Patrick Ching...Hawaii's Nature Artist!.
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  • Patrick Ching Florida Art Tour 2011

Why would you wanna come ta Florida from Hawaii?
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That was the question asked by just about everybody I met in Florida.
In my ambition to explore the rest of my yard (Earth), I’ve always felt hat Florida is an important place to visit on a regular basis. My first trip here confirmed those feelings.

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I went in quite cold, not really having a plan, I just made a decision to go and booked a flight. Through my business connections at CEO Space, Susan Rink put me in touch with Cynthia Scheider, (Ex wife of actor Roy Scheider of the movie “Jaws”). Cynthia and her granddaughter Sascha were students at my first Florida painting workshop at Colleen Cassidy’s Art Studio in Sarasota.

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It was unusually tough to fill that first workshop because nobody there had seen what I do to teach realistic painting, but by the last workshop of the trip we were overbooking classes and turning away participants.

Before I arrived, Heather Fortner, stopped into Colleen Cassidy’s and said “I see Patrick Ching is coming here. Let him know he can stay with me”.

Heather was my Outward Bound instructor when I was a juvenile delinquent at age 16.
We spent one month in the wilderness with 8 other people in 1976. It was a trip that changed the direction of my life. It was during that trip that I decided to become a wildlife artist...Or Die Trying!

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Heather is now one of the best Gyutako fish printers in the world and conducts workshops in Florida and other places like Hawaii. She is a really good teacher and artist.
Heather’s offer to let me stay was really helpful to me.

In between workshops I did a walkabout Sarasota. Some of the things I did along the way were visiting Cynthia Schrider’s eclectic beach house on Siesta Key, visiting Sarasota Art and Frame Shop, Ringling Museum of Art, Armands Circle, and galleries like Wyland Gallery.

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Mote Marine Aquarium was one of my highlights and I met Hugo the manatee and I even met and chatted with Richard Clapp, the mayor of Sarasota, who was swimming in the shark tank as a publicity stunt to bring Google to Sarasota.

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Mayakka Wildlife Reserve was where I met Armadillos, Pigs, Alligators, deer and all kinds of birds. Terry Janssen, a former ranger there showed me around. I asked her to stop the car cause I saw something that I thought was too big to be a gator. Well, It was! She said it was one of the biggest she’d seen in years.

Homosasa Wildlife Park was a sanctuary for manatee as was Appollo Beach powerplant which produces warm water that the manatees are attracted to.

Kerry Gogan put me in touch with Kay of Big cat Habitat where I got to know some big animals like lions and tigers and Bears. Fo Real!

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My favorite places to eat were:
  • Blue Dolphin Breakfast Café managed by Alex and Pam (everyone thinks they own the place)
  • Suzie Q’s Hambergers in Fruitville (I think)
  • Walts Fish Market was a regular stop where I enjoyed my first stone crab and also ate Alligator, frog and catfish.
  • Roy’s was right next to Heather’s house. Nobody from Hawaii was working there.
  • Hemmingway’s was enjoyable food, good company, poor service.
  • Bonefish Grill -good food and price.
In the middle of my trip I went out to the Villages where I met up with Skip Schuman’s cousin Lord Lydall who heads the Oxford polo club. “Lordie” went out of his way to introduce me to the people of the Villages Polo club where I was to have a show at their Big Opening Day festivities against South Africa. Unfortunately the opening day was rained out and left many people were disappointed.

I attended a wonderful party at the estate of Janet and Brian____ . It was fun to enjoy the band and party with the polo players like Jamie and ____ Mirakatani who I’ve seen play in Hawaii. The scenery was mystically beautiful with large trees cloaked with airplants beards in the sunset and morning fog.

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Vinnie and Janice put me up on their spacious horse ranch “Oxford Acres” and I enjoyed their kids Jason and Jennifer and painting with their friends at polo practice.

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I even got to go to a bull riding and believe it or not I did Not find my way into the middle of the arena.

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As I expected Florida was a place I’d like to explore regularly. I went there to smash down the grass for a smooth landing next time. I’m looking forward to hosting some of my friends that I met there.

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I want to especially thank, not in order of anything, Susan Rink, Cynthia Schieder,
Heather Fortner, Colleen Cassidy, Kelly for the enjoyable tour of St Armand’s Circle, Lord Lyle for introducing me to the Villages in central Florida, Vinnie & Family for the great guest house, Gail for patiently helping me find my special pen, Kay for letting us meet the big cats, and Lisa Seabury, who helped me coordinate so much from planning my trip to keeping track of the financial details to talking me into a safe landing at the Tampa airport.

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See you on my next adventure to Florida!


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