The concept for the NYC Art League began with Sour Mouse co-curator, Bree Chapin, who had the idea to put together an art battle to promote the venue. Sour Mouse had opened its door late-fall 2020, and as was the case with many small businesses, was struggling through the COVID winter. In January 2021, Sour Mouse reached out to UP Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, T.K. Mills to serve as an MC and judge.
T.K. was interested in the concept, but felt that the judge shouldn’t also be the MC, and that there should be more than one judge in total. T.K. met with Sour Mouse curators Bree and Evan Salton, joining the team as a consultant to help structure the event. T.K. put together a rubric for a judge’s panel, to help make sure there was a fair system.
The Art League’s scoring system works like this: there are 3 categories, Creativity, Technique, and Theme. Each category is worth 5 points, and judges assign the points based on their own subjective opinions. The Theme for each match differs, and is decided by Sour Mouse. In addition to the judges scores, there’s bonus points decided by an audience score and assigned by the MC. In recruiting judges, the goal is to feature curators, art media personnel, and fellow artists.
For the match itself, artist have 1 hour to paint their canvas, split into two 30-minute rounds with a half time in between. The live painting tests artists skills under pressure, and creativity on the spot. Artists aren’t told the theme until right as the match begins.
The aim of the NYC Art League to promote the art community and provide a venue where artists can compete in friendly competition, encouraging sportsmanship and camaraderie.
With the concept together, UP & Sour Mouse were eager for the first match, knowing that there was still much to learn & refine with the art league, but the best way to find out is through trial by fire.