Sunday, February 28, 2016

HeArt of Winter Pop-Up Show

by Jane Bumar

The Earth Angels cooperative of artists flew in like a flock of glass-glittered birds to their HeArt of Winter pop-up show at Jeanine Taylor Folk Art Gallery in Sanford this past weekend.  They escaped the cold gray north into the Florida Tourist Board weather.  Funky, artsy historic Sanford on a clear ultramarine-sky Saturday in February is not a bad gig if you can get it.

Their world is one of vintage, recycled, re-purposed items; collaged and reinterpreted from their original forms. In the artists' hands, faucet tops become necklace pendants, architectural salvage skeleton keys pair with amber chandelier drops.  Victorian-era door escutcheons are decorated with rhinestones from a long-cast off 1940-era earring dangle, then draped on a leather cord around a vintage velvet mannequin.  The more weathered, the more unloved - the better fodder to feed the creative imaginations of these mixed media artists.

They dress the part too; leather boots paired with linen skirts, statement hairpieces with feathers top worn tailcoats evoking a more fanciful age. Stacked steamer trunks form display cases of tiny hand-sculpted mice, purses with threadbare faded silk millinery flowers rescued from obscurity.  One can sense the dust motes swirling when these treasures were unearthed, and re-imagined.  It is real, but yet a bit of tinsel fantasy at the same time.  One of the women artists told me that she'd created a 'regular retail' version of her art jewelry too.  The missing crystals and rusted, chipped enamel on pendants that renders them unique - perfect to the art chick crowd - makes it 'too worn' and 'broken' for retail.  So slightly more conventional renderings, with new chain, and artificially aged (thus, still intact) glitter had to be made just to keep them from being returned to big-box fashion stores as damaged goods. Rather ironic when that's the whole point of 'the vintage look.'  At this gallery show, however, the real vintage deal is touchable and take-homeable, and the gallery clientele have the opportunity to meet the very artists who made the wares. 

I got to the gallery in the last hour or so of the show; I was graciously offered a chair and room to sketch in the swirling middle of it all.  For the next hour, I was somehow part of this pop-up moveable feast.  Part of a bit of theater depicting another age as seen through a slightly wavy glass mirror, surrounded by their carefully placed shabby chic props.  Time simultaneously slows down and races by when you're sketching. It imprints the feel, and the smell, and the spirit of where you are in the moment, until that moment fades and you're brought back into the world.  As the show wound down, the artists' tulle and top hat art-wear was replaced by workaday t-shirts and jeans - it's difficult to wear vintage organza when you're loading crates and boxes into vans and heading back that night to New York, or Virginia.  The late afternoon sun streamed in the old casement windows of the gallery, rendering a vanishing glow of light as the birds flew home.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Notes from All Over: An Evening with Bill Bryson

By Jane Bumar 

I've loved the alternately laugh-out-loud, and poignant, writing of Bill Bryson ever since I read "Notes from a Small Country" some 20-odd years ago. When I found out (completely serendipitously, and a mere few hours beforehand) that the Great Man was speaking, right here, in Orlando (well, Winter Park - but it didn't involve flying all the way to England where Mr. Bryson lives)...There was no choice but to drop any other plans for the evening (read: grocery shopping) and go.  You can appreciate the exquisite struggle involved in this. I parked in the garage on Lymon Avenue, had a pleasant five minute walk to the Warden Arena, and found a seat at the rapidly filling basketball court. Did I mention that the Great Man was speaking for the betterment of Winter Park (and Orlando's) citizenry for free? Courtesy of the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College.  I love Florida in the winter; it's the sort of place where Important Authors With Newly Released Books to Promote go to Escape Winter in more temperate climes.  Clearly Mr Bryson couldn't resist the lure of a trip to Winter Park, and left behind snowy England to hear the siren call of '70 degrees and sunny.'

Mr. Bryson walked up on the stage after a brief introduction by the college president, and started his talk by noting how this was a much bigger audience than he was used to.  "Certainly bigger than the five people who showed up at the Barnes and Noble book signing in New Jersey..." where one of the five attendees claimed to be there as they were both named "Bill Bryson" and another because she was his editor's relative. He moved on to similar bumbling anecdotes from when the film of his book "A Walk in the Woods" premiered at Sundance Film Festival. He said he felt like a celebrity because he was recognized on the street at Sundance...only to find out the person hailing him was just his son's roommate.  He's been resident in the UK for enough years to have assimilated and self-deprecating British sense of humor. Bill read excerpts from several of his books, including the latest "The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain" (copies for sale in the lobby) and then did a question and answer session, assisted by the young editor of the Rollins College paper.  The impromptu nature of the Q&A highlighted a quick, dry wit and moved the audience past the expected laughs. When asked, "Why do you write?" He answered, simply, "I've got bills to pay..." of course, it came out perfectly timed and completely charming - although he emphasized that he's a writer not a speaker, comedic timing transcends genre.

After the speech, he stayed on the stage for nearly two hours signing copies of books, taking time to speak to each fan and write individual notes upon request.  My typical lack of skill in getting into the short side of the line was evident; I noted in my sketch journal "Well, there's a hundred people ahead of me and at least 10 people behind...."  providing plenty of time to work on finishing the watercolor part of the sketch while I stood. When I finally ascended the podium, Mr. Bryson thanked me for my patience, chuckled at my note request "It's summer, it's time for mayonnaise!" commenting that he'd forgotten he's written that one (faux-British magazine article title) and we chatted for a minute about writing.  Autographed dogeared copy of book clutched firmly in hand, and riding a wave of fangirl-ness, I sailed out of the arena into the balmy Florida night.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

50,000 Mile Checkup and First Post

By Thor.

I brought my Prius in to the Toyota of Orlando Dealership for its 50,000 mile all points check up. Because of the Holidays and m procrastination, the car was quite over due based on my odometer. I like to wait at the dealership while the work is done because there are always people waiting around to draw. They chat on the is phones, conducts business or finger their phone surfing social media. A large screen TV behind me was blaring some program that claimed that they have pertinent evidence in unsolved murders. A young college girl was murder and they had audio that apparently was from the killers cell phone. She shouted the killers name and cried for help. The show host then played | audio for the devastated parents to hear so the camera co get their reaction. I didn't look. I tried to block it out.

My tires were well worn. I knew this from the last time, I had the car in for an oil change. There was a sale, buy three tires and get the fourth tire free. The damage was still over $500.  I ended up having to wait an extra hour and a half. Since I was sketching, the time flew buy. My car is probably in better shape and healthier than I am. It is time to think about getting a tune up myself. I've put in quite a few miles since I saw a doctor last.

Analog Artist Digital World