We haven’t had as much fun as we did on Thursday evening at Art Battle’s Paint the Halls in a very long time. If you missed out, you unfortunately will probably never be able to experience anything like it. In just a few event-filled hours, the walls of Toronto’s landmark Women’s College Hospital were transformed into one of the most vibrant galleries of art in the city before the original WCH location (where many Toronto young professionals were born) closed its doors to the public forever. Thrown in collaboration with the Women’s College Hospital Foundation, Paint the Halls marked the largest and most memorable Art Battle event to date, as 75 artists competed the largest live competitive painting event the country has ever seen.
The crowd included some 1400 guests, many from the young arts community, some regular fixtures on the Toronto event scene, and others affiliated with the hospital, who enjoyed food stations, cocktails and creating wall art with Sharpies as they took in the incredibly diverse works of 75 artists. Each artist had 75 minutes to create his or her best piece of work on a 6×6-square foot of wall in spaces that just recently occupied waiting rooms, operating rooms and recovery rooms, in addition to in the hallways and corridors. The hospital will move to a new state-of-the-art facility right next door to the original location.
Admittedly, it was a bit of an eerie and surreal experience to party in the hospital, and the odd stretcher, piece of ceiling operating machinery or sign on the wall served as constant reminders of the rich history, joys, sorrows and advancements that have happened within the walls of the 100-year-old-plus building. As we were warned days prior at the media event, it was virtually impossible to see all of the paintings in the maze-like space, even if you were there from start to finish. Although spray paint on the floors aided as a guide, it was definitely easy to get lost and to lose the company you came with.
Highlights of the evening included “Botox” injections of vodka, a blood-like cocktail served in an IV bag, the music of the DJs and Maylee Todd and The Heavyweights Brass Band, who played songs that made you want to stay longer than anticipated, and, of course, the chance to witness the creative process from start to finish of some of the city’s most talented artists.
In typical Art Battle fashion, the audience, who had approximately 45 minutes to cast their vote in circulating ballot boxes, determined the winning artist. The winners, who won $5000 in prizes, were Zara Diniz in 3rd place, Keita Morimoto in 2nd and Adam Chapman in 1st place.
Once the winner was announced, the remaining walls of the hospital were fair game for any party guest, and we were free to use discarded paint palettes, brushes and materials to leave our own mark on the wall. We are willing to bet that we weren’t the only ones who left with at least one colour of paint on our clothing.
Art Battle is the brainchild of Toronto natives Simon Plashkes and Christopher Pemberton, who started the event on modest means in Toronto in 2009. It has since become a coast-to-coast affair, with Art Battle events now in Halifax, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver.
The next event is the Art Battle Toronto Finals on June 25th, where all the artists who competed in Toronto throughout the year compete. The Art Battle National Championships take place on Friday, July 26th, at the AGO, where artists from Halifax to Vancouver will travel to Toronto to compete.
Find more information on Art Battle here. Click here for our full gallery.