When I think of what makes a hip art scene, "franchise" isn't a word that readily comes to mind, or seems like very much of a good idea. But when I learned of the international, growing phenomenon of hosting themed figure-drawing nights in artists' studios and subcultural centers under the Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School label, I had to admit that this was a very special case. The local manifestation of Dr. Sketchy's, hosted at rotating venues and presented by illustrator Greg Caggiano, is about to reach its fourth iteration with an event on Saturday, December 15.
Dr. Sketchy's was founded in 2005 by artists Molly Crabapple and A.V. Phibes, set in a dive bar in Brooklyn, and was the answer to the question of what figure drawing looks like when tackled by artists who adore the body but are bored by strict tradition. The events, in which "artists draw glamorous underground performers in an atmosphere of boozy conviviality" (per the official Dr. Sketch''s statement), are held today in many cities across the country, and Caggiano has presented them in Rochester since the spring of 2012.
Caggiano is a 2008 graduate of RIT's illustration program, and works as an illustrator and printer at local t-shirt company Hide The Bodies (check it: HTBkicksass.com). "We have such a thriving art community here in Rochester that real niche things can exist," says Caggiano. "I've always been into figure drawing. I also like movies and drinking beer." Since it's an enterprise that combines all those loves, Dr. Sketchy's sounded like a grand time. "Why don't we draw people dressed like LeLu and Corbin Dallas, play drinking games, and win prizes?," he says.
Dr. Sketchy's events are three-hour evenings held once every-other month, featuring a different theme each time. Typically, about three models, scantily dressed in character costumes, freeze for a maximum of 20 minutes per pose. In addition, contests are held throughout the evening, such as the best left-handed drawing, and best upside-down drawing, and artists compete for prizes that include original art and quirky objects. Pizza is always provided, and the soundtrack matches the theme of the show.
One past Dr. Sketchy event in Rochester was a Nicktoons throwback night. "If you were a child of the 90's, it is likely that Nickelodeon cartoons were very dear to you," says Caggiano. "We celebrated that by drawing [models dressed as] Helga Pataki from 'Hey, Arnold,' Quailman from 'Doug,' and the cast of 'AHH! Real Monsters.'"
Admission to each event is $10, and participants should bring their own art supplies in any media of their choosing. The events are BYOB, and cameras are strictly forbidden (but be aware that a sanctioned Dr. Sketchy's photographer documents the events, and pictures end up on the internet.)
The December 15 event, to be held 7-10 p.m. at Art and Vintage on Main (101 Main St., East Rochester), is called "Dr. Sketchy's IV: XXXMAS" and will have a holiday fetish theme. Well-loved Rochester fixtures will be present, such as Jimmy from Lux Lounge in the role of Santa, DJ Snacks, and others. "One of our models is attempting a pretty dangerous feat that to my knowledge has never been publicly performed in Rochester," says Caggiano.
For more information, visit the Dr. Sketchy's Rochester Facebook page, and "like" it to receive updates. Don't forget to provide feedback and suggest themes for future events — someone suggested "Twin Peaks" and one month later, Caggiano hosted a David Lynch-themed event. And if you're interested in being a paid model for the event, send a message on the Facebook page and get the details. For more details on Dr. Sketchy in general, check out drsketchy.com.