A written feature on "Drawn Together," a unique fundraiser for Children's Fairyland in Oakland.

"Allah El Henson, an artist and cartoon animator at Balance Edutainment, sat in the darkest corner of Children’s Fairyland, sketching the scene in front of him with a pen. Henson was surrounded by the silhouettes of artists sipping wine, swaying to ambient tunes and striking up conversations about art in Oakland next to the dimly-lit Emerald City stage a few feet away. He drew in black and white for hours. Even though he could not fully see the world around him, he preferred to use his imagination. “I became fascinated with drawing cartoons because I grew up without a TV,” the East Oakland native said as he squinted into the distance and shaded in a tree on his paper. “That’s what pushed me to keep drawing; because if I couldn’t watch TV, I’d make my own.”

Henson, like many of the other artists at the Drawn Together fundraiser, wanted to give back to the community he grew up in and inspire young artists to pursue their passions. Children’s Fairyland, Oakland’s theme park that promotes early literacy through book-themed attractions, was home to the third annual Drawn Together event on Friday night, where a handful of Bay Area artists gathered to create art and sell their pieces. Every piece sold for $40, and the proceeds will go to restoring the art on the walls and attractions at Children’s Fairyland and to public children’s programs in underprivileged communities in Oakland."