Bad Art Night meets Date Night at Clayworks

BRATTLEBORO — Bad Art Night, which originated 17 years ago around a St Paul, Minn., dining room table, has secretly spread to Brattleboro.

“Bad Art Night meets Date Night” will be held on Friday, July 11, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Brattleboro Clayworks, 532 Putney Rd.

Event organizers said in a news release, “bring your sweetheart, your friend, your grandchild, even a small group. Working with your hands in clay together with another leads to mutual inspiration, bringing you closer.”

The original Bad Art Nighters created outrageous collages with oil pastels, modeling clay, chalk, colored pencils, watercolors, fluorescent cattle markers, ribbon, glitter, bottle caps, nuts and bolts - you name it - while working to energizing music on the CD player.

Their manifesto came from filmmaker and performance pioneer Jack Smith: “If you make perfect art you will be admired; but if you make imperfect art, you will be loved!”

“Bad Art Night” was first organized in Brattleboro after clay teacher, Alan Steinberg, perusing the Utne Reader in his dentist's waiting room, stumbled on an article: “The Miracle of Mediocrity: Nothing Lifts the Spirits Like Making Bad Art.”

The article noted that the event's title “implies no standards, no expectations, and very high self-esteem. Bad Art is all about conscious, dedicated badness - in community - as a tool of liberation.”

Steinberg, who had already been offering clay workshops in this vein at Brattleboro Clayworks, said he felt “like the words had been taken right out of my mouth.”

Unlike standard beginner clay classes everywhere, he said, this unconventional event “will focus on nurturing creativity and playfulness. You'll make a lot of pieces. Choose one, your favorite, and we will fire it for you.”

Those who enjoy the experience may sign up for Finding & Exploring Form, a ten-week clay sculpting and hand-building class that includes specific technical demonstrations to help deepen responses to stories, poetry, music, meditations, and their own and other artists' works.

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