Thomas Thorspecken Sketches the Audience

Thomas Thorspecken Sketches the Audience

Thomas Thorspecken Sketches the Audience
Created by Play The Moment Productions, Analog Artist Digital World and Brian Feldman Projects
Concept by Brian Feldman
Starring Thomas Thorspecken
September 5, 2010
Lowndes Shakespeare Center, Orlando, FL

Rain is imminent on this muggy September evening, and the show’s star is nervous. How many people will attend this inverted theatrical experience? Inside the Goldman Theater, the atmosphere strikes me as a bit like a pleasant funeral – Thorspecken is dressed in a sedate suit, melancholy oboe music hides behind the arras, and a crowd of two dozen mingles and jokes. Theatre people are wearing the mandatory black, and cameras flash as everyone attempts to document the one single image that will freeze this collective evening. Brian Feldman kvetches he’s been up for 48 hours straight, Orange County arts maven Terry Olson asks technical questions about his iPhone, and the tattooed dude in the kilt considers doing laps throughout the evening to mess with the artist. Classic sketches by Thorspecken litter the walls, some carefully lit by a single blue white Cree High Efficiency Light Emitting Diode. Cheap wine drives a lighthearted attitude. No one is sure what to expect

Wait. Sorry. You don’t know what’s happening, do you? Thomas Thorspecken is “The Analog Artist in a Digital World.” For the past few years he’s attended a vast assemblage of art, theater and festival events, and carefully documented “The Moment” in ink and water colors. Tonight he sketches a paying audience in real time with an overhead camera and a projector so we can watch the process. On one hand, this should be dead easy for TT; but he’s not usually in the spot light and I rarely have anyone watch me write.

How to describe TT’s style? It’s quick and loose with fine details and broad swaths of color. Like any sketch, details are multileveled: sometimes you can read a gum wrapper, other times foreground faces are mere smudges. His sketches reside in five by eight notebooks – the gutter between pages is always present, sort of like the staple in a centerfold’s navel. His sketches are naïve and profound, capturing unplanned moments as well as the most transient experiences. In other words, you can smell the sweat.

With stage cans pouring light on him, he wears a baseball cap to keep from being blinded, and a camera man valiantly tracks his work from 3 feet above. The start is slow, a dull number 2 pencil makes some landmarks for him to sketch against. The audience fidgets and the sort of low conversations you hear before the eulogy skips across the room. Shutters click, and Feldman pans a camcorder across the room, eventually focusing on the exact subject TT is jotting down. It’s a perfect universe of narcissism, we watch ourselves on TV and in a faux courtroom documentary.

Barely visible lead lines are fixed firmly with a fine-tipped Sharpie as he starts in the center and works outward. A pen is dropped and replaced, and a woman exclaims “make me a hexagon!” It’s clear some people will fall off the page. Some wise guys move around, aiming to be in the picture twice. Eventually colors come out, and the drawing is nearly done. I consider asking Feldman if he wants to proof this review, but what’s the use? He won’t let any typos slip by. Art – consider it made.

For more information on Brian Feldman Projects, please visit

To see the result of this performance please visit

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