For the ninth year in a row now, SPACES has herded up yet another 100 artists to participate in the Monster Drawing Rally. The institution offers an opportunity for the public to witness the magic happen from pen to paper — or other materials and supports — by artists from the region. It's something that usually happens within the inner studio sanctum, and it's exciting to witness in person.
The artists are divided into three groups, with each having an hour to create one or more artworks which will then be available for sale. We asked a few of them about their participation.
Are you a returning artist?
Cynthia Penter: Although I've been involved for years as an event photographer for SPACES, this is my first time participating in MDR. It's always a thrilling opportunity that contributes to a deeply worthy cause, hailing back to SPACES genesis as an artist-driven gallery offering an outlet for all of this intense creative energy in Cleveland. And the event parallels the values I hold about the place of art in relationship to community.
Barbara Chira: Returning artist? Yes, but it has taken me a couple of years due to a knee replacement! This will be my first time in the new space, and I'm very excited.
Tyler Zeleny: Yes, I've participated in every MDR either as an intern (the very first year) or as an artist. Even when I was in grad school in NJ, I would make the drive in to participate.
Tim Herron: To help out SPACES and the benefit shows are the only time my work gets to hang on its walls.
Diane Fleisch-Hughes: I am a returning artist, however it has been years since I have participated and that is because it always fell on a day when I had something already scheduled. I am excited to be back. I wanted to participate again because I love seeing the spontaneous art that is created by all these incredible local artists. Usually we get to see their art on gallery walls but here we get to see the work being produced. It is a challenge to create art on the spot and it is motivating when you see what others are doing.
What is your medium?
Penter: I am primarily a media artist so I hadn't thought about coming in as a drawer, but I recently rediscovered some drawings and paintings I had done in art school, before I went over to the film side, and remembered how much I like to draw. I mainly do video installations, film and photography. There may be some photo showing up in what I create at the rally.
Chira: At this point in my career, I'm a socially engaged practice artist, so my media are people, interaction or collaboration and being responsive to community needs.
Zeleny: Works on paper, graphite, charcoal, ink. All that jazz.
Fleisch-Hughes: I am a mixed media artist working in acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, graphite collage.
Herron: It has been Conte and pastels, but I will do oils this time.
What will you be creating during your hour-long shift?
Penter: I've been teaching a class in contemporary media this semester and after talking so much about western codex, alternative codex, I'm thinking of making a short artist book. But I might as easily decide to spontaneously draw a portrait that night.
Chira: At this time my concept is adorable and adoring monsters. It may include collage drawing and/or soft sculpture, but my plan is to come prepared with pieces and parts, and manage a creative assembly line in situ, maybe with hands-on participation from the audience. We'll see what happens! How many monsters can we bring to life?
Zeleny: I plan on spending time the week before prepping an idea. Usually the final form happens in the moment but is based on items I've made in advance. I tend to only make one or two pieces. MDR for me tends to be an opportunity to practice some formal exercise as opposed to advancing a heavily conceptual piece.
Fleisch-Hughes: The piece for MDR will definitely be organic and spontaneous. I plan on bringing all sorts of materials and we will just see what happens.
Herron: This year I plan on doing a small painting of spaces. Because we only get an hour to work I will arrive with it already prepped so I can get it finished on time.
Which of your peers are you looking forward to watching as they work?
Penter: I'm looking forward to watching Eranah Adorjan, Catherine Butler, Dina Heoynck, Bellamy Printz, Sarah Curry, Bridget Ginley, Susie Underwood and Meng Hsuan Wu.
Chira: I'm really excited to see what my colleagues at CIA will be doing, such as Poppy Lyttle and Samie Konet — and the alumni, too, such as Barbara Bachtell, Seqouia Bostick, Kristen Cliffel, Rebekah Wilhelm and the rest of the gang. I know I'm going to have to up my monster game with such artists as PJ Haliwill, Angela Oster, Justin Brennan and Buzz Szilangyi participating!
Zeleny: Every year there are new and different participants, so I come in with little expectation. I might encounter an artist I've never met before and love what they do.
Fleisch-Hughes: I'm looking forward to seeing Sarah Curry, Justin Brennan, Tyler Zeleny — really everyone.
HERRON: All of them.