Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School invites artists of all levels to come monkey around

Dr. Sketchy's Anti Art School
Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School offers audience a live show and the opportunity to draw the participating performers. — photo by Paul Wright

Iowa City’s first Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School will take place at The Mill this Sunday, Sept. 28 at 3:30 p.m. and feature performances by Les Dames du Burlesque and the I.C. Kings.

Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School was started in Brooklyn in 2005 by artists Molly Crabapple and A.V. Phibes and has since expanded to over 100 cities around the world. At these “anti-art school” events, artists of all skill levels (affectionately referred to as “Art Monkeys”) are brought together to experience visually exciting, artistic performers such as ballet dancers, circus performers, burlesque stars, drag acts, musicians, magicians, opera singers, belly dancers, cabaret acts and cosplayers. The stars give a short performance, and then they model for 15 to 20 minutes while the participants create their masterpieces. At the end, the performers choose which representation of themselves they like the most, and that artist receives a prize.

Alan Thompson-Wallace, a local artist, will be organizing the Dr. Sketchy’s events in Iowa City. He has experience organizing various Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School in Middlesbrough, England where his events attracted 40 to 50 attendees.

“It’s more fun than a traditional art class, being set in a bar so you can drink as you draw,” Thompson-Wallace says. “Performers wear fantastical costumes to inspire the naughty Art Monkeys to get creative.”

The Sept. 28 event will showcase Iowa City’s Les Dames du Burlesque and the I.C. Kings, who will perform burlesque and comedy dance routines for attending artists. Miss Kitty of the I.C. Kings will host the event. Thompson-Wallace, meanwhile, will be mingling with the Art Monkeys in character as “Alfonzo Cabaret.”

Thompson-Wallace plans to start holding Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School on a monthly basis, and hopes to have themed events. In the past, his events have had Halloween, movies and circus themes, among others. Participants are encouraged to dress up in costumes as weird and wonderful as they desire to fit the theme, and if their costume is outrageous enough, they might get the chance to model for their fellow “Art Monkeys” themselves.

Doors open at 3:30 p.m., and the show will begin at 3:50 p.m. Tickets are $8 per person, and students receive a discounted price of $6.

Thompson-Wallace encourages Art Monkeys to “bring their own art materials—the more interesting and unusual the better!” but he does caution against using oil paints as they can be messy.

If you have an act that you think would make an exciting addition to Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, you can email Thompson-Wallace at “If it’s fun, sexy, weird, outrageous and entertaining, then that works for Thompson-Wallace said.

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