The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Detroit artists working assembly line-style.
On Friday, December 7th, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (a Knight Arts Grantee) held the Monster Drawing Rally, which acted as a fundraiser for annual MOCAD programming.
Artists were given one hour to produce one or multiple pieces for the rally.
The event was a smash success, with a packed crowd in attendance to observe some of Detroit’s best-loved artists at work, and go home with an original piece to call their own. Art production became an assembly-line affair, with the corps of 90 artists working in three one-hour shifts to create a continuous flow of new creations, which were then sold off the wall almost as quickly as they were put into the market.
Competition was hot and heavy, with most pieces selling as fast as they went up for sale.
While the strength of the event lay in the generosity of these artists, volunteering their time and creativity to support an institution that extends itself to showcase the Detroit art community, it also provided an powerful microcosm within which to consider the commercial aspect of the art world. All art produced was put up for sale at a flat rate of $40. In the event that more than one patron wished to purchase a piece, a fair system of high-card draw was the rule, rather than the bidding war that would normally escalate in the case of high demand. The artists in attendance ranged in notoriety, with big names including Jerome Ferretti, letterpress artist Lynne Avadenka, and Andrew Kreiger (who currently has a solo show up at Public Pool in Hamtramck), but the rules of the market dictated that all art have the same monetary worth. Still, the event was visibly an overwhelming experience for some of the artists, unused to a mechanical process driving their creative expression, let alone its immediate commodification.
An art-hungry crowd gathered in the main room.
Aside from the MOCAD, which surely achieved great success in its fundraising effort, the indisputable winners were those lucky art investors that availed themselves of an accessible entry into the world of Detroit art and its acquisition.