There's a new kind of fight happening in Denver on Wednesday, January 29. The weapons: canvas, paint, brushes and talent. The fighters are artists. The event is called Art Battle.
"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.
Jager went to her first Art Battle in Los Angeles and was immediately hooked. When she moved from California to Denver last year, she sought out the local edition of this global event and was surprised there wasn't one in town. So she contacted the producers to see how to set one up.
"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.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
The January 29 event will boast three rounds; the first two will run for twenty minutes each, during which artists will each paint an 18-by-24-inch canvas. Round three lasts thirty minutes and the canvas is larger: 24-by-30-inches. In the first and second rounds there are two winners, and the final four winners compete in the last round. For each set, the audience members vote on their favorite. There is no limit to what the participants might paint; it's all up to them.
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."