The event is put together by Jeff Kursel and his family in dedication to his father who was a successful ad exec here in Milwaukee. He also attended Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), the only accredited private art school in Wisconsin. The amount of work that appears to go into this event is staggering. Coordinating the space; a beautiful old warehouse in Historic Third Ward, dozens of food vendors, donated art supplies from Richeson Art and finding 80+ artists to donate their time and effort, parking, valet, coat check, security and processing the payments from patrons that buy works via a silent auction at the end of the night....WOW...and then the clean up aftermath. It really is quite a show.
This is my 5th year of participating as an artist. I feel so fortunate, as this year featured 90 artists, many locals, many from the Kursel family and a guest artist from Germany. And me...little Mike Pintar, local artist from Waukesha struggling to sell anything this year. Getting the invite back in July to paint at this event gets be jacked up right up to the day of the event. With what I guess is close to 1000 people attending (based on bidder ticket numbers), the atmosphere is so electric and so much artistic energy, it's really hard to describe. I don't have time to take many photos when everyone is there and they discourage photographs anyway, so it's one of those "you have to be there to believe it" kind of things. Here's a quick glimpse of the action.
Artists start arriving in early afternoon. Doors to the public open at 6pm and bidding starts immediately with final auction bids closing starting at 9:30. If you're artist #1, you better be close to finished vs #84 where you'll have an extra hour to finish up your piece. So while it's a ton of pressure to create a piece in 5-8 hours, the process is where the action is, and what the public comes for.
Artists start at various times, but the key is to pace yourself so when the public is watching, you're in the middle of your work. Easier said than done!
The man, Tom Nachreiner of Milwaukee.
I took a "safe" subject this year, a cityscape, but went out of the box and developed it upside down. Below is a completed block-in and starting to move on to refining the big shapes. I'll detail the rest of the process in my next post. It was a great Open Canvas this year and hope to be back next year...cross my paintbrushes.