Total posers

It was hot—maybe not yet the squishy-tar hot of July, but certainly the wavy-squiggles-off-the-parking-lot hot of June’s end—so the cool subterranean confines of Fools Foundation offered immediate, otherworldly reprieve. Within, a handful of people sat in a half-circle, their attention devoted to the woman standing motionless in the corner, while electro-hipster music bounced along quietly with the sound of pencils on paper.

The model was dressed in homage to Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner, but instead of the spiky blonde, she wore shoulder-length pony tails the color of Berry Blue Kool-Aid; and instead of the spandex, she was in enough hardware-ornamented leather to offer more than a hint of dominatrix. A typical evening for the singular “weekly alternative clothed figure-drawing session” known as Pompsicle.

According to organizer Ben Walker, an affably shaggy, soft-spoken 34-year-old illustrator from Fair Oaks, Pompsicle started with a love of drawing characters and a desire to depict “people in awesome costumes.” The event’s MySpace page ( suggests some of the awesomely costumed people Walker has in mind, including roller girls, kung-fu fighters, horror-film hosts, fashion victims and tiki-toting hipsters. The blade-running dominatrix apparently was implied.

“I knew that I couldn’t be the only artist in the Sacramento area who would like to draw from a live model in a cool outfit,” Walker said. “And I knew I could find people who would love to show off for a room full of artists for two and a half hours.”

He found models and compatriots on Craigslist and started hosting Pompsicle last November at Jim Ferry’s 19th Street Studio. It moved to the Fools Foundation space in April. Walker models the sessions after classes he took at San Francisco’s Academy of Art College, emphasizing character drawing over strict realism. Pompsicle classes have a $10 admittance fee and a small crowd of regulars.

“The goal is to draw a pirate,” Walker said. “Not a model in a pirate hat holding a wooden sword.”

The model on the evening in question, 23-year-old Tristen Warner, moved through a few short warm-up poses and took a seat with an electric guitar propped provocatively between her bare thighs. “What do you think about that?” Walker asked the class. “Is that too high brow?” They determined that it might be, so Warner shifted her pose, letting her thumb hang in a frozen strum over the strings while the Clash’s “London Calling” played in the background. Walker started a timer to begin the main event—the hour-long pose of the evening—and by the time it was done, a cool breeze had descended the stairs from the parking lot to offer some relief.