By: Jan Engoren Contributing Writer
It started with four blank canvases in the middle of the room. Little by little those white canvases began to take on color and the detail of their creator.
Billed as ‘part performance, part art-walk, part artist throwdown and part art sale,” the Monster Drawing Rally and Art Throwdown at the Arts Warehouse in Artist Alley on June 7 was all that and more.
Inspired by San Francisco artist-centered nonprofit Southern Exposure, the event was created to bring local artists and art appreciators to the arts district for a night of creating, appreciating and collecting art, all in a fun environment.
“This is an opportunity to raise awareness and funds in a fun, interactive setting and to see the artists create live works of art,” Arts Warehouse Director Jill Brown said. “It’s fun and accessible and people can purchase original art at affordable prices while supporting the local artistic community and the Arts Warehouse and artist services/programs.”
The Arts Warehouse is an arts incubator with many artists’ residences, including local artists Agata Ren and Colleen Thompson, who specializes in custom pet portraits.
While DJ Al Johnson pumped out the beats, the four throwdown artists – Gregory Dirr and Peggie Batia Lowenberg of Boca Raton, Eric Karbeling of Miami and Brazilian artist Luciana Boaventura, of Delray Beach picked up their paint brushes.
During a 90-minute painting frenzy, audience members milled about and a dozen or so drawing artists lined the perimeter of the room.
Delray Beach residents Gabe and Carol Wong were among those minglers, along with filmmaker Damian Fitzsimmons, owner of Brave Man Media.
Fitzsimmons will have a studio in the building and just finished shooting his first feature film “Off The Rails,” in the Arts District, as well as a music video, “Fools Gold,” with the Raggy Monster band of West Palm Beach.
“I’m very excited to move into the Arts Warehouse,” said Fitzsimmons, who hails from the UK.
Once the competition began, Karbeling, a muralist, threw down a coat of black paint on his canvas, sketching an outline of a skull.
Lowenberg, a painter, public artist, and community arts educator, splashed some azure and white as her backdrop, all the while moving to the beat of the music.
Boaventura, known for her abstract and imaginary figures, chose a sea-foam green to build a scene of lush foliage.
Dirr, who admires the paintings of J.R. Tolkien and PBS artist Bob Ross, outlined his canvas in tones of blue with a sun-like glow in the center.
The pieces evolved.
Karbeling’s once black background morphed into a series of brush strokes in primary colors of red, yellow and blue revealing an abstract skull in the center.
Lowenberg’s theme of ladders stretching skyward revealed itself from the blue. She has created a series of 30 paintings with ladders as the theme. “They are reaching toward heaven, connecting heaven and earth,” she said.
Dirr’s final reveal was a surrealistic Lord-of-the-Rings-esque theme, while Boaventura put the finishing touches on her nature-inspired canvas, where she attempts to draw parallels between the natural world and human nature.
Winners were determined by audience reaction.
Boaventura’s completed painting received the most enthusiastic audience response, while the other three shared equally in the audience’s appreciation, as determined by applause.
“I’m very excited,” said Boaventura, who was helped out by her daughter, Gaby. “I wasn’t expecting to win.”
Every piece sold.
Dan Pollitt, an equity trader from Boynton Beach purchased Dirr’s painting for $125 and was ecstatic about the purchase.
“I thought his painting was a winner,” Pollitt said. “I’m a gamer by heart and there is something nostalgic for me in his painting.”
Ashley Martinez of West Palm Beach was thrilled to purchase Lowenberg’s ladders to hang above her staircase. “I’m so moved by it,” she said.
Timothy Hall, a business owner, purchased Karbeling’s work for $225 and a serious collector (aka Boaventura’s husband, Luis) purchased Boaventura’s winning painting for $275, saying “She deserves it.”
All proceeds support the Arts Warehouse and winners will receive a one-month art exhibition in the Arts Warehouse backroom gallery.
The Arts Warehouse is located at 313 NE 3rd St. For more information visit artswarehouse.org