Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Art Battles Ala Prima
"OH, it is so on! Hand over your milk money, you beret-wearing, art school romantics. Outta the way, wine- and-cheese-eating, card-carrying MoMA members.
ArtBattles gets under way January 23 at (le) Poisson Rouge in the Village - and the fast-paced "live art" show is all about trash-talking, in-your-face painting - albeit among polite skinny kids who genuinely seem to like each other.
Basically, it goes down like this: The artists are each given $100 to paint whatever the moderator assigns.� The competition? Faux fierce.
"It's not as much a sterile environment as 'Iron Chef,' but that's something we talk about," says ArtBattles founder Sean Bono, who has organized more than 100 of these fast-paced battle royales since 2001. Competitions have occured in alleys, apartments and wherever else he could find space. Thanks to an MTV segment in May 2007, ArtBattles' surge in popularity has brought it to more mainstream venues.
More about palettes than palates, this ArtBattles showdown features a half-dozen contestants who don't know what they'll be working on. Previous contests have seen participants limited to just a couple of colors, confined to themes like love and hate, asked to use live nude models or - on the MTV show - paint a new version of MTV's logo.
"It's changed my paint steeze and made me a better artist . . . it's made my style iller," says 28-year-old Concep, who won the MTV battle. (Translation: The nature of the contest has made him more prolific, enhanced his work and improved his methodology greatly.)
The flashy New Orleans native, who now resides in Crown Heights, Brooklyn will be gunning for fellow Pratt grad and art battler Ben Angotti, 27. "He's beaten me bad before and I had my girl with me, and you know what I'm saying?" asks Concep. "I can't have it go down like that again."
Angotti feels no remorse.
"I would say it's friendly, but there's always some longtime rivalries," says the Angotti.
Karioki Crosby, a 33-year-old Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn resident, likes that ArtBattles helps him "exercise" his arm for the calligraphy-inspired, continuous-motion Asian-style painting he enjoys. But all Zen aside, if a competitor gets frisky, he jokes that he just might "push them off a stage."
The only female participant this time around will be
Harlem-raised Marthalicia Matarrita, 30, who teamed up with her brother and won a doubles ArtBattles competition a couple months ago.
"Hell yeah," Matarrita says the audience feedback makes painting a little more exciting, if not sometimes distracting.
Like Concep, Matarrita says ArtBattles has not only helped her work, but it's aided the art community as spontaneous street art continues to gain in popularity.
Leif McIlwaine enjoys a home-field advantage when
his Greenpoint, Brooklyn graffiti art store Alphabeta Shop occasionally hosts ArtBattles. McIlwaine has won about a half-dozen competitions.
Cash prizes rarely top $200 and may sometimes be a plaque or art supplies.
Art collectors who want a piece of the action can view the pieces at artbattles.com, where works sell for $100 to $500.
ArtBattles takes place Friday night at 11 at (le) Poisson Rouge, 158
Bleecker St.; 866-558-4253." ~New York Post