Pam Boyd

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August 19, 2009
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Brush Bout

Making his way into the ring, weighing in with his oil painting and mixed media work, is Dustin Zentz.

In the opposite corner, is a local favorite Robin Nash, renown for her painting and ceramics and one of last summer's Mother Earth globes in Eagle.

Let the battle begin.

Under normal circumstances, the words "art battle" would appear to be an oxymoron. Not next weekend in Eagle.

The 2009 Art Battle will pit local artists against each other in a timed competition that will be decided by ballot. The event gets under way at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28 at the Addison Building in Eagle Ranch Village. At 7 p.m. the artists will get to work creating a piece that must be completed by 10 p.m. At that point, the party go'ers will choose the winner and all the art work will be auctioned off.

While the artists work and the crowd watches, there will be an on-going party with music, food and drinks.

"I know we will have enough going on that people really can make an evening of it and be entertained," said organizer Kim Bradley.

The Art Battle will be contested in the unfinished Addison Building space, giving the event a chic, industrial loft atmosphere. What can viewers expect? No one really knows.

"I have a few ideas and I might team up with somebody," said Zentz. "I don't know if I want to give anything away. I need to keep my secrets and surprise people."

In addition to his artwork, Eagle resident Zentz is a woodworker/antique restorer with a studio in Red Cliff. Along with painters such as himself, Zentz expects the Art Battle will feature print makers, sculptors, woodworker, glass blowers, welders and maybe even a performance artist or a fashion designer.

This isn't the first battle for Zentz. He noted that the battle idea was born at the Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Mich. Students launched the program called 280 Studios where they competed against one another in timed events. The events grew more popular and began spreading across the nation as the students graduated, moved away and introduced the 280 Studios concept to their new communities.

"The whole idea behind it is to experience the art as something more energetic than just having it hanging on the wall," said Zentz.

Audience energy is a key point in the battle atmosphere. Zentz remembers one event when an audience member implored a competitor to stop, saying she would buy the piece right then.

At another competition, Zentz watched the misadventures of a concrete sculptor. The artist brought in a concrete mixer and fashioned his piece, racing against the clock.

"It was one heck of a show. Nobody knew if he would make it. And then, when he pulled the form, the piece crumbed before our eyes. That was definitely drama."

Working in a crowd will be a new experience for many of the artists, Zentz said. "Having the crowd behind you is definitely a factor. It's not like a typical art event where the audience is quietly observing. We want the participation for sure."

While many locals are familiar with Robin Nash's work, they probably have never had a chance to see her in action. Next Friday, she figures she will complete a painting or a ceramic sculpture or some combination of the two. Recently her work has explored a theme of transformations so maybe items such as insect larve or animal bone will find their way into her final product.

Nash isn't really phased by the deadline aspect of the competition and she is intrigued by the idea of working in front of an audience. Recently she and fellow artist Amy Dose collaborated on a sidewalk chalk drawing during an Eagle Ranch Village Art Walk event. Nash had a great time fashioning that work in front of a crowd.

And, she noted, while the event is billed as a 'battle,' it will actually feature friendly competition.

"I know a couple of the other artists. We may talk some smack, but it will just be in fun and a way to push our creative boundaries," said Nash.

There's still space for a couple of competitors to sign up for the Art Battle. For more information visit

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The VailDaily Updated Aug 21, 2009 11:57AM Published Aug 19, 2009 12:58PM Copyright 2009 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.