Courtesy of Sage Art Gallery

This past Saturday, Feb. 16, the Sage Art Center once again became less an art venue and more of an open-minded space to have fun and celebrate creativity. As part of “The Day of the Arts” celebration that seeks to raise awareness for the thriving art community here at the University, faculty and students of the art and art history departments joined efforts (and attires) to present a silly little “drawing contest” in the east wing of Sage.  The objective was to draw a series of poses one on top of the last without getting a new piece of paper.  The competitors: University faculty from the art departments.

The room was casually lit as people entered and mingled around a table full of delicious refreshments. The food could not take attention away from “decorating” the room with the guests’ presence. One such person was a tall man wearing a green, blue, and grey squared suit and a pair of nice white shoes that have been out of production for at least three decades. This man was later identified as Associate Professor of Art and Art History Allen Topolski. A woman in roller skates wearing a silver helmet with an attached video camera was also in attendance. Her main goal throughout the event was to make sure guests tried every single treat on the table. Later on, she gave away champagne flutes. There was another man known only as “Mechanic.” He wore a jumpsuit and sported crazy long, curly hair. Another young woman, who wore multicolored stockings, fancy clothes, and several twisted braids, completed the rag-tag group.

The contest began when the hostess spoke into a microphone (which was never turned on) and called for a “warm up.” Both Mechanic and Topolski got their markers and pencils ready. Braid Girl stood on a table and struck a pose every few seconds. The competitors went right to work, drawing picture on top of picture.   It was indescribable. People laughed as their expectations grew.

It was then time for the real showdown. All three contestants, Topolski, Mechanic, and Braid Girl, got ready in front of their respective canvases while the hostess selected a model for the artists. The starting “shot” was fired; contestants were  given between 30 and 60 seconds to draw everything McLaren told them to draw. At times, contestants were told to draw the general figure of the pose. At others, they had to focus on the eyes or the legs of the model and switch colors depending on what they were told. Sometimes, contestants had to use both hands at the same time, sometimes only their left or right hand.

The technique and style of each contestant were unique to say the least. Braid Girl seemed to adopt a very stylish, professional method while Topolski’s drawings were bolder and broken, favoring mood over form. Mechanic’s drawings reminded audiences of children’s cartoons with a psychedelic tinge.

The winner was crowned according to the sound of cheers from the audience. Braid Girl’s work, although professional and aesthetically pleasant, apparently lacked some of the quirky mood that oozed from the other two. Two rounds of applause were required to decide the finalists  — Topolski and Mechanic would contest for the gold.

Amid jokes and jests, both finalists prepared themselves while another audience member was selected as the model for the final round. At this point, Mechanic decided to get rid of his mechanic suit and fight for the gold in boxers and a t-shirt. The desire for glory was so strong that as soon as the clock started, Topolski ran across the room towards Mechanic and managed to draw a bold line across his adversary’s canvas before the long-haired man could react. They both struggled for a few moments as the canvas eventually fell to the floor. This did not stop both artists from fighting with their pens until the time was up.

Topolski emerged victorious after being acclaimed by the public. His work was subsequently auctioned to the highest bidder. This turned out to be a student who offered an empty eye dropper from his pocket. The event’s winning masterpiece is currently hanging in his dorm.

Informal, fanciful, dynamic, collective, and liberal, the contest stayed true to some of the best traditions of the Sage Art Center by making visual art entertainment worth looking at and talking about.

Pinera is a member of the class of 2016.



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