Looking to make your mark this weekend?
Press Street — a nonprofit literary and visual arts collective — is hosting its ninth annual 24-hour Draw-a-thon, this year at the Art Klub, 517 Elysian Fields Ave., from 6:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, to 6:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 30.
(Formerly planned at the Marigny Opera House, where the event has been held the past two years, Draw-a-Thon was moved due to a permitting dispute, organizers said Tuesday.)
The free event invites people of all ages to join more than 30 local artists in 24 hours of free workshops and activities designed to celebrate the act of creating.
Said Susan Gisleson, one of the founders of Press Street and an organizer of the event: “By the end of the event, there will literally be thousands of drawings everywhere — essentially a giant collaboration between strangers.”
More than just an opportunity to draw on walls, the Draw-a-thon will feature both ongoing and structured events.
The morning and early afternoon will focus on children’s events, including the chance to “Create a Creature” with artist Chris Deris, and “Costume Making for Robots” — which will be followed by a robot parade.
One of the event’s most popular attractions is always The Amazing Draw-a-tron 3000. Created each year by a different artist, the Amazing Draw-a-tron has taken the form of everything from the front end of a 1973 Ford Grenada to a giant pencil. In every case, however, it operates the same.
“There’s always an input and an output area,” Gisleson said. “What you do is write out anything you want to have drawn, let’s say a unicorn blowing out birthday candles. You then put your suggestion into the Draw-a-tron 3000, and a few minutes later, poof, like magic, your drawing comes out.”
Gisleson said this year’s Draw-a-tron will take the form of a gigantic bird by artist Natalie McLaurin.
“It’s big enough that someone could fit inside it,” she said.
Attendees also are invited to check out the Whimsy Post.
“We invite people to draw a postcard, and then we take a phone book — which is hard to find nowadays — and we pick a name and address at random and mail the postcard to them,” Gisleson said. “It’s a way of inserting a bit of whimsy into the lives of others.”
As the evening wears on, the Draw-a-thon will become decidedly more adult. From 10 p.m. to 12 a.m., there will be a figure-drawing workshop using live models led by Southern University New Orleans professor Gary Oaks.
“We call him Drill Sergeant,” Gisleson said. “He shows up in fatigues and barks out orders on what to do.”
And then things really get crazy.
“After midnight, the event dissolves into madness,” Gisleson said with a laugh. “My favorite time each year is always around 4 a.m.”
This year’s early morning activities will include a live harpist and an artistic exploration of the alternative evolutionary paths of Burgess Shale, a collection of some of the world’s most celebrated fossils.
The 24-hour Draw-a-thon is Press Street’s largest community event of the year. Last year, more than 1,000 people participated.
“It’s just a real feel-good event,” Gisleson said. “It’s an opportunity to walk into a space and just create, and with free art supplies. I mean that’s better than free money.”