They Draw Horses, Don’t They? – Artists gather for a 24-hour marathon art session

Artists Keith Puccinelli, left, Penelope Gottlieb, top right, and Alejandro Casazi prepare for the drawing marathon earlier this summer. Thomas Kelsey/News-Press
Artists Keith Puccinelli, left, Penelope Gottlieb, top right, and Alejandro Casazi prepare for the drawing marathon earlier this summer.
Thomas Kelsey/News-Press

“4 a.m. is when it really starts to get to you,” says artist Saul Grey-Hildenbrand. “That’s when you really start questioning your sanity.”

Doing anything for 24 hours straight is pushing human limits, but there’s a special place for drawing, as a select group of Santa Barbara artists, who may want to know how to start a drawing business real soon, will find out this weekend when Contemporary Arts Forum hosts its first annual “From Dusk ’til Drawn” to raise money for CAF’s budget.

From 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday, 20 artists will hunker down and draw, draw, draw. They will be joined at varying intervals by other artists, including children, who only want to work for a few hours. As the works are finished, Forum assistants will place the drawings up on the walls for purchase. Price points range from $25 to $300, and artists get 50 percent of their profits.

“The money goes right back into exhibition and artists’ hands,” artist Valerie Velasquez says. “It goes right back into keeping the lights on. We also thought it would be a good way to incorporate the staff, who are also artists.”

There will be 20 “headliner” artists, who have vowed to put in the full 24 hours, including Gray-Hildenbrand, Ethan Turpin, Ross Brenner, Julia Ford, Carlos Grano, Phrankie Guerrero, Inga Guzyte, Linda Saccoccio, Warren Schultheis and more.

While this is CAF’s first Dusk ’til Drawn, it marks co-curator Gray-Hildenbrand’s 10th foray into marathon drawing, a concept he came up with some time ago.

“It comes from reading a lot of art history in school, in particular the French Situationist idea of drive,” he says. “Which is just talking a walk around your normal everyday things and looking at it in a different way. I set aside my first (24-hour) day to do that.”

He did it a few times alone, then with friends, and most recently with a large group at the since defunct View Gallery. From Dusk ’til Drawn is the biggest one yet.

Of course, the idea isn’t only Grey-Hildenbrand’s. Several other galleries in the Bay Area and in New York City, for example, hold similar daylong events. This last February, Hourly Comics Day asked the Internet community to submit comics detailing a day in the life of the artist.

Having dabbled in the endurance art sport, Grey-Hildenbrand has some tips.

“At the half-way point, it gets pretty rough, but adrenaline does kick in eventually,” he says. “It forces you to work through things and poses solutions that might not have come otherwise.”

He also suggests setting a project or goal, either timewise (one drawing every hour, for example) or some other structure. However, make sure to limit scope. One artist set out to document the history of the Earth and only got to the Dawn of Man.

For Grey-Hildenbrand, his announced theme will be pessimism, as he takes all the “anti-” prefixed words out of his favorite dictionary and works up an illustration around each.

For those interested in buying the art, there’s a small fee to enter CAF at anytime during the proceedings to browse what’s on the walls. Of course, if you don’t want to buy anything, you can just look, as well. On Sunday, the forum is open for free, as usual, to view what is left.

When: 6 p.m. tonight through 6 p.m. Saturday; Closing Reception — 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Contemporary Arts Forum, 653 Paseo Nuevo (upstairs)
Cost: $5 event, free on Sunday
Information: 966-5373,

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