In one of the last remaining fully-occupied artist warehouses in Williamsburg, artist Michael Alan hastily arranged a series of highly intricate ink drawings and papier-mâché cast figures.
It is not for a gallery exhibition or a performance art show, Alan explained. Not in the traditional sense, anyway.
“I use the example of a graffiti bench,” said Alan, referring to a collaborative, cooperative artistic effort in city streets. “How could we all get together? It’s not happening in art right now. Where do you get 100 artists doing in a room doing something?”
On Saturday, January 23, Alan is hosting the “Draw-a-thon Retreat” at Paige’s House of Collection at an undisclosed location in Williamsburg. Part figure drawing collective, part live theater, the art event will occur over seven hours Saturday night in a 2500 square foot house.
“People say, ‘Well is it figure drawing?’ and I say, no its theater,” said Alan. “There will be seven hours of improvisation with writers, actors, and some people who just come and watch”
The Draw-A-Thon features dozens of semi-nude models, affixed with papier-mâché masks and body armor, body paint, makeup and lipstick to Alan’s liking. According to Alan’s instructions, the actors follow a blueprint of movement throughout the evening he has laid out in his maze-like illustrations. A group of artists then draws the troupe of actors as they bend, flex and wander through the multiple rooms of the house.
Born in Queens, Alan has lived in all parts of New York City before settling in Williamsburg. His studio, located on a quiet industrial stretch of Dobbin Street near the Greenpoint-Williamsburg border, is filled with elaborate ink on paper drawings, fearsome masks with no eye or mouth holes, and figures made from newsprint and found objects. Alan has shown his work in Williamsburg galleries McCaig-Welles and Ad Hoc Art (both of which have closed in the past year), but takes more pleasure in live drawing events that creates his own community.
“The performers and artists who come to each show have become my family,” said Alan. “We’re developing a subculture.”
For the jaded art gallery fan, Alan promises something different. The location itself is worth the visit. With multiple rooms filled with antique accouterments, which Alan refers to as an “eclectic labyrinth of salvaged artifacts.”
“Paige has lived there for over twenty years and has had many friends and artists collaborate to build a fantastical place of peace, oddities and comfort,” said Alan. “This space is very special to me. The times I’ve gone there, I couldn’t stop drawing the antiques and curiosities.”
This show’s theme is “family,” and Alan’s extended artist family will march throughout the house in dramatic connected group poses. While drawing or observing, there will be coffee, tea, lasagna, salad, and cookies to snack on.
After working and living in several neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Alan could not imagine throwing this kind of artistic event anywhere else but Williamsburg.
“My goal is to stay here, I like this area,” said Alan. “I’m very happy here.”
Michael Alan’s Draw-a-thon Theater will take place on Saturday, January 23 from 7 PM to 2 AM. RSVP only for the location of the event. Tickets for $17 are available online at http://www.michaelalanart.com/drawathon.