Showing posts with label Museums. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Museums. Show all posts

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Southwestern Allure: The Art of the Sante Fe Art Colony

The Mennello Museum of American Art (900 East Princeton Street, Orlando, Fl.) kicked off it's 15th anniversary season with the opening celebration of the first exhibit in their series devoted to "The Art of the American West." Southwestern Allure: The Art of the Santa Fe Art Colony considers the development of Santa Fe as an art colony through the artists who visited there and helped establish the city as an artistic center, tracing the colony's formative years from approximately 1915 up to 1940.

When artists from eastern locales began to settle in the Santa Fe area, they discovered a rich culture and a wealth of picturesque imagery. Southwestern Allure focuses exclusively on the art and artists of the Santa Fe colony, presenting the best of the artists’ work and showing the distinct artistic climate of this unique locale and the qualities that distinguish it apart from the rest of the state. The city has a majestic landscape and multicultural environment, which proved a matchless blend of inspiration. The exhibition presents a thorough picture of which artists went to Santa Fe, what they found compelling about the environment, the work they produced, and the prevailing artistic trends, from Realism to Modernism, which they applied to Southwestern subject matter.

Through the works included in the exhibition, a range of styles are presented, encompassing the Santa Fe Old Guard, such as Carlos Vierra, Gerald Cassidy, and Warren Rollins, the Realism of Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, and John Sloan to highlight only a few of the prominent artists. I was so pleased to see so many of the Ash Can artists I admire on display. Southwestern Allure features almost 50 outstanding artworks carefully selected from leading public and private collections. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue is organized by the Boca Museum of Art in conjunction with independent curator Dr. Valerie Ann Leeds, a specialist in American art of this period.

In the corner of the back gallery, a kiva (bee hive) fireplace was set up. Close to a dozen candles flickered while images of Madonna and Christ gave it the feeling of an alter. Genevieve Bernard pointed out to me that the candles were actually flickering diodes. From where I sat they looked completely real. A Robert Henri portrait of a beautifully chiseled Indian woman looked on with her eternal gaze. Several chiefs with their prominent head dresses flanked the other side. A gallery goer paused to finger his phone and he forgot about the art. Mark your calendar! This show is on exhibit through April 6th. Don't miss it. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $1 for students.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Mennello Museum

I've been doing sketches around the Mennello Art Museum (900 East Princeton Street Orlando FL) for possible use in a 2014 brochure about the museum's 15th anniversary. The museum will be kicking off the New Year with new exhibitions. Reader Diane Crispin won two free tickets by answering the trivia question right on the December 23rd AADW post. The Mennello Museum is the first venue to showcase the traveling exhibition based on the memoirs of Rob Storter (1894-1987), which were published in 2000 as the book “Crackers in the Glade.” Storter came from a family of early settlers in the village of Everglade. He was a self-taught artist and sketched pictures of his rural lifestyle and environment, and annotated them with stories, often bemoaning the wilderness that was being lost to development. This exhibit ran through January 5th.

Mark your Calendars! Saturday and Sunday, January 4 and 5 Museums on Us Weekend
Holders of Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit cards receive free admission with the presentation of their cards and photo ID.

Sunday, January 12 Free Family Day on the Second Sunday: Earl Cunningham Edition
The make-and-take craft table is open from noon-2:30 p.m., and docents are available for mini-tours of the museum. Then it's open house in the galleries until 4:30 p.m.

Friday, January 17 Exhibition opens, Southwestern Allure: The Art of the Sante Fe Art Colony

Friday, January 31 Opening reception and 15th Anniversary Kick-off
6-8 p.m.
$5, free to MMAA members; reservations requested
Southwestern Allure: The Art of the Sante Fe Art Colony 

Saturday and Sunday, February 9 and 10 Orlando Folk Festival, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., free
The 12th annual celebration of music and art on the shores of Lake Formosa brings together an eclectic mix of creative talent, plus hands-on arts and crafts activities for children. Find the list of participating musicians and artists as well as other updates at

Monday, November 12, 2012


The Louvre in Paris is a museum which definitely can not be seen in one day. Vast halls of sculpture and paintings go on and on in this huge palace. It was funny to see the crowds swarm towards the Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo da Vinci. The portrait appeared postage stamp sized when viewed from the middle of the room. Mona Lisa smiled at the endless crowd of tourists who crushed up to shoot photos on their cell phones. Many couldn't get close enough, so they raised the cameras up over their heads to get a clear shot. Her image echoed across every view screen. One tourist decided to shoot a black and white sign with Mona Lisa's likeness that pointed towards the room. In the hallway outside there were several more paintings by da Vinci, but they went largely ignored. One woman almost sat in the lap of a statue's lap when she wanted to rest. Security guards quickly asked her to move.

Terry and I put in a marathon effort, seeing as much art as we could in one day. Terry wanted to see the Napoleonic Apartments which I thought would be a bore, but I was well impressed by the lavish, excessive opulence.  I'm amazed the rooms survived the French Revolution. I didn't sketch until we left the museum. Seeing so much art left me itching to draw. I immediately sat down opposite this Louis XlV statue as the sun set. I should have thought twice because half way into the sketch, the sun burst out from behind the clouds blinding me as I stared straight at it.  In another way it was a blessing because it forced me to only see bold simple silhouettes. Artists seem able to work in absolute anonymity in Paris. I was surrounded once by a Japanese tourist group. I didn't understand a thing they said but I have to assume that the chatter was positive. Terry and I went out for a magnificent diner that night, I believe at Un P'tit Coin Du Cuisine. The fine dining and wine helped us recoup from our museum burn.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Music at the Morse

Free music at the Morse Museum (445 North Park Avenue, Winter Park) has become a holiday sketching tradition for me. On select Fridays through April musicians perform, filling the Museum with music. Of course the last time I tried to sketch in the Morse I was asked to stop sketching since I was sketching on a digital tablet. So this time I didn't bring the tablet. Last time I couldn't use my artist stool either but I'm an eternal optimist so I brought it along. When I arrived I asked the woman at the reception desk if there was any way for me to get close to the performers. They were high up in a balcony so I hoped I might stand in a hallway up there. The receptionist remembered me from last time. I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. There was "No room up there" she explained.

I would have to settle on a long shot sketch. I sat back against a wall next to the entry door and started blocking in the sketch. After several lines a guard approached. "We need this area clear for foot traffic." he said. "I'm going to have to ask you to move forward to that part of the gallery." I negotiated to move forward just about five feet next to a table with museum fliers. This spot turned out to be better since fewer people walked in front of me. Of course people stopped at the table for extended periods filling out membership forms. I sketched around them.

A woman approached me. "Great" I thought, "Here comes the Museum Director to ask me to leave." It was actually Julie Koran. She is a Facebook friend and participates in a monthly event called Dinner and a Conversation. Jennifer Miller organized this event 20 years ago. It is always fun to meet a Facebook friend in person for the first time. She knew of my work and just wanted to say "Hi." I relaxed. The sketch was going well. The museum guard took a peak and said he liked what I was doing. Shannon Caine who was one of the flutists came down and spoke with me as I was throwing down the final washes. She was gracious and told me about upcoming performances. The other flutists were Kelli, and Mary. The Music for Three Flutes Only was a custom collection by the staff arranger. As I left, the guard held the door for me and said, "Merry Christmas." My heart warmed. We weren't working at crossed purposes. Tonight there is the Sweet Sounds of Jazz Trio (flute, guitar and upright bass) from 4pm to 8pm and admission to the museum is free. A perfect, relaxing way to prepare for the New Year.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Yelp Event at the Polasek

Yelp held an event at the Albin Polasek Museum for active Yelp reviewers. When I pulled in, I noticed cars parked on the grass lawn so I parked beside them. When I walked towards the building I noticed that there was valet parking available. The young woman at the reception table looked up my name and made up my name tag. Inside an artist was painting a portrait. Christine MacPhail, a harpist was playing just outside the back door. The sweet music drifted through the flower garden as the sun set. There was a food station set up with a delicious ravioli and pasta dish from Brio Tuscan Grill.

I needed my book light to sketch since it was soon pitch black outside. I kept layering on washes making my sketch darker and darker. Inside the museum there was a show of Soviet propaganda art. Socialist Realism was established in 1934 and lasted through the Cold War. The artists were required to communicate the ideals of Revolutionary Socialism and social responsibility to the citizens. Artists were able to travel the world and were paid handsomely. Their oraznization was called "The Workers of the Revolutionary Poster."

One poster that caught my eye was done in 1961, the year I was born. Castro stood heroically in the foreground with excited citizens cheering all around him. The poster read, "The People of Cuba are Undefinable!" 1961 was the year of the Cuban Missile crisis. The world was almost thrown into nuclear war as America and the Soviets faced off. I am amazed my parents were willing to bring a new life into a world on the brink of total annihilation.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Pollock Project (Abridged)

Spending so much time working on the Mennello Museum Mural, I realized I never posted a sketch I did of the Beth Marshal production of "The Pollock Project." This one act play was presented in the Mennello Museum gallery when Jackson Pollock's actual paintings were on display. John Didonna played Jackson Pollock and Jennifer Bonner played his wife. I just saw them perform together this week in a music video being produced for Britt Daley. Douglas McGeoch played the part of a German photographer who wanted to photograph Pollack at work and get an interview.

John did an exceptional job playing the volatile and contentious artist. When the photographer questions Jackson's "style", the artist stormed out of the gallery shouting from another room in the museum. The audience who were seated in the museum gallery were right next to the performance. Jackson's wife managed to sooth his ego. The interview resulted in Jackson defending his work and vision, enlightening the audience in the process. Combining theater in the museum setting helped bring this artist's work to life in a new and exciting way. There was talk of bringing this type of production to other museums and I hope that idea takes flight.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Blank Canvas at OMA

On the first Thursday of every month the Orlando Museum of Art opens it's front gallery for local artists. It is an evening of art, food, drink and entertainment. This evening featured ten artists who would begin with a blank canvas offering patrons a chance to see their creative process. Walking the room, there were several painters, a print maker, jewelry maker and a sculptor working in the center of the room with a model. The model was all legs in a bikini. I circled around the sculptor and his model several times but I couldn't find a place to plant myself so I moved on.

The print maker was using leaves and other natural found objects to begin her multi layered prints. A painter blocking in a traditional portrait didn't appeal to me. A young woman strummed her guitar. I finally settled myself next to a jewelry maker to sketch this group of artists working on three large space themed canvases. The closest canvas depicted a satellite circling Earth. The painter let a little boy put down some bold strokes of blue on the painting. The planets on the central painting began as faintly fogged in orbs on a dark canvas. As I sketched the planets were painted in thick impasto.

Denise Lebenstein a friend from college days was in town and she leaned against the wall behind me. I hadn't seen her in 20 plus years. I interrupted the sketch to give her a hug. I told he I'd seek her out when I was finished with the sketch. She checked out the museum with her friend Patti while I worked. Joe Rosier took a break from selling drink tickets and he shook my hand. Laughing, he wanted to know why I wasn't sketching the beautiful model in the middle of the room. A puppeteer from Pinocchio's Marionette Theater introduced herself. She said she saw me sketching a performance of Aladdin's Magic Lamp. I don't remember ever sketching that show. As she spoke, I kept wracking my brain, confused.

As I finished up, Denise stopped back to check on my progress. I put away my sketchbook and ventured out into the rain with her and Patti to get some Vietnamese food at Viet Garden. We had fun recollecting memories about our times in art school in NYC. It's odd how selective memories can be. She remembered that we once went to a Broadway show on New Year's eve. Watching the play we could hear the crowds gathering in Times Square. The play over, we ventured out into the massive crowd. We tore up our programs and used them as confetti at midnight when the ball dropped. I had totally forgotten about that night. Neither of us could recall the play.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Meeting Mr. Mennello

I went to the Mennello Museum to do a few more sketches for the mural. Genevieve and her husband Seth Kubersky posed for me in the museum. When I arrived at the museum there was plenty of activity. There were several large trucks in the parking lot and a mobile crane was moving around behind the museum. Seated inside the museum at the large bay windows in the Cunningham gallery, Mr. Menello watched as a large sculpture was being positioned over a cylinder shaped concrete podium. The artist, John Robert Wolfe was kneeling and trying to position the base of the sculpture on some small base support pads. One man held a rope to keep the large sculpture from spinning while the crane lowered it down gently. The process took several hours with a crew of five or so men. This bright primary colored sculpture moved in the breeze like a Calder mobile. It is an abstract representation of Mr. Mennello. He explained that the companion piece which represents Mr. Mennello's wife is in the front yard of his home.

Mr. Menello joked and talked as I was sketching Genevieve and Seth. Seth used his cell phone to check into the Mennello on Four Square. He was surprised that my wife was the Mayor of the Museum. Mr. Mennello inspected the overall plan for the mural and he decided he wanted to be sketched. Unfortunately Genevieve had arranged for me to sketch several children that afternoon for the mural so I didn't have time to sketch him right then and there. He would have been cutting in line. Isabelle, a young artist who helped me on the first day I started the mural, was next to pose. She stood with a dynamic line of action from her head right down to her toes. She looked just like Dega's "Little Dancer." The sketch I did of her was effortless. Her sketches which I saw that first day were nice. We chatted about art as I sketched. Her mom and younger brother watched all the activity around the sculpture being installed outside. Isabelle enjoys drawing animals and I insisted that she start taking life drawing classes.

The next day I sketched Mr. Mennello in his home. He has a wonderful art collection. It was a humbling experience beginning my sketch. Behind Mr. Mennello was a blue glass sculpture of a woman looking upward with her mouth open. On a thin glass table was a sculpted bust of a young Grace Kelly as a princess. A little jumping bean of a dog bounded into the room insisting I play ball with her. As I left I walked past the companion piece to the sculpture just installed at the Mennello Museum. Titled "Grand Dame" it abstractly and colorfully represents Mrs. Mennello. Her playful forms will dance in the breeze for eternity.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lousy T-shirt

The theme for an art exhibit at Orlando Museum of Art's 1st Thursdays event was "Fashionista." In the beginning of 2010 Brian Feldman had met with 10 Orlando artists to discuss collaborations in his "Swan Boat Talks." This project with Johannah O'Donnell was the first project to be realized from those talks. Johannah and Brian had created 20 T-Shirts that read, Lousy T-shirt using a simple silk screen press. This was the first time that either of them had done silk screen printing so the printing was a bit spotty in places.

People could get a Lousy T-Shirt if they traded in the shirt they were wearing. I went into the men's room, changed into one of my paint rag T-shirts and traded that for the fashionable black Lousy T-Shirt. I didn't step behind gallery wall to do the exchange. As I removed my shirt Brian said, "Hey everybody, this is your opportunity to see Thor half naked!" Once I had on my brand spanking new T-shirt, I found a spot to sit and started sketching. Brian and Johannah were constantly posing for pictures. By the end of the evening, every Lousy T-Shirt had been given away and the rack was full of a wide variety of shirts and tops.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Orlando Home Grown Show

As part of the week long Snap Photography celebration, there was to be an exhibit of photography from Orlando locals at the Orlando Museum of Art as part of First Thursdays. Johannah O'Donnel was there and I was told she helped organize the exhibit. On exhibit in the front gallery were paintings which all revolved around an urban theme. I made my way back towards the sound of music. I bumped into Joe Rosier who was promoting his one man storytelling show in the up coming Fringe festival. I am trying to arrange to sketch Joe since he has so much character.

In the central room of the museum with the giant blue blown glass sculpture by Dale Chilhuly a simple two man band was warming up. Adriaan Mol was playing guitar in his laid back fashion. The bands name was, Please Respect our Decadence. There was a nice tall cocktail table right in front of the stage so I started to sketch. I always get nervous sketching in museums now and I kept tracking the museum guards movements as I worked.

Jared Silvia said hello and he let me know where the photography exhibit was. When I finished sketching I went to the back gallery where the photo exhibit was hung. Jared let me know where his wife Silvia's piece was hung. She was near her photo talking with friends. I jokingly asked her to stop crowding the art so I could get a look. It was a stark almost black and white photo of a woman in a flowing white dress lying in a stream. I couldn't see the woman's face. It looked to me like a murder scene. I talked to Jared about it and he said I was wrong. It was a more romantic and symbolic image with personal significance. I mentioned Dustin Hoffman floating in the pool in a scene from "The Graduate." I hit much closer to the mark with that visual analogy.

Snap was like a week long shot of adrenalin. This dynamic, inspiring event shook me to the core making me realize the importance creative media can have to affect positive change. The city of Orlando really needs events like this to challenge, provoke and inspire creative change.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Line is the Point

If you are interested in being sketched for this mural, leave me a comment here or contact me on Facebook.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mennello Museum

I went to the Mennello Museum for a quick meeting with Genevieve Bernard about a possible mural outside the building. We met in Kim Robinson's office. Her office window looks straight out at the blank wall. Executive Director, Frank Holt, wanted to be sure the final image was cohesive. The proposed wall is 48 feet wide by seven feet high. Next week I will be meeting students who will help with brainstorming for ideas. Apparently there is a competition which will help pick which high school students can help me out with the actual painting of the mural. Details are still being worked out. My challenge is to maintain my usual spontaneous style so the mural looks like a sketch done on location. The sun beats down on the wall which waits for inspiration to strike so it can fulfill it's potential.

When I entered the museum it was obvious that they were taking down the 1934 New Deal show and putting up a new show. The New Deal show featured paintings from the Smithsonian collection. The new deal program lasted for a very short time in 1934 and it encouraged artists to portray the American scene. Many of the paintings depicted the American dream for a brighter future. As these idealistic visions were crated away, new art went up from local Florida artists. In a side gallery paintings by Ron Van Sweringen were being hung. These paintings looked like Jackson Pollack drip paintings. The difference being that Pollack spread his canvases on the floor letting the paint drip down. Ron placed his canvases on a wall and then threw the paint at it. He referred to his painting method as "Astroism."

After the meeting I decided to sketch as the new exhibit, called "Fla-Art," was installed. A worker stenciled up the title of the show above the reception desk. The first new work to go up was of a man pushing aside a curtain and gazing out at the viewer. It has an ominous weight to it. Most of the other work was still from the New Deal. A miner drilled for coal, men pushed large blocks of ice in an ice house, men marched through a field to work.

As I sketched a young woman asked the receptionist about renting the museum for a wedding. She was given brochures and suggestions. Several artists walked in with canvases. I was impressed by some of the work waiting to be hung. The Fla-Art show is opening May 13th from 6-8pm. Members get in free and non-members pay $5. There will be a cash bar. The Florida Artists show will be on display through September 25th 2011.

Evenings with the Director. On Tuesdays 6/14, 7/12, 8/9, 9/13, 6pm experience an evening with museum Director Frank Holt. The walk is included in general admission. Reservations required. Call (407) 246.4278

Family Days are on Sundays,
6/12, 7/10, 8/14, 9/11 starting at 12:30pm with family arts and crafts activities and a children's workshop at 1pm. At 2pm there is a FREE guided tour.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Degas Sculptures at Tampa Museum of Art

Chere Force put out an invitation for artists to join her on a field trip to see the Degas Sculptures at the Tampa Museum of Art. I knew I would want to sketch, and I considered bringing my digital tablet. I left it at home since I didn't want to catch a guards' attention. Chere and her husband Rory picked me up in their minivan and we headed west to get to the museum right as it opened. The Tampa Museum is part of a gorgeous riverside complex. There were several school buses of school children unloading as we arrived. Thankfully there is a children's museum that the screaming hoard disappeared into. Curtis Hixon Park right next to the museum is a fabulous open public park with colorful terraced gardens. Across the river shiny metallic minarets adorned a building constructed in the 1800s as a hotel and it is now part of the University of Tampa.

The Museum is a modern block of a building that is covered in a grid of circular holes punched in sheet metal. At night the building lights up like a phosphorescent sea creature thanks to thousands of light diodes. The largely empty ground floor houses the gift shop and cafe while all the art is up on the second floor. Chere explained that design allowed for any storm surge from a hurricane to only damage the empty ground floor.

I branched off and explored the Degas sculptures on my own. On the walls there were some charcoal and pastel drawings that resembled poses from some of the sculptures. Degas worked on these small wax and clay pieces to help him visualize the fluid gestures he incorporated into his paintings and drawings. They were intended as studies, not finished works of art. When Degas died, his family arranged for 22 sets of bronzes to be made from all these studies while keeping the originals intact. All of the works in the exhibit were bronzes. Cards on the walls described how Degas was influenced by the classic sculptures he studied for three years in Rome and Florence.

Once I saw all the sculptures I started to experience the gestural work by sketching. Something about the way he explored form started to make sense to me. As my lines danced in around and through his sculptures, I started seeing the viewers looking at the art in the same light. The Little Dancer stood vigil in the middle of the room. Having the opportunity to study his art in person was inspiring. As I was finishing up my sketch a museum guard approached me. He asked what medium I was using. My stomach tightened and I said, "watercolor." Thinking to myself, "It is harmless, really, it washes right out with water!" He said, "You can only use a pencil to sketch in here." I didn't argue. I just put my little kit away. I imagined the young Degas sketching sculptures in Italy and being told to stop.

In the next room was modern art. In the center of the gallery was an installation that had two windows set up in a false wall. Between and inside the windows rain was pouring down with the occasional lightning flash, and the recorded rumbling of thunder. I had to wonder if it just might leak, potentially damaging the other art in the room. It was pretty far from the Degas bronzes. They were safe from any further artistic scrutiny.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

How to Look at Renaissance Art

Karen Love Blumenthal invited me to attend a fun interactive talk about how to look at Renaissance Art at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum on the Rollins College Campus. The workshop was conducted by her husband Arthur Blumenthal the Director Emeritus of the museum. He began his talk by outlining the five steps that are needed to truly look at a work of art.
1. Become fully present and put aside your opinions. Usually when we enter a gallery, we immediately say, "Oh, I like this painting or I can't stand that painting." He insisted we curb such opinions until we fully studied the art.
2. Move into the objects "Looking Space" and move around the object while looking. At this point the first impression can be stated.
3. Determine the medium used.
4. Observe and describe the art in meticulous detail offering subject matter, composition, the light source. It is important to describe the art as if no one else had ever seen it.
5. Restate or sum up the main points or total impact.
The 20 or so patrons were then split up into groups and each group was assigned a Renaissance work of art to study. One person from each group was then given the task of describing the art using the five rules of observation. It was fascinating listening to people describe the art. Each person brought their own viewpoints and background into the process. One man truly didn't like the portrait he was asked to discuss but in the end, Arthur let him know it was a rare Tintoretto portrait and probably the most valuable painting in the collection. It was good that such information did not distort the patrons' view.
Lunch served at a long table in the front gallery. The scene was reminiscent of Leonardo DaVinci's Last Supper. The man seated next to me let me know that he spends the five summer months out of each year living on an island in Maine. When we got back to the Renaissance gallery, he had to describe a complex painting of Noah's Arc. He described the chaotic collection of animals and when he backed up, he was able to see the overall flow of the piece. Arthur went on to describe the umber under painting which was allowed to show through in spots.

Renaissance came from the Italian word rinascita meaning "Rebirth." This rebirth came about as ancient Roman and Greek statues were being discovered. Michelangelo sculpted amazing forgeries early in his career. There was an astonishing confluence of artistic genius in that era. There was also powerful banking families like the Medici who appreciated and paid for art. Ahhh... Those were the days. Of course there was also the plague, inquisition and plenty of wars, but that is a small price to pay.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

txt at the Telephone Museum

As part of ArtsFest, Brian Feldman held a performance of "txt" at the Telephone Museum in Maitland (221 West Packwood Avenue). The very first time I sketched Feldman, he was performing "txt" at the Kerouac House. Brian specifically grew his beard back for this one performance. I found my vantage point in the front row before anyone else arrived. I also set up my video camera which recorded the performance from the back of the room next to a telephone booth. Ancient phones loomed above Feldman's head and photos of switchboard operators were on the walls. There were perhaps thirty or so folding chairs set up in front of the large oak desk where he sat.

The idea of "txt" is that the audience supplies every line of dialogue that is spoken. Fifty protected Twitter accounts are set up so that each audience member can send a tweet directly to Brian's show account, all of which are redirected to his phone thus keeping every entry completely private. Before the performance space was opened, Feldman crawled under the desk to wait for his entrance. When the fifteen or so people were seated, he crawled back out and sat in the leather chair causing laughter.

The young couple across from me immediately started tapping on their phones. The girl resembled actress Julianne Moore. She kept glancing at her boyfriend's phone, not sure what she should type. She kept laughing at his entries. Brian's phone vibrated and he picked it up. He read, "Football may be America's pastime, but basketball players sweat much more." I glanced around thinking I knew where the text came from. For this performance, Feldman acted out and dramatized his readings. One text read, "The man in the front row blushes whenever he laughs." I was one of three men in a front row seat. I was certainly laughing. Was I blushing? Could people see emotion and expression just from the involuntary rush of blood through my veins?

I focused more intently on the drawing. Remarks were made about the corporate looking portrait above Feldman's head, and about a creepy mannequin dressed as a telephone repairman. An early text warned against using profane language since women and children were in the audience. Surprisingly everyone complied. I consider "txt" to be Feldman's signature performance piece and it would be great to see it performed in a larger venue. There is something interesting in clandestine, anonymous communication that indicates where we are moving as an interconnected society.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Daffodil Terrace

On the first Friday of each month the Morse Museum (445 North Park Avenue ), holds an open house offering free admission to the public between 4 and 8pm. This open house offer will continue through April. The museum also has a long tradition of offering an open house on each three day Easter weekend. I decided it was time to stop in and see the new wing which opened last month. I brought along my digital drawing tablet and my handy artist's stool for my relaxing afternoon sketch. When I entered the museum I was told I would have to check my artists stool. I didn't complain, I just handed it over. I would simply have to stand in one spot for several hours. I made a bee-line back to the new wing. I knew I wanted to sketch the Daffodil Terrace.

I pulled out my tablet and opened Sketchbook Pro. Within a minute the guard walked up to me and said, "There is no sketching in the Museum." Fuming I explained that I had sketched there before with no problem. He said, "Sorry that is the policy." I pulled out my iPhone and immediately sent out a tweet angrily announcing that an artist can not sketch in the Morse Museum. The guard walked up before I finished the tweet saying, "You can't use your cell phone in the museum." I sighed, turned on my heel, pressed send, and marched back to the front desk to collect my artist stool and leave in a huff.

As the woman behind the desk looked for my stool, I said, "I didn't realize that artists were not allowed to draw in the museum." She said, "I didn't know that either." She made a call. A very tall guard walked up to me as she was on the phone. He explained that it was the use of the tablet for drawing that was at issue. The guards assume a tablet might be shooting video or taking pictures. Anything digital is suspicious. He also said that people using their cell phones often walk around without looking where they are going. I imagined someone so immersed reading their cell that they walk right through a stained glass window. I find that image funny. "If I sketch in a paper sketchbook, is that alright?" I asked. "That is fine." He said. I offered to leave the tablet at the front desk with my chair. The woman behind the desk said, "You hold onto it." Walkie talkies buzzed among the museum guards announcing that an artist would be sketching, possibly with a tablet. They announced what I was wearing so they all could be on the lookout. She was concerned that I might block the traffic flow but I assured her that standing with a sketchpad, I would only take up a one footsquare. Besides, the museum wasn't particularly crowded. Only one or two people inspected the terrace at a a time.

When I got back to the new wing, the first thing I sketched of course was the guard who told me I could not sketch. I decided not to use the tablet since it had caused such a commotion. As I worked, Catherine Hinman, the director of public affairs introduced herself to me and apologized about the policy. She explained that she was from the old school world of paper and ink publishing and that this digital age was a whole new world. She was very gracious and I felt a bit less like a felon as I sketched. I actually started to respect the guards stamina because he stood in one spot for a solid two hours. That is no easy task. Who knows how long he stood in that one spot that day.

The Daffodil Terrace was part of Laurelton Hall, Louis Comfort Tiffany's upstate New York house. It was added to the house between 1915 and 1916. The columns are of beautiful white Carrara marble. Mined in Italy this is the same marble used by Michelangelo to carve David. Several times people reached out to touch the columns and the guard had to intervene. An old lady's cell phone rang and the guard asked her to take the call outside. The capitals of the columns were made of concrete with yellow glass daffodils clustered together. A pear tree used to grow up through the central opening in the terrace. Sadly that opening is now capped off. The whole structure is enclosed in a sterile glass atrium. In the future I hope the museum will encourage artists to stop, sit and observe Tiffany's colorful and inspiring work. As I retrieved my stool the guard said, "If we let you sit and sketch then everyone will want to do the same." Is that really such a bad thing?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Albin Polasek Museum

On the final day of of Arts Fest, the Albin Polasek museum was open with free admission for a day. I was informed that some plein air panters would be on the property painting that day. The painters were there to help promote the Winter Park Paint Out which will be happening between April 23rd and April 30th. I decided that was my cue to sketch some painters at work. It was a beautiful sunny day and the gardens surrounding the historic building were in full bloom. I walked around hunting for artists at work. There was one artist set up on the large lawn behind the home but as I approached he started to dismantle his easel. Just my luck, he was finished. I walked down to the benehes which sat right on the lake then walked back to the house. When I passed the chapel, and stood in the portico, I noticed that Hal Stringer was set up in the driveway working on a small painting. An Albin Polasek sculpture titled "Mother" stood with its back to me. Something about how the warm light filled in the shadows appealed to me.

Guests of the museum often approached Hal and he was very generous with his feed back. For instance he asked a little girl if she liked to make art. When she said she did, he told her to never stop making art if she enjoyed it. I later discovered that Berto Ortega was working on a painting inside the museum. He stopped out to say hello and unfortunately was called away because of a family emergency. I never got to see the painting he was working on. When I finished my sketch I rushed over to Rollin's College's Annie Russel Theater hoping to get into a play that had just started. There were no Arts Fest tickets left so I abandoned the idea of sketching the play.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Polasek Museum

I was asked to participate this year in an event called the Winter Park Paint Out.The event will be happening between April 23 and April 30th. During this week plein air painters will set up all around Winter Park to paint. I will report on this unique event with my usual sketches. To promote the event, the Polasek Museum hosted a poster competition with the winning entry getting $1000. I was invited to the opening reception where all the plein air paintings were on exhibit. In the corner of the room an easel was set up and draped with a while sheets.The finished poster was hidden and would be United when the time was right.

I decided I couldn't set up in the man gallery without sitting in front of someones painting. Even I am not that rude. So I went outside to the gorgeous gardens and decided to take an outsider's view of the proceedings. An Albin Polesek bronze sculpture of Saint Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio quietly and stoically held its vigil as the sun set. Patrons from last years Paint Out were invited to the reception to meet the artists who would be painting this year.

Don Sandag
came out to say hello. I first met Don back when I worked at Disney Feature Animation. Don came to the studio to run painting workshops in the evening back then. He told me he looks forward to the Paint Out each year because artists were pampered and treated like Rock Stars. Mary Hill and her boyfriend Berto Ortega were inside. Berto is a painter originally from New York City. Mary and another painter mugged at me through the window making me laugh. By the time the poster winter was announced, the sun had set and the cool, blue dusk light darkened Saint Francis. I heard the wave of applause as the winner was announced. I threw down my last water color washes and rushed inside. Don Sondag's painting of the Polasek statue, "Mother" had won.

Afterward a group of artists remained. Larry Moore was discussing the idea that artists should make a percentage any time one of their paintings is resold. Don joked that this idea might backfire if the work was sold for less than the initial price, for instance at a garage sale. I spoke to the editor of Winter Park Magazine about using my sketches as a way to report on this years event. Getting to meet all these amazing artists is going to be a thrill. I am bound to learn a thing or two.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Gender in Art

I went to meet Terry at the Orlando Museum of Art for a discussion about the new exhibit at the museum which focuses on Gender in Art. There was a wonderful spread with Salmon, spinach dip , crackers, chips and deserts. A fairly large crowd filled the central atrium with the blue Chihuly chandelier. As I was eating I noticed that another crowd had gathered in the central gallery. No food was allowed inside so I gulped down my soda and crackers and dashed inside. A woman was giving a talk and she moved people around the room explaining the art. There was a Warhol print of Marilyn Monroe and some paintings of women throughout the ages. There was a long line of women's slips suspended from the ceiling presumably to hint at a woman's closet being a work of art. A small fabric doll from china had bright gold beads and pins sewn on one side and the other side had black beads in an intricate pattern. This was supposed to indicate how women are perceived and then how they are actually treated.

I sat opposite this wedding dress created by LesleyDillin. The dress is made from acrylic and thread on a mannequin. In 1994 this dress was worn by a model who read the Emily Dickenson poem, "The Soul has Bandaged Moments." The poem is written all over the dress in bold black paint. As the model read, she ripped the dress off, shredding it to pieces. Lesley later sewed the pieces back together with black thread.

The Soul has Bandaged moments -
When too appalled to stir -
She feels some ghastly Fright come up
And stop to look at her -

Salute her - with long fingers -
Caress her freezing hair -
Sip, Goblin, from the very lips
The Lover - hovered - o'er -
Unworthy, that a thought so mean
Accost a Theme - so - fair -

The soul has moments of Escape -
When bursting all the doors -
She dances like a Bomb, abroad,
And swings upon the Hours,

As do the Bee - delirious borne -
Long Dungeoned from his Rose -
Touch Liberty - then know no more,
But Noon, and Paradise -

The Soul's retaken moments -
When, Felon led along,
With shackles on the plumed feet,
And staples, in the Song,

The Horror welcomes her, again,
These, are not brayed of Tongue -

- Emily Dickenson

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas in the Park

A free concert in Winter Park's Central Park was the perfect way to get in the Christmas spirit. It was a very cold night for Orlando. I arrived maybe half an hour early and already the great lawn was packed with families who had come out with picnic baskets, blankets, wine and even fine china and candles for the occasion. I felt a bit unprepared with just a sketchbook, pen and some watercolors. After I set up my stool on the sidelines, Ken Sperduso walked up and said hello. Ken was a former Disney colleague and a wonderful painter. I hadn't seen Ken in ages, it was a pleasant surprise. His whole family was camped out not far behind me. Ken said he recognized me from behind because of the sketchbook in my lap.

Large shadow box containers were arranged on stage and around the lawn, housing original Tiffany stained glass windows which were created for a church in NYC in the early 1900's. At the start of the concert they all were illuminated from behind. The instant they blazed brightly, the crowd burst forth with applause. It is rewarding to hear people applaud for visual art. These amazing works had iridescent colors that only Tiffany could perfect in molten glass. This display was made possible thanks to the Morse Museum which houses the world's largest collection of Tiffany's work.

The concert featured the Bach Festival Choir and Brass Ensemble. As I sketched, I pulled my hands up into the sleeves of my sweatshirt to try and keep them warm. Periodically I had to blow into my cupped hands for added warmth. It felt like Christmas time. When I finished the sketch I walked around in the crowd for a while looking for a possible second sketch. I walked under a streetlamp so I could see the colors I had just painted for the first time. Mr. and Mrs. Claus were handing out candy to children. They were dressed in vintage 1900's red wool and white fur outfits. They looked warm as they calmly posed for family photos. I considered a sketch but my fingers were cold, and the jolly couple were constantly on the move. The Park Avenue store windows glowed warm and inviting. With all the families huddling close together for warmth and the angelic voices of the children on stage singing, I started feeling out of place, alone, with only my obsessive compulsion to sketch as company. As I turned away and walked down Park Avenue towards my truck, I pulled the sweatshirt hood up over my head and felt instantly warmer. The children's voices were still harmonizing behind me and I let the warmth spread as I walked briskly back toward home.