Paintings consigned to chopping block for Artageddon in Merced

10/27/2013 10:38 PM

10/27/2013 10:49 PM

Seventeen artists took part in Paint Day, the first phase of Artageddon, a competition in which the winning painting will earn the artist $500.

The losing paintings likely will be subjected to a chainsaw, acid bath, baseball bat or some other unseemly end as outlined in this combination art competition and fundraiser.

Artists had from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center to create their paintings.

Autumn Washington English, 18, came all the way from Turlock for Paint Day. English, who mainly works in digital art, said she hasn’t painted in a while and thought she might as well give it a try. “It’s a fun thing to do. Just the idea of the competition sounds really fun,” English said.

Katt Szyndler, 34, of Merced, who works in all types of media, was invited to the event on Facebook and told her brother Michael, 38, and fellow Mercedian, all about it. Katt Szyndler thought the idea sounded like fun and loves to create art with other people.

“New stuff comes out,” she explained, “You’re inspired because of other people in the room.”

Michael Szyndler, who owns a DJ and karaoke business, liked the concept too. “It’s a different twist. Anytime we can get together and paint is a plus with my sister,” he said.

Corey Mesa, 20, of Atwater, said when someone told him about the event and asked if he could paint, he replied, “I spray paint, but I’ll try anything.”

When asked about his creation Saturday, Mesa said, “I feel all right. It’s my first time using brushes, but it’s better than when I was in first grade.”

Joey Essig, the Merced County Arts Council operations director, said he got the idea for the unusual fundraiser from an Indianapolis-based event called “Art vs. Art.” Essig said some people have found the idea offensive.

“I don’t think it was the competition aspect, I think it was the destruction aspect that had certain people kind of guessing,” he said. “That’s good because it gives people a chance to sort of think about what it is they do. It’s the idea of the value you place on your art, and how you interact with it, and how much of it is for fun and how much of it you take seriously.”

Essig, 35, said he feels the event is good for the arts community in Merced because it’s a new way of looking at a painting competition and taking it to a new level.

“We’ve injected this idea of destruction into it and sort of made the stakes a little higher,” he explained. “It’s not like you’re going to paint a painting and it wins or it doesn’t win, or it places, or it shows. It either wins, or it’s immediately valued and bought on the spot, or it’s destroyed. There are only three options here.”

The main event will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Arts Center on 645 W. Main St., and will take on the character of a “demented carnival game show” according to Essig.

The single-elimination tournament will have four rounds in which randomly selected paintings will be pitted against one another for the audience to judge by cheering, applauding and just making noise. Losing paintings will be placed on the chopping block, and the host will spin The Wheel of Death to decide how the painting will meet its final end, such as by chainsaw or baseball bat.

The only way a painting can be saved is if an audience member purchases it. However, if the wheel hits “Instant Death,” the painting will be destroyed on the spot.

Essig said he would love to make Artageddon an annual event because it helps build an arts community.

“The best part about this — that I didn’t think about until today — there are 17 artists now in a room and they’re all painting together,” he said. “Some of them are meeting each other for the first time, some of them are old friends, but they’re all painting, talking and joking together, even though they’re in competition with each other. So it’s that kind of spirit that is an important pillar to building a nice arts scene.”

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