"As an audience member, you get to watch while each artist extemporaneously creates their unique piece and vote on your favorite," says Sarah Jager, producer of Art Battle Denver. "It’s mind-blowing to watch the creative process in real time."
The crux of Art Battle is to have the audience judge twelve artists as they create pieces of art on the spot. The event was started in 2001 by Sean Bono in New York City. Back then, it took place on the streets and included six artists creating black-and-white pieces in a ninety-minute stint. The idea was to break down the barriers and avoid the gatekeepers who were keeping people from entering the elite world of museums and galleries. Whether or not that goal was accomplished, the event has spread and is now hosted in over fifty cities; a championship round will take place in Tokyo this year.
"By the end of the phone call, I knew I had to bring the first one here, and ended up becoming a producer for Art Battle Denver," Jager says. The inaugural event will be at Your Mom’s House. "The few artists I talked to at [First Friday on Santa Fe Drive] seemed to be interested in competing. I booked a couple artists from there, but it's been mainly through social media that people have been asking to compete."
With so much support, Jager didn't have trouble securing twelve artists to battle. This first lineup includes Vamp DeVille, Jwalk143, Shelby McIntosh, Whiskey Tango, Erin Rosch, Lee Arroyo, Cassandra Babtkis, AJ Davis, Nina Stewart, Jesse Bones, Jana Hope and Protoguy.
The supplies come from Fredrix Canvas, which provides canvases for all the Art Battle events worldwide; the paint is branded by Art Battle and handed out by the organization. After this week's event, Art Battle Denver will host events every other month or so, with different artists and at different venues.
"Creating a space for community and for supporting our local artists will make a huge impact, not only in the art world, but in the social landscape of Denver overall," says Jager, who is also part of the recruiting team at SpotX, an ad tech company in Broomfield. "It is important that we continue to support and lift each other up, as it creates a true sense of community and belonging."
Art Battle takes place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 29, at Your Mom’s House, 608 East 13th Avenue. Tickets, $20 are available at the Art Battle website or at the door.