The high-paced environment provides a new opportunity to enjoy local talent 

Ditch the usual gallery exhibition this weekend for something a little more high stakes. On Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Selby Library, a dozen painters will battle it out in a fast-paced competition where the attendees are also the judges. 

This is just one of several Art Battle events taking place across the country. Winners from these city-wide competitions will go on to compete in Art Battle International, the live painting competition. Other cities where Art Battle events are taking place this month include Sydney, Australia; Lima, Peru; and New York, New York. Co-hosted by the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Sarasota, this the first time that an Art Battle event will take place in Sarasota.

"It's a different way to experience art,"Jim Shirley, president of the Arts & Cultural Alliance, says. "Sarasota has wonderful talent. We have some of the best theater, music and so on. It’s an exhibition of high-quality fine arts, a lot of energy where people can be a part of the process." 

Art Battle events take place in cities across the world 

The competition is split up into three rounds, each 20 minutes long. Painters will have to complete a masterpiece in this time frame, with audience votes determining who gets to move onto the next round. There will be  six different painters competing in the first two rounds, and the winners from those rounds will compete in the final. The winner will go on to compete in regionals, which will give them the opportunity to compete in Art Battle International. 

Art Battle International originally began in 2001 in New York City. Since then, it's expanded to have Art Battle events in over 100 cities and on six continents. Sarasota will be joining a competition that provides a platform to exhibit our local talent.

"This is something a little different, that people haven't seen before, in all probability," Shirley says. "If you’re looking for an upbeat evening that’s affordable, where you will be involved in, not only watching the art being created, but being able to judge, it's a complete package." 

The regional state champion from Florida will be speed painting at the Art Ovation hotel tomorrow at 5 p.m. in anticipation of the Art Battle Sarasota event on Saturday. Tickets for Art Battle are also available online.