RACINE/KENOSHA — The global phenomenon of Urban Sketching is taking off in Southeastern Wisconsin.
The Racine Art Council has created a unique opportunity for sketchers and artists through the development of the Urban Sketchers Racine & Kenosha group.
“The whole premise of it is to sketch on location and show the world one sketch at a time,” says Kathi Wilson, the Executive Director of Racine Arts Council and lead of Urban Sketching Racine & Kenosha.
At various local meet-up events, attendees sketch local landmarks, events, and happenings, on-site, in real-time.
While not a new concept, the implementation of making this a group activity in the local area, is new.
Introducing Urban Sketching
“In May of 2022, I went over to the Holland Tulip Festival. I saw this lady sitting under a tree and I thought she was plein air painting,” says Wilson.
However, she wasn’t plein air painting, the woman at the festival was Urban Sketching. This is how the medium was introduced to Wilson.
“She showed me her sketchbook, which was full of the tulips in front of her, and there were people walking on the path. She had his tiny little watercolor pad attached to her sketchbook, and had a little pouch full of pencils.”
Wilson recalls her saying, “this is a global phenomenon. There are sketch groups all around the world.”
Officially-recognized Urban Sketching groups, known as Urban Sketchers, or USk, have taken off in cities near Racine and Kenosha such as Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago.
Due to the nature of this local group being attached the Racine Art Council’s nonprofit, they are not an official chapter of USk, but still abide by the same principals.
In June 2022, Urban Sketchers Racine & Kenosha had their first meet-up under the Main Street Bridge. Six people attended the first get-together.
Through this group, the Racine Arts Council is staying true to its mission by not producing art, but rather facilitating art experiences and collaboration among artists and community entities.
As of March 2023, the local group’s Facebook page has almost 170 members and they’ve hosted dozens of meetups across the two counties.
What it entails
Wilson uses the Facebook page as a way to facilitate events. It’s up to members and nonmembers to attend. Events are held indoors and outdoors, even sometimes, from inside one’s car. Attendees bring supplies and their imagination.
“Everybody brings their own supplies. And people just sit down, they look around, they find a viewpoint that they want to sketch from and then they just sketch.
“When the whole thing is done, we put all of our sketches in the middle of the ground or a table, and it’s called a throwdown,” explains Wilson.
“We take a photograph of all of the sketches together, then we all pick our sketches up, hold it in front of us and we take a group picture.”
Participants have the freedom to sketch what they see before them at the set locations. In the past, the group has done Urban Sketching at The HOBNOB, Littleport Brewing, First Presbyterian Church of Racine, and other notable landmarks throughout Southeastern Wisconsin.
“It’s very flexible. It’s just come as you are a sketch what you want. There is zero judgment. There’s zero criticism. Nobody even cares what you sketch,” says Wilson.
Not all drawing happens at the events either. Group members practice urban sketching on their own time at locations they choose.
Wilson drew the Pugh Marina recently, due to the recent news of its change in ownership. She also drew a picture of Hotel Verdant being built in Downtown Racine.
The group, Urban Sketchers Racine & Kenosha, creates a timestamp of what’s happening in the community through their individual drawings.
In addition to the fun that is happening through Urban Sketching Racine & Kenosha, the Racine Art Council is hosting a unique event called SKETCH Racine.
On Sept. 9 and 10, there will be a tour of sketching at three different sketch sites and a private party.
Learn more about the event on the Racine Art Council’s website.
For those who would like more information on Urban Sketching Racine & Kenosha, visit the Facebook page or email email@example.com to speak with Kathi Wilson.
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