Everyone has a favorite day of the year, something we look forward to with every fresh calendar. For some, it's Christmas or their birthday or even a sunny, warm opening day at Progressive Field (too soon?). For me, it's Spaces' Monster Drawing Rally. For one night only, more than 100 local and regional artists gather under one roof to draw live in front of an enthusiastic audience of adoring fans, eager collectors and overwhelmed first-time attendees who clearly had no idea what they were walking into. Finally, it's time once again for the annual Monster Drawing Rally. The sixth annual live drawing event takes place this Saturday, April 16, from 6 to 10 p.m. (Live drawing ends at 9 p.m.)
From 6 to 9 p.m., approximately 35 artists work independently at tables lining the gallery space in intervals of one hour at a time. At the top of each hour, a new batch of artists begins. This rotation makes for a fast-paced, exciting evening. The Monster Drawing Rally, which originated with Southern Exposure (SoEx) in San Francisco, has become an annual fundraising event for Spaces. Despite its title, organizers are very lenient in their definition of the word "drawing." Spaces provides artists with basic materials and does its best to handle any specific requests.
Some artists create several works, but everyone makes at least one new work of art. Once completed, the works are hung on the gallery walls. A single guest may purchase the work outright at any time after the work is completed, but no one can claim any work before it is completed. However, if two or more individuals wish to purchase a particular work, they draw cards to determine a "winner." While many works will be available throughout the evening, many more will be gone as soon as they go on the wall. All works are sold for a flat rate of $75, so artists, especially young and emerging artists, are encouraged to create works that stand out from the crowd.
In this way, Monster Drawing Rally is simultaneously cooperative and competitive for both the artists and the audience. With each work being priced at a flat rate, artists are put on an even playing field. While the environment is extremely cooperative, this mutual price point inherently creates competition, with each artist striving to capture the attention and adoration of hundreds of potential buyers. Meanwhile, the audience competes to find and purchase their favorite work each hour. It's not unusual to see groups hovering around a particular artist or watching intently while circling the room.
It's all in good fun, and all proceeds benefit Spaces and will contribute to its programming and its upcoming relocation to the Bidwells' Van Rooy Coffee building. For audience members, the best part is being able to purchase work that was created in front of their eyes. Any work bought at the MDR is a guaranteed conversation starter. Not only do you get a new, one-of-a-kind work of art, but you get a story to go along with it. In this way, the work is a relic of the experience itself.
Additionally, the Monster Drawing Rally gives viewers a rare opportunity to interact with the artists during the creative process. Further, each artist gets the opportunity to perform in front of an audience. Normally, most artists produce their works alone like introverted hermits in their studio, only revealing the results after the process is complete. Spaces' Monster Drawing Rally allows viewers to witness the whole process from beginning to end, and allows artists to feel like rock stars for a night.
"Monster Drawing Rally is a fundraiser that perfectly draws on our mission of supporting artists in the creation of new, experimental work," Spaces executive director Christina Vassallo says. "Spaces focuses on the artistic process in everything we do, from our SWAP residency that invites artists to live in Cleveland while they develop a project, to the on-site art production facilities we're planning in our future home. At Monster Drawing Rally guests can observe the entire dramatic arc of art-making, from beginning to end, and all the spilled paint and torn edges that go along with it."
True to Spaces' inclusive spirit, kids are invited to join in the fun in the Li'l Monster Drawing Rally and Teen Wolf sections. Kids can draw and display their work for the night. Sorry, but kids' work is not for sale.
Throughout the night, guests can enjoy food from the Touch Supper Truck and drinks from Spaces' cash bar. The evening also features music from DJ McLovin, a chance to spin the Blick Art Materials Prize Wheel and raffle prizes from the small business communities of Cleveland and Akron.
I'll be drawing at 6 p.m. Admission is $5, or free for Spaces' members/season pass holders and children age 17 and under. Any unsold work will remain on view and for sale on Sunday, April 17, from noon to 5 p.m.
Monster Drawing Rally6 to 10 p.m., Saturday, April 16 Spaces, 2220 Superior Viaduct, 216-621-2314, spacesgallery.org