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Friday, October 24, 2008

(Mis)Adventures in Life Drawing - or Why Our Session Ended in Police Reports

The day dawned overcast and grey, but brightened a bit by the turning October foliage. I headed off to this week's figure drawing session at Arts Umbrella in Country Village where I am the class organizer and monitor.


We had another well-attended session, with a good model.
(gestures and 5-10 minute poses here).


We did a couple of 20 minute poses, where I experimented with conte crayons and pencils. Haven't used those for a long time. It's always interesting - can't get too terribly detailed since our individual boards/easels are not lit, so one is drawing in dim lighting...

We took a longer break for the model to stretch and rest, and walked a few doors down for drinks and cookies. There was a young, very large black man wandering around outside talking to himself outside the cookie/coffee shop. He didn't seem 'all there' and would intermittently get quite loud and somewhat agitated sounding. We steered well clear of him.

We were just settling in for our last hour of drawing when this same young man came pushing his way into our classroom by way of the unused back door. He was told this was a class (as we were all in a dimly lit room, with a naked man up front) and not open to the public. Instead of turning around and leaving, he started shoving his way through the classroom, throwing easels aside and yelling that he 'couldn't see' and 'where was the restroom'? By this time, one of one my figure drawers had run out to the front classroom (full of women who paint together on Friday mornings) and herded them all out of the building before he got that far.

He was now in the (empty) main classroom yelling for a restroom (which we don't have inside the studio - they are outside around the side of the building). Several of my male students were trying to herd him outside, saying that they'd help him find it, but this just seemed to incense him further and he started violently pushing through the tables and easels in the main room while yelling.

Anyhow - this went on as one of the class members dialed 911 and called the police. He continued with more vocal raging and overturned tables and chairs and made threatening gestures towards anyone who approached him until he finally made his way outside the studio (this lasted about 15 minutes total). Ours was not the only location he had entered or attempted to enter, so I suspect the police had a number of calls by then. Several cars with sirens streamed past. He was finally cornered, and being completely non-responsive to instruction (I don't know if he was just mentally imbalanced or completely high on something) had to be tasered and handcuffed before being hauled into a police car.

At this point a number of frightened, shaky ladies came back into the studio. Wanting to recover from the chaos of the last 15 minutes we started setting things back upright and mopping up the floor. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take pictures first - or really, we should have left it for the police to see. A number of officers came in right after we finished putting the place back together (and I was terribly grateful he *hadn't* decided to act on his decision that the storage area was a urinal as he loudly announced it was).

They came in to get witness statements and to assess the damage done, and to see if our model - who had put on his robe and stood up to his rantings and had consequently been physically threatened - wanted to press charges (he didn't). Really though, nothing much was damaged. One smallish mirror was broken, and drinks were spilled and things were knocked over, but no one was hurt (most everyone ran out as soon as he started getting loud and throwing easels) and there was no other real damage.

The model and I who were there for the entire rant (since this was my class, I was feeling somewhat responsible for the rooms. And the model was only wearing a bathrobe. It was cold out!), and a couple of others who saw most of it stayed to give written statements. A first for me! They were very nice, big, burly, reassuring police officers and we were grateful for their quick response.

Needless to say, no more drawing happened. I hope they can get that poor man some help.

And I picked up enough chocolate on the way home to assuage any lingering nerves. I still have lots of painting to do tonight!

Here's hoping for much less eventful figure drawing sessions from here on out.

18 comments:

The Ms. S said...

Sad and scary. I feel sorry for everybody in that situation. I hope I never see someone be tasered.

Chocolate would definitely be a must for the nerves after that. Hope you are all feeling better.

Rebecca Bush said...

Yikes! Crazy times. That must have been frightening. I can't believe that you stayed in the room! I'm glad you're OK.

PG said...

Heavens! Some small mercy it ws a male model you had, it might have got even more distressing if it were a female. Am very glad it all turned out OK.

Soozcat said...

Eep, Tara! Glad no one was seriously hurt (well, unless you count being tasered as "seriously hurt," I suppose). Scary.

Though I have to say, the fact that you now have a label titled "crazed lunatics trashing the studio" does make me grin a little.

Jennifer Rose said...

o.0 Definitely something not right with him and I too hope he gets help. Glad no one was hurt.

The Art of Kim Kincaid said...

Well, that certainly livened things up for the day. I'm glad that no one was hurt. Makes you wonder how that man came to be like that and what will become of him.
Hope the chocolate did the trick, Tara and you were able to get down to painting.

andrea said...

After all the negative reports of tsers I think watching one being used would be frightening.

Koldo said...

I'm very happy that you are all OK, you never know what's going to happen with these kind of situations. This man needs psychological help before he do something worst.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

One of the many situations for which chocolate was created. When I first read the headline I thought maybe some worthy citizen had reported your group to the police for having a nude model; not sure if that would have been better or worse....As is very upsetting for all involved....

Vickie said...

It is too bad that happened. I'd venture a guess that he had a diagnosis and that he wasn't taken meds or he was high. I hope everyone thout to pick up chocolate. It does a body good. Love the sketches by the way.

Tom Kidd said...

This reminds me of my old NYC days, a long time ago.

I should tell you the story of the knife-wielding maniac. That description is quite literal. (Actually, there is more than one story with one of those guys in it).

Merisi said...

What a horrible event, breaking a peaceful art lesson, how very frightening! I am glad police arrived in time, to prevent further damage, and maybe a tragedy, seeing how that man was seemingly out of bounds. I truly hope he gets the help he clearly needs.

It is horrible, having to use a taser gun against a fellow human being, but in a situation like the one you were in, not knowing what the man would do next?

We too often forget that police officers get into situations like the one you witnessed or similarly violent or dangerous ones on a daily basis, while we as the public generally empathize with the persons who have caused it, be it for reason of insanity or because they are criminals. It is very easy to judge the actions of the police, with hindsight, and from the comforts of our safe living rooms.

Michelle Palmer said...

So glad all of you were fine...maybe in this situation the man will be given needed help. How frightening for you!
Chocolate~ tee hee...
Thank you for sharing~
The courage you had!

Do hope your next class is a bit more "ho-hum"~
Michelle

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Scheesh. Who knew drawing class could be so dramatic! I'm glad no one was hurt!

Wishing you a boring class next time out!

Maddy said...

What a distressing incident all round. I had been about to comment about how envious I was of you since it is several life times since I was last able to attend a life class. [when we first arrived here I asked around and everyone thought I was barmy wanting to find a class where I could draw naked people!]

Anyway, I'm glad that you came away relatively unscathed, and the model has my deepest sympathy. I shouldn't like to be cornered in a bathrobe either.
Best wishes

Gail said...

How horrible - not pleasant to go through - glad no one was hurt though ... there are some strange people out there ...

-GailX

sketched out said...

Holy cow! What an upsetting event. So glad it didn't get worse than it did, although it sounded pretty traumatic! Glad you are ok. Hope your students come back to the class and that man got help.

Hayden said...

how sad. very, very sad.