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Hump Day becomes Fun Day at the Rumble House… please pass the paint

Friday 11th, March 2016 / 20:05
By Kyle Lovstrom
Rich Théroux, prolific painter and founder of the Rumble House poses with his self-portrait at the Rumble House gallery and workspace in Calgary. Photo: Kyle Lovstrom/The Press

Rich Théroux, prolific painter and founder of the Rumble House poses with his self-portrait at the Rumble House gallery and workspace in Calgary.
Photo: Kyle Lovstrom/The Press

CALGARY — Don’t just lie there like a lump, you hump, hibernation is for the bears. If you’re one of those, “there’s nothing to do on a Wednesday night” types, then you know nothing about the goings-on at Rumble House each and every week. Immerse yourself in the world of live art.

Located at 1136 ­– 8 Ave. SW, a block away from the Mewata Armoury downtown, like-minded artists are gathering every Wednesday night between 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Rumble House to invent their works of art live and on the spot. Anywhere from 30-50 aspiring artists will appear to brighten up the space with their brush strokes and the rooms become filled with lively banter and laughter, like your family’s kitchen at Christmas, or a mental institution when the lights go out. Same difference.

Rumble House brings people out of the woodwork (one guy was literally working on his woodwork). Ideas were exchanged and blended on the airwaves with Bowie and The Pixies. One group could be overheard discussing Miles Davis and his musings on the “notes between the beats” and how Picasso felt the same way about “the paint between the strokes,” while others debated the correct pronunciation of the French word for pineapple. If this runs counter to your traditional concept of the isolated art-maker locked away in room somewhere all alone with their inspirations, then good.

“I think we’re helping people not take it so seriously,” said Jess Szabo, Rumble House co-conspirator and second-in-command. “Sure, creating art is really personal and so vulnerable, but here we can laugh at ourselves. And here you might fall in love with a piece watching it evolve, which is something you won’t get working alone in your studio.”

If one should happened to fall in love with a fresh painted masterpiece the option to bid and stake claim is offered at the end during the auction portion of the program. Bidding on a piece begins between $10-20 per item, which sell then and there, while other creations reach into the hundreds of dollars — most notably a remarkable cityscape painted by Rumble House originator himself, Rich Théroux, that sold for $575. If your parents have drilled the notion of a “starving artist” into your head, there’s another stigma eradicated by the Rumble House. If you’re brave enough to auction, you will sell.

Rumble House is the brainchild of the talented Mr. Rich Théroux, prolific painter, art philosopher, schoolteacher; a multifaceted champion of all things imaginative. Thanks to his vision, this space is well equipped to turn the stresses of daily life into something positive and fun.

“We’re on Episode 138, including the original Gorilla House,” says Théroux, (Rumble House was formerly Gorilla House on 14th Street NW before the previous landlord pulled the rug one year ago). “For me, painting is like digestion. I eat food. I take in the nutrients, and expel. Although, I don’t pitch it that way when I’m trying to sell my stuff,” laughs Théroux.

Rich and the gang recently returned from a road trip to Venice Beach where they traded works of art for good deeds all the way down the coast.

“A dentist went back to Atlanta and performed a dental extraction for one of my paintings. A guy named Sharkos with one ear went back to prison and read books to prisoners. A producer who had never mowed a lawn before mowed his neighbour’s lawn,” claims Théroux.

Théroux recently traded another painting to Banff resident and videographer Martin Cairns in exchange for a sizeable donation to the food bank last week. The mixed nuts in attendance each week reciprocate Théroux’s generosity with a percentage of their art sales.

“We stay open mostly on guilt,” Théroux chuckles. “We make our rent just by hustling Wednesdays.”

Take away the Rumble House and it becomes difficult to conceive of another set of circumstances that would have led this miscellaneous congregation into the same room. Almost every age and demographic is represented here.

“It’s like a family. Rumble House is doing a great thing for art,” said former professional BMX rider Darcy Lisecki.

There aren’t too many operations functioning solely for the benefit of the Calgary arts community. Next Wednesday take part. Download the vision in your head onto canvas and sell it at Rumble House. Poof, you’re an artist.

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