Press: The Star, Art Battle Toronto at The Great Hall

Brush toting fighters gird up for Art Battle
A uniquely artistic sport, the live painting competition created by two Torontonians has spread to 55 cities.
The Great Hall hosts a number of  recurring creative, cultural and uniquely Toronto events including Art Battle, a timed live painting competition that originated in our venue back in 2009 and has now expanded across Canada, the U.S. and around the globe. Check out this Art Battle Toronto Star story about the growing arts and entertainment phenomenon. Then come watch and vote on — or paint in — Art Battle Toronto at The Great Hall for yourself, soon.

‘“It’s sort of Fight Club for painters.”

Mark Liam Smith is describing what happens when you give an artist 20 minutes to fill a blank canvas in front of a few hundred cheering spectators.

Toronto’s first monthly Art Battle of the year was held Tuesday night at The Great Hall on artsy West Queen West. Sixteen competitors vied to win over the audience, who voted via their smartphones.

It was Smith’s first time duking it out for the chance at a cash prize and spot at the Toronto finals in June. The 42-year-old paints full time and moved to the city just last month, hoping to land representation.

“The life of a painter is a pretty solitary life,” said Smith, who is colour-blind. Battling his peers Tuesday night was a way to connect with the art community, and he was happy to accept invitations from fellow painters to visit their galleries.

Those kinds of connections are exactly what the Art Battle’s founders hope to spark.

Simon Plashkes, 34, and Chris Pemberton, 39, have planned many events together over the years, including an interactive installation at Nuit Blanche and a salon-style speaker series. The idea for a live painting competition came to them when they were thinking of an entertaining intermission between speakers in 2009.

“It greatly outshone the rest of the evening,” said Plashkes.

That’s when they decided to hold it as a stand-alone event at The Great Hall that fall, and it’s become a monthly fixture in the community since.’ READ FULL STORY

Art Battle Toronto takes place monthly at The Great Hall (with a brief summer hiatus). Get the schedule for upcoming Art Battle events right here.