Now in its eighth incarnation, Drawn & Quartered is a live art event unlike anything else you'll find in Cleveland. At 7 p.m. this Saturday, April 23, HEDGE Gallery at 78th Street Studios (2nd floor, Suite 200) transforms into a gladiator-style coliseum of sorts. Lighthearted at its core, the event pits four local live drawing groups against each other in a competitive environment, crowded with a rowdy audience, an Olympic-style panel of judges and one hyped-up announcer, Michael Salinger. Drawn & Quartered combines the best parts of spectator sports, fine art, competition and absurdity into overwhelming excitement for everyone involved.
Representatives from each artist group participate in poses ranging from 10 minutes to more than two hours. Following each pose, each group selects its two best works, which are scored by the panel of judges to approval or disapproval of the rowdy audience mentioned earlier. The group with the most points at the end of the evening takes home the prestigious trophy designed by Murray Hill group member Jack Flotte.
Each pose features a different model, ranging from audience members to professional dancers and local celebrities. Common categories include Blind Contour (artists cannot look at their paper as they draw), Gesture, Best Likeness, Moving Model, Non-Dominant Hand, Tandem Drawing (switching with a partner), Caricature, Extreme Angle and of course the Long Pose, featuring one posed model over the course of the entire event.
In addition to defending champions, the Murray Hill Life Drawing Group, this year's competing groups include Dr. Sketchy, the Northern Ohio Illustrator Society (NOIS) and the West Side Art Markers. The members of each of these groups are very diverse, ranging widely in age, education, experience, media, style, etc.
Drawn & Quartered was founded eight years ago by local artists Deb Steytler and Juan Quirarte of the Murray Hill Life Drawing Group with the help of (former) Dr. Sketchy organizers Jason Tilk and Aaron Erb, George Kocar of the Northern Ohio Illustrator Society, Tim Herron of the Pretentious Tremont Artists and Dana Depew, who hosted the inaugural event at his Asterisk Gallery in Tremont. The event has evolved over the years, and has been held in various venues, including Walleye Gallery (now Bruno Casiano Gallery) in Gordon Square, Loren Naji Studio Gallery in Ohio City and Great Lakes Brewery's Tasting Room, also in Ohio City.
For the second consecutive year, HEDGE Gallery hosts Drawn & Quartered. This year, the gallery's walls will be filled throughout the evening by the artwork created at the event. Many of these drawings will be available for bidding in a silent auction throughout the night.
"I am thrilled to host Drawn & Quartered again this year," says HEDGE Gallery owner and director Hilary Gent. "It is such a spirited event, with a variety of artist styles jam packed into three hours of intense competitive drawing. The energy is contagious."
"Dr. Sketchy has been participating in Drawn & Quartered since it's inception eight years ago," explains Dr. Sketchy organizer and participating artist Ashley Ribblett. "Since then, it's changed hands but we've kept with the fun and tradition in true Dr. Sketchy spirit. Our group is generally considered the 'wild card' of the bunch. Typically, our members consist of the younger generation: art school graduates, art school drop outs and loose-living, self-taught weirdos (like yours truly) that love to get together and pay homage to classical life drawing with music, booze and crazy costumes."
So, how much does all this fun and excitement cost, you ask? $10? $15? $25...? Unbelievably, Drawn & Quartered 8 is free and open to the public. Now that is "art for art's sake," and just another reason why Cleveland has the best arts community in the region. It's truly something that must be experienced in-person.
HEDGE is plenty busy otherwise: On April 28, the gallery presents a special studio visit with legendary local painter and art critic Douglas Max Utter. For more information on how to attend, contact the gallery. And next month, HEDGE hosts Optic Environments, a group show of new and recent work by Cleveland-based artists Matthew Gallagher, Sarah Hayes, Ashley Pastore and Dott von Schneider. Optic Environments opens with a Third Friday reception from 5 to 9 p.m. on May 20 and remains on view through June 25.
DRAWN & QUARTERED 8Hedge Gallery, 1300 W. 78th St., 216-650-4201