Sarasota Artists To Join In Painterly Combat



Since 2001, Art Battle International has assembled artists from across the country and the world in a global competition for artistic dominance. To date, more than 8,000 artists have competed. This year, Sarasota enters the fray with the first Art Battle Sarasota, taking place tonight at the Payne Park Auditorium, pitting 11 pre-selected artists and one wild card in a live painting battle before the voting audience to determine who will represent the city in the state competition.

Beginning at 7pm, the contest comprises three rounds. The first two feature six artists each, with competitors given 20 minutes to complete their painting in front of the audience. At the end of both rounds, the audience will vote by paper ballot and the top two artists from each will move on to the third and final round. In this final round, artists are given 30 minutes and a slightly larger canvas. After this half hour, the audience will vote for the sole champion of Art Battle Sarasota, who will then go on to represent the city in future Art Battle events.

Artists are given free rein to paint what and how they choose, says Art Battle International Co-Founder Simon Plashkes, but should keep in mind that it ultimately comes down to the audience. “There’s a little bit of a mind game there,” he says, “going back and forth between them and the audience.”

Eleven local artists have been preselected to compete, including Ha Pham, Luther Rosebaro and Nancy Graham, but the final slot remains open for artists late to the party. At the event, aspiring competitors may enter their name into the running and before the competition begins, the final artist will be randomly selected from the entries to compete in the second round.

In addition to the battle itself, the night features an auction of all the paintings made by the competing artists, with the artists receiving 50 percent of the proceeds. Here, each painting can be celebrated for its own merits and, sometimes, another winner of sorts emerges. “It’s a funny thing,” says Plashkes. “The will of the crowd determines the winner, but the will of just one individual will determine which painting goes for the highest price.”

This is the first Art Battle event in Sarasota, but Plashkes says it will not be the last. “Sarasota is a robust community of artists, especially of live artists, so it seemed natural,” he says. “This is the beginning of a series.”

Beginning tonight at 7pm in the Payne Park Auditorium, tickets to Art Battle Sarasota are $20.

Pictured: Artists surrounded by onlookers at Art Battle in Toronto, Canada. Photo courtesy of Art Battle International.

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