Review: Art Duel

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T’was a night like any other in Kamloops, B.C. Stores were closing, classes ending, and some were settling in for the night. However, that was not in fact the case for those making their way over to the Kamloops Art Gallery. When we arrived, it seemed from outside just like any other night. The classical music hung in the air beckoning us inside. The glass doors could not tell what they held inside. What we happened upon was a battle of epic proportions!


Okay dramatic introduction aside, the Art Duel was by no means what I expected. We entered the studio space to find the type of atmosphere you would only find at an art gallery. Our greeters were wildly costumed and bouncing in their seats! Truthfully, I don’t know if the jitters were from sheer anticipation or the array of sugary treats provided, either way I was excited. Looking around the room, I knew we were in for a good night. From the balloon streamers to the crazy song covers playing the studio seemed reborn. I knew it was the same space we had sat in the previous week for Kitchen Conversations, yet somehow the energy had transformed it.
Anxiously awaiting the beginning of the dueling, we snacked on pizza and drinks. As time went on it seemed a steady stream of newcomers entered and chairs were systematically added to accommodate them. Despite the wait, we all remained in good spirits, chatting among ourselves, and mentally preparing for what we were about to witness.
When the time finally came the studio space was beyond filled. From the costumed to the post-work attired, we were ready to get down to business! It was set up tournament style. Participants went randomly head to head hoping to move on to the next round. By the first strokes of chalk we were hooked! Each pair was given two random words with which they needed to draw (blindfolded!), one becoming the other. I applaud whoever came up with this theme as it fits perfectly with the current exhibit Becoming Animal/Becoming Landscape. The exhibit explores the concepts of transformation and change. Once again it goes to show how KAG is reaching its audiences in creative ways.
In terms of jeering and heckling we weren’t exactly the best peanut gallery. We waited silently while contestants drew their creations right on the wall. Yes, the wall. After each round, we cheered on those brave enough to show their stuff. Time moved faster than expected and in a flurry of chalk dust, respectful cheers, and popcorn it was down to the last stand.

Our final two had really put up a fight to get to the end. The purpose of the duel was really just to be silly and have a good time. However, these two had managed to put up some really awesome work! It was thoughtful and surprisingly well drawn! By this point in the night the judges had abandoned the 1-10 rating scale and were well into triple digits. Was it the pure talent of the artists, or maybe a little too much to drink from Red Collar? It remains a mystery. So, it all came down to the hosts tallying scores totaling somewhere in the 700s. By some arbitrary amount a contestant calling herself “Petal to the Metal” was declared the winner!

And just like that the night was brought to a halt. We couldn’t believe over three hours had gone by. I really must commend KAG for knowing their audience and knowing how to entertain them. I was never once bored or hungry all night. I know this is where I’m supposed to provide my critique and say what needs to be fixed, but the saying holds true here: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Art Duel is by far a Kamloops hidden gem, my only concern is how and why more citizens don’t know about this? Get on it travel blogs, Kamloops Tourism! Let’s get Art Duel on the map!

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