Happy Mistakes in the Mission

My friend told me about a monster drawing rally that was going down at the Verdi Club in San Francisco’s Mission District while I was in town, and I couldn’t believe my good luck.

Artists competing to draw the most fantastical monsters imaginable? Sign me up.

I have a friend who specializes in monster art, so I already have a baseline appreciation for this kind of thing. Plus, I was told there would be good eats supplied by a few of San Fran’s many yummy food trucks. Yes, definitely.

The view from the DJ's perch on stage at the Verdi Club.

When I arrived, I grabbed some tikka masala from the Kasa Indian truck, then shouldered my way through the very packed club, where I met Courtney Fink, the executive director of Southern Exposure (or So-Ex) — the non-profit arts group that organized the event.

She explained that each set of artists would draw for an hour then rotate, until four sets had filtered through.

At the end of each round the drawings would then be put up for sale at $60 a pop, with all the proceeds going to So-Ex to support more community-art events like this one.

Artists hard at work.

The auditorium, where about three dozen artists were hard at work, was equally full. A DJ was spinning lo-fi musicians like Ty Segall on vinyl from his perch on stage above the crowd.

As I walked around, expecting to see monsters, I realized there were none to be found, and slowly realized that this was a monster drawing rally, not a monster drawing rally.

The joke was on me, but it was still fun watching the artists create work in a public space — a process that usually takes place behind closed doors.

Finished drawings waiting to be bought.

Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, partaking in the free (with donation) New Belgium brews on tap and snapping up drawings left and right.

I heard one woman say she’d already bought 12 pieces, and there were still two more rounds to go.

Good for the artists, good for So-Ex, good for public art.  It was only the monsters that didn’t get to come out and play!

Follow Shannon’s adventures on Twitter @CuriousTraveler and on Instagram @ShannonSwitzer

Shannon is photographing with an Olympus PEN E-PM1 and an Olympus Tough TG-820.


  1. […] Shannon Switzer of National Geographic went to an Art event at the Verdi Club  […]

  2. Subir K - AlwaysOutbound.com
    San Francisco, CA
    June 21, 2012, 3:16 pm

    That’s a great event by a Non-Profit that has really made an impact in the Bay Area, both in making art and creating community leaders. And the more Arts education gets cut from schools, the greater the need for events and organizations like these. @Outbound

  3. Nancy
    Ojai CA
    June 20, 2012, 10:41 pm

    Really cool sounding event. Reminds me of my days in Berkeley……

  4. Dianne
    June 20, 2012, 8:26 am

    Great way to pull together artists and make the comunity aware of all the talent just next door. Monster idea really.

  5. Shannon Switzer
    June 20, 2012, 4:44 am

    Monster art is a loosely defined genre…but it’s basically artists who focus on creating fantastical creatures with a little edge to them. Think Tim Burton http://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/tim-burton.

  6. Lilit
    June 20, 2012, 4:37 am

    The first time I heard about monster art, what is that ??? :(

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  8. Ben
    June 19, 2012, 9:25 pm

    Bummer there were no monsters, but the drawing rally looked pretty amazing, must have been cool to see all the different styles of artwork!

  9. Freddy
    Hot humid FLA swamp
    June 19, 2012, 6:01 pm

    Didn’t realize there was such a genre as monster art! Live and learn.