Drink and Draw at the Art Boutiki Carries the Heart of San José

Editor's Note:

The Monthly Drink and Draw at San José's The Art Boutiki is the kind of event you want to tell everyone about. A tradition more than a decade long, it is now in the hands of Carlos Velazquez to line up guest DJ selectors for a night of live record spinning in a casual environment to practice your art skills and be part of the heart of San Jo.

I recently met up with arts community organizer Carlos Velazquez, who was born and raised in San José to ask him more about the monthly Drink and Draw event he hosts at the Art Boutiki. Carlos has been hosting the Drink and Draw event for about a year now, but its origins date back to approximately 11 years ago when Dan Vado, owner of The Art Boutiki brought the idea to life. This free monthly event is open to the public and welcomes people of all ages and artistic backgrounds to come drink and draw, doodle, or sketch. The Art Boutiki is a comic book store and all ages music venue in Midtown on Race Street near The Alameda.  

Carlos recalls going to the event back when Dan Vado was hosting them and he loved the experience of having a chill spot to draw and let his creative juices flow. After ten years of hosting Drink and Draw, Dan Vado was unable to have continue the event. Carlos felt compelled to ask Dan when it would come back. He offered to help him revive the event because he wanted to allow others the experience of having a space where they too could feel safe and free to express. It was very clear through the passion in Carlos’ voice that both The Art Boutiki and Drink and Draw are valuable to him. Spinning vinyls and listening to oldies was an important component Carlos envisioned incorporating when he brought Drink and Draw back. Carlos would like to make space for women and queer and trans identified people to spin some tunes. Carlos is especially grateful of the mujeres who have fueled his passion for vinyls and music in general. He feels that it’s important to make known that being a DJ shouldn’t be male centered and it should be known that there are many talented mujeres who also spin.

Estrella Muñoz with Carlos Velazquez

@Ambitious0utsider at a recent Drink and Draw

Another important part of the event is the Drink and Draw art wall. This is a wall located near the entrance of the Art Boutiki where people that come to the event get the opportunity to display their work for others to see. As I walked by the art wall, I thought about how incredible it is to see a whole wall dedicated to art of all styles. I felt inspired by the different pieces of art all made during the even itself, in a span of four hours. It is a true testament to the ways in which we can, as a community, create our own spaces and express the value that we see in our own art. I do believe that art is the one thing that could save us as a people whether it be visual or performance, any kind of art has lot to say that isn’t always directly said – and that’s what I found looking at the art wall appreciating the time and effort that went into it. It was really impressive that the space cultivated the inspiration to create those pieces.

I’m in the process of creating and I’ve never taken an art class, my art pieces are not super elaborate or intricate, but I like the space because there isn’t any pressure to be at anyone’s “level.” I felt a sense of relief when I found this space that would let me just do my weird doodles without any scoring or competition or judgment. That’s what drew me to the event and I felt compelled to share it with others.

Drink and Draw participants

I asked Carlos, why should people come to the Drink and Draw event at the Art Boutiki?
“The city is changing. There is a huge focus on creating this ‘night life’ or ‘cultural scene’ in downtown San José, but the reality is that art needs to happen all over the city. And it’s not always going to be done in a night life setting or a professional setting. I appreciate events here in San José that are created by people who have passion for what they are doing. Every day we are seeing some of our historic places close down, these are the places that I think carry the heart of San José. So, places like the Art Boutiki are very special,” Carlos said with passion in his voice. “The Drink and Draw event reflects the spaces that I want to see more of in San José,” he added. And just like Carlos envisioned, that is exactly what this event is about. It is a safe space where people of all ages and art backgrounds can come together and create.

The next Drink and Draw will take place on Thursday June 20th  from 7-11pm. Please visit www.facebook.com/events for more information. This is also a great opportunity to come talk to Carlos about how you can be the next DJ at a Drink and Draw event.

Alca Usan hand draws the flyers for the monthly Drink and Draw.

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