by Dr. David Glen Robinson
A Participating Artist's Impressions
The artists stood at easels or sat at drawing tables in the well of the theatre, downstage center, or more aptly, house center. The stage was multilevel, rising before us and offering sightlines better than in most figurative art workshops. The lighting on the models was also much better than in any workshop. My choice of oil on canvas as the medium ensured no relaxation on my part. I sweated and labored continually, and my brushes and charcoals hummed throughout the show; I panted through the entire five-minute break the artists were given in the middle of the performance. But my earnest efforts had actually begun before the show, with hauling four loads of art equipment and supplies from my pickup into the theatre. And I thought I had a minimal setup! Lesson: Oil painting never allows a minimal setup.
I was a guest artist for one evening performance of Paper Chairs’ Art Show/Model Show at the Offshoot Theatre in East Austin, where creativity seemsy always to find new and brilliant expression. This show simulated in its setting an art class or workshop, where artists actually strive for, well, something in the realm of figurative art. The workshop setting gave rise to the need for working artists in the show, and so I signed up. But it was the art models/actors who controlled the action and gave all the lines and spoke all the texts in the show. The only artists who spoke were those who did so in projected video interviews on a screen above the stage.
|(photo from Paper Chairs)|
The models who created Art Show/Model Show raged against all of that. They spoke and the artists remained silent. Art instruction videos contextualized their world, and then the models offered commentary on it all, never more hilariously than when model Kelli Bland walked among the artists in faux art teacher mode giving ironic, almost snide, instructions in how to draw body parts, mostly by making impersonal and insensitive comments about “the model.” (“You can’t see that bone on that model, but it is there under all her fat.”) All models have heard such brutally clinical and basically rude comments in the course of their modeling careers.
Read more at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . . .