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Issue Date: December 2008

A Sketchy Evening

Andy Netzel
Two men in lab coats, goggles and rubber gloves come to the front of the room, one with a beer in hand. Squirrel Nut Zippers are played underneath, setting a jazzy atmosphere. After a welcome to the three dozen or so folks gathered, one of them introduces a model, Brenna, who comes out wrapped haphazardly in white strips of cloth with enough leg, tummy and collarbone exposed to make you open your eyes a tad wider.

The crowd puts charcoal to paper.

While they run through one-minute poses, then 10-minute poses (a standard art school routine), the addition of booze and sexiness makes this less like a legitimate art class and more like a pubescent dream of what art school would be like.

This is Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, a project started three years ago in New York and brought to Cleveland this year by a pair of former Cleveland Institute of Art classmates, Jason Tilk (a graduate) and Aaron Erb (a dropout).

“We try to have fun without being too serious about it,” Erb says.

Tilk jumps in: “In art school, when you do life drawing, it’s quiet and super tense. We don’t want tense.”

That’s why there’s no judging. No one but 31-year-old Rocky River resident Chrissy Halpin cares if her sketch of Brenna “looks like a 90-year-old Japanese dude.”

The crowd at the Beachland Ballroom was full of drawing rookies like Halpin, as well as art school graduates now in more restrictive fields such as industrial design.

Besides, even artists that regularly do life drawings, such as 40-year-old Ken Talley of Shaker Heights, want to have fun.

“Art can be kind of isolating,” he says. “Here, you’re doing art but being social. It’s more bohemian.”

Talley waits while the lovely Brenna goes through yet another of the evening’s costume changes: long Victorian-style red dress to a red teddy.

Bohemian, indeed.
The next Anti-Art School will be Tuesday, Dec. 2. Check out for details.

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