At this time of the year, many folks bemoan the commercialization of Christmas, complaining that the meaning of the season has been lost in a flurry of heated directives to buy, buy, BUY! In 2001, those naysayers have even more reason to lament: Conspicuous consumption, the party line now goes, isn't merely a holiday tradition: It's the American Way.
But even as the business sector accessorizes its Santa suit with a flag-cloak of respectability, Klaus Heesch is forging a purer bond between commerce and aesthetics. Heesch, the owner and president of a downtown design studio named Juicy Temples Creative (www.juicytemples.com), is decorating his company's premises with local art and encouraging outsiders to come take a look.
"It's not just about us getting new business," Heesch says, explaining why the studio -- a three-year-old concern that has won five awards from the American Institute of Graphic Arts -- is devoting precious wall space to the works of area artists who may or may not have professional connections to the company. Rather than furthering Juicy Temples' reputation, the idea is to expose clients, fellow design folk, ad-agency personnel and representatives of other businesses to valid original statements via a series of invitation-only "salon nights." As for the general public, well, we can drop in and see what's new at 2424 E. Robinson St. (just east of Bumby Avenue) almost anytime we please -- as long as we make an appointment first. (Book visits beginning Monday, Dec. 17; call 407-895-5015.)
Juicy Temples' first showcased artist is Martha Lent, whose paintings "bring life to things like blenders and cooking utensils," Heesch lauds. (Martha, meet Emeril.) The artistic vista at the studio will change every few months, with Lent's exhibit succeeded by the cartoon-like images of Ethan Long. The continuing goal? To spotlight "people who are kind of out there.
"We want to encourage clients to use original artworks," says Heesch, who earned a degree in design from the University of Central Florida before forming Juicy Temples. "The best way to maintain integrity is to commission original art or an original photograph." But on a higher level, he is pushing a platform of openness and cooperation within what he feels is Orlando's clique-ridden community of creative types and their followers. And then there's the personal angle to consider.
"I'm passionate about fine art," Heesch says. "`This is` a really good excuse for us to have incredible artworks on our walls for months at a time."
Hot on the heels of the announcement that the Valencia Community College film "Killing Time" has been accepted into the Sundance Film Festival `The Green Room, Dec. 6`, the school's latest feature, "The Tuskegee Project," began filming Dec. 7 at the Fantasy of Flight Air Museum in Polk City. The film will tell the true story of five African-American airmen whose service in World War II helped end the segregation of the armed forces. Sounds like a far better commemoration of the so-called Greatest Generation than last summer's "Pearl Harbor," the release of which on VHS and DVD is the subject of a horrendous marketing campaign that not-so-subtly exploits lingering outrage over the Sept. 11 attacks. The slogan that should have been used: "It took the deaths of thousands of innocent people to make this film remotely interesting!"
"Quilt" without guilt
If you're stumped for a suitable holiday outlet for your charitable impulses, remember that tickets to the Saturday, Dec. 15, performance of "Quilters" at Theatre Downtown are available as part of a $50 benefit package that includes pre- and post-show food and music. Giving to a theater is the best form of benevolence: Not only do you know where your money is going, but you can always come back and heckle it later.
Eggroll on my face
The ever-ethical OOPS Guys were a bit concerned that "Asian Sings Mo' Better Blues" -- the show the group will stage Feb. 19 through 24, 2002, at SAK Comedy Lab's second "Foolfest" -- was described in these pages as a "sequel" to their hit revue, "Asian Sings the Blues" `The Green Room, Nov. 29`. As OOPSters Fiely Matias and Dennis Giacino pointed out to me, the show is actually an encore of "Asian Sings the Blues" with a few new songs added, not a full-fledged follow-up.
Fair enough, fellas. But if you're unwilling to subscribe to the Barnum-esque fiction that the slightest revision produces an "all-new" entertainment experience, how do you ever expect to get ahead in this business? No boxed set for you!
Venue of justice
The plans taking shape for next May's edition of the Orlando International Fringe Festival include a collaborative project devised by an all-star collective of proven acting talent -- a Fringe Super Friends, if you will. In the cast are Michael Marinaccio, Laura Harn Rohner, Don Fowler and Timothy Williams -- who have honed their skills at Theatre Downtown and iMPACTE! Productions, among other venues -- and Megan Whyte, the quick-witted spark plug of SAK. Working on the other side of the curtain are the Invisible Arts Project's Chad Lewis, SAK's John Valines and Discount Comedy Outlet's Peter Hurtgen Jr. The as-yet-unnamed group is currently deciding whether to write an original piece or interpret a standing script. Either way, Whyte says, the odds are good that she herself will suffer a nervous breakdown shortly after the festival wraps: She has agreed to do the show, perform in SAK's usual Fringe follies and direct one of the playlets in Art's Sake Studios' Play de Luna anthology, all in one 10-day period.
Right, so she's Wonder Woman. Hope none of her new confreres got stuck in the role of Gleek the space monkey.