drawdown at moca

by madeleine wagner
The idea of hanging out after hours at the museum must appeal to a very specific subset of people. Add to that a lock-in eight-hour drawing marathon and the pool is edited even more. However, for those few souls finding solace in the quiet hours and enforced but relaxed rigor, the marathon can offer unexpected results.
Spearheaded by former MOCA Director of Education, J. Marshall Adams, the Drawing Marathon takes place about twice a year, it starts at about 11 pm, and officially ends at 7 am, though participants can leave at any point. The event itself has antecedents in similar events hosted by colleges and academic institutions. In earlier, casual conversations, Adams said that he envisioned the events as a way to spark interest in the museum. He also saw it as a way to encourage an investigation of drawing and what it can mean in a contemporary sense of the practice. And he thought it might make a nice line on an artist’s resume.
From my own experience, the Drawing Marathon is a highly satisfying event with enough structure to force the hand to draw. For lapsed creatives, the opportunity to stand silently in a room, Johnny Cash (or the Brandenburg Concertos) blasting through earbuds, and work through embarrassingly bad ideas is an exercise in discipline and humility. Nevertheless reminding one of the physical and mental satisfaction derived from the creative act.
So far, the museum has hosted three Drawdown events, the most recent on July 31–each one has been different because those participating change. The common thread is the way in which participants slowly ease into a comfortable working space with one another. Tentative glances and polite diffidence becomes material sharing and conversations, ultimately becoming camaraderie–however brief.
Others find themselves intrigued by the forced application; at the museum there are no distractions. “I am looking forward to it,” says Kathleen King, who works at hospitals during the day, and strives to find time for her creative efforts. “I can’t ever seem to find the time to draw. This will force me to and hopefully me carry on…”
After everyone leaves-at about 7 am-the museum staff gather all the drawings created and mount a modest show on the fifth floor. A small reception is often hosted, and though often the work looks somewhat unfinished, seeing it all together gives one a sense of the span and disparity of the interest of people who want to make things.
To participate in the next Drawdown, contact MOCA: 366-6911.


april, 2022