Inside the Iron Artist live art competition: welding, bottle caps and lots of playing cards

How much more adorable would playing cards be with dinosaurs?
How much more adorable would playing cards be with dinosaurs?

Though the host was unfortunately neither arrayed in a cape nor other kingly attire, and there was no hilarious Japanese overdubbing, this weekend's Iron Artist live art contest at The Other Side Arts employed the Iron Chef formula to undeniable success, calling on artists to put together original works with the clock ticking and making use of a surprise "secret ingredient," in this case a deck of playing cards. On Saturday, an elite group of fourteen Denver artists gathered to battle it out in the intense heat for a crowd of about 200. Photographer Taryn Kapronica returned with the results.

See the full slide-show!

There were nine artistic categories in all (mixed media, fabric, painting, metal, spray paint, encaustic, architect and -- the most weirdly specific category -- bottle caps), and three ways to win: Most Funds Raised, Best Creative Use of Material (determined by the audience) and the grand prize, TOSA Iron Artist 2011; all the art created was auctioned off at the end of the competition. And the artists created some pretty awesome stuff:

If there had been a prize for "Least Amount of Fucking Around," blacksmith Aaron R. Williams would have won it.
If there had been a prize for "Least Amount of Fucking Around," blacksmith Aaron R. Williams would have won it.
Spray paint artist Kyle Carpenter took Iron Artist in last year's competition, but went home empty-handed this year. Except for the pride of a job well done. He got plenty of that.
Spray paint artist Kyle Carpenter took Iron Artist in last year's competition, but went home empty-handed this year. Except for the pride of a job well done. He got plenty of that.
Michael O'Donnell told us he was interested in art with a narrative. See if you can guess what this story is.
Michael O'Donnell told us he was interested in art with a narrative. See if you can guess what this story is.
Randy Segura may not have won anything, but he did draw hands-down the sexiest onlookers.
Randy Segura may not have won anything, but he did draw hands-down the sexiest onlookers.

 

But what's really cool, of course, is winning. It was a close call all around, but at the end of the day, this is America and there are prizes to be had. For "Most Creative Use of Materials," the audience went with Amanda Willshire, otherwise known as "bottle cap girl." Painter Milt Denny took "Most Funds Raised."

Amanda Willshire's winning piece in progress.
Amanda Willshire's winning piece in progress.
Everyone's a critic: a skeptical young man evaluates Milt Denny's work.
Everyone's a critic: a skeptical young man evaluates Milt Denny's work.
Tina du Mond: Cards are paper. Paper is trees. Be the tree.
Tina du Mond: Cards are paper. Paper is trees. Be the tree.

But ultimately, for sheer winning-ness, nobody could compete with Tina du Mond's playing card tree -- no surprise, then, that she also won last year for "Best Creative Use of Material." For her efforts, a fat goose and this badass periodic table element. Weirdly, it kind of looks like it's made out of copper.

Tina du Mond winning.
Tina du Mond winning.

But whatever, a prize is a prize.

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