Gamut Gallery's CoLab Art Night offers an "art nightclub experience"


There are plenty of events around town where you can socialize while looking at cool art, but Gamut Gallery takes the idea one step further. CoLab Art Nights offers a party-like atmosphere where guests aren't just looking at art -- they are making it themselves. Whether you're a practicing artist, just starting out, or want to try something creative in a social atmosphere, the gallery's monthly evening may be for you.


Gamut invites anyone and everyone to participate in CoLab, a program that actually predates the two-year-old gallery, having started four years ago. At the event you can bring your own materials or use what Gamut has in stock, including canvasses (these get recycled each session), paper, various types of paint, oil, clay, collage supplies, and more. Participants are asked to either donate $5 or contribute materials. Gamut's Hannah Howard says that they are always looking for canvases of all sizes, paint (especially acrylic and spray -- not oil), brushes, and strong tape, like gaffers, duct, or clear packing tape. 

While you're making work, there's always good music to help you get in the groove. Sometimes James Patrick, a regular at the Dakota who plays jazz and electronic music, will perform live. Other times there will be an eclectic mix of music playing on an iPod.  

During the event, you can either work on your own project or take part in a collaborative piece. Howard says that in some cases one person will start on a painting and then pass it on. At times, this kind of exercise has involved at least 10 different people. When someone thinks it's "done," they put a thumbprint on the work. When there's two thumbprints, that means the piece is finished. 

In some cases, an artist might let others paint on their piece. "It's more about the experience then about the final project," Howard says.

People who stop by include neighbors, artists with studios nearby, and established artists who like to create work in a social environment. There have been evenings where there have been 25 to 30 people participating, while other nights you might just find the board members and a few other people. "I'd say the average is about 15 people," Howard says. 

There's no formal critique involved in the evening, although Gamut is exploring future programs that would include instructional events, like having a canvas stretching workshop. For CoLab, it's "more of a party atmosphere," she says. "Nobody who is a beginner needs to worry about holding up work and having it critiqued." 

Like most of the gallery's regular monthly sessions, the CoLab Art Night this Thursday starts at 9 p.m., and it's geared toward an adult crowd. "It's kind of an art nightclub experience," Howard says. However, Gamut also hosts all ages/kid-friendly events outside of the gallery. For example, this weekend Gamut is participating in Art Utopia at the Skyway Theater.