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Painters at Art Battle Seattle paint while patrons at The Palladium walk around the artists to see
Credit: Art Battle Seattle

Events

Art Battle returns to Washington state, eyes Portland expansion

It’s old news by now that the global pandemic completely upended live events. As our regional community begins to emerge from pandemic restrictions and hold shows in person, some events are sporting entirely new production crews.

Art Battle Seattle is one such event. A live competitive painting event complete with DJs and real-time art auctions, Art Battle is a global event series that touched down in Seattle in 2019.

After a run of successful openings at Rebar, Art Battle Seattle shuttered with all live events in early 2020. Now, the event series has come out of Pacific Northwest pandemic event restrictions with new venues, new cities, and a new production team leading the charge into 2022 and beyond.

A new beginning for Art Battle in the Pacific Northwest

Partners and producers Dave Wendleton and Susannah Youngquist began their involvement with Art Battle Seattle as attendees, and quickly saw an opportunity in another major PNW city.

“Tacoma is a city that rebuilt itself on art and this event fills a void there,” says Wendleton. “There is an amazing art community and so much opportunity for artists.”

Shortly after, the duo set about breaking ground for Art Battle Tacoma.

“I was instantly hooked and immediately thought that I needed to bring it to Tacoma,” says Youngquist. “After about a year of planning and getting approvals, we had our first show in February 2020. The response was beyond what we even expected and we could see the impact we were making immediately.”

Partners and Art Battle producers Dave Wendleton and Susannah Youngquist

Like many other events at the time, Art Battle Tacoma quickly found itself in the tidal wave of pandemic-triggered restrictions and lockdowns.

“The pandemic shut us down, but we were not only sure we would continue, we began our planning for the Portland expansion which we already had approved and in the feasibility stage.”

Fast forward to fall of 2021, and we find Wendleton and Youngquist in charge of not only the upcoming re-launch of Art Battle Tacoma, but also Art Battle Seattle and the soon-to-be-announced Art Battle Portland.

“When we saw an end to the shutdown we started preparing for a restart of the event in Portland and Tacoma,” they describe. “In talking with [previous showrunner] Frankie about the reopening, she asked if we would like to take over Seattle. Portland has been very slow to reopen so we had plenty of bandwidth to get Seattle restarted and were more than happy to take the reins. When [DJ] Nightwatch and [MC] Austin agreed to stay on we were even more ecstatic.”

Upcoming Art Battle events

With Art Battles in the Pacific Northwest roaring back to life, it is a great time to get in on the action. If you are an artist, art lover, dance music lover, or just want an excuse to get out of the house, Art Battles are being held in Seattle and Tacoma right now.

In Seattle, Art Battle is held every first Friday of the month at Hale’s Ales Palladium. You can purchase tickets here.

In Tacoma, Art Battle heads to Fawcett Hall on October 7, and will settle into an every other month schedule after that. You can purchase tickets here.

Read on for a quick Q&A with Art Battle’s new showrunners.

Q&A with Dave and Susannah

What is your favorite thing about Art Battle?
We love that we can help make connections for people or businesses who are willing to showcase local artists, offer opportunities for artists as well. We support each other, learn from each other, and hope to continue to be a resource to connect artists and art lovers.

Knowing we are making a positive influence with the community is such a great feeling and why we do this. We have seen artists that have never met until the event, and the next week they are collaborating on a new project. We have had people come up to us looking for artists for various projects and we’ve been able to use our network of contacts to connect the artist to the opportunity. Some artists have never been seen or sold any piece of work until we auction their piece.

These artists are painting side-by-side with artists that make their living in the art world. This not only creates great networking opportunity, it inspires them to pursue a career in art.

The inaugural Art Battle Tacoma

What plans do you have for Art Battle in the future in the PNW?
We can’t wait to get Tacoma launched on Oct. 7th and continuing to have the Seattle show on the 1st Friday every month. We will be having a “state finals” in 2022 where Tacoma and Seattle will compete together for the Washington spot in the nationals. We are very excited about Portland as well.

It’s been a long, tough road with the timing of everything, but we have venues and sponsors lined up and are just waiting for the reopening. At that time we will send an artist from both Oregon and Washington to the national championship and have even better representation of the PNW art scene. The Portland art community is amazing and we have had spectacular interest in this event there.

What COVID-related protocols do you have in place for Art Battles?
While we are saddened that a heath crisis has become so full of politics and conspiracy theories, we also know we are not experts in public safety during a pandemic. We have deferred these policies to the venues and local mandates. Currently both Tacoma and Seattle require masks indoors regardless of vaccination status. Tacoma will require all attendees and crew to have proof of vaccination or a recent negative test result.

Is there anything you’d like our readers to know about you or Art Battle?
While at it’s core Art Battle is an international competition, our focus will always be building the local community. We are definitely not getting rich running this event and rely heavily on volunteers and sponsors to keep this event going. It takes a crew of around 20 artists and crew to make the magic happen and most of them are volunteering their time.

We are very appreciative of this and love that so many share our passion for this event. If anybody out there wants to support the event through sponsorship, volunteering, or competing please get in touch with us!

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