Month two of the monthly Atomic Sketch Event, and its sponsoring venue, Evil Olive in Wicker Park, is filled with Wicker Park-esque hipsters. The sign-in sheet in the front informs guests to "Get awesome," and attendants are adorned with witticism-splayed T-shirts, facial piercings and tattoos. Yet a drawing table set up parallel to the back bar catches the eye, and for a moment it seems odd-—although in hindsight it probably shouldn't have—-that people are actually sketching at the Atomic Sketch Event.
"Well, what did you think we do?" asks local artist and ASE co-host Brian Hofmeister.
Hofmeister has just finished a mixed media collage, something resembling a black bird centered by disjointed kite-like designs. "And now for my secret weapon," he jokes. "I'm actually framing my piece, and then I'm going to hang it."
A live art-making and affordable art-selling affair, Atomic Sketch Event is a monthly showcasing of established and immerging artists actually sketching on site and, once complete, selling their pieces right off the drawing table. Though each ASE features an "official" panel of artists, drop-in artists are welcome as well-—as was the case with the August event where the seven slated artists were joined by what seemed to be a dozen others.
"It's not an original concept, we admit," Hofmeister confesses, who got the idea when he attended a similar function in San Francisco with other ASE co-host Dom Cesario, "but nobody was doing anything like it in Chicago."
Inspired by the San Francisco function, Hofmeister and Cesario began the machinations of founding their own sketch event in the Windy City. Charles Joly joined the hosting committee and Evil Olive signed on as the ASE venue soon after. The first Atomic Sketch Event took place in July 2008. "Feedback has been positive," Hofmeister says. And though there's no confirmation on how long ASE will endure, according to Hofmeister, he and his other co-hosts have "indefinite expectations."
The Atomic Sketch Event is held the last Thursday of every month at Evil Olive, 1551 W. Division Ave., from 6-10 p.m.