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I went to my second Dr. Sketchy’s event in 2017 but it was my first one in DC for this year. It was raining that day so I didn’t do much walking around in DC other than walking from the Dupont Circle Metro station to the Bier Baron.

This is the rare Dr. Sketchy’s event in that all of my drawings are perfectly safe to view at work or school. That’s because the model for this event, Alyssum, is a belly dancer not a burlesque performer. Alyssum is also a contortionist so I have some drawings where she’s posed in some pretty unusual looking positions.

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Alyssum made a costume change where she posed in this pretty colorful outfit.

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Alyssum made one more costume change where she was dressed in a mermaid-themed outfit.

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Unlike all of the other Dr. Sketchy’s I’ve attended in the past, there were no contests at this one. It was pure drawing the entire time. Alyssum is also a jewelry designer and artist and she had some of her work on sale at that event. (I didn’t buy anything because of tight finances.) You can view and buy some of her work here and here.

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I spent the first Sunday in December attending another session of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School at the Bier Baron in Washington, DC.

When I got off the Metro at Dupont Circle I encountered this protest.

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Yes, it was a group of Muslims who were protesting ISIS and terrorism in general. I hear so many right wing people in the media saying that all Muslims are terrorists but this march I saw directly contradicted that belief. Not only are all Muslims not terrorists but only a very tiny majority of them are actually waging violent jihad.

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These right wingers will denounce all Muslims for being terrorists yet they are strangely silent on white Christians who also commit terrorism, such as Robert Lewis Dear and Dylann Storm Roof.

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Having seen first-hand the outpouring of Muslims denouncing the terrorist extremists like ISIS makes Donald Trump’s call for a total ban on Muslims from entering the United States and refusal to rule out warrantless searches and ID cards for Muslims even more odious and more Hitler-like.

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The next two photographs show some of the flyers and postcards that the protesters were handing out to bystanders.

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I took one last shot as the protesters were walking south of Dupont Circle.

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I ate a quick lunch as Cosi then I walked over to the Bier Baron. On my way there I took a couple of photos of this wall mural that’s located on the side on this building on P Street, N.W.

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Not only does this mural depict a scene from The Wizard of Oz but it is also an example of a trompe l’oeil with a depiction of a realistic window that looks like it faces a view of the yellow brick road and the Emerald City in the distance.

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I arrived at the Bier Baron just in time for the start of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School. A bellydancer named Naimah was the model so she was more clothed than the burlesque performers who usually serve as models. But she definitely had a way with a sword, as some of these drawings show.

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There was only one contest at that event and I took part in it. Since the latest Star Wars movie was opening soon, the challenge was to put Naimah in a scene from any of the films. I had Naimah laying triumphantly on the body of Jabba the Hutt, whose throat she slashed with one of her long swords. That drawing didn’t make it to the finals.

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After the contest I did a few more drawings of Naimah before the event ended.

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Even though the event ended at 6 p.m. it felt like it was much later at night since it has been getting dark earlier and earlier. I noticed a bar and restaurant located around the corner from the Bier Baron called The Fireplace, which has a fireplace facing the street outside.

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The fireplace at The Fireplace is covered with plexiglass, which felt warm when I put my hand on it.

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I also made a brief stop at Fantom Comics since it was on the way back to the Metro station.

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As you can guess from the name, Fantom Comics is a comic book store that’s located on the second floor of a building. The stairwell leading to the store is decorated with posters, drawings, and paintings, which makes it very colorful and interesting.

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June 8, 2015 would’ve been my wedding anniversary had my husband not left me for one of our friends, filed for divorce, then remarried her just two months after my divorce was final. In addition, it would’ve been one of those special anniversaries. You know, the ones with the years ending in either the number “0” or “5.”

Yeah, it sucked for me but I was determined to make the best out of what could’ve been a melancholy situation. I decided to write a special post about my memories of the now-defunct Hutzler’s just for the day itself since my mother came close to buying me a wedding gown from that store only to find that there weren’t any available in my size at the time. (We subsequently went to a more traditional bridal gown shop in Glen Burnie that has also since gone out of business.)

Once that post went live, I decided to do some more fun stuff for myself. I learned that The Wind-Up Space in Baltimore was holding another session of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School. In addition, that particular session was the Dr. Sketchy’s Baltimore chapter’s 7th anniversary so I thought it would be more fun to celebrate an actual anniversary on June 8 instead of commemorating an anniversary that could’ve been but never was.

Heck, in some ways I went full circle. My husband and I were married in my parents’ backyard in Glen Burnie. After the reception winded down, my new husband and I drove to Baltimore where we spent our wedding night at a hotel there. The following afternoon we returned to my parents’ home in Glen Burnie where we opened our wedding presents then we headed off to BWI Airport where we flew to Orlando for our honeymoon (where we ended up spending the week with my cousin and her then-husband). So it was appropriate for me to spend night of June 8 in Baltimore once again.

Once I arrived in the area the first thing I did was treat myself to dinner at this Popeye’s that had recently opened in the area. It may not have been fancy but I still liked it. (I’ve eaten at other Popeye’s before so I knew what kind of food they served.) After dinner I took advantage of the long days to walk around the Station North Arts District and take some photos before I went inside The Wind-Up Space.

I found this wheat pasted flyer for the Rez Ball XII that will be held later this month. I liked the neon Cheshire Cat. What I also found interesting is that this event is being held in Lanham, which is close to my own home.

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The Station North Arts District seems to be coming alive in color. There are some wall murals that I haven’t seen before with older wall murals whose colors seem brighter than on previous visits. (I have no idea if they were recently given a new paint job or if it’s the effect of the bright spring sunshine.) But, on the other hand, there are still boarded-up buildings that could use a makeover so they could be inhabitable once again. (My big beef with Baltimore is that there are so many boarded-up buildings yet there are a lot of homeless people who are literally living on the streets. It seems so logical for the city to take over those boarded-up buildings, bring them up to code, then find a way of making them affordable enough for homeless people to move in.) Yet the boarded up buildings also have some art on them, as if some artist is thinking that if the buildings are going to remain boarded up, might as well paint some pretty art on the boards. It’s such an interesting conundrum.

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Someone had painted footsteps in bright green paint on the sidewalk leading from St. Paul Street to North Avenue.

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Near the painted footprints, someone did a really pretty mirrored mosaic work of art.

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Then there is this building with a white billboard that’s at the intersection of West North Avenue and North Charles Street. I’ve seen this billboard before on previous trips. Here it is in 2013, when the billboard was nothing but a blank space with a tiny bit of graffiti.

Station North Arts District, Baltimore, Maryland,  July 26, 2013

By the following year, 2014, someone had painted large lettering on the billboard about land banking.

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For 2015, the billboard had been painted over with a new thought-provoking slogan that seems appropriate since the city is still in the aftermath of the police killing of Freddie Gray and the riots that immediately followed it, along with the city-wide curfew.

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The most unexpected discovery I made is located along St. Paul Street. I saw this lush garden through the mesh fencing and some animals. When I initially thought they were small dogs until I saw one of them raise its head and began to move in the way that led me to realize that they were chickens. Actual chickens in Baltimore!

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I realized that I had stumbled upon an urban farm. I know all about urban farms because there’s one located near my town in Edmonston called Eco City Farms. After all the bad news about Baltimore lately (based on both what I read and what I saw in real life), I’m pretty heartened that a group of people are trying to do something positive in the city and that’s a good thing.

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As I walked towards The Wind-Up Space I saw a small construction project currently underway. Maybe the next time I’m in the area this project will be finished and I’ll know exactly what they were building.

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I entered The Wind-Up Space and I saw that the place had a new art exhibit on the walls. I took a photo of this painting because I literally grew up reading Little Golden Books as a child.

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I also saw this interesting looking painting as well.

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Then there is this hanging owl blanket that I really loved. If only I had unlimited space, I would’ve talked to someone at The Wind-Up Space about buying it. Oh well.

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Then there is Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School itself. The model for this evening was a belly dancer named Deviana Fox. Even though belly dancers tend to show less skin than burlesque performers, I still slapped a NSFW on this post because the little skin she showed could still shock someone who thinks that belly dancers need to wear even more clothes so their skin can’t be shown at all. (Yes, there are people in the U.S. who can easily get their panties into bunches over a woman wearing an outfit that shows bare arms or legs.)

Deviana Fox had these large swords that she posed with at times throughout the evening.

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She also posed with this huge hookah throughout the evening as well.

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One of the contests I participated in was centered around the fact that June 8 would’ve been Joan Rivers’ birthday had she not died from complications stemming from what is usually minor throat surgery last year. The contest was to incorporate Joan Rivers doing one of her infamous red carpet interviews of Deviana Fox. I dressed Joan in the same outfit as Deviana while I had her say “She’s wearing MY outfit!!! Copying my style is gauche! What’s your response?” That drawing made it among the finalists but it didn’t win.

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There was one other contest I took part in. Apparently every year whenever there is a Dr. Sketchy’s Baltimore anniversary event, something goes wrong. This time one of the people running this event had came down with this cold so she was on stage speaking in this hoarse voice throughout the evening. The contest was to incorporate another disaster that could strike a future Dr. Sketchy’s Baltimore anniversary event. I thought of the opening sequence for the British comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus where there are a bunch of animated pictures playing along John Phillips Sousa’s “Liberty Bell March.” Then this giant foot comes down from the heavens and crushes the show’s title. (By the way did you know that the giant foot came from Agnolo Bronzino’s Renaissance-era painting Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time?) This drawing didn’t make it among the finalists this time.

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I drew one last picture of Deviana Fox sitting in a recliner with a hookah before I headed home.

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http://www.nablopomo.com

One October weekend there were not one but two festivals going on simultaneously in Greenbelt, Maryland. One is the annual Utopia Film Festival, which has been going on for the last nine years. The other was a relatively new festival that a friend of mine was one of the organizers of (he raised the funds needed for this new festival through a Kickstarter campaign) called the Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival.

First, here are a few words about the Utopia Film Festival. The great news was that the admission to each film was actually lower than last year. Last year each film had a $5 admission with an optional $25 all-access pass where the person could view as many movies as he/she wanted. This year each film had a $3 admission fee with a $10 one-day pass where the person could see many movies on either Saturday or Sunday and an $18 all-weekend, all-program pass where one can see as many movies on both days as one can stand.

Last year I bought the $25 all-access pass because there were at least six films I really wanted to see and I ended up seeing nine films. This year I didn’t go for any access passes and just paid the individual $3 admission fee because there weren’t as many films I was interested in plus I couldn’t make it on Sunday at all because I had committed to do something at my Unitarian Universalist congregation before I realized that it was also the same weekend as the Utopia Film Festival.

Friday night (October 18) the local STEM center Club 125 had a free Utopia Film Festival preview where it would show three science fiction shorts. I decided to go to it since it was free. Here were the movies I saw.

Gears was this surreal science fiction story about a single father raising a young daughter that the film seems to hint at the possibility that she may not even be human but the ending was very ambiguous.

The Wheel was a steampunk fable that was surreal and had a narrator who told the whole story in verse a la Dr. Seuss. The one thing I liked best about that movie was the really awesome special effects.

Jack in the Box was based on a Ray Bradbury short story about the strange relationship between a young boy and his very overprotective mother who lived together in this very large home. I think this film was probably the best of the three although the film also had an ambiguous ending.

The next day was the day that the two festivals being held simultaneously. I first went to the Utopia Film Festival where I saw a double film feature for $3. The first movie shown was a short called From Hell to Here and it’s an intense film that shows what it’s like to be a war veteran with PTSD. I found it very gripping and very moving.

That movie was followed by an hour-long documentary called DPRK: Land of Whispers, which is a rare in-depth look at North Korea. The filmmaker was one of the few Westerners who was permitted to visit North Korea and there were many times when he came close to running afoul of the very stringent regulations regarding filming the locals and filming certain areas. I found that documentary to be a fascinating look at the notoriously secretive country whose leaders have long encouraged a cult of personality where the citizens were to respect them as if they were living gods.

After the last movie ended I stepped outside the theater where the Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival was going on. (Amazingly, despite the constant pounding of drums, the noise never traveled inside the theater when I was inside.) Even though it was very cloudy and threatening to rain, the weather managed to hold out for a while. This festival drew a huge crowd. There were also a few vendors. (I would’ve loved to have taken part but I found that the person responsible for the vendors decided to limit vendor participation to no more than 12 vendors because it’s the festival’s first year. By the time I tried to register, all the slots had been taken.) I took photos of some of the decorations, the performers, the vendor booths, and the attendees.

2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival

I caught a performance of a belly dancer performing alongside a band playing Middle Eastern music.

2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival
2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival

I also shot a short video of the same belly dancer and music group.

I hung around the festival until it started to rain. At that point I decided to leave. On the way to the parking lot, I briefly checked out an indoor drumming workshop. The noise was very loud with all those workshop attendees enthusiastically banging drums while the noises resonated against the walls.

2003 Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Festival

I went home for a few hours then returned to the Utopia Film Festival, where one of the venues was having a Saturday night science fiction double feature. I arrived late because I had already seen the first movie of the double feature, the short film Gears, the night before. I timed my arrival just in time for the beginning of the second movie, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X. The film is a wild mix of campy science fiction, film noir, and a musical with a zombie rock musician thrown in for added effect. It’s like The Rocky Horror Picture Show in a desert with aliens from outer space theme. The music was kind of catchy at times but the songs weren’t quite as memorable as—let’s say—"Sweet Transvestite" or "Damnit, Janet!" from Rocky Horror.

That was it for what I saw at this year’s Utopia Film Festival. I would’ve loved to have seen the movie Led Zeppelin Played Here (a documentary that investigated the rumor that, before the band became very famous, Led Zeppelin played an early gig at the Wheaton Community Recreation Center in Wheaton, Maryland to an audience of 50 teenagers). Unfortunately the film played the following day (Sunday) at the same time that I committed to attending a church event. Oh well.

Ramadan

Tanya took a break from her belly dancing performance to provide some lessons for a few lucky patrons at the New Deal Cafe on March 2, 2010. You can learn more about Tanya at:

http://www.myspace.com/brenabelly

Ramadan

Tanya provided the belly dancing at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland on March 2, 2010. You can learn more about Tanya at:

http://www.myspace.com/brenabelly

Samira Shuruk performed her belly dancing routine at the New Deal Cafe on January 8, 2010. You can learn more about her at her website.

Mardi Gras

Lights, Sound and Interactivity at Artomatic 2009-Part 4: This video focuses on the exhibits that a regular still camera can’t do justice to them because they feature either movement, sound, lights, or interactivity. The sixth and seventh floors of the Artomatic 2009 building are highlighted here, which includes the following artists and exhibits:

Jeremy Arn Dianzon Ramirez
Eileen Keefe
Sahara Dance
Jack Whitsitt

Bellydancer Photojewelry

It’s a necklace. It’s a pin. It’s BOTH!!! The photos are based on the ones that I actually took myself using my digital camera. I edited each photo in Photoshop, printed it out on Shrinky Dinks that are especially made for ink jet printers, cutted out the image, punched a hole on top of the image, baked the item for 3 minutes (when it shrinked to 1/3 of its original size), sealed the printed item in an acrylic varnish, placed a necklace loop on top, then glued a pin backing on the back. Regardless of whether you decide to wear it as a necklace or as a pin, it’s the ultimate in wearable art!

This particular photo is of a belly dancer performing at the 2007 Maryland Faerie Festival.

Approximate size is about 2 inches x 2 inches (5 cm x 5 cm). There is a necklace loop at the top so you can add your favorite chain and a pin backing in case you want to wear it as a brooch.

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