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Arts Court hosts much anticipated live painting event

Photo: Courtesy of Scott Lennon

If you hear the term “art battle” and immediately picture a bunch of people throwing art supplies at each other, you probably aren’t alone.

However, the Arts Court-hosted Art Battle, taking place on Sept. 25, is a painting competition consisting of three rounds where 12 artists have 20 minutes to create a painting in front of an audience. The audience then votes on their favourite pieces, and the paintings are auctioned off at the end of the battle.

“We are trying to make art accessible,” says Peter Purdy, local organizer of Art Battle. “Not everybody is comfortable walking into art galleries and purchasing works.”

The competition will be accompanied by music from local artist DJ Jas Nasty. A bonus for art enthusiasts on campus, tickets are discounted with a valid student ID.

Art Battle began as a monthly event in a Vancouver pub about five years ago. It has since swept the nation, with competitions being held in almost every major Canadian city.

Last year the competitions were averaging about 150 audience members per show, with their numbers growing up to 600 as the stakes were raised for city finals and nationals.

While people often talk about networking as essential to a variety of professions, the arts tend to be excluded from that conversation. However, this competition acts as a platform for local artists to show off their talent and create direct relationships with buyers and other artists.

“It really opens up a whole new audience that they may never have been able to meet before… and often artists end up picking up commission,” says Purdy.

The competition consists of artists who hail from all walks of life and range in age, skill, and subject matter. “We put in more mature artists with emerging artists and it’s almost like a mentorship program,” he said.

University of Ottawa alumna, Crystal Beshara, is one of the participants in this month’s Art Battle. Beshara received her B.F.A. in studio from the U of O, and is currently a full-time artist who teaches art both at home, and abroad.

Beshara, who is participating in an Art Battle for the first time, recognizes how the time limit can be a restricting, but also liberating, experience. “It’s a good opportunity for me to narrow my focus, and focus instead on quality of brushstroke, colour, and creating something interesting without getting sucked into detail,” she said.

Emilie Darlington, another participant, in the Ottawa Arts Battle is in her fourth year of the visual art program at the U of O.

For Darlington, who’s also a rookie, the time limit isn’t even the most intimidating aspect. “The hardest part will be getting over my nerves with having a bunch of strangers walking around and inspecting my work while I’m painting.”

Experience and technique aren’t necessarily the qualifying factor for an Art Battle champion, says Purdy. “It comes down to the emotional connection that the viewer has with the art, and that can be generated in so many ways.”

Although to some the time limit may seem like it could prevent artists from making meaningful art, Purdy disagrees. “Pressure makes diamonds, and I think this is definitely one of those cases.”

People can find out more and register to participate in a future art battle at Visit and ‘Artwork by Emilie Darlington’ on Facebook to see Beshara and Darlington’s work.



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