Panther and the Crane. You can see several members of the IBEX Puppetry cast in the small outdoor amphitheater behind the Gator. I noticed one woman manipulating a catfish puppet, she and the other performers I noticed moved with the grace of dancers. It was fairly windy and several times I feared that the gator might get blown on top of the cast. He held his ground however while constantly threatening to move. Tourists leaving the History Center were surprised to see the huge gator, so I assume he was inflated while they were inside. While doing this sketch I probably got to see half of the performance being rehearsed. There was a constant crowd of people watching the rehearsals so I felt I should be able to blend in. I wanted to move in closer...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tamara Marke - Lares


After pouring herself a cup of coffee, Tamara got started on all the last minute fixes that were needed for tonight's performance of Panther and the Crane. While she replaced some Velcro on several costumes I started laying in the sketch for the room. Quite honestly I was a bit overwhelmed, every square inch of space was crammed full of interesting visual details. I took a deep breath and got started. I had to assume she would later be working on the contraption sitting on the high stool.
The device she was working on was to be worn over the shoulders by a puppeteer sort of like a base drum in a marching band. Tamara started hot gun gluing leaves to the shoulder supports. She burnt her fingers a couple of times and said " This is why I usually don't use a hot gun." I couldn't really tell what it was I was sketching, but she explained that it was a nest and sticking out of the nest was a shell with a young chick inside. In the sketch you can only see the chicks wing and a small stick which I presume controls the chicks head movements. Tamara actually took a moment out of her hectic day to show me some of her own sketches. They were amazing! The sketches had twisted organic ink line work and vibrant color, they had a touch of the macabre and yet were very playful. After everything was glued and set, Craig came back with the car from an errand and it was time for them to load the repaired items back into the car and head down to the History Center where rehearsals were going on all day right up until moments before the show at 7:30PM...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Henson Studio


While sketching at the Florida Film Festival wrap party, Margaret Nolan introduced herself to me. This was the first time I had met her in person. I requested to become a facebook friend with her when I saw that she had tagged some colorful photos of a production of Panther and the Cane. Margaret's tag lead me to research the Ibex Puppetry Company and I discovered a whole series of wonderful development drawings produced by Heather Henson, for the show. I immediately e-mailed Heather and asked if I could tag along for rehearsals and any last minute creative work being done. I was thrilled when she e-mailed me back. She explained that she had obsessively kept sketch journals at different periods of her life and so she fully understood my mission.
Heather suggested I go to the Henson studio and watch Tamara Marke Lares who is an amazing artist, working on the costumes for the show. The studio is located in this colorful old building downtown. I knocked on the door but there was no answer. I looked in the doors glass panes through some light lace curtains and saw a fantastic explosion of shapes and colors. Blue gossamer birds hung from the ceiling, a mannequin head was on the mantle piece with pins sticking out of its head and assorted bits and pieces of colorful fabric were everywhere. There was no chance I could walk away from that door. I assumed Tamara wasn't in yet so I did what any artist-journalist would do, I camped out in front of the house and began to sketch. Before the sketch was complete Tamara and Craig, her husband drove up. Since we had met previously, the introductions were short and sweet and Tamara quickly got to work...