Showing posts with label Orlando Regional History Center. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Orlando Regional History Center. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Pride, Prejudice & Protest: GLBT History in Greater Orlando.

October 1, 2016  through January 26, 2017 the Orlando Region History Center presents an exhibit called Pride, Prejudice and Protest: GLBT History in Central Florida. Admission is free on October 8th, the day of the Orlando Come Out with Pride Parade. In the second floor gallery. The history of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) community has been defined by periods of pride, prejudice, and protest. This exhibit from the nonprofit GLBT History Museum of Central Florida shares the progress and setbacks of the Central Florida GLBT community over the past five decades of change.

A rainbow flag circles the room's walls. The stripes are divided into three sections. The bottom section covers the history of blatant prejudice in Orlando's laws and actions. The central two stripes cover moments of protest in the GLBT communities attempts to be accepted with equal rights. The top two stripes cover moments of pride, the victories in the ongoing struggle.

Pamela Schwartz was on a ladder putting up rainbow lettering that said, Central Florida GLBT. The second line got tricky as s tried to figure out the correct spacing. Vinyl letters were on sheets of transfer paper. In theory when the paper w rubbed the letters would transfer to the wall. However the job wasn't as ease as is sounds.

I read one panel which hadn't been mounted on the wall yet. In 1989 Orlando County Sheriff, Walt Gallagher was fired after an investigation found that he was bisexual. Michael Wanzie decided to stage a Rally against Homophobia at the Constitutional Green in downtown Orlando. The Ku Klux Klan staged a counter protest. It took three years of lawsuits for Walt to eventually get his job back. You would be amazed at how many laws existed that limit who you can love.

There is a secton of the exhibit devoted to Pulse memorial items collected from around the city. Photos of each of the 49 victims are mounted behind candles. The museum staff will keep the candles burning for the duration of the exhibit. The flickering lights will illuminate the faces in a warm glow. Colorful scraps of paper each hold messages of love and remembrance. Many letters and notes left at the memorials were never opened or read until they were collected and preserved.

This is an excerpt from one such letter: "None of you know me, but I know you. I know you as one of the 49 people who were killed in the worst mass shooting in US history. Now all I can do is visit this memorial, pray, and write you this letter. A letter no one, but me will ever read, and I can only hope you feel. You were loved. And you didn't deserve this. You deserved to live. To fall in love...   I am continuously reminded each day that the world doesn't stop turning. That everyone is still expected to go about their lives. But I can't. I feel so hopeless and helpless just thinking about how hopeless and helpless you must have felt... I feel like a fraud. Like I'm taking away someone who actually knew your grief. But I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you... I'm so sorry we live in a world that let this happen to you. Forgive us. The weather is beautiful. The sun is shining. The birds are chirping and you are here. You are with us all.
All my love, Bri"

Monday, December 31, 2012

A City Beautiful Christmas

I got an invitation from choreographer Holly Harris to see a City Beautiful Christmas at the History Center downtown. A City Beautiful is a recently formed church that doesn't have a permanent brick and mortar home yet. I witnessed a fabulous celebration at the Lake Eola band shell. Cole Nesmith welcomed me when I arrived at the History Center. Much of the service would be happening inside the Orlando Regional History Center. Then the congregation would walk out into the park for an arts performance. The performance is what I planned to sketch, so I leaned against one of the tall pine trees and started blocking in the stage. There was an hour to show time.

White gossamer fabric hung from pine boughs.  The fabric glowed yellow in the street lamp light. Two sculptures of alligators are permanent residents of the park and they overlooked the proceedings. A grey bearded man with a sleeping bag slung over his shoulder was talking to Holly for the longest time. He was invited inside but he preferred the outdoor air like me. He was to thin to be Santa Claus. He stood a short distance from me and watched me intently. He struck up a conversation, letting me know he was from Ohio. Distracted and lost in the sketch, I answered his questions but kept my hand and eyes busy. I'm a bit rude when working, and he soon wandered off.

A box sat at the center of the staging area. A tech tested it out. With the lid off, it erupted, sending up a large plum of fake snow lit from below. Dancers all dressed in black began to form themselves on the grid of the stage. They all held candles. White paper bags with candles inside illuminated the path from the History Center leading people to the staging area. I had assumed everyone would sit on the grass to watch the show. I had guessed wrong. Everyone stood, and I lost my view. I had only sketched half the dancers. I could see one or two dancers between peoples heads. A fellow in front of me apologized, I told him not to worry. I've learned to accept any staging difficulty. I decided to relax and start painting. Catching the magical candle light at night would be a challenge.

Music was playing that sounded like Danny Elfman's sound track to Edward Scissorhands. Since I couldn't see the dancers, I imagined ice sculptures forming with the chips floating in the air like snow. The luminescent pillar of snow blew skyward up above the wall of backs. For a magical moment, it was snowing in Central Florida. Air and Cole spoke messages of love, acceptance and Christmas joy, as I presume the dancers performed. Everyone in the audience was issued a candle. One single flickering flame became two, then four then a sea of light. Everyone's voice was raised in song. There would be a second performance, so  the lights were extinguished as the crowd dispersed, I continued to sketch. The sketch felt complete even without the full cast. The gator looked hungry enough. With another hour till the second performance, I decided to pack up and head home.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sidewalk Art

Heritage Park Square in front of the Orlando County Regional History Center was the site of a daylong sidewalk chalk artist festival. I wasn't feeling particularly inspired this day, but I had to push past that and just get lost in the work. The park in front of the History Center had a large circular sidewalk and artists were assigned designated areas where they could create their sidewalk creations. I found a spot under a shady pine tree and settled in to get a quick sketch done. The artists I was sketching seemed to all be from the same high school. I believe the art teacher was to my right since once in a while a student would walk up to him and ask a question about their project. The kids were in constant motion wandering back and forth comparing chalk creations before settling in and putting some chalk on their own work. The piece right in front of me was rather nice, being a sketch of a girl half veiled with a colorful shawl.
When my sketch was finished I wandered around the rest of the park and ran into Bob Kodzis, Anna McCambridge and her mom Vicki. Anna was working on a bunny rabbit, while her mom had a human figure with rather intriguing firework type effects. Bob went with a crowd-pleasing black and white dog that looked like the dog from "The Little Rascals."
After this event I walked down the street to the library to participate in Brian Feldman's 67 Books project.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dr. G at the History Center

Doctor G has a reality TV show on the Discovery Channel in which she talks about her job as the Orlando Medical Examiner in FLorida's District nine. I have never seen the show start to finish but I was still curious as to what she would have to say. She was a very entertaining speaker and she outlined how she eventually went on to become a reality TV star. She explained that her first boss was a bit of a male chauvinist so he seldom spoke to her. She also said she would return home each night and talk about her work with her husband but he would interrupt her saying "I know how this ends, they die right?" So she was left with no one to talk to about what she considered a fascinating job. The Discovery Channel called her and said they wanted to do a single program about her work. Suddenly she had an audience. That single program blossomed into a series. The TV program never shows the bodies instead focusing on the dialogue as Dr. G finds the cause of death. Families of the deceased began writing the doctor explaining that they only understood the cause of death of their loved one after watching the TV program. So the program was doing some good. A new medical building is under construction and Sr. G is looking forward to working in the new space.
While I was sketching, Bob Kealing local TV reporter for channel 6 came over to say hello. I have spoken to him before at the Kerouac House and he has written a book about Kerouac's life in Florida. After he had finished interviewing Dr. G , he brought her over to where I was still sketching and introduced us. In my usual tactless fashion, I immediately asked her if there would ever be a chance for me to sketch in the Medical Examiners office. She simply and without hesitation said "No". She probably assumed I have a morbid fascination with dead bodies, but all I am hoping for is the next great sketching opportunity.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Annual Meeting - History Center

The Annual Meeting was held in Courtroom B on the third floor of the historic Orlando Regional History Center. This meeting was short and to the point. As a matter of fact the meeting was over before I had a chance to finish the sketch so I had to rush. Johanna Clark called the meeting to order and introduced the gusts who were the family of James K. Rush.

The 2008 minutes were approved and then old business was discussed. The treasurers report probably took the most time and the bottom line is that the History Center is operating in the green with assets of just over a million dollars. Several motions were put to the floor and the members all sheepishly approved each item. All board members, the executive committee and the treasurer were all approved back into position. There was no items that required discussion and no dissent. One small tidbit of trivia intrigued me when the Executive Director pointed out that the first film ever shot in Orlando was called "Moon over Orlando". She hasn't been able to find a print of that film and I wonder if it will ever pop up.

I was still splashing watercolors on the sketch when the meeting adjourned and people made their way out. Sara asked if I would be much longer and I said I would be finished in 5 minutes. She said I could always come back to finish up.

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.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Retro Game Night

The Orlando History Center hosted Retro Game Night and Terry expressed an interest in going. Retro attire was encouraged so I put on a very old Hawaiian shirt that Terry's dad once wore. Being a member of the museum, admission was free, non-members just had to pay a $5 cover. I wandered from room to room on all 3 floors to see every room filled with card tables all set up with every imaginable board game.
I wandered past 2 girls playing Rockum-Sockum Robots and one screamed when she knocked the other girls block off. I also notices a fast paced game of Hungry Hippos.
I decided to sit on a wooden bench in the stairwell to watch as people played the old video games like Pac Man and Space Invaders. The fellow in the blue tee shirt played for well over an hour. I could tell that he had logged in many hours on similar video games.
The monopoly pinball game also had a constant crowd. When the sketch was finished I called Terry since I was surprised she hadn't showed yet. It turned out that she was at home and had forgotten about the event. I decided I might as well get home, but the place was really hopping when I left. It was so crowded that it was hard to move room to room. People really love retro games. I wouldn't have minded playing Risk and taking over the world, oh well, maybe next time.