Improv art battles give artists confidence


Art teacher Rich Theroux, 42, has taken the artistic experience into his own hands. The Gorilla Art House, which opened only in July, has taken what many artists cherish as being a very solitary process and opened it to the public eye.

The art house acts as both an art gallery and a free space for artists to work. But each week, anyone from the community is also welcome to attend live art battles. Guests wander throughout the house as dozens of artists are 

CHENLocal artist Chen Li works on the
finishing touches of his piece at The Gorilla Art House’s tenth live art
battle Sept. 19. 

Photo by Alyssa Quiricochallenged to create an improvisational piece in only two hours based on three topics chosen from a spinning wheel of items at the beginning of the night. People are encouraged to interact with the artists, asking questions and watching intensely as they work through their piece.

Audience member Samantha Grabinsky says, “a lot of galleries are really stuffy and not very open to people outside of the art community. Anybody can come [here] and do whatever they want to.”

Chen Li, 24, has grown significantly as an artist since his first battle. However, this was not always the case, says Theroux.

“When I told Chen about this, he turned green. And I thought, well that guy’s never coming,” he laughs. Now Chen is the only artist who has been to every battle and Theroux attests that he is always up for a challenge.

Li says he has grown appreciative of the two-hour deadline as it forces him to finish and not to overthink his work too much. “I tried some subjects many times and I failed many times outside of this battle and after I came here, it worked out.” 

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