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Art Spotlight: Live Draw

Saturday night, DCA Gallery in Santa Monica. Amidst wine, hors d’oevres, DJ music, and art opening chatter, artists sat at drawing boards, drawing and painting three nude models. After each session, people bought the art works. It was Live Draw, a most original art event with some of the proceeds going to SMASH (Santa Monica Alternative School House).

Now here for the play-by-play, your art-going reviewer, experiencing nostalgia for her days at the Art Students’ League, describes the evening in greater detail.

7p.m.: they’re off and drawing. On the far right, Katina Zinner begins a series of red and green strokes in pastel. Barry Markowitz and his  partner Tuan Phan have attached a large sheet of paper to the wall and are drawing together, adding swirls until the figure becomes a huge creature of multi-colored scrawl. David Schoffman draws the female model but makes her seem more rounded than she actually is. Bogden Dumitrica  draws the female model over and over again.

The two models change poses every few minutes, trying for vaguely romantic positions. Of course I liked looking at the young man. Is it my imagination or are some of the men trying not to draw him? They’re only drawing his hand or his back. Hmm….

In the back room, a man and woman are drawing another female model. After a break, the models change rooms. A new female model comes to the back room, removes her robe and sees an old friend. They hug even though she’s naked and he’s clothed. Only in the art world!

The man in the back room, Fausin Mdisa, uses an “action painting” technique, squeezing latex paint from ketchup containers on to paper, creating splatter paintings that range from abstract to intricate and slightly representational. He even dares to use white paint on white paper. The other back-room painter, Lynn Hanson, draws very slowly, in charcoal. I notice that some of her other works, displayed on the wall, are done on maps. She says she may do a drawing of a model on a map. When the male model takes his turn, she draws his face in great detail on blank white paper and gradually adds his body, working downward. But oops – time’s up. She got about two-thirds of the way.

It’s not an “art race” but the artists work at different levels of speed and some prefer to sketch quick outlines, adding color and detail later on.

Alejandro Gehry, Frank’s son, draws rough sketches but I see that he has caught the facial features and expressions on some of the models. “I try to pick a center point,” he explains. To him, the time that the models are posing is a “warm-up.” Details are added later.

In a corner, Gus Harper paints and draws on rectangular wooden boards. He covers his black drawings with more black paint, thinned to a wash, blurring the figures. Next to him, Zinner creates pastels that faintly suggest the human figures. She agrees that this event requires something different from her usual abstract style, but she is enjoying the challenge.

When I leave the event, art works are selling briskly, at prices of no more than $250.

Several days later, I am informed that some paintings and drawings are still available and can be purchased, with checks payable to SMASH.DCA is also offering classes this summer, including life drawing with Schoffman (for adults), Gehry (for teens), and a class in modeling with two of the models from Live Draw. For information call 310.770.2525 or email abbi@dcafineart.com.

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