At FringeArts festival from Sept. 6–23, artists will be exhibiting and attendees of the festival will be watching. Meanwhile, Chuck Schultz (LPS ‘19) will be live sketching the whole thing: the narrative, the lighting, and the movements. 

The festival is essentially a two–and–a–half week long celebration of the arts across the entire city of Philadelphia. With more than 1,000 curated or independently produced performances, it combines film, dance, theater, comedy, music, and anything else that falls under the category of art. 

Courtesy of Chuck Schultz

Having started as a volunteer usher for the festival, Chuck now draws and writes about the show. For him, the sketches are not merely imprints captured on paper for memory’s sake, but rather a convergence of the visual appearances, the moods of the shows, and the different themes that tie many of them together. “The show is over, but I’m still working,” Chuck says. “The show is running. The themes are all connected.”

Part of his process involves the act of working for these performers and putting their name out there. In that way, Chuck is not just an artist, but an artist of an artist. And the shows he’s drawn are by no means limited to local or indie shows, with big names such as Les Miserables and Cirque du Soleil under his belt. His choice of these particular shows are not accidental. After drawing a number of different types of shows, he’s particularly drawn towards dance. “With drawing dance, it makes me want to dance,” he described. “It tries to inspire you to become the art in it.” Given that he is able to work with a number of the artists themselves, his drawing and the performances form a cross between the arts that is otherwise difficult to come by. He said, “I relive it. When I draw, I learn about the artist and their work.” 

Courtesy of Chuck Schultz

As part of the FringeArts Festival, Chuck has also recently sketched FIGMAGO, a cross between an escape room and a mural studio that runs until September 22. Because FIGMAGO pushes the respective boundaries of dance, painting, theater, circus, hidden rooms, and escape rooms, the entire journey is a blend of different mediums. “My pen ran out of ink really quickly, but it was really exciting to be back in the mural artist studio,” he said. “It’s family–friendly and takes you on a journey of the artist process.” 

Chuck’s draws his formal art education from his time at Delaware College of Art and Design and later his time at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In between documenting the big name shows, he also spends his time in the theaters of Philadelphia, sketching plays such as P Pan and Beyondland, written by Kathleen Murphey, an alumnus of Penn, and Salamandar by Elephant in the Room Productions. 

Regardless of his subject, there is one theme underlying all of Chuck’s work: that of collapsing boundaries of specific mediums into one another. Ultimately, it’s a challenge of what art is and what it constitutes, and Chuck is here to document it.