– by Michael Donnelly
Last week saw the first round of this year’s, The ArtGames, go off with a vibrant, quirky bang inside Freo’s fittingly mural splashed Newport Hotel.
The ArtGames, an Art Lab-run initiative, which allows emerging artists in Perth from all backgrounds to show off their talent in a head to head competition, continued on the impeccable path it’s paved over the last two years.
In usual fashion, the chosen theme for the night ‘playing for keeps’ was contended in the space of two hours by locals Steve Browne and James Cooper (aka Jerkface) atop blank canvasses awaiting their vivification.
As the two artists took their stances, pre-paint jitters were serenaded away beautifully by the Galloping Foxleys, playing with their backs to a luminous stopwatch backdrop. After the first hour, it was clear that the blueprints for both paintings couldn’t have been any more different.
And that’s what you want to see, a point of difference where individual style proves to excite the crowd and eyes dart between either two, trying to guess the direction they’re going. In any which way our local artists like to express themselves, nothing’s ever the same in Perth. The ArtGames is a testament to that.
As the crowd came in and brews were sunk by all on a merry, peaceful Sunday, both artists grew a sense of composure and settled into their mould. Although both works were visibly abstract, no one could honestly guess the outcomes after the first hour. Perhaps not even the artists themselves… but that’s what gets the adrenalin pumping and makes it all the more intriguing for the audience.
The second hour became rush hour, helped along nicely by raucous rockers Filthy Apes. While James Cooper began putting the final touches on the curious subjects of his bright, bubbly sky-scape, Steve Browne was fine-lining the sketches of his shadowy, skeletal take on playing for keeps.
And it was Steve Browne’s raw, grungy piece which ultimately just edged out James Cooper’s, a crowd vote of 23-19 via count of bottle-caps in respective jars. However, both pieces were brilliantly accomplished… undoubtedly the sort you’d love to see hanging on your living room wall, or even on the cover of your new favourite record. Such proven as both pieces were comfortably auctioned off at the end.
Interestingly, both artists have fairly broad abilities with street murals, indoor exhibitions and even the smallest, finessed drawings on paper in both their repertoires. If there’s any similarity between the two competing pieces that could be seen early; they both had an effervescent street-like vibe you’d familiarise with Perth.
What’s great about The ArtGames, is that you’ll never know what you’ll see or who you’ll come up against. From graffiti to expressionism – a blank canvas beggars endless possibilities. Most importantly, local competitors can get out of their shell and mix their art with people from all walks of life.
For punters, with tasty (and discounted with entry) Matso’s brews and a DJ spinning sweet tunes during the breaks, what’s not to love?
While Steve Browne progresses to the secondary rounds in October, the next round of knockouts continues on the 22nd of March which you can follow here.
Keep your eye out and get down for all the showcases to come, the talent will blow your mind.
All photos of Round One (credit to Phidias Rueter) can be viewed here.