Nadia Elkharadly: A Battle of the Arts – Art Battle TO

I’ve never been a huge art buff.  I enjoy many types of art, but there are also a lot of types that I don’t really understand.  That being said, I’ve never been one to turn down a chance to experience interesting art from any and all time periods.  I’ve been to some of the greatest galleries and museums in the world, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, to the Louvre in Paris and the Prado in Madrid.  I live on Queen West and have perused many of the galleries that line my street, and have learned something new with every visit.  So when my friend Jordan told me about an event called the Art Battle, I was intrigued.

So after a delicious dinner at Church Aperitivo, my part time artist, full time real estate agent friend Sarah and I crossed the street and wandered into the Great Hall to see what all the Art Battle fuss was about.

Art battles are a regular occurrence here in Toronto, and also happen in Vancouver and Halifax.  Every month or slightly more, groups of artists, art lovers and curious spectators get together to watch a group of artists battle it out on their canvases.  Each artist has 20 minutes to complete their painting, and the crowd votes for their favourites.  The winners of each round come together in a final battle of the best in the hopes of winning a cash prize.  And, of course, every painting created during the Art Battle goes up for auction, so fans and onlookers can get a chance to own one or more of the pieces of art whose creation they just witnessed.  It’s a great way to bring together art and entertainment in an interesting and accessible way – even the biggest art novice can enjoy an art battle, as can the biggest art snob. Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Last week’s event had an interesting twist; it was Halloween.  And let me tell you, artistic types come up with the craziest costumes.  There was a beer fairy, a unicorn, a sexy vampire nurse, a rogue Bob Ross (and if you don’t know who Bob Ross is, click here), a Holly Golightly complete with tiara, and a Clark Kent with an incredible plastic hairpiece.  And instead of the usual DJ or recorded music soundtrack, the musical inspiration for the artists this time around was provided by local Toronto band Black Absinthe

With their heavy metal sound, their gothy look, and their uncannily Jesus-looking frontman, Black Absinthe’s performance rounded out the somewhat random but completely fascinating experience at this Toronto Art Battle.  And I’m relaly not kidding about the frontman looking like Jesus.  Here he is complete with ethereal glow.

Kind of freaky, kind of intriguing, and definitely thought provoking.  Art Battle Jesus was in the house.  And he played a mean guitar.  But getting back to the art, there were several eye catching, provocative, and even frightening pieces, in keeping with the Halloween theme.  Some were more appealing than others, depending on who you were speaking to, or even just standing next to.  My personal favourite painting of the night was this one, painted by Kiele.

Something about the mix of swirling colours, contrasted with the solid black foreground and random biking and kite flying action appealed to me.  I seriously considered buying it, but didn’t in the end.  I hope it found a nice, art loving owner to take it home and appreciate it for a long time to come.

As this was an art Battle, and not an art Show, there had to be a winner at the end of the night.  And that winner was foxy lady Morgan Booth!  Here she is working on her winning piece.

Combining music, art, theatricality and a little bit of Halloween Trick or Treat appeal, Art Battle Halloween was a new, fun and stimulating way to spend a night out in right here in Toronto.  I never thought anyone could produce viable pieces of art in a high pressure situation, in just twenty minutes.  I also never thought I’d enjoy watching someone make art under these circumstances so entertaining.  For me, a person who spends most of her time in dark bars listening to (albeit great) music, it was great to be in a place where the lights were on, where you could have a conversation with the person next to you without yelling or miming what you’re trying to say.   In a city like Toronto there’s always something new and cool to do.  Sometimes you (and by you I really mean me) just have to open yourself up to new ideas and new experiences.  You never know what new adventures may come your way.

Until next time,



Nadia’s column appears every Tuesday

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Nadia Elkharadly is a Toronto based writer with a serious addiction to music. Corporate drone by day, renegade rocker by night, writing is her creative outlet.  Nadia writes for the Examiner (.com) on live music in Toronto and Indie Music in Canada.  She has never been in a band but plays an awesome air guitar and also the tambourine.  Check in every Tuesday for musings about music, love, life and whatever else that comes to mind.

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