Art battles drop in the Beltline
New inner-city art gallery Gorilla House introduces Calgarians to a new form of interactive art— live art battles.
Owners Rich Theroux and Shauna Pascoe-Theroux opened the gallery at the beginning of July, after Rich incubated the idea nearly 20 years ago at ACAD. The idea behind the battles stemmed from “hip hop battles” that were popular in the ‘80s, though these battles are much less competitive in nature.
“We’re supportive, we’re not territorial,” says Theroux.
Every Wednesday evening beginning at 7 p.m., local artists are given just over two hours to complete a piece of artwork based on three randomly selected themes. In the past, one evening’s artworks had to include bikes, night school dropouts, and seven hearts. Anyone can participate, provided they have their own supplies and are willing to create an original work of art from scratch in the allotted time.
“The artist has a thought and a heart, and they send out their message—the artwork,” says Theroux.
Completed pieces are auctioned off to the crowd for prices that range from $20 – $300. The “battles” are free to attend and allow spectators to watch local artists in action—from start to finish. The proceeds from any sold work are split evenly between the Gorilla House and the artist.
While Theroux initially planned to have the gallery open for three months, the tremendous public support has provided enough revenue for a one-year lease.
The first Live Art battle consisted of only five emerging artists, while the most recent battles have seen the gallery at full capacity.
“As the crowds started supporting the artists, more artists started showing up,” says Theroux.
Gorilla House is located at 1503 – 15 Ave SW. Battles take place every Wednesday evening beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is free and drop-in art lessons are available daily.