Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Travolta in Ocala

The big news this week here in little 'ol Ocala is John Travolta hosting a dinner and premier opening to his new movie "Wild Hogs" It's the hottest ticket in town.

Only two hundred tickets are being sold by invitation only to arts supporters at $200 a pop. The proceeds are being split between disaster relief for the recent tornado victims and the renovation of the downtown Marion Theater. It will also support the Ocala Film Commission which Travolta supports with efforts to lure film makers to our beautiful area for location. Travolta lives here just north of Ocala at Jumbolair Aviation Estates in Anthony, only about 1/2 mile away from moi's studio on the other side of the tracks, er, road. We hear him fly his jets in and out frequently. From roadside we can actually see the red "V" on the tail of one of his jets .

My mission this week has been to find someone who's attending the soire - who knows and likes me - that I can impose upon to give Travolta my business card. That's all - just put the card in the palm of his hand. Or Kelly's if she's with him. Oh, I've been making calls all day. Part of the new shameless self-promoting me! It's all marketing, marketing, marketing on both our parts. Stay tuned...

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Misty Morning Hounds

For the last couple of years I've been invited by some of the members of Misty Morning Hounds to attend one of their hunts to photograph. Having a painting included in the "Masters of Foxhounds Association of America" traveling art exhibit encouraged me to finally contact this Gainesville based organization. I asked my fellow equine artist friend, Moe Hahn, to come with. The weather was perfect, the members were so friendly and accomodating and we simple has a blast in the "tally ho wagon" snapping pics all morning.

Don't you love this classic Florida winter landscape with the cypress tree and moss-laden trees in the background?

This is a drag hunt club. It was explained to me how meticulously the "drag" is planned to mimic an actually hunt. However, no animals are harmed in the hunt. Alexis L. Macaulay, Jt. MFH is the "Mistress of Hounds".

There were three "kills" this morning. The hounds follow the scent trail to a "kill" of biscuits and scraps of meat.

After the final "kill". All are looking tired yet very happy.

Moe and I both loved this horse. He's half Percheron, thus the size and color and half Fresian with the classy movement and attitude.

The easy hack home. Many thanks to everyone at Misty Morning for their gracious hospitality. Oh, and the brunch and flowing libations were appreciated as well!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Still Chugging Along

I insisted that Michael take complete rest all weekend to regain his health from the flu. To do this I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. If I stayed home and worked in the studio, he would work too. So, I choose to go out and tackle a dreaded task - shopping!

Now I enjoy grocery shopping but I dread clothes shopping. I'm a jeans and t-shirt artist and very comfortable and happy this way. However, as business is really picking up steam, Michael isn't always available for "meetings" which means I have to class up my act and appear sharp and prosperous to potential clients. So, as I consider shopping a total waste of time, I invented some rules to help me get through it. Now mind you, I don't even know what my style is outside of the aforementioned jeans and t-shirts. Therefore, I promised myself to look for something expressive of my personality (ha!), never look at the price tag, to just try it on and if I like the fit and the look, it's a sale. Shockingly, I did very well with these prerequisites. I actually purchased three funky blouses and an equally outrageous t-shirt with - dare I say - bling!

Tomorrow night will be the third meeting of the artist salon. I've asked everyone to bring a list of artistic and business goals including a "breakthrough goal" which should be huge and life changing. These meetings charge everyone with enthusiasm and I'm wondering if every other week is enough - do we maintain the momentum of fervor and passion for two weeks? To be discussed...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Chuggin' Along

Okay, I'm neglecting the blog again. The OBS Day at the Races was Monday and the Select Two Year Old Sale was Tuesday. The rest of the week has been fraught with "meetings." These meetings comprised of sales and potential sales and inquiries into a new line for small end merchandising. So it's not like I've been loafing. I spent today watering and covering plants in preparation for our 24 degree weather tonight. My lemon tree is in full bloom - not good for these temperatures. Oh, and my dear partner/business manager is down with the flu and I had to insist that he stay in bed for the weekend as we have a ton of work to produce next week - so get better!

Back to the OBS sale. It went very well according to all the numbers and statistics. One caveat - I went over to chat with the lady who dispenses the catalogs and she told me they ran out by 12:30 and people were not polite about it. Can't blame them. How can you do business without a catalog? I arrived early, about 10 am (the sale didn't start until noon) and I was surprised at the people who were asking where they could get a catalog, which can only mean there were a lot of first timers. Hmm. Sorry for no photos, the batteries to my camera were dead.

Sold some giclees to Ocala Jai Alai. Their official opening was today after closing to re-model. The place looks great and so do my giclees on the wall of the Horseman's Lounge! They were stressed about not being completely finished but I told them neither is Gulfstream Park and the place is happily packed.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Gulfstream Park in the New Millenium

Spent a fabulous weekend in Fort Lauderdale with my sweetie staying at the cottage of my best and dearest friend Lynn. She and I attended art school together a hundred years ago and she has made WAY good. Cruised around in her Mercedes convertible with my hair whipping in the warm sunshine. Lynn's company is Swarm Interactive which produces animations for the Discovery Channel and other huge clients but their primary business is creating medical animations which they market to surgical specialists. $$$. Can you smell it?

I wanted to see the new Gulfstream Park and I have one word for it - spectacular. It reminded me a lot of Del Mar with a mission style architecture sans history but it was awesome nonetheless. Everything is first class and impressive. Chandeliers abound. Sections are still under construction however the potential is evident.

We're standing on the second floor looking down over the outside paddock. The horse people have the option of saddling in secluded stalls just inside this gorgeous space or bringing the show out here. This is where the jocks get thrown up regardless.

Here's a wider view. Check out the architecture. It wraps the paddock in a huge half circle. Adequate seating thoughtfully lines the enclosure for public viewing. No more jostling for a better look (except on big race days).

Of course, the big draw at Gulfstream is the Casino-style slots which were voted in a couple of years back.

The slots no longer ding ding ding but rather possess a surreal hum with tonal variations. I disliked this aspect of the facility yet lovingly, romantically adored the racing experience. I know I'm set in my ways and not the brightest bulb in the room but I could not figure these puppies out. Consider the power of this row upon row of humming automatons supporting the visually beautiful and exciting sport of horse racing. When we walked out of the casino I was greeting by screaming fans rooting their horses home in front of a plasma TV. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


We conducted the second meeting of the artist's "salon" on Monday evening. I'll tell you, I can't shut off my mind a' whirling with nonstop ideas. So much possibility!

I read on the Art News Blog about an artist, Michel Leah Keck, who is another artist making a killing on e-Bay. Mastering e-Bay is one of my goals listed early last month and so far eludes me (i.e. makes me nuts). I'm not sure of the authenticity of these reports - how much is true and what's hype. I've been following the blog of Duane Keiser, one of the "Painting a Day" artists, however this one had the great fortune of being written up in USA Today. When I visit his link to his latest offering on e-Bay and view the bid history, it always looks like bidders are bidding against themselves (friends? family? very suspect). I just noticed that the bids no longer list the screen names but are now represented by bidder #1, bidder #2, and so on. If this is the real deal, how do we as artists create the buzz, the frenzy to drive bidders to our irresistible offerings? What the hell am I missing here?

Back to
Michel Leah Keck. I just put her name in a search on e-Bay and came up empty. Oh well. I do commend her for a unique way of branding herself - The Raw Artist. She has trademarked this title and it's very hip, very edgy. Oh, did I mention she's also a wonderful abstract artist? Branding, marketing and sales are the important current conversations in our salon.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Star Banner Story

The story about Michael's curatorial debut at the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association was published in the Sunday newspaper in the "Arts & Travel" section rather than in the "Go" section of last Thursday as thought. It was an informative and well written article. That's moi standing in front of my painting "No Blinkers". The photographer took about 800 photos and decided to use this one. Not so flattering and a great shot of the back of Rene's head. I spent the day recreating the goofy expression on my face. Good thing I've got a sense of humor. Michael the agent says any publicity is good publicity.

Today I visit the chiropractor. The pain in my lower back is worsening and I can't tell if it's my hip or the sacroiliac. It refers down to my right ankle and foot with more pain and tingling. The weird thing is I can stand and paint at my canvases for hours pain-free. Now there's a blessing. As soon as I sit I get very uncomfortable quickly. Sleeping poorly too. We've got a very busy month ahead and I choose to be healthy. Tonight the "artist salon" I organized meets for the second time.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Stormin' Florida

Thanks to those of you who've called with concern about our welfare in the aftermath of the devastating storm. Ocala was spared for the most part. The wind howled all night and I slept restlessly. Some water seeped in through my studio doors and ruined a few stretcher bars. If that's all the damage we sustained, we are most blessed. We need the rain, but not all in one night. However, we still have a home with a roof attached and I am grateful. Prayerful thoughts to those that didn't fare so well.