Thursday, September 12, 2013

Alfond Contemporary Art Collection

On August 19th the new Alfond Inn, a Preferred Boutique Hotel, opened in Winter Park (300 E. New England Ave., Winter Park FL).  Owned by Rollins College, a private coeducational liberal arts college in Winter Park, The was built with a $12.5-million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation.  Net operating income from the Inn will be directed to The Alfond Scholars program fund, the College's premier scholarship fund, for the next 25 years or until the endowment principal reaches $50 million, whichever comes later. The 112-room boutique hotel features Hamilton's Kitchen restaurant, a pool and fitness center, and 10,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. The Alfond Inn is poised to become the new hub of dynamic Winter Park, which The New York Times recently called "a sophisticated alternative to Disney."

Baker Barrios Architects of Orlando were responsible for the Inn's architecture, interior design and landscape architecture. Built in the Spanish Mediterranean revival style, The Alfond Inn echoes the classic look of Rollins College and of Winter Park homes designed by noted 20th century architect James Gamble Rogers II. The use of arches, columns, decorative wrought iron, overhanging trellises covered with flowering vegetation and formal courtyards are the essence of the elegant Winter Park design vernacular. Throughout the hotel are artworks from The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art for Rollins College, established by longtime donors and alumni Barbara and Ted Alfond.

Since Orlando has very few museums or galleries, I went to the hotel with the express intent to view the art collection. It is an eclectic collection of modern representational and abstract work.  One piece, by Vik Muniz, was mounted behind glass and was based on "Absinth Drinker" by Edgar Degas. It was created using thousands of images torn from magazines. Had it been the original painting, I would have been impressed. On the opposite wall, "Color Coordinated Currency", by Michael E. Jone, consisted of a series of images of bills that were the same color framed together.  I asked at the front desk if there was a brochure that showed where each of the pieces from the collection were located. I was told that a brochure was in the works. I'm not sure how much of the art collection I saw.

The new waitress joked with the good old boys seated at the center table. One of them enlightened her on how grits should be prepared. Guests wandered by periodically and several admitted they were lost. I must admit this is a gorgeous hotel. Although there was an introductory "Welcome Rate" at the Inn that started at $99 per night, based on double occupancy, you will likely be charged over $189. I asked about the "Welcome Rate" at the front desk and no one knew anything about it.

Analog Artist Digital World

Monday, August 26, 2013

Differing Views

On June 22nd, I went to the opening reception for "Differing Views" at the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida (946 N Mills Ave, Orlando, Florida 32803). This was a  group art show featuring: Parker Sketch, Jon Glassman Gardner, Patty Sheehan  and Karen Cate.

When I arrived, a little early, John Glassman Gardner was still hanging pieces. He had these wonderful one inch square  pieces of glass with vibrant patterns that looked like aerial views of river valley topography. He told me that the pattern had been discovered by accident when 2 pieces of glass had been pushed together with a small drop of paint between them. Like a microscope slide, the paint spread. When pealed apart, this organic pattern would appear. John then glues magnets on the back. He was placing dozens of them on a metal support column. He gave me one of these pieces and it is proudly displayed in my home. It isn't signed unfortunately so someday I hope to catch him to sign it.

Commissioner Patty Sheehan had a show the previous week at the Peacock Room. She had sold 75% of all the pieces there. She therefor had to do more than a dozen paintings in a weeks time to have something for this show. All her paintings were of black cats with wide eyes and a Cheshire grin. She called them "Bad Kittys" and they sell like hot cakes. She gave me a button with one of these kitty's on it and a pink equal sign. Of course this was "Equality Kitty".

Parker's Sketch's work is ubiquitous to the Orlando art scene. His pieces use pop commercial imagery portrayed with bold brush work and a liberal display of spattering. The boldest piece was of a faded American flag. He was voted the Best Arts Advocate in this years Orlando Weekly. Karen Cate only had a few pieces in the show.  I had never seen her work before.

Analog Artist Digital World

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Brendan O'Connor, sent me a Facebook message, "Thomas I'll be headed out to the Hope Community Center in Apopka (1016 N Park Ave Apopka, FL) on Thursday around 11:30 to work on the mosaic-mural for the afternoon. You're more than welcome to join!"

Brendan is a project manager for Art Reach Orlando whose mission is to support art projects that foster creativity and hope, develop self-esteem, and offer children a platform to reflect, re-vision, and rejoice. By fostering creativity they are encouraging and empowering children to imagine the positive changes they wish to see in their own lives, their communities, and the world.

The Hope Community Center is a service and learning community dedicated to the empowerment of the Central Florida’s immigrant and working poor communities through Education, Advocacy and Spiritual Growth. Janis Neunez is the artist who designed the mosaic mural that will surround the back entryway to the center. The story of the area's migrant workers will be told through through the placement of tiles and objects donated by migrant worker families and through interactive computer chips placed in the mosaic. By activating the chips with your smart phone, you can see images and hear the stories of the men, women, and children who made the Tree of Life mosaic at the center and make up the real life mosaic of our Central Florida community.

Brendan had to work from the top of the ladder using acid to clean an area. I was nervous that someone might open the door fast and send him tumbling. A dear friend Melissa Kasper recently fell off a ladder breaking her nose, so the possibility was fresh on my mind.  I'm glad to report that no artists were hurt during the creation of this sketch.

Analog Artist Digital World

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Florida Overtures, Undertones and Subplots

On July 18th, I went to the opening of "Florida Overtures, Undertones and Sub Plots" at Gallery at Avalon Island ( 39 South Magnolia Avenue, Orlando FL). The opening featured live music from Chris Aycrigg’s group , all nestled inside an Orlando architectural gem, the Rogers Building.

The Florida Overtures, Undertones and Subplots show was a multimedia collection that examined the state’s intricacies and idiosyncrasies through the eyes of 13 artists.The artists included, Gary Monroe, Carmon Colangelo, Therman Statom, Matt Roberts, Brian Phillips, Tamara Cedre, Phillip Estlund, and Jay Flynn. I was intrigued by the black and white photos of Gary Monroe of hasidic Jews in Miami beach. In the front window Phillip Estlund had large sheets of plastic or glass had prints on them and the sheets were bent or melting giving a warped surreal effect.

As I sketched the musicians, one of their wives entered with her daughter.  Her daughter was intrigued. She stood beside me watching as I splashed color onto the sketch of her dad. Once the sketch was done, I treated myself to some nuts which were on the table. As I left, Carl Knickerbocker was just arriving. He told me that one of the artists inside, Gary Monroe, wrote "Extraordinary Interpretations: Florida's Self Taught Artists", published in 2003. Of course this book showcased, Carl's Suburban Primitive work.

I also went over to City Arts Factory which was insanely crowed. The Re Define Gallery had toy Marquette's which were decorated by different artists. I'm pretty sure I recognized a toy by WoolfrichToni Taylor had several of her magnificent futuristic oil paintings on display. I told her that I wished I could take the time to create more refined pieces like hers. She said I should just keep doing what I'm doing. I didn't explore any other galleries. I decided I needed to get home.

Analog Artist Digital World

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Imprint Show

June's Imprint Show at The Gallery at Avalon Island ( 39 S. Magnolia Avenue, Orlando, Florida) featured all women artists. On June 29th the artists talked about their process. The first artist to speak was  Emilie Finney. Her work featured large sheets of drywall with words cut into it. I was sitting in the bay window and when she started talking I realized I was sort of sitting in the midst of her piece. l considered moving but I was well into the sketch at that point.

Emily likes to get to the heart of the matter. She loves reading and writing and she grew up in a bilingual household. She is concerned that literacy is on the decline. A linguist said that it is possible to learn any language if you just memorize the 250 most used words. She began to wonder what the 250 most used words are in English. Around the same time she was reading George Orwell's "1984" where the elimination of language resulted in the elimination of creativity and expression. She carved sayings from "1984" into drywall. She began to wonder, "What defines America?" Is it the Declaration of Independence? The "I have a Dream"speech? The Star Spangled Banner song? What would these look like if they were only written with 250 words? Emily discovered drywall because her uncle was using it. With a single swipe of his blade he could cleanly crack the drywall in two, she was hooked.

I sketched Lesley Silvia as she spoke about her Sherenschitten, or black paper cutouts. She considers herself a recovering photographer. She did some very experimental and creative photography but there are so many photographers which made it hard to be seen. She started with cutting paper because it is part of her European heritage. She discovered that she loved the process. Many of her pieces were based on European Folktales but they are also deeply personal. She brought along a loose leaf binder where she keeps all of her developmental thumbnail sketched and research. I looked through it after her talk and was astounded at the level of organization and how many ideas were taking form and being developed. Every step in the process was preserved. It reminded me of the notebooks that Edward Hopper kept to document his paintings. It was exciting to see her process so clearly preserved. I have so much yet to learn.

- Analog Artist Digital World

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Thornton 2nd Thursday Wine and Art Walk

On the 2nd Thursday of every month, Washington Street just two blocks East of Lake Eola burst alive with color for the Thornton 2nd Thursday Wine Walk. $10 cash gets you a wine glass and a map of all the locations where you will be greeted with a complimentary pour of wine. Glass pick up is at Mother Falcon (819 E. Washington Street). The walk proceeds go to the Thornton Park District Non-Profit, in addition to many Thornton Park restaurants and bars, artist vendors are set-up throughout Thornton Park.

When I arrived in June, artists were just getting settled in their sidewalk spots. Electricity was available for when it got dark. I liked this wall of abstract art that artist Nick Seyler had set up next to Dexter's Restaurant.  His tiki totems added a bit of tropical flair. The second tier of paintings was set up on tripods on a table. Several bursts of wind from looming storm clouds toppled paintings over, but there were pedestrians who caught the work and helped him lean it back again.

Dresden Kincaid of Earth Culture had her intricate handmade jewelry set up on a table. Her pieces are "natural expressions of art and positivity." She uses natural minerals and gem stones woven together by thin wire to create intricate jewelry. I liked that she spent much of her time focused on creating a piece. There were always women stopped at her table trying things on. Dresden showed Nick some of the crystals she had with her. They were stored in tiny one inch clear plastic boxes. I used to collect minerals and I have a bunch of those boxes full of crystals above my desk. Intrigued, I walked over. Nick was holding a cluster of clear quartz crystals with cubes of pyrite or "fools gold." It wasn't for sale. She handed me one of her rings and it really was amazing how she used thin wire to weave together various natural stones.

Clouds and a bit of thunder had artist nervous that it might rain. I sketched faster. Nick said to Dresden,that "You will have to duck under your table if it starts raining." She replied, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if a rainbow appeared." Fifteen minutes later a huge rainbow arched to the East over Washington Street. I've never before met someone who could predict a rainbow. As I was adding color to Nick's paintings on my sketch, the sun burst through the tree leaves above his work mimicking the bright colors in his work. The whole sky to the west turned yellow then orange.

Jason L. Lee and Brad Biggs, the Arts Hub founders both stopped by to say hello. Brad had exciting news about some future Arts Hub shows and Jason showed me a ring that Dresden had created for him. As dusk settled in, my sketch was done. I walked West and spoke to several artists. This Wine Walk used to be held on Third Thursday but it conflicted with all the people viewing gallery openings downtown. Melissa Felcman of Mother Falcon moved it to the 2nd Thursday of each month and now The Arts Hub Florida organizes all the artists. When the street lights came on and the artists turned on spot lights to illuminate their work, the scene became a magical nocturne with art glowing warm as the evening cooled. I think I need to return to try and catch that light.

If you want a relaxing event on Thursday July 11th, then mark your calendar and head to Thornton Park to sip and stroll. The Thornton Park Parking Garage has entrances on North Eola Drive and East Washington Street. Street parking is available if you patiently look for it.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

John Wilton “Floral” at Arts on Douglas

John Wilton

April 6 - 27, 2013

Arts on Douglas Fine Art and Collectibles
123 Douglas Street
New Smyrna Beach, Florida 32168

John Wilton paints because he loves it. He doesn’t paint for approval, or acceptance. Simply put, he paints what he likes. Influenced by the American Pop artists, Wilton finds uncanny beauty in things that many of us take for granted on a daily basis. His inspiration is derived from Florida itself...the epic clouds bouncing in impossibly blue skies, the color and vibrancy of our tropical climate, the miles of beach and the fun it offers, the iconic palm trees...these common images of life in Florida are escalated to new proportions, and when interpreted through Wilton’s playful mind and expert hand, become somehow bigger than life yet brimming with it.

“Floral,” a body of new work by John Wilton, is like a ride in a convertible with the top down. An extravagant display of tropical flowers, it is visually exciting and viscerally inspiring. Big flowers. Brilliant colors. Standing in the center of the gallery, surrounded by the magnificent color, it is easy to understand John’s fascination with tropical flora. You are welcome to enjoy the ride with “Floral”, at Arts on Douglas, New Smyrna Beach, April 6-27, 2013.

In Wilton’s earlier works, flowers were often incorporated into motifs and background images. But in “Floral”, his buds are in full bloom - the stars of these large format works, some of which are painted directly on polymer board, some painted on paper applied to the polymer board, creating a translucent watercolor effect. His iconic digitally manipulated prints that span as much as eight feet share center stage with the hand-painted works.

At first blush, you might wonder how can nature be so incredibly, outrageously gorgeous - but look a little closer and you’ll see John’s playful side. Are those bug bites on the leaves? Are those ants cruising across that orchid? Then you’ll smile and enjoy this access into the world of John Wilton.

To say that John Wilton painted flowers is like saying Lewis Carroll gave Alice a bunny! There is nothing average about these flowers. In fact, I think you’ll really enjoy this little tumble down the rabbit hole. “Floral” runs through April 27, 2013 at Arts on Douglas, 386-428-1133. There is an Artist Talk on Friday, April 19 at 11:00 am. Admission is free to the gallery and the Artist Talk.

by Fern Matthews
Fern Mathews is a mixed media artist recognized for her textural work and use of color. Matthews’ work is included in both public and private art collections throughout the country and The Caribbean, and shows in New York and New Orleans.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Vessels, Myths & Muses at Jai Gallery - by M.W.Kimmel

March's third thursday art stroll event in downtown Orlando was especially entertaining this month.  My particular favorite stop was Jai Gallery located in the Exchange Building on Garland Avenue.  Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon, director of Jai, put together Vessels, an impressive solo exhibit of work by Barbara Sorensen.  Monumental sculptures, pedestal pieces and wall works of clay were assembled to showcase her talents.  She describes her work this way, "I build in layers, stacking and joining the clay as I move upward to create layers of antiquity, layers of time, and layers of myself. Petrified ghosts and seas of ancient years are recorded as the process drapes the landscape. I let the sculpture lead me where it should go."

The art and curiosity was too much for Pandora.
Photo (c) Jeffrey Hoffman.
Those layers of antiquity and seas of ancient years also lead Coralie and Josh Garrick to be inspired by the collection.  They saw in them a chance to incorporate Sorensen's clay and metal sculptures into a retelling of one of histories most well known adventures in Homer's The Iliad and the Odyssey.  Like wily Odysseus, Garrick deftly navigated through the islands of geologic textured totems in the sea of the gallery floor and braved the trials of narrating the Homeric legends amidst the not so dangerous onlookers and art lovers all the while accompanied by the muses, sirens and goddesses from DiDonna Productions and Empty Spaces Theatre Co.

Experience a voyage through the showcase of sculpture on an odyssey of various Greek myths yourself this coming Saturday, April 6th at Jai Gallery, 101 S. Garland Ave, Suite 101, Orlando, Florida.  Josh will be narrating a family friendly performance of Myths and Muses at 1:00 pm.  Barbara Sorensen's pieces will be on display throughout the month.

Julio Sanchez at the “Walk Through Gallery” review by Herb Pleiman Jr.

On a recent, beautiful spring day I gathered a number of my more aesthetically inclined friends.  I invited them on a walk to the downtown Church Street Station area of Orlando, to view an exhibit of works by the artist, Julio Sanchez at the “Walk Through Gallery.”

I love observing people's reactions to art; and am always fascinated to hear what they have to say.

When seeing Julio's work, the extroverts among my friends, expressed their opinions without restraint.  My more reflective and introverted friends, required some drawing out.  I quietly watched their examing stares, and afterward, with some sincere questioning, got them to share their honest thoughts and reactions.

I was pleased in that they were curious, engaged, and thoroughly drawn into the creative world of Julio Sanchez; taking time to study and comment on various little details that caught their eye.  For several of the works, the reaction was strong and immediate.

Encountering Julio Sanchez' work is like suddenly turning a corner and stepping into the plaza of a boisterous, tropical bazaar.  Vibrant colors jump out at you; unexpected figures appear, and everywhere, new faces emerge from a visual maze of abstract forms.

The immediate impact of the work, “Marks of Hope” upon me, was akin to my reaction when seeing Edvard Munch's “The Scream” for the very first time.  And remarkably, it drew the very same responses from one of my most discerning friends, who likewise compared it to that powerful piece by Munch. 

“Marks of Hope” is a standing complex figure against a green background; and is surrounded by words of great import for the artist.  But it is the immediate and visceral response to the figure that makes this such a stunning piece.

Mr. Sanchez love of music is communicated time and again, in the motif of a guitar.  It plays prominently in his blue-toned work, “Music for the city ” since it captures the soothing and beautiful nature of that instrument, and even more, the tones of blue, embody the spirit of life in a city.

These particular pieces by Mr. Sanchez, are not the pastoral, quiet images of some idyllic rural countryside.  These works are those of a person, grabbing the very pulse of life, the blood, the red marrow, and thrusting it onto a canvas.  It is that sort of spontaneous desire to capture an intense immediate impression and vision; to freeze it raw and live, before it ever has a chance to fade or escape, that make Julio Sanchez' work so remarkable.

It is easy to see how this artist was inspired by kindred spirits, like Picasso and Basquiat, because those painters too, intuited the power and vitality of the primitive image and form.

Sanchez' works embody the warm blooded spirit of a man, born in Puerto Rico and growing up in the vibrant Dominican Republic.  It is no surprise Sanchez identifies with his link to Taino heritage, the indigenous Indians of that region, that he should so completely intuit the power and imagery of an early culture.  We see this understanding in his recurring motif's of the hand and the face, two of the most expressive and communicative aspects of the human body.

It is perhaps, the somewhat tragic fate of the Tainos people which is best captured in a more complex and detailed work, “I was born Artist I.”  

I for one, could not help but be drawn into that piece since it hinted of some far deeper understanding of a culture long ago crushed and lost.

What I look forward to seeing in his future works, is where Mr. Sanchez takes his current interest in mixed media forms.  Are we about to witness a more sculptural turn and treatment of his artistic creations?  If so, that could prove quite exciting.

This is not the sort of artist, to be overlooked and ignored.  Nor is this the sort of man, one would ever find settling in, to some comfortable and repetitive style.  It is the work of an explorer and adventurer.  It is a person you expect to surprise you, and challenge you.  Above all, Mr. Sanchez does not care what you think of his art, but instead listens only to the voice of his inner Muse.  He paints directly from his heart, and he most certainly paints with passion.

Herbert Pleiman Jr. is an artist, sculptor, writer and dentist currently residing in Orlando, FL.  He signs his own abstract works under the pseudonym, CHEN.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

“He, She, We” the solo and collaborative works of Brenda Heim and Doug Hays Lake Eustis Museum of Art

What happens when you mix a calligrapher with a blacksmith? Well, when the sparks settle down, you have a show that is simultaneously spiritual, stimulating and stunning. “He, She, We,” featuring the solo and collaborative work of Doug Hays and Brenda Heim, is at the Lake Eustis Museum of Art from March 8 through April 28, 2013.  

Hays, a sculptor, began his career as a skilled craftsman and emerged as a sensitive metal artist who pushes his medium, making steel seem as if it flows on the wisps of wind.  His respect for his medium is evident.  He explains that metal is tortured from its original state to be slick and shiny, then rusts and drips downward, seeking its return to the earth. He manages to put lightness and humor into the steel, all the while creating a tension between the material and its message. 

Working with fire and its transformative power is what initially drew Hays to the medium.  His large scale works can be seen throughout Florida, but here, outdoors at the museum, they are more personal and accessible. 

Indoors, Hays has presented the equine form in a totally new light. Horses, riddled with negative space and with manes flowing in their imagined gallop, pique the imagination and spirit.

Heim, an abstract expressionist painter for more than twenty years, was encouraged to step beyond her small calligraphic pieces and go big. She approached the large white field and let the movement pour through her entire body, embracing the active, motion painting that has become her artistic signature.

Her work, richly based in the Asian sensibility, is large scale and free, combining  classical materials with an avant-garde sense of adventure. The works seem to emanate from a place deep within her, as though they call to her for a visual voice. 

There is a decidedly spiritual Zen quality to her work. Using broad brush strokes with sumi ink and acrylics, the enso form is present in much her work. The enso, or circle, is considered  an expression of the moment ... when the mind is empty and free to simply let the body/spirit create. Heim paints in the moment which seems to serenade her with a song that only she can hear, but one that enjoys a visceral presence through her hand. When she approaches a canvas she does so with an open mind and the inspiration, which she says sometimes is a great growl,  sometimes louder than others, rises within and through her, pulling her to the canvas.
Spirituality imbues the solo works of both these artists, but, it is their collaborative work that drives each to a new level. Together, Heim and Hays have created a body of work that is simultaneously divergent and connected. There is a tension in the juxtaposition of their respective medium, yet there is undeniable harmony. Heim’s enso form, loose and free, gets new energy in steel under Hays’ talented hand. One has to wonder how something so delicate can be so powerful. But, that is the magic of their collaborative work. 

Their collaboration extends beyond their studio work as they invite viewers into the process of creating art for public places. Collaboration under their artistic eyes took them to the classroom, where they worked with fourth grade students, their teacher, and other professionals in creating from concept to completion, a sculpture that will have a permanent home at the Lake Eustis Museum of Art. This project was generously sponsored by Quammen Healthcare Consultants and First Green Bank.

It has been said that art does not exist without the viewer. If that is the case, then give life to these works by seeing them at Lake Eustis Museum of Art. 

“He, She, We” runs through April 28, 2013 at the Lake Eustis Museum of Art. Located at 1 West orange Avenue, Eustis, Florida. Lake Eustis Museum of Art (LEMA), is beautifully situated overlooking Lake Eustis, adjacent to Ferran Park. Admission is suggested $5.00 donation. For information, please call 352-483-2900

by Fern Matthews
Fern Mathews is a mixed media artist recognized for her textural work and use of color. Matthews’ work is included in both public and private art collections throughout the country and The Caribbean, and shows in New York and New Orleans.

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