The Miracle of Birth Barn…For Art

If we tried hard enough, we could wax intellectual about Midway Contemporary Art’s annual Monster Drawing Rally event. With nearly 100 artists crammed elbow-to-elbow at drawing tables, cranking out work right there on the spot, to be sold on the spot, in front of a rapt, frenzied, and sometimes inebriated audience—well, there’s a performative element there.

There’s also an experiment of gaze and an interrogation of celebrity, as the flat work posted to the wall competes with—and often loses to—the zoo-like voyeurism of seeing captive artists break a sweat outside the comfort of their studio lairs.

Monster Drawing Rally 2011

And then there are brainy reasons to go check out this supremely popular, supremely enjoyable annual fundraiser for Midway this Saturday—but you won’t need any of them. That’s because the Drawing Rally is, simply put, a blast. Now in its fifth year, it is consistently one of the most purely fun art events on the calendar, and more often than not, we walk away with one or two purchased pieces—and a head swimming with dozens of new artists to check out. This year the event moves to a new, more monster-sized venue: Northeast’s Grain Belt Bottling House. The expanded space translates to a doubling of the number of participating artists (so far the count is up to 85). And the line-up, by the way, is stellar.

For those that don’t know, here’s how it works: every hour, cohorts of 25 artists sit side by side behind long table. They get 60 minutes to produce as many works as they can, and as each is produced, it gets immediately whisked away and pinned to a wall. Once it hits the wall, you can buy it. Everything costs a flat fee of $35 (even the Frank Gaards!). First come, first serve. Once the 60 minutes are up, a new cohort of 25 artists take to the tables, and the process begins again. The artists all volunteer their time and creations, and all proceeds go directly to Midway.

Thrills are located both in the on-the-spot pressure of live creation, but also in the live, vulnerable interaction between artists and potential patron. It is, simply put, a good way to meet artists you’ve been fans of for years.

Admission is free, and the folks at Midway usually come correct with some snacks and a cash bar. So check the website, and plan your entrance accordingly. In this scenario, the early birds are definitely gonna get the worms.

Midway Contemporary Art’s Fifth Annual Monster Drawing Rally
Saturday, Dec. 15
Drawing rounds begin at 6 p.m., 7 p.m., and 8 p.m.
Grain Belt Bottling House, 79 13th Ave. NE, Mpls.