Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Timucua Arts white house.

Nora Lee Garcia, performed on flute and Rene Izquierdo, performed on guitar at the Timucua Arts white house (2000 S Summerlin Ave, Orlando, Florida 32806) on Sunday January 8th, 2017.  The featured visual artist live painting was Elizabeth St. Hilaire.

The program included: 
Suite Buenos Aires by Maximo Diego Pujol (1957- )
I- Pompeya II-Palermo III-San Telmo IV-Micro Centro Musiques Populaires Brésiliennes by Celso Machado (1953- )
Sambosa Algodao Doce Pe De Moleque Piazza Vittorio Ave Maria by Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) Hasta Alicia Baila by Eduardo Martin (1956- )
and History of Tango by Astor Piazzolla

It was fun watching Elizabeth paint to the music in her bright pink socks and shoes. Her work was spot lit around the room. The canvas was prepped with a faint collage of hand written letters, and she painted a 1920's era bathing beauty. After the concert people crowded around the entry table to sip wine and the potluck snacks. The White House is one place in Orlando that truly fosters a sense of artist: community. The number of concerts keeps growing now that Benoit Glazer has retired from his musical director position at Cirque du Soleil. There is now member ship options that can be bought. Members get to enter the venue first and there are other perks around town.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The 58th Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival.

Mark your calendar, the 58th Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival will be in Central Park and along Park Avenue in Winter Park, FL on March 17, 18 and 19th between 9am and 5pm. It offers a wide variety of fine art from 225 artists from across the country, a Children's Workshop Village, Leon Theodore Schools Exhibit, and live entertainment throughout the weekend. 

This sketch was done at last year's festival. There is a new law in Winter Park that makes it illegal to create art on Park Avenue and Hannibal Square. Anyone found guilty must face 30 days in jail, and a $500 fine. Central Park is considered exempt from the law, allowing for freedom of expression. Artists can create in the Park but only in the Park. Because of that law, I decided to sketch the police who were serving and protecting at the Art Festival. It was a fairly relaxing day for them and none of them flinched because I was sketching. Hopefully this means this absurd law will go unenforced forever. Perhaps it will never be enforced like the Florida state constitution that allows for freedom of speech, a trial by jury, and pregnant pigs to not be confined in cages. Pregnant pigs roam free, but artists are banished.

I did this sketch while waiting for a Winter Park friend who wanted to see the festival. The friend never showed. When the sketch was done, I reached for my cell phone to text and find out what was wrong. My darn phone was dead. Should I stick around or go back to my car and charge the phone? I decided to walk to the car which was parked about 1 mile away since parking is a nightmare during the art festival. When I got back to my car, I discovered that the charging chord which was wrapped in multiple layers of black electrical tape had finally decided it's charging days were over. Wires must have severed and it was dead. Rather than hike back, I decided to call it a day. I didn't feel like returning to a stretch of road that outlaws the creation of art. Winter Park is no longer home and the Winter Park friend is no longer a friend.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Louis at Atria Senior Living: Assisted Living and Retirement Community.

Louis is retired, has Alzheimer's, and now resides at the Atria retirement home. In the evenings, his floor is on lock down.  In the home he was in before this, he walked out of the facility and wandered the neighborhood, not sure where he was. His daughter ultimately had to drive through the neighborhood until she found him. Two other daughters, one out of state, want nothing to do with him.

Only the youngest daughter visits him about once a week, and she is spending her own hard earned money to assist her father in his later years. She is spending her own retirement money to keep him safe. When one of he checks was lost in y mail, she was interested like she was a criminal. I visited when she went to see him one time. He has been getting bruises on his arms and she suspects that he gets into fights with his room mate. He didn't remember that she was his daughter. He might have thought she was his former wife or another relative. She took him outside to sit in front of the facility to sketch. As we walked past the recreation room he began to shout, and his daughter calmed him down.

As he put the shape of a tree on the page, he seemed perfectly lucid. I sketched the suburban neighborhood and caught furtive glances at him as he sketched. He began talking about the beautiful French women he met in World War II. Those women were crystal clear memories he could have danced with them yesterday. Being an artist, he was fascinated by what I was doing. Though he doesn't know me, he has asked his daughter several times about "that tall fellow who likes to draw."A $12,000 deposit was paid to get Louis into Atria. Like the deposit o an apartment it was assumed that the money would b paid back if the resident moved. Not so. The home kept the money. When a lawyer as consulted he in formed the family that it would cost about $12,000 to win the case. Catch 22. Retirement homes are big business that will bleed you dry. Stay clear of Atria.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Pimp Daddy Orlando

Pimp Daddy moved to Orlando in 1988 after Thanksgiving. He formally worked in law enforcement. On the table in front of him was an envelope that contained his damaged cell phone from the evening of June 12th. On the week of June 12, 2016 his air conditioner broke. He went to Pulse with Bobby who was going to the club for the first time. He wanted to show her a good time. He didn't go as Pimp Daddy Orlando. His usual uniform would be a large Pink wide brim fedora and Pink Jacket. Had be been in that outfit he felt he most certainly would have been shot. He heard the gunman had been at the club early that night.

Pimp Daddy was in the women's room when he first heard shots. There is a DJ that incorporated gunshots into his mix, but that mix included a loud air horn after the shots. There was no horn.  People rushed into the bathroom. The bathroom door wouldn't lock. He quickly texted both Pulse managers, "We are in the Adonis bathroom." Those texts didn't go through. Then he texted 911. He and Bobby were cornered in the bathroom. If they ran into the club to get to an exit, they most certainly would have been shot. To survive Pimp Daddy and Bobby crouched on top of a toilet seat so the gunman couldn't see their feet under the closed stall door. Bobby called he mother. He said to Bobby, "Shhhh keep quiet." The only way to survive was absolute silence. People ran into the bathroom. In the larger stall, people were moaning and breathing hard.

During the siege with police, the gunman followed people into the women's restroom. Pimp Daddy didn't hear the gunman negotiate for hostages. For the time being he and Bobby were still undetected. There were loud ringing shots in the bathroom. People screamed an moaned. The gunman left and then returned ten minutes later. When he re-entered, he said, "Please do not text." This was strangely polite. Pimp Daddy set his phone to record all the audio. He only saw I gunman's feet on occasion. In the large stall people were dying. When the gunman mention ISIS as he spoke to police, every one knew ho bad it was. "Why us?" Pimp Daddy thought. His legs were getting tired from crouching. The gunman the shouted, "Didn't I say no more texting! Ever one pass over their phones!" Phones slide under the closed stall doors. Pimp Daddy held on to his phone. He didn't want to give away his location.

The gunman claimed to have on a bomb vest. He started messing with his gun. It might have been jammed. "Should we bum rush him?" he thought. His legs were numb. No one did. The gunman said, "I fixed it, I have plenty of Ammo." Then he asked, "Is anybody black? I don't have no problems with black people." People begged for their lives. As a Hispanic, Pimp Daddy thought, "well I'm black" He thought better and stayed silent. A young man, desperate to escape the large crowded stall crawled under the divider and pulled himself up, knocking Bobby and Pimp Daddy off the toilet seat perch. Pimp daddy's butt was exposed under the stall door. The gunman reached down and touched his rear pocket. Pimp Daddy was certain he was about to be shot in the back. He grimaced waiting for the shot.  He didn't move, hoping to be taken for dead. The gunman washed his hands in the sink. Pimp Daddy's phone rang, but thankfully the gunman ignored the ringing. That call of concern could have killed him. He never saw the face of the young man who knocked him of the toilet seat.

Then there as a loud explosion. The gunman got nervous and started shooting. His bullets ricocheted everywhere. Pimp Daddy put his phone to his head hoping to deflect bullets. The wall of the bathroom collapsed. Large rubble fell on the toilet seat. Had he and Bobby still been crouching, they would have been killed. Water started gushing from burst pipes. The gunman was shot in the hole of the hallway. There were rumors that the gunman's partner had a bomb vest, Pimp Daddy's stomach heaved and he began regurgitating saliva. A first responder said to Pimp Daddy, "Soldier get up!" He was wedged between the toilet seat and rubble. Everyone evacuated as fast as possible. It was all a blur. Pimp Daddy stumbled through the hole in the wall. He was grateful he didn't have to walk through a room full of dead bodies. His phone was covered in blood but the blood wasn't his own.

Pimp Daddy has an Angel Wing tattoo on his right forearm from long before the shooting. Bobby called him after surviving the shooting and she called him her guardian angel. She doesn't want to go in to any public bathroom without him there. Right before the interview, his car had been badly keyed. "my own people, my own community, is angry" People morn in different ways. Some people can't understand his being so outspoken. He went to a church service the day after the attack, the pink hospital band still on his wrist. At the service, people found out he was a survivor and they asked him up front. He said a few words. He lost many friends, they were like family. He feels his job now is to support and console his kids.

He feels that social media is to blame for the carnage at Pulse. We live in a world of to much exposure. Weak minded people feed off of the Internet's false news and hoax conspiracy theories fueling bitter hatred that can and will fuel more mass shootings. The hospital had given him a prescription for the pain. In the blur of vigils, funerals and fundraisers that followed, he never filled that prescription. He would rather feel the pain as a reminder that he had survived.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The 7 Year Itch.

The 7 Year Itch written by George Axelrod is being directed by Eric Pinder at Valencia Theater's black box theater on the Valencia East Campus (701 North Econlockhatchee Trail Orlando FL 32825). This production celebrates Valencia's 50th anniversary. The same play was staged at Valencia's 25th anniversary. The play is a 1950's era rom-com in which a husband over active imagination gets the better of him. His wife and young so n go off to Maine to escape the New York Ci heat leaving him home alone to work his publishing job. He listened innocently enough to a ball game on his apartment patio, when a large potted tomato plant crashed to the ground behind him. H missed him by inches. Shock, surprise and then anger flashed through him.

A new young and beautiful neighbor had moved into the building. He shouted up to her in anger which quickly faded when he saw how beautiful and apologetic she was. The 1955 Billy Wilder film version of this play, featured the iconic Marilyn Monroe standing above a subway grate. The actress playing the neighbor clearly was inspired by Marilyn's affectations and breathy voice. The husband invited down his new neighbor and then second guessed his decision once she accepted. In a dream sequence she arrived in o gorgeous black gown and he regaled her with confidence playing an incredible (be can concerto which left her breathless. In real life she asked him to play piano and he banged out chop sticks. She knew how to play as well so she sat beside him and joined in. 

The actor playing the husband did an amazing job. He had a wiry way of moving and he was in constant whirling action as he chased his own guilty thoughts. He stepped all over himself hoping to impress his beautiful neighbor and she made matters worse by sharing her nude photo shoot that We has done on a deserted beach. He stood open mouthed and shocked when she showed the photo in one of his magazines. The audience could only imagine. She felt safe with him since he was married which meant he couldn't in good conscious fall in love with her. I respected her new found independence. She was living on her own for the first time in years having escaped from a controlling and stifling relationship. 

The play really was laugh out loud funny. It was a nonstop comedy that doesn't skip a beat. 

The Remaining Show Times are: 
February 20, 24, and 25th, 2017 at 7:30pm
February 19 and 26th, 2017 at 2:00pm. 

Pricing : 
$12 General Admission. 
$10 Valencia Students, employees, alumni and seniors. 
You pick packages, $36 for four, or $60 for eight.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Nude Nite Orlando.

Nude Nite Orlando is at the Central Florida Fairgrounds & Expositions Park (4603 W Colonial Dr, Orlando, Florida) this year. It was scheduled to happen at Artegon but Artegon closed it's doors for good. Nude Nite is a dazzling pop up gallery, an art and entertainment event celebrating the beauty of the nude. It brings together hundreds of artists for three evenings of visual art, performance and a cast of characters both in costume and out. Open to the public, tickets can be purchased at the door. Show is 21+

I walked the event quickly and settled in to sketch the incomparable Nix Herrera who was doing exotic Art Nouveau body paintings, The woman was painted all black with golden stenciled patterns on her belly thighs and forearm. A heavy set man was being painted all bronze. They both had black fabric helmets. The woman had a thin face guard similar to a football he met and the bronze man had aviation goggles. The woman held an illuminated globe. Futuristic golden triangular forms were mounted around her nipples. She wore an expressions white mask giving her a statuesque flair. 

Selfismo had a painting with a man with an enormous penis. The penis looks like it is sticking out of a woman's head in me sketch. A little for the back in the scene there was a confession area. Fire curtained booths allowed for the most sordid confessions. One confession read, "I an tucking my fiance's best friend." Another, promoting the confessional said, " I showed my mom's deck picks to my class."

A common theme in the visual art displayed was of nude women under water. There must have been at leas ten photos and paintings of the aquatic setting. A very ugly mermaid was at another body painting station. A nude woman on stilts wandered through the crowd waving sinewy rainbow scarves. 

Tonight starting at 6pm is the last night to experience 25,000 SF of Nude Art and Entertainment.
WHEN: February 18 - 2017
WHERE: Central Florida Fairgrounds
4603 W. Colonial Dr. Orlando, FL 32808
TIME: 6pm - 12am every nite
TICKETS: Available at door  (ATM onsite) $35
WHO: 21 and Over, ID Required
PARKING: Complimentary Abundant Self
FOOD: Provided for Purchase

Friday, February 17, 2017

Weekend Top 6 Picks for February 18th and 19th.

Saturday February 18, 2017.
Noon to 3pm Free, but beer costs. Bach and Beer. The Ravenous Pig 565 W. Fairbanks Avenue, Winter Park, Florida 32789. Join the Bach Festival Society and Cask & Larder for the release of a limited-edition beer, the 2017 Brandenburger Bock, brewed to commemorate the 82nd Annual Bach Festival in Winter Park. The event, held at Cask and Larder Brewery‘s sister restaurant, The Ravenous Pig will also feature live performances.
The 2017 Branderburger Bock, brewed by Cask and Larder head brewer Larry Foor, will be produced in a style that mimics the methods of brewing in Germany during the 18th century to ensure the beer is similar to the ones with which Bach was so smitten. In addition to unveiling his newest beer, Larry has invited several other local breweries to brew beers paying homage to Bach. Each brewery will showcase its own German-style beer during the event. Full list of participating breweries will be announced closer to the event.
The limited edition beer will be available on tap until it runs out and also will be sold in 32-ounce to-go crowlers.

4pm to 8pm Free.  Cruisin' Downtown DeLand Car Show. East Indiana Ave Downtown DeLand, Deland FL. Classic cars & rods.  Live DJ, giveaways, shopping and dining. Fun for the family! Every 3rd Saturday night!

6pm to Midnight $35. Nude Nite. Central Florida Fairgrounds & Expositions Park 4603 W Colonial Dr, Orlando, Florida.  Nude Nite is a dazzling pop up gallery, an art and entertainment event celebrating the beauty of the nude. Nude Nite brings together hundreds of artists for three evenings of visual art, performance and a cast of characters both in costume and out... Open to the public, tickets can be purchased at the door. Show is 21+.

Sunday February 19, 2017
10am to 4pm Free. Lake Eola Farmers Market. Lake Eola Park, East Washington Street, Orlando, FL.

Noon to 1pm Free. Yoga. Grass lawn near the red Pagoda in Lake Eola Park.

Noon to 3pm Donation. Music at the Casa, Classical Guitarist Troy Gifford. Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, 656 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Luis Daniel Conde's mother and sister share memories.

Luis Daniel Conde, 39, went to the same high school in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico as his future husband Juan Pablo Rivera Velazquez. Together they ran Alta Peluquería D'Magazine, a beauty salon in Kissimmee, they co-owned the business for about seven years, and they were a couple for 14 years. On June 12, 2016 they died together in the Pulse night club massacre. They were celebrating a friend's birthday.

Luis's mother and sisters arrived at the Orange County Regional History Center, (65 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801) with a large framed photo of Luis. The interview was conducted in Spanish which unfortunately I don't understand. The emotions of loss however are universal transcending language barriers.

Luis's mother, Maria, wearing a T Shirt with a photo of her son on it, wanted to share what made her son so unique. She had just moved to Central Florida from Puerto Rico, so she only had six months with her son before the shooting. "He was just love." she said. He had a way of making clients at the Kissimmee beauty salon feel special. He loved to take before an after shots of clients to show their transformation. He worked to make people in his community feel beautiful. Luis was affectionately referred to as his mother's "favorite prince."

Luis's sister,  Lynette, had a premonition one month before the shooting. The vivid dream depicted events leading up to her brother's death. As events occurred after June 12, it was as if it were all unfolding, as in the dream. One of Luis's co-workers called Lynette, saying, "Something bad has happened." For two days the family went back and forth to the hospital hoping to find out if Luis was alive. That is an eternity to remain in the dark with only a glimmer of hope. He ultimately died from multiple gun shot wounds

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lucy Medford's 70th Birthday.

I know Lucy Medford through her daughter Kelly Medford. Kelly is an expatriate painter living and painting in Rome. Her Mom lives just north of Orlando. It was a rare frigid night so it was nice to get inside for the warmth. Every Medford in America muss have been at the party. Before the potluck Before the potluck dishes were opened on the dining room table, I settled into the comfy couch and started to sketch.

There was a station set up for goofy photos with feather boas, pink hats, antennas and a frame announcing Lucy's 70th. Some relatives were adventurous and wore the props throughout the party. I wanted to speak to Kelly about how she markets her Rome Sketch Tours. I want to offer more Orlando workshops and her insights would be invaluable. With every relative in attendance, I only had a few minutes to speak to Kelly. I'm hoping Skype, or just a few e-mails might answer my many questions.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Superbowl Party.

On Super Bowl Sunday, I went to a gorgeous suburban home right on a lake. The yard was landscaped with bromeliads and other Florida native plants. There was a nice sized koi pond in the from yard. The crowd watching the game consisted of three woman and two guys, myself included. Now I haven't watched football game all year) but I have to watch the super bowl. I pick the teem to root for based on how much I like their uniforms, so, I decided to root for the team in the red jerseys. Everyone else in the room was rooting for the same team. Our team got off to a great start with two touchdowns. The announcer said that no team had ever come back from a two touch down deficit.

The lead was extended and we all grew confident that this would be a rout. Number 34 however kept getting personal flags which resulted in the white jersey team getting first downs. Fans were irate. From my vantage point, I could sketch the whole room and I was right next to the potluck food table which had World Peas, Deviled eggs, White cauliflower that tasted it chick in wings, and sober bowl tots which was my contribution.

Half time with Gaga was entertaining, although, she kept jumping off screen. The drones above the stadium animated into patterns and logos. Quite impressive. I walked out back to watch the sun set across the lake. The spacious yard was like a nature preserve. I was told an eagle nests in the area. The final quarter of the game, the tide turned. Tom Brady kept advancing hi white Jersey teams yardage and in the final minutes the score was tied. In overtime, he kept that momentum to win the game. Everyone at our Superbowl party was stunned. What just happened? Why can't I ever get behind a winning team? Well the company was spectacular and there was plenty of laughter. We had Tex Mex to eat after the game and those irresistible  thin mint girl scout cookies. I left feeling lucky to have been invited.

Monday, February 13, 2017

10th Annual Russell Athletic Bowl Parade of Bands.

The City of Winter Park proudly hosted the 10th Annual Russell Athletic Bowl Parade of Bands, featuring West Virginia University and University of Miami. The parade was a prelude to the Russell Athletic Bowl game at 5:30 p.m. at the Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium that evening. School bands, cheerleaders and mascots marched through downtown Winter Park and performed a “Bandtastic Game Day Preview.” The parade started at 11 a.m. at the intersection of Park and Lyman avenues. School bands marched north along Park Avenue through downtown Winter Park. After turning west on Garfield Avenue, they proceeded to Central Park where they performed on the lawn in front of the band shell for all fans to enjoy.

I arrived a little early, and found a peaceful shady spot in the shade. Being in the park, I was safe from the Winter Park law that bans creating art on Park Avenue and Herald Square. The park is exempt from the Winter Park law which threatens 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for creating art in public. Excited children played near the fountain. People were seated curbside in lawn chairs waiting for the parade to start. By the time I had sketched the fountain, the bands could the heard in the distance. Bright yellow uniforms filled the street they marched by. Once both bands had marched by, everyone started walking towards the Central Park Band Shell. I walked over as well, but decided there wasn't enough film for a second sketch. The event reminded me of my youth when we watched high school bands marching in my small home town. I remember covering my ears when drums marched by. The loud drumming vibrated my tiny frame. In all the Winter Park event had all the restrained charm of middle American ideals.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

This is Our Youth.

This is Our Youth, written by Kenneth Lonergan is running at Macbeth Studio, (37 North Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL) through February 25th. Billed as a comedy, the show, directed by Jeremy Seghers is actually quite dramatic. Set in a 1980s NYC apartment, the show looks at the relationship between two young men, one a domineering former high school jock, and part time pot dealer named Dennis (Jack Kelly) and the other, Warren (Austin DavisJack Kelly) just trying to escape from his father.

The play is set in Dennis's apartment. The theater is actual a photographer's studio on the 9th floor of a downtown office building. The audience watches the scenes unfold in the round since they are seated along a wall and in seats lining the other side of the room as well. David Horgan on of "Dem Guys" the hardcore Fringe patrons, sat beside me and we debated about the year the play was set in. The rotary phone predated cell phones. A TV guide on the floor placed the time around 1982. Books on the bookshelf further verified the detective work.

The play began with Dennis sprawled on his mattress watching TV.  The intercom rang repeatedly. He wanted to ignore it, but couldn't. He buzzed up Warren, who had just left home and hoped to find a place to crash for a bit. Dennis buzzed with adolescent energy. As the two threw a football around the apartment, Warren managed to throw the ball into the book as breaking a sculpture that Dennis had of his girl friends. Dennis lost it, and wrestled Warren by the neck and punched him when he was down. The entire friendship was build around his bullying and belittling Warren.

Dennis was also schemer and he arranged to sell of his friends collection of vintage toys to raise cash. When he was gone, One of Dennis's girlfriends,  Jessica (Monica Mulder) came up to the apartment. She was beautiful and Warren stumbled all over himself trying to impress her. His attempts were comical. Of course I was rooting for the geek to get the girl. Through all the awkward exchanges they were surprised that they have very common tastes. Warren stole money from his father when he left home, and he decided to use that money to take Jessica on a expensive night on the town, including an expensive hotel stay.

After the date Jessica stopped by the apartment a second time to see Warren. Although it was clear these two cared about each other, they started fighting. Intimacy sparked before they knew each other, so they were both defensive, trying to maintain boundaries. Warren's favorite possession was a baseball hat from his grand father. Of all his possessions he asked his friend Dennis not to sell the hat. Jessica knew how important the hat was, and when Warren offered her anything for love, she asked for the hat. He was glad to give it to her. But he couldn't find it. He searched the apartment in desperation. It was gone. So was any hope of winning Jessica's love. They exchanged bitter words and were driven apart by a hat. It was painful to watch.

When Warren is bullied by his friend Dennis in the third act, I kept hoping that he would fight back. He would loose a physical confrontation but he needed to stand his ground. Friendships and relationships seemed to be about nothing but taking and steeling from one another. For a comedy, this is a dark view of the world. Politics however imply that this is the American way.

Remaining show dates are, February 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25
All performances @ 8:00PM

Tickets available.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Trash 2 Trends: a Recycled Runway Show.

Trash 2 Trends was held at Ports of Call at Sea World. The program for the event had two pages of photos of Sea World staff rescuing sea turtles and dolphins. The pages proclaimed that 29,000 animals had been rescued. The entrance to the parks parking lot still sports fiberglass killer whales leaping in the misty light. Tilikum the killer whale this killed his trainer recently died of bacterial pneumonia. The killer whale lived in isolation having spent most of his life in captivity. In the open ocean killer whales swim thousands of miles in the endless expanse of the oceans. At Sea World they can only swim in circles in the tight constraints of the enclosures.

The hosts for the evening were Doug Ba'aser, Scott Maxwell and Miss Sammy. Miss Sammy wore a home made dress made from silver egg cartons and plenty of shot glasses. Doug took off his suit while he was on stage, Saying that he didn't us n to get it dirty since he would have to return it the next day. He wasn't kidding. Money raised at the fundraiser went to Keep Orlando Beautiful. Founded in 1987, KOB is a non profit organization that offers a variety of much needed community improvement services. They strive to create a healthier, safer, more livable and sustainable community environment.

Judges, seated at the end of the runway were, Commissioner Patty Sheehan, Barbara Hartley, Maxine Earhart, and Marcy Singhaus. In all 34 unique recycled dresses strutted down the runway. The judges pick for the best dress, was Far East Headlines - Read and Wear created by Sharon Huang. The intricate and opulent dress made the model look like a peacock. Love Conquers Hate by Meaghan Moreno won as the audience choice for the best use of materials. The audience choice votes were cast with dollar bills.  Love conquers hate had the stately mode wearing large white angel wings. The tips of the wings had thin hints of the colors of the rainbow. The 49 feathers each had the names of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Her golden crown was illuminated and the lower skirt also glowed.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Weekend Top 6 Picks for February 11th and 12th.

Saturday February 11, 2017
Noon to 5pm Free. Indie-Folkfest 2017. The Mennello Museum of American Art, 900 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL 32803. Indie-Folkfest 2016 drew thousands of festival-goers in celebration of local Florida music, artists, food and community.
The 2017 festival promises to be the biggest yet! Join us again as we showcase local, national and regional art, music and culinary talent in the beautiful lakeside Sculpture Garden of The Mennello Museum. This free family-friendly and pet-friendly event will take place on Saturday, February 11, 2017, from 12 to 5 p.m.
Interested in being an Indie-Folkfest sponsor? Download our sponsorship application here, or call 407.246.3294.
More details to come.

4pm to 6pm Free. Young Voices. JB Callaman Center 102 North Parramore Ave Orlando FL. Teen Open Mic Every second Saturday of the Month.

7pm to 9pm Free. Brewery Tour. Orlando Brewing, 1301 Atlanta Ave, Orlando, FL.

Sunday February 12, 2017
1pm to 5pm Free Family Day on the Second Sunday. The Mennello Museum of American Art, 900 East Princeton Street, Orlando, FL 32803. The make-and-take craft table is open from noon-2:30 p.m., and docents are available to give mini-tours of the museum. Then it's open house in the galleries until 4:30 p.m.

5:30pm to 11:30pm $10 Southern Fried Sunday with Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, The WildTones, Clem Mcgillicutty and The Burnouts. Will's Pub 1042 N Mills Ave, Orlando, Florida 32803. 18+, $5 BBQ plates by Clay BBQ Watson!
Over the last three decades, Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys have kept up a constant cycle of traveling back and forth across the lower 48, then hopping across the pond to Europe and beyond. They bring with them a brand of American music that has earned them an induction into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, several national television appearances, guest spots on The Grand Ole Opry, and a slew of adoring fans.
"I truly love being out on the road, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to sing my songs all over the world," said Sandy. "But when I'm away from the U.S. for too long, it's like I need a recharge... like I need a solid dose of everything Americana. Give me a Chuck Berry song while rolling down the interstate, or a truck stop conversation with a waitress who once danced with Lefty Frizzell, and I'm good for another three thousand miles”.

10pm to Midnight. Free but get a coffee. Comedy Open Mic. Austin's Coffee, 929 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL. Free comedy show! Come out & laugh, or give it a try yourself.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

DRIP Presents The Blind Date Experience.

Last year I painted nude couples portraits on Valentines Day. This year I went to DRIP (8747 International Dr Suite 102, Behind Denny's and Senor Frogs, Orlando, Florida 32819) to sketch couples embracing during The Blind Date Experience. It was a challenge to convince couples to hug for ten minutes at a time. The black lighting in the venue added another challenge, since I couldn't judge values or color. It was a grand experiment and I plan to try again despite the challenges. I'm thinking of working digitally next time working with filters to push towards a fast finish that I can paint and manipulate. It is worth experimenting.

Featuring interactive stations, gorgeous performers, full DRIP show with dancers performing in paint, flying water, colored sand, live rock band, and a Miracle Berry after party experimental taste testing, dancing, and 10 foot paint shower!

BLUE STATION: A new twist on Paint and Take. Be your own artist and show off what you got.

RED STATION: Come in blindfolded and relax as you experience the touch of your partner. Can it get spicy? Maybe....

YELLOW STATION: Know what you want to say, but cannot come up with the words? We make it easy

KISSING BOOTH: Snap all the selfies and group shots that you want in the photo booth area that is filled with X's and O's

CREATE YOUR OWN VALENTINE: Use upcycled materials to craft your own special valentine for your sweetheart.

T-SHIRT PULL: Feeling lucky? Take your chance at the T-shirt pull wall. Pick a crop top and see if you win the grand prize!! (Additional fee per pull)

The show features a sordid love story with dancers performing in paint, flying water, and sand to a LIVE rock band. It's a standing room experience. DRIP's live rock band played.

Enjoy drinks by the color! DRIP's Color Bar has Red, Blue, Orange and Yellow beer, cocktails, shots, wine and non alcoholic beverages for sale. This Valentine's Day, a special flight of shots will be added that will not be as they appear to the eye.

All Tickets Include:
-A Blind Date Blindfold to use at the event and take home.
-Special Edition DRIP Blind Date Experience T-Shirt for you to get colorful that night!
-Paint Station to paint yourselves and your sweetheart
-Kissing Booth
-3 interactive stations with souvenirs to take home
-Make your own upcycled Valentine station
-Full DRIP show with dancers and live band
-After party featuring the Miracle Berry
-Interactive Paint Shower

All Inclusive Tickets also include:
-Custom t-shirt cutting (have your special edition Blind Date shirt turned into a tank top, dress, corset, etc.)
-DRIPdanna Headwrap for you to wear and paint
-All you can drink until 11 PM (2.5-3 hours)
-Free pull at the T-Shirt Wall to win a prize

*Limited to 40 couples per show
General Admission Tickets:
Feb. 10: $39
Feb 11-25: $49

All Inclusive Tickets:
Feb. 10: $79
Feb 11-25: $89

More Info and Tickets.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Wine Bottle Art Fundraiser.

Quantum Leap Winery (1312 Wilfred Dr, Orlando, Florida 32803) hosted thirty seven local artists who each painted a bottle of Quantum Leap Monterey Red or Pinot Grigio, in their own unique style. These "Mills 50 Artist Series" one of a kind bottles of wine were available during the silent auction at the event.

Appetizers were provided by Restaurant ASH, live music by Beemo as well as a raffle. Beer and wine was available for sale. Silent auction closed at 8pm. Proceeds supported Mills 50 and the amazingly talented artists! Money raised will help fund future art projects in Mills 50 District!

 A former Full Sail student of mine, Vicki Rushing, had painted a bottle with a Pulse theme. I remembered this student because she was always asking about my daily sketches. After Full Sail she landed a job doing multimedia design work for Lockheed Martin. Her bottle was bought by Michelle and she chatted with her new patron before she left. I believe most if not all the artists had painted dumpsters or water drainage sewers in the Mills 50 neighborhood.

Beemo's performance kept the evening lively. Most of the night, two performers were on stage, but towards the end of the night a third performer joined them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Toddler Town is open.

The Orlando Science Center (777 East Princeton Street Orlando FL 32803) invested about five million dollars in building a New Kids Town. There are five or six main play areas along with Toddler Town. This half moon shaped play area is set up so moms and dads can sit on the cushy retaining wall and was their toddlers at play. Kids can assemble floor puzzle pieces, crawl through house shaped foam tunnels, and crawl in side a foam sewer drain pipe.The most used toy was an abacus shaped wire roller coaster with colored beads.

Other isolated stations had windows into a Styrofoam snowstorm and a two way window which could fog over. All day there are bursts of energy as kids explore and discover for the first time. This is also the perfect place for parents to rest amidst the playground madness. Circular mobiles mirror the floating circles on the walls, and shadow patterns on the floor add to the circular theme.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Drip Drop Splash at the Orlando Science Center.

I went in to sketch the new Kids Town as it was being constructed once a week this past October. Drip Drop Splash has three illuminated water columns with hand cranks. When the cranks are turned by kids the water rises up and trickles down a series of blue kite shaped shingles. The water empties into a clear bowl and then rains down into a round pool below. It is possible to crawl under this pool reception and stand up in a donuts hole opening in the middle. Standing the r it is possible to be surounded by rain, yet remain perfectly dry.

Water cascade down from this center pool down three ramps which each have a maze of mind bending inventions. Kids can plumb and divert the water or build a series of dams. Each Rube Goldberg contraption teaches the kids how to harness and use the power of water.

At this point in the construction plumbing was still being worked out. Workers joked with each other calling each other "Cuz". Walls were being painted and things fell together quickly. Kids Town is now open at the Orlando Science Center (777 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL 32803) and trust me, the kids love it.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Wicked After Dark at the Abbey.

The Broadway National Tour cast of Wicked came to The Abbey(100 S Eola Dr #100, Orlando, FL 32801) for a one-night only charitable cabaret concert benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity fights AIDS and the GLBT Center of Central Florida. Net proceeds (ticket sales included) from the benefit will specifically help fund counseling for the community, survivors, and family members affected by the Pulse tragedy. Counseling services will be needed for at least the next five years, and The Center Orlando has pledged that it will make these services available to the community on walk-in basis, free of charge, for as long as it is needed.

The opening act was by Wicked Alumna, Broadway veteran, X-Factor star, Nashville recording artist and Florida native Rachel Potter with her band, Steel Union. Rachel had a new born and she said that the baby had slept through the night for the first time ever on the evening before the performance. She had worked at Disney World as The Little Mermaid for five years after college. After a full set with Steel Union she offered to sing as Ariel. The audience joined in as she sang, "I want mooore." Her Disney roots won the audience. She played down her X-Factor experience saying that at least s gained a few twitter followers. Rachel went on to perform a solo from Wicked that got a standing ovation.

Song and dance performances by the cast members of Wicked followed. The Abbey house lights went black, and I had to stop sketching for fear that my tablet glow might ruin the experience for other audience members. The opening number featured wicked actresses in sexy black lace and garters dancing to the sexy and risque Cabaret. "We have no troubles here. Here life is beautiful!" Rosy, Lulu, Frenchy, and Texas gyrated with abandon.All our troubles were left outside.

Wicked After Dark was produced by the company members of Wicked themselves. This post-Wicked performance cabaret was an opportunity for cast members to step out of their roles in the musical and kick up their heels performing some of their favorite non-Ozian material. On actor who is the understudy for OZ took to the stag with a guitar and cowboy hat. His microphone had to be adjusted endlessly. As a tech struggled, he said, "Well this had better be worth it. No pressure." The audience laughed. He then sang an original balled about love lost. The gentle lyrics bemoaned his confusion and pain. Then be paused. The next line was something like. "What I wish for you is... Herpes." The audience went crazy. Michael Wanzie shouted out, "It was so worth it!

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organization. It offers an ongoing, committed response from the American theater community to an urgent worldwide health crisis. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of this community, The organization raises funds for AIDS-related causes across the United States. Since its founding in 1988, 
more than $150 million has been raised for critically needed services for people with AIDS, HIV and other serious illnesses. For more information, visit

The Center was the first agency on the scene of the Pulse Orlando tragedy on the morning of June 12, 2016; within two hours had more than 600 volunteers and community members inside its doors, had rallied more than 600 crisis counselors to the area, and had coordinated the distribution of supplies to first responders, hospitals, families, blood banks and more. Since that day, as well as its regular operations, The Center now also staffs the Orlando United Assistance Center which is the mail portal for the survivors and the families of the deceased; The Center was described as “Ground Zero for victim and family recovery” by President Obama. For more information, visit

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Vinyl Bar Art Night.

Vinyl Arts Bar, (75 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, Florida 32801) is located next to a tattoo parlor near Orange Avenue. A group of artists spent the night painting in an artistically nurturing environment with other like-minded individuals where they can network and inspire one another. Expect all original works.

Those who weren't artists got to see artists at work, and watch the creativity happen. Tables each sported hookahs for smoke, And the bar offered wine to sip. The evening was about chilling, networking. And getting to see art being created. t he evening was hosted by Swirlz and Diego Inkusual. With Christmas the corner there were a couple of elfs in the crowd besides the standard sleek black dresses.

I arrived at the designated start time which was early for this art crowd. The place was deserted. I ordered a beer and sat on a couch to start blocking in the sketch. Slowly artists started to arrive and set up easels. One artist recognized me, and we chatted for a bit. In the front room, artists were painting on vinyl records. Each circular painting would the be hung up front where they were illuminated by black light to make the paintings glow. I want to return to sketch the unique side room which each have a unique colored lighting scheme. A digital sketch would be the best way to capture the strange glow.

Friday, February 3, 2017

WeekendTop 6 Picks for February 4th and 5th.

Saturday February 4, 2017
9am to 5pm Free All weekend. 42nd Annual Mount Dora Art Festival. Downtown Mount Dora.

 6pm to 8pm Free. Dr. Deborah Willis Talk. Rollins College 1000 Holt Ave, Box 2720, Winter Park, Florida 32789. This lecture, at Rollins College, is in conjunction with the ‘Posing Beauty in African American Culture’ exhibition at Snap! Space (on view January 13 through February 11) curated by Dr. Deborah Willis.
Professor Deborah Willis is a theorist and historian of African American photography, as well as a photographer herself. Dr. Willis is chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and has an affiliated appointment as Professor with the College of Arts and Sciences, Africana Studies. She has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Fletcher, and MacArthur fellowships, the Infinity Award in Writing from the International Center for Photography, and recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation Award. Named one of the “100 Most Important People in Photography”.
PLEASE NOTE : Eventbrite ticket does not guarantee entrance. This is a free event, eventbrite helps us to gauge numbers. We recommend that you arrive early, as entrance will be granted according to arrival and capacity. Thank you!
Free admission. Tickets

7pm to 10pm $35 Trash2Trends. Ports of Call Sea World 7007 Seaworld Drive, Orlando, Fl 32821. Trash 2 Trends is a Keep Orlando Beautiful, Inc fundraiser that brings the fashion and art of local artists together with the environmental community to promote sustainability in an innovative way. The show features local designers who create runway looks from items headed to the landfill. A complimentary dessert and coffee bar will be provided during intermission for all guests. Must be 18 or older to attend.

Sunday February 5, 2017
10am to 4pm Free.  Lake Eola Farmers Market.  South East corner of Lake Eola Park.

7pm to 9pm Free. Erotic Poetry Night V: Smut, Actually. Vinyl Arts Bar 75 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, Florida 32801. The Drunken Odyssey presents its annual live show of erotic poetry, erotic prose, amorous thoughts, and smut, this year in the posh bohemian confines of Vinyl Arts Bar.
The Drunken Odyssey All Stars will feature
Naomi Butterfield
Ephraim Scott Sommers
Diane Turgeon Richardson
Wilson Santos
Stephanie Rizzo
Brian Downes
Rachel Kohlman
Teege Braune
Lisa Roney
Madison Strake Bernath
& your host, John King.

7:30pm to 9:30pm Free. Helena - contemporary vocal ensemble. The Timucua Arts white house 2000 S Summerlin Ave, Orlando, Florida 32806. A sisterhood of six of Central Florida's most dauntless singers, Helena is an ensemble committed to irradiating gems from all genres of vocal music.
Helena will be performing choral and vocal works by David Childs, Gwynneth Walker and John Prine, among others. They will also perform Libby Larsen's song cycle Try Me Good King, in collaboration with pianist Lynn Peghiny Mells.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Memorial for Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, Shot Jan 9, 2017.

Markeith D. Loyd accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend last month,  shot Sgt. Debra Clayton multiple times when she confronted him outside a Walmart near the Pine Hills area west of Orlando, police said. Loyd then fled the scene. After a massive manhunt, Loyd has finally been captured.

Debra's police cruiser has been Parked on the sidewalk in front of Police Headquarters surrounded by black tape as a memorial. Flowers were left on the wind shield and in the first days driving by I noticed large for are wreaths. The car was covered in graffiti one night but the next day Police had it spic and span again. The re was graffiti on , retaining wall I sat next to as I did this sketch. It said, "God Bless U R in our prayers. Much Love." People need to write when faced with death.

The cruiser was defaced just one day after Debra's accused killer appeared in court. The blue marker graffiti didn't offer condolences and flowers from on the hood were knocked to the ground. Police officials said they hope the incident, which happened sometime overnight, was caught on video, adding that an investigation is underway.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Lilian Verkins Atmospheres at Lake Eustis Museum of Art.

The Lillian Verkins Atmospheres opening was on January 6, 2017 at the Lake Eustis Museum of Art, (1 W Orange Ave, Eustis, FL 32726). Opened in 1995, the Lake Eustis Museum of Art exhibits historic, contemporary artwork from local, regional, and national sources. LEMA is the first art museum in Lake County dedicated wholly to visual art.

Several dozen canvases  hung on the walls of the rooms in the small museum. I suspect the back room overlooked the lake, but since it was pitch dark, the water couldn't be seen. I asked Lillian an the curator if it was alright to sit on a center bench and sketch. They were both open to the idea. The curator even fell that carrying a sketchbook should be every artists goal.

The Atmospheres consisted of bold loose brushwork that seemed to define clouds and storm formation in other - worldly environments. At times the skys seemed to ignite on fire. Some canvases also featured square patches of color that floated above the tempestuous cloud formations. I n the ca room there we a few smaller pieces that were more representational. They were priced to sell, and several did.

Atmospheres remains on display through February 4th.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mystery Sketch Theater at Falcon Bar.

Mystery Sketch Theater is a live figure drawing session that takes place once a month, on the first Thursday of the month at an awesome artsy bar and gallery called The Falcon (819 E. Washington Street, Orlando, FL 32801). The cost is just $5 which goes to the model. The models are superheroes, burlesque performers, retro housewives, belly dancers, drag queens! It's a hoot! About a dozen artists will show to sketch quick one minute poses to start and gradually work up to longer 20 minute poses. I like to sketch the artists at work as well as the model. One artist brought in his dog, and they sketched from their spot on the floor.

The next Mystery Sketch Theater Presents, Sunny Cummings. She is a yoga instructor so expect to see some super human flexibility.

We provide you the most ravishing, exotic and fascinating models our fair city and beyond can provide. Elaborate costumes, fabulous makeup, and amazing personalities. On that note...if you have a pair of fishnets or a sequined bra, you might want to contact us for modeling opportunities. We'll pamper and worship you.

Artists of all skill levels and occupations are welcome to come. Even non-artists who just want to hang out, get their geek on and have a good time with good people are more than welcome too. Artists are asked to pay a small fee of $5 for the evening to help cover costs for running the event. Oh, did I mention we have contests? Silly! Ridiculous contests! With prizes!

First Thursday of the month, every month from 8-10 PM! Come early to get a great seat and snag a drawing table before they're all spoken for!

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Corsets and Cuties 2nd Annual Amateur Contest & Holiday Kick Off.

 I was invited to a Corsets and Cuties dress rehearsal on Wednesday 8-17 at The Venue (511 Virginia Dr, Orlando, FL 32803) from 8pm to 10pm. It was three months since the Pulse shooting, and the venue was richly decorated with rainbows, and an Orlando Rising banner. Even as performers stripped, the banner reminded one, to never forget.

The Corsets and Cuties performers always bring lively tongue in cheek humor to their performances. Laughter, set them apart from other burlesque troops I have sketched. Rainbow skirts flew off of hips and fluttered to the floor. This see me an appropriate way to honor the spirits  of the young men and women who were dancing and celebrating life when insanity cut their lives short.

The next Corsets and Cuties performance is the 2nd Annual Amateur Contest & Holiday Kick Off, on November 18th. Doors open at 9 pm. Tickets are $18 in advance, and $20 at the door. The Cuties are opening the show, and then inviting contestants to the stage for audience votes. The audience chooses the winner who earns their place as the Cuties guest star in our Spring Show! Then the Cuties take over to kick off the holiday season!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

There will be Madness # 5 - A Flash Fiction Slam.

There will be Madness  # 5 - A Flash Fiction Slam was held at The Gallery at Avalon Island (37 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, Florida 32801). Eight writers faced off head to head in three rounds and there was only one winner. Jessie Bradley was the MC. What does it take to compete?
1 - No greater than 250 word story for the first round
2 - No greater than 500 word story for the second round
3 - No greater than 1000 word story for the final round
The last writer standing will received a copy of both There Will Be Words chapbooks for 2016.

In this town where poetry readings are a dime a dozen, it is nice to let some prose develop characters and plot. The best part: the audience decided who wins each round (which means, feel free to bring as many friends as possible to help rig the competition in your favor). I felt that my vote counted. Only take eight writers could compete. To sign up, e-mail or on the invite page. The show started around 7:00. Connie Cassia Heinz took home the grand prize.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Jim Helsiner discusses Angel Action Wings

In Abraham Lincoln's Inauguration speech, he said   “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”This quote inspired Jim Helsinger to create Angel Action Wings after the Pulse tragedy. As he said, "Moises Kaufman wrote 'The Laramie Project', about the reaction to the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming gay student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, what could I do?" When members of a Baptist hate group said they would protest at funerals of the victims of the Pulse shooting, here in Orlando, Jim had to act.

The Orlando Shakespeare Theater and the Angel Action Wings Project teamed up to create massive PVC frame, and white linen angel wings in the hopes of blocking the 40-member "church" group and their hate-filled signs, the dumbest being "God Hates Fags." Thanks to donations, the Orlando Shakespeare Theater built each of the angel ensembles in their costume shop.  There was much confusion on social media about weather the hate group would actually show up, but Jim went with a gut feeling and had the wings built anyway. At a funeral, singing and the angel wings blocked the protesters who did get a permit to protest.

After that initial success some one suggested that 49 Angel wings should be built. Although he as in Colorado, he spearheaded the effort from there. Volunteers from Disney filled the Shakespeare scenic shop completing the wings with incredible speed. After a Pulse theater community event at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts the 49 Angels marched outside the theater surrounding the large memorial that was in the plaza. A light drizzle accompanied their somber candle light march, but when they stood in silent vigil the rain stopped and a light breeze aired their wings. People exiting the theater where overwhelmed be the sight.

Theater has a way of framing grief. When in a dark theater surrounded by an audience, we realize that we are not alone. If others survive then I can as well. We do not live in a vacuum. 20 years ago Orlando was a conglomerate of corporations. In the last fire years, little theaters and restaurants have found a home here. Orlando's reaction and response to the Pulse tragedy is something to be proud of. We as a community will embrace gays, Latinos, and immigrants.

Jim grew up in Ohio and has shot guns. He believes in the second amendment, but if an individual is on a watch list, or has been denied a flight license, then why can he buy an assault rifle? In Newtown a young boy could walk into an alimentary school and shoot children. Nothing has changed. People need to accept their differences. There needs to be religious and racial tolerance. We need to change the culture of violence to a culture of love.

The 49 wings were just transferred to the Center which will decide how and when the wings will be used in the future. This will allow Jim to refocus his energies on running the Shakespeare Theater. They were just worn in the recent gay pride parade, where thousands cheered as the angels glided down Orlando's downtown streets. The angel wings need to keep flying.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Weekend Top 6 Picks January 28th and 29th.

Saturday January 28, 2017
9am to 5pm. Free. Renningers Steampunk and Industrial Show. Renningers.Mount Dora FL. ARE YOU READY......5th Year for Renninger's Steampunk & Industrial Show...time flies when you travel....we are planning the best Steampunk Show for our Time Travelers October 15 & 16, 2016 from 9AM - 5PM Admission is FREE, Parking is FREE...over 100 vendors with fabulous finds created and specially collected for this performed by some of the best "Steampunk" musicians, Cog is Dead, Clockwork Knotwork, Sideshow Drummer, Florida Tribal Dance, Jig to a Milestone, John Babcock, all hosted by Phantasmagoria....delicious food including "High Tea"...and the 3rd Annual Splendid Teapot Race...steampunk horse & carriage rides, magic, giant kaleidoscope, Best Dressed Award, and all the special sights and sounds when Victoria and Albert collide with the Industrial Age!

Noon to 3pm Free.  USk Chinese New Year Sketchcrawl. Wat Florida Dhammaram of Kissimmee,FL 2421 Old Vineland Rd, Kissimmee, Florida 34746. Urban Sketchers International is going global on January 28th in celebrating the Chinese New year, Lunar year and highlighting the Asian culture.
We - the Orlando Urban Sketchers - are going to be there too! taking part in this Worldwide sketchcrawl Event! The participating USk chapters so far are: São Paulo; Singapore; Boston; Orlando; Japan; Hong Kong; Melbourne; Sydney; Beijing; Seattle ; Canberra; Los Angeles; Kuala Lumpur; Taiwan; Austin; Gran Canaria; Fredericksburg, VA; Raleigh; Cleveland; Charleston, SC; Cairns, AUS; Ilocos; Kuching, Malaysia; Waterloo Region, Canada and NYC.

We checked around town for local celebrations or the best location to highlight this amazing culture and found this gem nestled among Kissimmee countryside not too far from Lake Buena Vista.
The Wat Florida Dharmmaram Buddhist Temple will provide an exciting challenge to us sketchers. Bring on your gold and red paints, markers, pens or pencils, your sketchbook and your curiosity.
Gather your sketching friends to make this a terrific Worldwide sketchcrawl event!

Let us share with the World our take of this global event.
Post your sketches on Facebook at;
Urban Sketchers (group)
and at
Orlando Urban Sketchers (group)
or Instagram at #urbansketchers and
Instagram at #urbansketchersorlando

If you will be busy celebrating the holiday with friends and family, any sketch reflecting your special traditions would be a lovely way to share art about the beginning of a New Year! 
There is a meditation class at the Temple right after our sketching session if any of you wish to join. 3:00 to 5:00 pm directed by Than Chao Khun Sunan, Abbot of the Wat Florida Dhammaram.

8:30am to Midnight $25 DRIP 80's Night. DRIP 8747 International Dr Suite 102 (Behind Denny's and Senor Frogs), Orlando, Florida. Grab your legwarmers and head over to DRIP! We’re taking it back to the raddest decade in history - the 80s! Come re/discover some of the greatest fashion statements and musical influences of the time. Neon Paint Bar, 80s themed drink specials, dance party, Tye-Dye station, full DRIP show, classic movies, and a Thriller dance along! Squeeze into spandex and layer on that aquanet for a special discount ticket ($25)!
Doors Open at 8 PM
Age Requirement: 18+

January 29, 2017
10am to 4pm Free. Lake Eola Farmers Market. South East corner of Lake Eola Park, Orlando, FL, United States. 

Noon to 3pm Donation. Music at the Casa Violinist Lisa Ferrigno & Friends. Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, 656 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789.

2pm to 4pm Free. Yoga. Lake Eola Park, 195 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, FL near red pagoda. Every week.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore died at age 80.

Mary Tyler Moore was born on Dec. 29, 1936, in Brooklyn Heights. After living in Queens and Brooklyn, her family moved to California when she was 8. Her father, George Tyler Moore, a clerk, and her mother, the former Margery Hackett, were both alcoholics and, Ms. Moore often said, imperfect parents. The eldest of their three children, Mary would outlive both her sister, Elizabeth Moore, who died of a drug and alcohol overdose in 1978, and her brother, John Hackett Moore, who
died of cancer in 1992 after Ms. Moore had assisted him in an unsuccessful suicide attempt. died at the age of 80 on January 25, 2017, Greenwich, Connecticut. Her family said her death, at Greenwich Hospital, was caused by cardiopulmonary arrest after she had contracted pneumonia.

Back in art school, I arranged to get a press pass to Beverly Sills retirement dinner. I followed the flock of reporters shooting photos which I later used to complete a series of sketches about the evening. Held in a hotel in Central Park South) the evening was glamorous. For a student illustrative journalist, it was pure magic.

I loved Mary Tyler Moore. I knew her mostly as the spunky female reporter on her signature show, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" broadcast from 1970 to 1977, it was produced by both Ms. Moore and her second husband, Grant Tinker, who later ran NBC and who died on Nov. 28, 2017. She went on to more serious fare, including an Oscar-nominated role in the 1980 film “Ordinary People” as a frosty, resentful mother whose son has died.I always admired that performance that reminded me of people in my own life.

When I landed a dream job while in NYC, I threw my hat up in the air just as Mary did at the  intro to every show. There was always a poised quality to Mary. During the gala she wore a gorgeous dark gown with huge billowing sheaves. I had never seen or sketched anything like it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Ugly Beauty at the Morse Museum.

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, (445 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789) hosted a documentary film series at lunch times once every few weeks about Art. This particular screening was about Ugly Beauty. Art critic Waldemar Januszczak argued that beauty is still to be found in modern art. Modern artist Damien Hurst made headlines and tons of money selling a great white shark in a glass case full of formaldehyde to a wealthy stock broker in the 1980's. This was considered ugly and tasteless by many. Waldemar pointed out that such art depicting death have occurred throughout art history. In the sketch depicted a still life done by Rembrandt of a cow carcass.

Has beauty disappeared from modern art? Several influential modern thinkers insist that it has. And this belief has inspired them to publish a clutch of recent books which claim that modern art is no longer capable of capturing true beauty: that beauty has gone from art.  Art critic Waldemar Januszczak fiercely disagreed, believing that great art is as interested in beauty as ever.

Beauty in modern art often has to do with the sterile and pristine open spaces where the art is exhibited. The museum itself becomes the source of calming reflection instead of the art. The world today needs beauty more than it has ever needed it, and modern art is one of its few suppliers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Kraft Azalea Gardens

Kraft Azalea Gardens is a gorgeous place to sketch as the sun sets. This 5.22-acre public garden is located on the shore of Lake Maitland and is open all year from 8 a.m. until dusk. Lakefront, secluded and unique, this is Winter Park’s secret garden! This beautiful park is shaded by enormous cypress trees that add to the old Florida charm of the 13-acre property.

This gnarly old tree with light bark lights up a bright orange in that golden moment before the sun slips behind the luxury homes on the far shore. The winding bark seemed to hint at hidden female forms which glowed in the fading light.

I returned several times wanting to catch the colors and forms in oils as well as watercolor. Right next to this tree is a rare Banyan Tree which is native to India, Siri Lanka and Pakistan. It is often planted around temples and is considered sacred by Hindus and Buddhists. The free is not cold tolerant and usually only grows in an area south of Miami. A deep freeze in 1989 devastated many of these trees, so the tree in Kraft Azalea is quite rare. A Banyan in Saint Augustine was thought to be the most northern Banyan in the state but it died in the 1989 freeze. Some therefor believe this to be the northern most Banyan in the state. It is believed that the tree was first planted here in 1938 when Kraft Azalea Gardens was first developed by Notable nurseryman Martin Daetwyler who was hired to design the garden by well-known residents, George and Maud Kraft, Mayor Frederick Cady, Forney Shepard, Leonard Hackney and Mrs. C. F. Ward.

Knowing the history of this unlikely pair of trees, I plan to return for several more sunset sketches to watch them light up with a fiery glow. The twisted intertwining forms of the Banyan will be fun to draw.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Wedding of Nikole Cassandra McManus and Joshua Glenn Wilson

I was hired by Joshua Wilson to sketch his wedding at Wild Acres Villa in Paisley Florida. Joshua is a local pianist and I have sketched him performing at several Orlando events. Wild Acres Villa is locate far north of Orlando in the Ocalla National Forest. The paved road turned to dirt as dusk approached. The Villa is a gorgeous Swiss Chalet made of stone in the middle of nowhere. It sits on the shore of a huge lily pad covered lake. Folding chairs were lined up in rows in front of a half moon brick patio that had an ornate gazebo over it. Pine boughs were stuck into the ornate lattice. A loaf of braided bread sat on top of a cup of red wine. An easel held there ropes with a Celtic W emblazoned across the top of a wooden plank.

The ceremony began at 4pm. The pastor and Josh stood waiting for the bride. Bridesmaids walked the grassy lawn and lined up stage right. I had started my sketch, and miscalculated how many bridesmaids there might be. Each time a new brides maid came down the a is she would stand in front of me. I moved each time closer to the stage. The re were 8 bridesmaids in all, and 7 groomsmen. By the time vow we re exchanged, I we standing in a bed of vines. The bread was for a communion for the wedding couple. Josh and the pastor seemed to know one another and they smiled a each other when Cassandra stood at the back of the lawn for the processional,  Josh looked at her with adoration. He mouthed silent to someone in the front row, "I'm marrying her. . ." She began walking towards Josh to the sound of Balmorhea by Settler. Josh's face told the whole story. He was overwhelmed and then teared up. This was clearly the happiest moment of his life. The coup faced each other and held hands. I wished I could see her face. Since I w sketching I could only experience this ceremony while watching Josh.

The ropes on the plank we re woven into a braid by the couple. This part of the ceremony was inspired by a bible verse in Ecclesiastes. . . "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A chord of there strands is not quick in broken." The couple each had personal statements before the a ceremony. The tiny box was for notes that the couple wrote to one another. These notes explain why they were so in love and what they admired in their partner. The box could only be opened in five years or when the couple was experiencing irreconcilable differences.

When the ceremony was sealed with a kiss, the lawn chairs were quickly gathered and the photographers work began as they shot large family portraits. Child on ran and played tag, as the sun turned the the tops orange. I walked to the edge of the lake and admired the incredible colors.

Tables were already set up on the lawn for the reception. I decided to start a second sketch digitally to capture the illuminated lanterns and the dimly lit guests. I sketched the guests as they sat down for their BBQ pulled pork dinner. The one disadvantage of this wilderness retreat was mosquitoes. Every one was talking a b them at dinner. A photographer offered me bug spray and I slathered some in my ears to discourage the buzzing. Several days later, I discovered the mosquitoes had been having a feast at my ankles. My swollen ankles had never been sucked so dry of blood. With my nocturnal sketch done, I retired inside with the staff to have a bite to eat. I left as the dancing started.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Why Books Are a Crazy Business (and thank heaven for that).

I attended a lecture with Harold Augenbraum, the out-going Director of the National Book Awards, at the Jack Kerouac House, 1418 Clouser Ave, Orlando, Florida 32804. In partnership with Rollins College "Winter With the Writers" program, The Kerouac Project  hosted the guest lecture.

Harold Augenbraum is Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards. He has published seven books on Latino literature of the United States and translated several books for Penguin Classics including two novels by the Filipino writer José Rizal. In 2012, he co-translated (with Ilan Stavans) The Plain in Flames by Juan Rulfo and in 2013 Penguin published his edition of the Collected Poems of Marcel Proust. Last year he was awarded an honorary doctorate (honoris causa) by Concordia College (Moorhead, Minnesota) and in September he will be a Franke Visiting Fellow at Yale University.

Harold's talk was witty and light hearted. Some people might thin that the book publishing business would have shrunk because of the Internet, but the opposite is true, there are more books being published today than ever before. Making money in publishing is however tricky and as difficult as picking horses at the races.

As always there was wine and mingling after the lecture. There is always a creative excitement to these gatherings. If you want to experience the heart of the Orlando literary scene then get out to a Kerouac house event.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Phoenix Tears Productions Presents Fictional First Dates.

This original production written by Mallory Vance and Megan Markham, Fictional First Dates is a sixty minute musical that tells the story of Carson Devaraux and his search for a date to his sister's wedding. With the help of his best friend Piper, a Batista,  and a little app called Sparkler, Carson goes on a series of dates with  pop culture characters from Avatar Korra to Lavender Brown to Eowyn and many more who arrive at Cafe Nirvana. Along the way he makes new friends and discovers that dating fictional crushes might not be all it's cracked up to be. 

The rehearsal began with a musical number in which the cast of 8 celebrated all the perfect women who could be found with the app. A sweet telephone bell sound announced when a perfect match had been found. The first date was hilarious, with a woman who talked so fast and was so scattered that Carson never got a word in before she bolted.  One musical number with the two bachelors reminded me of a Sondheim song.  The lyrics were so fun and endearing however that I had to applaud. I found is funny when it was noted that even a Marvel comics character would be challenged dating today.

Dates happened seated stage left or stage right and sometimes at both tables. Coffee seemed to be this shows elixir of love. It was entertaining and frightening to see how easy it was for the dates to crash and burn. The women ranged from sweet and high spirited  to a dangerous warrior princess. To me it seemed obvious that Carson's best friend Piper was the perfect date, but their platonic relationship blew up in a rage. His fictional crushes kept him from seeing the importance of the friend he had come to rely on.

The play ends on an inspired high note with the entire cast singing on stage. Like seemed to attract like and the imagined was replaced by the real. I was laughing out loud through the whole show. The show has a very short run, so do at miss your chance to experience the comic dangers of dating from the safety of your theater seat.

Marshall Ellis Theatre 1300 La Quinta Dr #3, Orlando, FL 32809 

Remaining show times are:
Saturday January 21, 2017 from 7pm  to 8:30pm 
Sunday January 22, 2017 from 2pm to 3:30pm