Having met artist Julie Torres at #THESOCIALGRAPH OPENING a couple of months back and she seemed really cool. In February when she announced on facebook that she was throwing a series of collaborative happenings involving a relaxed environment, creative people, painting, drawing, and beer I was curious.
We were told to bring mediums we like to work with as well as some artwork in need of rescue. I talked with Julie, the founder, creator, and curator of the project and asked her to explain how this whole thing came about.
Our lovely host Julie Torres steps away from the table and chats with Andrea LaBouff.
COJO: "So what was the inspiration for this project?"
JULIE:"I first had the idea for a collaborative project that would be a sort of 'rescue mission' for failed paintings. Artists would swap paintings they were having trouble with- completing and hopefully reviving each other's work, taking it in a fresh direction. I might still do something with that idea but in the meantime, I attended a 'drink n draw' organized by Joy Curtis and Mike Olin, which gave me the idea to create a series of drawing parties instead."
COJO: "How did you get the Hyperallergic office to be cool with us drunkenly running amok in their workplace after hours?"
JULIE:"My original intention was to have the parties in my apartment, but Austin Thomas suggested the Hyperallergic office, as Hrag Vartanian had expressed interest in hosting more events there. Hrag and Kyle have been incredibly generous and welcoming to us, and it was really the perfect location.
I mentioned the project to Jason Andrew and he suggested that we have the show at Norte Maar . I am absolutely thrilled as it's one of my favorite art spaces, and a very good fit for the playful work that we're doing. "
The "Collaborative Drawing Parties" were thrown every week in February and March, nine nights total. I was only able to make it to four of the nine. It became a pretty reliable cast of characters whom, throughout the Wednesdays, the hours, and the beers I came to learn a lot about. I didn't make it to the first night, so my chronicling of the parties starts at the second week in, when art was already in progress. I brought a small pile of half started drawings I had never finished and got on the L train headed for Williamsburg.
MY FIRST WEEK:
Early in my first night Emily Hochman took a break from drawing and painting to have her tarot cards read by Judith Braun who you may recognize from Bravo tv's WORK OF ART.
On the left Geddes Levenson and Peter Brock chat it up while behind them the other artists are hard at work.
Andrea watches as Eric Trosko adds a little white acrylic.
Geddes,Peter,Julie, and Eric sat opposite, Andrew Hunt, Allie Rex and myself. I am not pictured but you can see my empty chair and half empty beer to Allie's left as proof of my existence.
Allie looks at some of the partially worked on pieces while Julie gets her tarot read by Judith. Obscuring the tarot reading and sitting across from Geddes is Steven Ketchum.
Steven and Emily look over a J.P. Marin photo collage to see what they want to cut from it to use. Notice he is wearing an ART SUCKS button? I brought a bunch for people to take. "If you say art sucks, then I guess it does. and you can quote me on that." said Julie.
MY SECOND WEEK:
Having missed a few weeks It was fun to see drawings and paintings you had briefly worked on now several stages closer to being finished. It was also neat to see some of the pieces you've worked on well past done, to the point where they were pretty much garbage. I brought audio equipment but forgot my still camera. . . luckily Geddes let me borrow hers, thanks Geddes!
Chris McGee, Julie, Eric, and Geddes.
I took a picture of Eric taking a picture of J.P.
The way it worked was, when you got as far as you wanted to go with a piece, you would place it on the floor. Other people could then pick up your piece, pick up something from the pile of previously worked on pieces, or start something new. By the end of a night the floor would end up looking pretty packed, as witnessed above. Julie would then pull pieces off of the floor that were "done" and add them to a pile of "finished" work, which was essentially a pile of contenders to be sorted down to whatever eventually becomes the gallery show.
MY THIRD WEEK:
I showed up early this week to help set up because I would only be able to stay for about an hour and a half. Normally I would stay from about 7:30 to midnight but this was Molly and my fourth anniversary of our first date so I had to break out early.
Steven Ketchum , Rebecca Litt, Shanna Maurizi, Julie Torres, Andrea LaBouff, and Brooke Moyse.
I focused on this one red and black drawing someone else had started which reminded me of a Ralph Steadman gonzo piece which probably won't even make the cut.
When I left it was thunder-hailing outside.
THE FINAL WEEK
Being that this was the last Wednesday of drunken drawing debauchery all the regulars showed up and then some.
Julie jokingly nicknamed Eric "the finisher" and started to hand him nearly done pieces to add the finishing touches to.
The place was so packed Steven had to move to the couches.
Lily Zhang and Athena Wyman Battalen took to the floor to work.
Sheryl Oppenheim, Peter Brock, and Chris McGee worked furiously to wrap-up nearly done pieces.
Surprisingly my girlfriend Molly Roberson came along for the first time toting a large bin of crayons. When she started getting into it she ditched them for markers and PAINT! I think she surprised herself with how quickly she was making art and contributing to the project.
Ben Godward and the end of project crew.
Molly took some pictures of me, from the shakiness of the shots I presume the beer was doing it's job.
Andrea Bergart playfully flashes a drawing she was considering on working on.
Near the end of the last night I took an extended arm self portrait, with Molly in the background saying. . . what the hell is he doing? Because my documentarian Pitt couldn't make it to film, on the last night of collabo I brought two video cameras mounted on tripods (you can see them in the background) so I could shoot interactions from multiple perspectives. We cleaned up our mess, packed up the equipment, and caught a cab back to Ridgewood.
This has been a fun experiment and has given me the opportunity to meet a great group of creative people, step outside of my comfort zone painting with other people, work on other people's paintings, finish other people's drawings, and basically give me more practice with the brush in a free form way. The way I paint normally is kind of constricting, so allowing myself to paint outside of my style really let me cut loose.
Thanks Julie, Hrag, and all the people at Hyperallergic for opening your afterhours doors to us every Wednesday, and now that Julie has to sift through the hundreds of finished pieces this weekend, it will be a surprise to us all to see what goes in the as-of-yet still untitled show. In Julie's words:
"Every night was a surprise. I never knew who would show up, and lots of people brought artists I'd never met. There were lots of unexpected connections- Everyone seemed to know at least one other person there- either from school, their studio space, or just around town. And of course, there were constant surprises in the work. For me, the best part of the project was getting to spend lots of time with artists I like and whose work I admire, and to make new work with them- Something I'd never attempted before. Painting is a solitary endeavor, so it was refreshing."
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