Sunday, October 15, 2006

Drawing at The Brillo Box, Pittsburgh.

I would assume that most people in Pittsburgh in the art/music scene already know about the Brillo Box. I feel confident in making this assumption based upon the thick crowds that frequent the place on any given night. Renee and Eric, its owners, moved here a short while ago from New York City and created this venue that effectively enhances the Lawrenceville/Bloomfield area. They both come from artistic backgrounds, and it is clearly evident in its design and offerings.

There's a hip jukebox with all the indie favorites, tasty food with a notably healthy approach, and post-pop art on the walls. For those who appreciate visual stimuli, they screen a variety of offbeat and campy films on a large projection system on the back wall. They have some of the more interesting Pittsburgh bands playing upstairs, and mix in spoken word, dj, dance parties, and other diverse performers and events. And they have a great selection of beers on tap with reasonable prices. If you don't mind densely-packed spaces, then you'll probably find something to enjoy about this bar. That is... unless you are a homophobic philistine.

What you are most likely not aware of is that they are now offering the unique opportunity of live figure drawing. Sure... there are some excellent sessions featuring nudes around town, including Panza Gallery (Millvale- Thursdays at 7PM) and the Brew House (South Side- one Sunday a month at 12:30PM) . But nowhere else will you find women in burlesque costumes. The series is called "Drink and Draw", and will be extended to the public every other Saturday, starting at 6PM. This past Saturday was the first chance, and yours truly was there to enjoy it. The models were beautiful and wore amazing outfits- including garters and stockings, feathers, boas, and high-heeled shoes. The set is lushly decorated with an armoir and red velvet, and the lighting is subdued. Renee was amazingly accomodating to both the models and the artists, and took a sincere interest in everyone's work. Even better, she drew with us!

My personal experience was multi-faceted. It was a challenge to depict the large amount of visual information available in limited blocks of time. More than once, I found myself wishing for just a few minutes more. There were 2-minute, 5-minute, 15-minute and 30-minute poses. With the interaction between the models, and the elaborate costuming, each drawing was uniquely challenging. At the same time, the entire presentation was so lush and intimate that it was almost distracting. I was a bit self-conscious to be the only male participant, but I transcended that consideration rather quickly. On one hand it would be a shame if there wasn't a greatly expanded turnout the next time, but in my own selfish way... I would be quite happy to have the privilege of being part of the exact same grouping in the future. The informality and comfort of the experience were just about perfect.

Huge props are due to Susan Constance for her efforts in organizing and promoting this event.

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