Drink & Draw with Pints & Pencils
Someone gave me a poster that admonishes “Don’t Drink and Draw,” with the center image being a drunkenly-deranged version of one of Picasso’s figures. (Yes, believe it or not, it’s an abstracted abstract.)
It’s on my studio door, adjacent to the Absinthe from the Czech Republic, so you can speculate whether I abide by its advice.
The originators of the group Pints & Pencils follow a long line of artists who have combined art/talk with some mind-altering potion. Wine was the preference for Francis Bacon who religiously met other artists, writers and intellectuals at his favorite bars for rowdy conversations after a morning of painting. Toulouse-Lautrec made excursions to bars to toss back Absinthe with other imbibers as he sketched the scenes about him to their delight.
Even in 2010, artists and their alcohol are still not easily separated.
This 21st century version of artists gathering at the neighborhood waterhole was recently begun by Brooke Duckart and Jared Plock. These UW-Milwaukee art students were looking outside their educational institution for an opportunity to be completely free, to engage in whatever creative endeavor came to mind, assisted by what the hosting bar is best known for.
The group’s name spells out what it’s all about. But who actually shows up with pencil in hand and cash in the pocket? Is it only those occupying the drawing horses next to Brooke and Jared? Or perhaps the instructors that tower before them? Interestingly enough, neither is the case.
What attracts the artist/non-artist blend of twenty-and-thirtysomethings (and, as they shared, some even as old as 50) ? Overall, participants seem to be drawn — sorry, had to say it — to a structured opportunity to hang out with others in whatever way the creative urge (and imbibing) possesses them.
These events are carefully organized to be freeform, a dichotomy not easily ignored. Like an open house, the crowd changes throughout the evening. Though the core attending group in the last six gatherings has measured about four or five, as many as 25 have shown up.
The organic process of creative interaction that Brooke and Jared work hard to maintain is also based on past artists’ game playing. One such game is Exquisite Corpse, known to every budding art student as the brainchild of André Breton and his Surrealist buddies, including Yves Tanguy, Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray.
For those at Pints & Pencils, it’s a great ice breaker as these gatherings, reflective of contemporary society’s social networking, bringing together many who have “met” only on Facebook. The group’s monthly events are announced on Facebook and Twitter, complete with images showing what occurred. Ah, if only there was a picture of that alleged blow-up between Gauguin and Van Gogh after rounds of Absinthe….
Another of their mind-expanding art activities is a version of the age-old “telephone” game which involves a cutting and pasting of words and visuals, with hysterical results reflecting contemporary society’s growing inability to truly communicate. But possibly only the bravest, or most inebriated, artist will truly let go by beginning a sketchbook drawing and then, horror upon horrors, passing it around for others to add their own marks to.
So if you have the urge to venture out for a night of drinking and drawing, you too will link emerging creativity with whatever nectar of the gods suits your fancy—all tempered with a dose of reality when you’re asked if you have a designated drawing driver.
Oh, and by the way, apparently the Milwaukee smoking ban has actually increased participants. Like so many artists before them, these creatives have carefully chosen their poison, and it is alcohol.
The next gathering — a “Back 2 School Special” takes place on Friday, September 10, 5-11 p.m., at the Gasthaus pub located in the basement of the UWM Union.