By: Anna Bailey, reporter
Photographs by: Elise Arsenault
Have you ever wondered what would happen if art and sports were combined? Battle of the Brushes, a fundraiser for the drop-in art studio downtown, RE-create, is a live painting competition where artists race to finish a painting in just half an hour. On Friday the 28th, the fourth annual Battle of the Brushes took place at the Cotton Factory.
RE-create is a drop-in art studio for youth up to age twenty-five, started by Betty Brouwer in 2003. Betty, now the artistic director, explains that the name is meant to show youth that they don’t have to start over. Instead, they can “create out of who they are, because who they are is good.” Grey Grant, one of the competitors on Friday night, who just aged out of RE-Create’s programs this year, says it is their favorite open studio. They say it is “welcoming, warm, and super loving” and remembers being welcomed without hesitation.
Battle of the Brushes raises funds for RE-create through ticket sales and an auction. Every painting is available for bidding, and artists keep 15% of the final sale price. The competition consists of two rounds. This year, seventeen artists competed in the first round.
Artists included Redeemer professor, Phil Irish, former Chair of the Art and Design Department Chris Cuthill, art majors Bethany Boville and Simone Bos, and Redeemer alumni Bethany Kenyon and Kari-Anne Eby. When the countdown began, artists worked in intense silence while the room filled with music, chatter, and movement. Some worked from photographs or their phones. Others had headphones in, working in their own world.
Bethany Boville, using watercolors, pulled out a small hairdryer to dry her canvas. Her work, which started as an ink drawing, depicted her take on the Greek myth of Icarus. “I asked, ‘what if Icarus flew?'” She explained. Simone Bos painted a black and white canvas of a cat looking out a window. At one point, artist Avery Tanner, who runs art classes at the Cotton Factory, picked up his canvas and waved it energetically through the air to dry the paint. Everyone watching received eight ballots, which they placed in Tupperware dishes with holes in the lids and artist’s names on them.
Eight artists, including Simone Bos, Phil Irish, Bethany Kenyon, and Kari-Anne Eby, advanced to the second round. Once again, the countdown began, and viewers circled the room: this time with only three ballots.
Phil Irish bounced to the music as he painted, clutching a large orange towel. At one point, he turned his canvas upside down to add detail to the bottom of his colorful painting of a skull. Avery Tanner painted his own left hand clutching two paint brushes. He finished in only twenty minutes and won first place. Second place went to Erika Bruulsema, a Grade 12 student at Hamilton District Christian High School for her painting of a cat. Kari-Anne Eby received third place for a landscape.
The top three artists received unique trophies created by Emma Silverthorn, RE-Create’s current studio coordinator, and other volunteers. The trophies included pom-poms, bracelets, doll arms, and feathers. The artists posed with their prizes while viewers continued to eat, catch up with old friends, and bid on the artwork. This year’s Battle of the Brushes combined beauty and attention to detail with tension and speed.