Cuyahoga Falls Artist Gets “Sketchy”
Bart Sullivan, 07-23-2018

Andrew Sunderland, pictured middle, at a Dr. Sketchy's event in 2015.
Stephen Mulé
He may work in I.T., but you can call him “Doctor.” That’s because Cuyahoga Falls artist Andrew Sunderland is part of the trio that runs the Akron life drawing events known as Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School.

A graduate of the Pittsburgh Art Institute, Sunderland chose art school over going into the Navy, having been encouraged by teachers. After working as a production artist and graphic designer, he started concentrating more on fine arts. “I think I wasn’t expending all my artistic energy making coupons for people. And then I was able to focus more on [art], and that’s about the time that I discovered Dr. Sketchy and started getting into it,” he said. Although he says he enjoys painting, drawing tends to be more of a go-to medium. “Normally I carry around a sketchbook,” he says. “When I’m out at bars or sitting in meetings or doing anything, I’m usually drawing.” This makes him a perfect fit for running Dr. Sketchy’s events.

Founded in New York by Molly Crabapple and A.V. Phibes in 2005, Dr. Sketchy’s events have spread to over 100 cities around the world, including downtown Akron. While each event is different, Sunderland says that everything ties back to Crabapple. Combined with the Dr. Sketchy’s online community, artists of all skill levels have the opportunity to have fun with the craft. “We get a lot of people that used to draw … and have stopped. We get the occasional graphic designer that does everything by computer now, but wants to get back into actual drawing,” Sunderland explains.

For the last eight years Bill Lynn, a.k.a “Dr. Bill,” had been running events in Akron, until he recently retired from Dr. Sketchy’s. He didn’t want shows to end, however, and neither did Andrew. “I don’t know how he did it for 8 years by himself. It’s a lot of work,” he said. “So I said I would do it, but I couldn’t do it by myself.” Running the events with Sunderland are Joe Goshe and Derek Manke.

At each Dr. Sketchy’s anti-art school event, participants have the opportunity to draw models in various poses. As the name suggests, this isn’t like an art school figure drawing class. Models dress in a variety of costumes, usually burlesque, based on that month’s theme. Poses often last anywhere from 1-2 minutes up to 5-10 minutes, with accompanying music. “Expect a relaxed atmosphere. There’s a lot of joking that goes on between myself, the other guys, and the model and some of the people that are there regularly. We don’t want that to turn anyone off,” he said. Contests are held throughout the night, but not necessarily for the best drawings. In addition to showrunner and model-picked pieces, contests might ask artists to draw with their non-dominant hand or draw what a model might be reacting to.

As for the art scene in Cuyahoga Falls and Akron, Sunderland feels these events are the perfect way for people to become involved. He explains that it gives people a way to practice if they enjoy drawing. Since he first began attending Dr. Sketchy’s events, his work has been part of group and solo shows, and has even been considered for the Akron Art Prize. Going to Dr. Sketchy’s events introduces artists to more people involved in the community, as well as providing a great way to meet people. Artists this year have the opportunity to display work in a gallery show at Studio 2091 in Cuyahoga Falls. Any work that began at Dr. Sketchy’s events or was even simply inspired by one, will be accepted.

Andrew says there are only three rules at Dr. Sketchy’s: 1) no photography, 2) be respectful of both models and other artists, and 3) tip the models. He adds that “in the art community, that’s what people are looking for. We’re not opposed to sexuality. We’re not prudes. We’re nothing like that, but be[ing] respectful about it [has] always worked for us.”

Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School events are held at Jilly’s Music Room in Akron the second Wednesday of each month, 7:30-10:30pm, with $10 admission.

More information about Dr. Sketchy’s - Akron is available on the group's facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DrSketchyAkron/.


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