Print Edition: January 21, 2015
The room at the Hampton Inn was packed with attendees, space was tight, and the atmosphere was energetic; Art Battle 208 was about to begin.
Six easels were set up near the centre of the room — the final round consisting of four easels. Running along the floor was a clearly marked yellow border, separating the audience from the art battle zone, where the artists painted. However, the audience was encouraged to circle around to view the artists as they painted. CIVL Radio station manager Aaron Levy emceed the event.
Art Battle, a competition between artists to paint the best picture in a short period of time, started in 2009 and has since spread to major cities across the country, but this was its first time coming to Chilliwack. In total, 12 artists competed in the event taking place. There were two rounds consisting of six contestants and a final round of four finalists — one ultimately being chosen to compete in the regionals. The audience could vote their choice of winner by phone using personalized codes on their tickets, or there was a voting booth in which you could vote in person. The winners of each round were determined in quick fashion.
The real value of the event was watching the artists paint from start to finish. Each artist had his or her own unique style in applying acrylics to the canvases. Some splashed paints, while others used broad brush strokes. With only 20 minutes allotted per round, artists had to think quickly and consider their choice of colour and the timing in which acrylics dried. Counting down the end of a round sounded like a countdown on New Year’s, and the crowd was lively. At the end of the night, there were a total of 16 paintings, ranging from abstract to landscapes to portraits. Following the competition, the paintings are then auctioned off individually to the highest bidder.
Artists Zwany Mauritz, David Vegt, Stephen Wimbush and Shannon Theissen were the four finalists. At this point in the art battle, the artists were clearly enjoying themselves. Once the round was finished, spectators got to have one final look at the paintings before voting. Shannon Theissen was declared the winner, earning a cash prize and a spot in the regionals. I asked if she was happy with her final piece. “I am, I’m excited. I won so it’s wonderful.”
Zoë Howarth, who organized and co-ordinated the event, made Art Battle 208 possible. I asked how she thought the response has been.
“Overwhelming,” she replied. “We sold out a week and a half ago, which is unheard of.” Besides living in Chilliwack, Howarth indicated that she brought the event “to promote artists in the smaller communities and that way they get a chance to compete in the regionals.”
Howarth already has another art battle event planned for March with seven participating artists already confirmed.