You gotta admit it–Harrisonburg is a great town for art. A hub, if you will. A hotbed. Perhaps even a mecca. And on the lucky evening of the thirteenth of March, forty-three local artists journeyed to the Blue Nile to uncover their collective destiny… controlled completely by an old Elks Lodge bingo cage.
Unfortunately, I didn’t attend on the 13th, but Brandy and I recently went back to the Nile to relive “Luck of the Draw” night for Harrisonburg’s first annual Art Lotto. It just so happens that one of the participating artists–Lynda Bostrom–was tending bar, so between Brandy and her, I think I got a pretty accurate picture of the evening. But before that, a bit of history.
It was summer of 2011. Brandy and her friend (another local artist) Denise Kanter Allen met at El Sol for dinner and to discuss their upcoming joint art show. Inspired by her own collaboration with Denise, Brandy came up with the idea of bringing that collaboration to a larger scale. Brandy likened her idea to Harrisonburg’s long-established Rock Lotto, in which bands are formed in a random drawing. Art Lotto is similar in that each artist randomly selects another artist whose portrait he or she must then create. Denise loved the idea and couldn’t wait to help make it a reality.
*Speaking of collaboration, and I’m not really sure where to insert this tidbit, but Lynda Bostrom and Denise currently have a joint show on display at the Nile. For the whole month of March. What a coininkydink!!
The ladies tried to name the event something other than “lotto” because they didn’t want to step on any toes. But “Art Lotto” just sounded right, so they asked permission from the Rock Lotto founder and, with his blessing, went for it. After three months of sign-ups and meetings, the March 1 deadline arrived, and Brandy and Denise prepared for “Luck of the Draw” night on March 13.
Which brings us to the events of that evening. Let’s see… Brandy insists she was very nervous talking to a room full of artists, even though she speaks to large groups of teenagers every day. But Lynda says Brandy was “graceful and teacher-like,” what with her handouts, bulleted lists, and stern shushing. The method of selection was in keeping with the whole lucky/lotto/13 theme: each participant had to come to the bingo cage and crank the handle not once, not twice, but thrice, as the lotto balls quivered nervously against each other.
Then the artist chose a lotto ball, on which was written another artist’s name. Interestingly, only two artists actually selected each other. And there was some Rosenwasser/Rosenberger confusion. To add to that confusion is my probable misspelling of both names. Sorry!!
This went on for some time, and after 129 handle cranks, Brandy and Denise had their results:
The photo above shows who’s doing whom. (Now don’t go starting any rumors.) Brandy reminded the crowd that Art Lotto’s purpose is “to get people who live in the same town and coexist and do the same thing to collaborate.” And it’s also about branching out and meeting new artists. She continued, “If you get your roommate, or friend, or brother, you can do ’em, but come on, people… do you really wanna?” Hm.
She also gave a few guidelines on this handout:
and added, with enthusiastic gestures, “Unless your piece is long and skinny.” Hm.
Okay, now these artists are prolific people, and they need time to complete their portraits with care and craftsmanship. Stay tuned for details about their finished portraits, which will be displayed to the public on Friday, August 3, at The Artful Dodger.
Have fun gettin’ lucky! And remember, size matters.