Wednesday, April 06, 2011

SPACES Monster Drawing Rally: Artists at work

Realizing that fundraisers can be stodgy and stuffy affairs, SPACES Executive Director Christopher Lynn decided to stage the Monster Drawing Rally from 7 to 11PM on Sat 4/9 at the Cleveland gallery. As its name suggests, the event is uniquely different, allowing spectators to observe roughly 100 artists in the act of creating.

The venue is hoping to blur the line between viewer and artist by allowing the former to experience the latter's process in one-hour sessions. The gallery provides the basics – pencils, charcoal, pens, markers, ink and paper – and 60 minutes later the drawings are finished, hanging on the wall and open for purchase. Lynn explained the concept and excitement surrounding the Monster Drawing Rally to CoolCleveland.

CoolCleveland: In a nutshell, what exactly is the Monster Drawing Rally?

Christopher Lynn: Monster Drawing Rally was initially conceived by another alternative art space in San Francisco called Southern Exposure a number of years ago. It's been really successful for them, and they've actually been willing to lend the model to other organizations. So, it's a live drawing event and fundraiser. Artists come in and donate an hour of their time and draw. They might produce one drawing or a dozen drawings. It's kind of up to them and their speed and their style. And as soon as they're done drawing, they hand the drawing to one of our people who takes it up to the wall. As soon as it touches the wall, it's up for sale for $65. That's $70 with tax.

Also, we even have a little subdivision called Little Monster Drawing Rally for kids. So, we're just going to have material set up just like we do for the artists and the kids can come in and sit down, make some drawings and put them up on the wall and get that little glow and happiness about their stuff hanging up in a gallery for a while.

That's a pretty enticing cost for one-of-a-kind artwork. Regarding the money raised, how is it used?

The proceeds go to help support SPACES and its mission in supporting artists who explore and experiment. The money that is raised that evening goes to SPACES.

How does this event fit into the mission statement of SPACES?

Our mission statement is that we're the resource and forum for artists to explore and experiment, and we like the idea of just shaking up the typical artistic practice that the artist is some solo creature that works out in his or her studio and then tacks something on the wall and hides while people go and look at it. This brings the audience and the artist directly into contact. They're watching each other as the artist works, so it's trying on a different model and shaking it up for the artist. Even putting a one-hour time limit on things is kind of an interesting way to shake things up. And it might not necessarily jive with everyone and not everyone wants to participate if it's not their cup of tea, but those who are participating are really kind of jazzed about this.

So whose cup of tea is the Monster Drawing Rally?

It's a pretty broad range. We've got artists who do posters for bands and the indie comic scene people to the more academic artists and faculty members and students at various universities around here. We have someone who is actually coming in and doing a much broader interpretation of drawing. She's drawing three-dimensionally with wire. So, it's not just sort of a pencil-and-paper sort of thing. And we totally welcome that. We have somebody else who is doing something more performance related, and we're not sure how that's going to turn out but we're excited that somebody is willing to take their interpretation of drawing and tweak it a bit.

Finally, what do you hope the community gets out of this event?

It's nice for people to come in and see things happen. As far as money goes, we'd like to make a few thousand dollars so it matches the member show and sale that we've had in the past. But primarily our goal is to provide a venue for some artists and get them to meet each other, get the community interacting and have some fun. Also, $65 for some artwork that you can walk away with a great story… That's really great.

Monster Drawing Rally takes place from 7 to 11PM on Sat 4/9 @ SPACES, 2220 Superior Viaduct, Cleveland. Admission is $5 (free to SPACES members). Call 216-621-2314 or visit

Freelance writer John Benson spends most of his time writing for various papers throughout Northeast Ohio.

When he's not writing about music or entertainment, he can be found coaching his two boys in basketball, football and baseball or watching movies with his lovely wife, Maria. John also occasionally writes for


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