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Art Battle: Brushing Aside the Competition



Competitive heats, live battles, countdowns, and spectator judges. These aren’t terms normally associated with art until now. Welcome to Art Battle International, a unique form of competitive painting. Twelve local artists will face off against each other in three rounds of live painting. The artists will be given a blank canvas, paint, and 20 minutes to produce their piece.

The audience will be free to wander and observe each painter at work. They will also be the judges, voting at the end of each round by paper ballot or, new this year, by text. The top two artists in each of the two heats will face off in the final round to decide the victor. All 16 paintings created during the course of the event will be put on display for silent auction at the end of the evening. All proceeds from the event will go to the Abbotsford Arts Council (AAC) in support of upcoming public events, including Mill Lake Music and Jam in Jubilee.

There will be three art battles in Abbotsford this spring leading up to the regional finals in Vancouver this summer. The regional winner will be invited to compete in the national finals in Toronto against winners from across Canada.

The last series of art battles in Abbotsford were put on together by the AAC, MODA Events, and UFV’s own CIVL Radio between 2014 and 2016. This year’s event is presented by the Abbotsford Arts Council. CIVL Radio is chipping in for the $150 first prize and live music by Mission’s dj elixir, winner of the 2018 Fraser Valley Music Awards electronic category.

Art Battle in its current form was created by Chris Pemberton and Simon Plashkes in Toronto back in 2009. Since then, hundreds of Art Battles have taken place in cities across Canada, the U.K., the U.S., Italy, Japan, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.

Jennifer Trithardt-Tufts, the executive director of the Abbotsford Arts Council, encourages people, especially those who aren’t normally art lovers, to come out to see the excitement and community the art battle format creates. She described the atmosphere as “a little bit intense, but a pretty chill kind of vibe.” She mentioned that this year in particular there will be a number of artists participating for the first time so she encourages everyone to come out, mingle, cheer loudly, and support Abbotsford’s local artists.

Art Battle Abbotsford will take place at the Abbotsford Arts Centre at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18. Student admission is $15 and general admission is $20. This will be a licensed event, with alcohol available for sale. Preview images of previous works by participating artists will be posted on Instagram @artbattleabbotsford in the days leading up to the event.

Additional information is available at

Image: An art battle in Chilliwack in 2016 (credit: Art Battle)

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