Would You Paint in Your Underwear to Win an Art Contest?

You'll never know what you will see at Pittsburgh's guerilla-style painting contest.

photos by theodore schwarz

Traditionally, art takes time — after all, it took da Vinci 16 years to finish the Mona Lisa.

Pittsburgher Ed Lightcap is challenging that notion. In May, Lightcap hosted the first ArtAttack Pittsburgh [artattackpgh.com], a live painting competition between a dozen local artists onstage at the Rex Theater. Competitors frantically created during three 30-minute rounds; the madcap structure means “you never know what you’re going to get,” Lightcap says.

Past events have included tattoo artists, graphic designers and even performance artists battling it out; Lightcap, who picks the artists for each event, says that he strives to represent as many painting styles as possible at ArtAttack because diversity is “what our city’s all about.”

The audience determines two winners at each event, so the artists sometimes employ guerrilla tactics — such as stripping down to underwear or trying to unnerve competitors — to curry the crowd’s favor.

The next event is set for Wednesday Sept. 9; it’s the last competition before a final showdown of past winners in November.

At that ultimate event, finalists will compete for a chance to win a solo show in a Penn Avenue Unblurred gallery crawl in 2016, as well as six months of free workspace at Etna’s 448 Studios.

Lightcap says some artists try to prepare for the competition with practice and self-timing, but “no matter what, they said everything went out the window” when the show began.


Categories: The 412