Art, Music, Theater - and an Elephant (or Two)

by Josh Garrick / Jul 22, 2009 / 0 comments

August Happenings in Central Florida, by Josh Garrick


 Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players

Their name alone makes me want to see (and hear) them, but more importantly, this “children’s entertainment group presents the kind of intelligent music that keeps kids and parents coming back for more. Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players feature a mix of musical styles – from rockabilly and folk to whimsical rock and punk – in performances that get you “On your feet fun and laugh out loud funny,” according to People magazine.  The much-anticipated concerts, scheduled for Sunday, July 26 at 2 pm and 4 pm are the closing performances of the Orlando Repertory Theatre’s Target Family Theatre Festival.  Roberts has been featured on NBC’s Today show, and his CD “Pop Fly” was selected as one of the top children’s music releases of 2008 by USA Today and  Now all of us (the music appeals to all ages) get to join Justin Roberts as he celebrates the success of his newest CDs, all of which have won national awards and critical acclaim.  
The two concerts will take place on July 26 at 2 pm and 4 pm at the Orlando Repertory Theater, 1001 E. Princeton Street in Orlando. Tickets are $12 and $6.  Call 407-896-7365, x227.

 The ORIGINAL Art Party

    It seems that Central Florida now has art openings on every day of the week that ends in “day,” but the ORIGINAL Art Party in Central Florida was created by the Orlando Museum of Art to celebrate 1st Thursdays.  This monthly event has literally won awards for expanding OMA membership while encouraging the appreciation of the visual arts.  From 6 pm to 9 pm on the first Thursday of each month, the OMA showcases a new theme with works by local artists, live music, a cash bar and “offerings” from area restaurants.
August 6 is the First Thursday of August and the theme will be “Found.”  Found art is what it sounds like – art created from found objects.  The challenge is to make (collectible junk) into ART.  One of the best of the artists who work in this vein, Martha Lent creates mixed media works that bring together architectural pieces, discarded furniture, and bits of scrap metal as the materials for her whimsical – yet fascinating –  sculptures. Influenced as she is by the constructivist movement of the mid-30's, Martha will be joined by artists Dan Colonna, Julie Kessler, and Rafael Picon, who are up to the task of creating ART with “found” objects.  Attending this event is the perfect way to view some new art while supporting our best local artists AND our art museum.
Admission to 1st Thursdays is free for OMA members and $10 for non-members. Parking is free. For information call 407 896 4231 x260.

UCF ‘Artists’ Exposed    

On the subject of supporting local artists, the University of Central Florida has come up with a clever way to “exhibit” the work of their many talented employees who are also visual artists (at night and on weekends) who create artwork for themselves and their families.  These “undiscovered” UCF employee/artists will display their work in an exhibit at the UCF Library from August 3 through the 30th.
A few years ago, Judy Bragg Pardo (who works at UCF) realized there are many talented UCF employees who work their day job at UCF and create art that not even their co-workers know about.  She decided to gather these artist/employees and co-ordinate an exhibition in the UCF Library. In 2008, she made the first such exhibit a reality; this will be the second (annual) exhibit for the group.
The Artists include Amy Kleeman, Russ Muller, Fiona Murphy, Judy Bragg Pardo, Brian Pate, and Jimmy Watson (Student Development and Enrollment Services); Dawn Herrod, Diane Reitz and Tina Tran (Marketing, Communications, & Admissions); Skip West (Facilities and Safety); and Allison House (College of Engineering  & Computer Science).  In addition, the group has invited Tony Cervone, a UCF retiree and former faculty-member, to show his work in the exhibition.
The exhibit, including a variety of styles and mediums, is again coordinated by Judy Bragg Pardo.  An opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, August 6 from 4 pm to 6 pm at the UCF Library, Room 223 on the Orlando campus.  For information, call 407 435 1585 or e-mail judyart23[at]


Brian Pate, At Peace

At Peace, by Brian Pate


Brian Pate says of his work, "At Peace is an example of digital manipulation but also represents a collaboration between myself and my friend, Dwayne Gill. Working from his original photograph of a cemetery angel, I used Adobe Photoshop to manipulate his image into a new piece. It demonstrates one of several techniques I use to blur the lines between photography and fine art.” Photo courtesy of Brian Pate


You CAN Go Home Again

The hard-working team who run the Plaza Theatre may call the theater “Orlando’s best kept secret,” but the historic Plaza Theatre is fast becoming one of our favorite venues for live music concerts.  Everyone is close to the stage in this welcoming theater, which is finding its niche presenting historic bands and cover bands that are both fun and entertaining.  
On Sunday, August 2nd, they will feature Poco & the Pure Prairie League.  The “history” of the Pure Prairie League goes back to 1969 in Ohio to a bar-band who chose their name from a woman's temperance union known for attempting to ‘clean up’ towns in Kansas. RCA signed them after seeing them play in Cleveland and released their first album in 1971.
In 1972, PPL's second album, Bustin' Out was finished, but some band members received Uncle Sams's summons (the draft) so it wasn’t till 1975 that the band recorded Two Lane Highway. While they were in the studio, RCA released "Amie" as a single. That song is a classic, and is still played (often) today. An audition brought in a young man named Vince Gill leading to their biggest success with Firin' Up's first single "Let Me Love You Tonight.”  
Today they are reunited, touring and enjoying every minute of it. They say, "We may have improved on the fidelity, but when we do a song off one of our records, we do it just like it was recorded” … a testament to the timelessness of their music. After all these years their sound is what Country Radio is about. Good music is good music no matter when it's made or played.  

An Encounter with an Elephant (or Two)

    Our Central Florida Zoo (just off Interstate 4 outside of Sanford) has been ultra-busy lately making the zoo more “user friendly” … especially for families.  In a recent visit I was treated to an up-close-encounter with two elephants, longed for a run through the new “Splash Zone,” and played Tarzan on the new ZOOmAir zipline adventure. Yes, it was a full day.  
    The Elephant Encounter allowed me to feed the zoo’s elephants while allowing me to touch the elephant’s trunks, ears, and even their tongue. Trust me, they all feel different than you assume.  And while the water certainly looked inviting on a hot July day, the waters of the new Splash Zone are for the kids while Moms and Dads are happily seated in the rows of brightly colored Florida chairs nearby.  
    The most exciting new addition is the ZOOmAir Adventure open daily UP IN THE TREES around the zoo.  ZOOm Air is an aerial ‘adventure’ that has you strapped into a harness so you can explore the tree tops from Tarzan’s perspective.  Athletic footwear is required as are muscles you never knew you had.  I made it through the first two of the three tree-top courses. If you’re truly adventurous, you’ll want to do them all – it’s an adrenaline rush. There is also a ‘Kid’s Jungle Course’ with over 30 kid's games to challenge the young ones.  Call 407.323.4450 for information.
    And since zoos are about education, they have scheduled August 15th as ‘Home School Day’ at the ZOO.  The day is free, and will kickoff registration for the Zoo’s 2009-2010 Homeschool classes. Renowned Science Content Specialist, Daniel H. Franck, Ph.D. will present two talks; “From Your Brain to K12 Courses and Back Again” and “K12 Science, Bringing Einstein’s Words Alive”. The event is free, but reservations are required.  Call 407-323-4450 x 123 or check   



Josh Garrick is the Florida Arts Editor for Wandering Educators