Where studio meets gallery

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It’s been a year since Sacha Eckes, a curator at downtown’s avant-garde happy hour hangout, 111 Minna Gallery, introduced Sketch Tuesdays.

“I was just thinking of ways to involve the arts community in the gallery,” Eckes said at last month’s event.

On the third Tuesday of every month at 111 Minna, on Eckes’ invitation, local artists hunker down at a table, booth or bar stool to sketch, draw, paint or go about their craft in any number of ways — as long as they do it within their designated space.

Meanwhile, everyone else gets to watch, something local artist Paul Madonna finds a rigorous experience. Madonna, known in San Francisco for his comic strip “All Over Coffee,” is one of Eckes’ invited artists. Although he’s accustomed to people stopping and watching him do his thing, he’s not used to being observed for three nonstop hours.

“I work on site. I’m used to a very chaotic environment,” the illustrator says. “Here it’s about interacting. It’s really a contract to what our craft is,” he said. “It’s a very solitary craft. We’re not performers.”

Yet Madonna sits at this proverbial stage sharing the spotlight with Stephen Powers, who, across the table, makes collages out of 19th-century book papers.

Powers takes illustrations of famous men and embellishes the drawings with random clippings he has stuffed into an envelope. Martin Van Buren, for example, appears to have three femurs coming out of his head. “I could add a dinosaur or a camera,” Powers says, pulling pictures out of his envelope.

Some of the 20 or so seats available are reserved for The City’s established artists, while the rest are available to anyone who signs up at the event. (Note: Sign-ups are for the next month’s event, not that night’s.) Walk-ins may take any space they find, be it a bar stool or a corner on the floor.

Sitting on a folding chair is Oakland resident Lisa Drostova, a drop-in visitor fast at work drawing the other people drawing.

“I’m liking it, it’s an attractive crowd,” Drostova says. “This is models’ revenge.”

Once artists have completed their work, they may hang it in the back of the room and put it on sale. Savvy collectors, though, might put in bids even before pieces are completed.

Madonna already sold a sketch of a miniature toy chest he found on the street that he’s renamed a tooth saver. Etched across the print, it says, “I found this on 16th Street in the Mission. The tooth is still unaccounted for.”

Sketch Tuesdays

Where: 111 Minna St., San Francisco

When: 6 to 9 p.m. today and third Tuesday of every month

Tickets: Free

Contact: (415) 974-1719 or www.111minnagallery.com

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