As the hustle and bustle of the North Star Music Café kitchen shuts down, artists arrive with sketchbooks, charcoal, and colored pencils in hand. After a few minutes a model takes the stage, the room erupts in thumping music, and the artists start cat-calling, hooting, and hollering, even wadding up dollar bills and throwing them at the model. The mellow-indie atmosphere of the North Star has shifted into raucous high gear as the shy, quiet artists burst from their shells.
A CAREFUL STUDENT: But it's always better with hot models and beer.
Photo by Katie Diamond
It's the Portland edition of what is a nationwide and quickly becoming a worldwide phenomenon, Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School. Dr. Sketchy's classes around the country are "de-academifying" the life-drawing class, taking portraiture out of art schools and into bars, lounges, and cafés. Each Dr. Sketchy's around the world is just a little bit different — each leader puts on her own local spin. The Portland Dr. Sketchy's is smaller than most, but is also a lot more intimate, and comes with the usual dose of Portland hospitality.
The location is one key difference: Where else can you go and sit back have a beer (or wine) and sketch some extraordinary models? (North Star's bar is open, but the kitchen closes, so fuel up before you go.)
The three-hour sessions are loose and relaxed, and artists are free to come and go as they please — and as their schedules require.
Katie Diamond, the mastermind of our Portland Dr. Sketchy's, is tasked with merging the performance world with the visual arts. The models she brings in are not your average life-drawing class models. She has invited burlesque dancers, drag performers, street dancers, and just plain "hot models," which is what keeps Alex from Boston coming back (that, and her friendship with Diamond). Not that Alex "doesn't mind drawing old people or atypical body types," but an artist gets bored with the norm. It's much easier to get inspiration from a hot model with a Mohawk and a chiseled, tattooed lean body that's barely hidden by a police uniform, complete with props — including a nightstick and a gun (unloaded of course).
In addition to the hot models "it's hell of a cheap, informal, relaxing, and low pressure," Alex says. A couple of Dr. Sketchy's "virgins" described it as "avant garde" and "super sassy." Both are hooked and say they'll definitely return.
Admission to Dr. Sketchy's is only $5, but don't forget those ones to pitch at the models throughout the session. Every artist needs to practice their craft, and at Dr. Sketchy's no one cares if you're a famous artist, a student, or someone who hasn't touched a sketchbook in 20 years.
Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School | April 12, June 21, August 23, October 25, December 6 | North Star Music Café, 225 Congress St, Portland | 5-8 pm | $5 | myspace.com/dr_sketchys_portland