Oakland’s Drink and Draw: Art with booze



Brian White,

When visitors arrive at Oakland Drink and Draw inside the Parkway Theater in West Oakland, they pick out supplies from a bookshelf stacked full of various paper and drawing utensils. They take a seat next to people already drawing, or maybe a couple having their first date.

You don’t have to drink, but you do have to draw”

The smell of popcorn hits you as you make your way into The New Parkway Theater for a Drink and Draw event. Once upstairs, Megan Knott, one of the event’s creators, points you in the direction of the free art supplies, even though it is a BOYAS — bring your own art supplies — event. The tight seating allows for everyone within earshot to join any conversation about art or the latest TV shows.

As people plot and discuss their art decisions, newcomers slowly leak in with more art supplies and wine in hand. The theme of last week’s Drink and Draw was “Back to the Future;” the famous 1980s movie was widely celebrated last week because October 21, 2015 is referenced in a scene from the film.

The mezzanine of The New Parkway Theater fills with eager artists ready to socialize and sketch. Drink and Draw creators Knott and her husband Justin Caesar judge the finished pieces and decide who will win a prize: a free pitcher of beer or movie tickets to that month’s featured movie at the Parkway.

“You don’t have to drink, but you do have to draw,” Knott said.

The idea for Drink and Draw started four years ago when Knott and Caesar used it as a way to spend time together early in their relationship. “Two years later we were married,” Knott said.

Knott and Caesar had been sign painters at Whole Foods for years. After hosting the weekly Wednesday meet-up for four years at various locations around Oakland, they were excited to receive an invitation from The New Parkway Theater in Oakland.

“The best part is hanging out and meeting new people,” first timer Corneliu Contofana said.

Towards the end of the evening, Knott announces only 30 minutes left to finish the themed drawings. Giggles and chatter rise as everyone adds the final touches to their work.

“Drawing straight lines is hard!” someone yells.

When 10 p.m. hits, nine people submit their art to be judged by Knott and a long time meetup member named Brian. After 15 minutes of discussion, Knott declares the winner is Contofana, who drew “Back to the Future” characters Doc and Marty flying the Delorean with the help of Pterodactyls.

Spending a Wednesday night with easy going and talented artists is a pleasant change of pace from the grind of school and work. If you’re not confident in your drawing abilities don’t be deterred, the regulars are helpful and encouraging. It feels as laid back as one’s high school beginning art class, but with the option to have a drink with your doodle.

Many students at Cal State East Bay are not from the Bay Area — I’m from Los Angeles — so it can be difficult trying to find out what locals do for fun. It can be freeing to go out mid-week and socialize. It breaks up the monotony of the week, especially if you work and go to school.

Oakland Drink and Draw will at least make you feel like Picasso, as you finish a coloring book without going over the lines. Oakland Drink and Draw is free, with The New Parkway Theater providing various beer, wine and food for your purchase.