Tarlton Theatre Host the Second Art War: A Live Painting Competition

By Elsie McEloy, Will Kamps, Thomas Henbest & Brock Mackinnis


February 19th’s harsh winter weather was not able to stop people from coming to a celebration of Green Bay’s local artists.  

Art War: A Live Painting Competition, a free art competition that occurs every three months, took place at 8:00 pm in the downtown Green Bay theatre. This is the second time the Art War has taken place in the Tarlton Theatre, with the first in mid-November. 

The Art War had four twenty-minute rounds. The first three rounds each had four different local artists, all varying in age and experience, painting whatever they would like. While they painted, the audience was able to walk around their stations and watch the artists’ work in real-time. After twenty minutes, the artists were instructed to put down their brushes and let the audience vote on their favorite piece. The artists with the greatest number of votes would go on to the final round. The winner of the final round got a cash prize as a reward. A silent auction would be held for the other artists’ works, and they would receive the proceeds from the said auction. 

A young artist and his guardian are working together to create a scenic ocean painting in the second round. Photo taken by Elsie McElroy.

During the event, an older gentleman played on an electric guitar and switched between bluegrass and jazz-oriented music. A younger couple danced briefly on the stage as the audience wandered around the artists, taking pictures and admiring the work. Drinks and food were served at tables stationed around the theatre. An anonymous audience member, while watching an artist paint, said, “It’s honestly very cool to watch the various techniques being used here.” Meanwhile, the artists were bringing their creations to life under a large timer. 

Abigail Marquardt, a UW-Green Bay senior art student, attended both this event and last year’s rendition. In the first round of the event, she worked on an abstract painting while listening to music. Marquardt stated, “[The Art War] was one of my ways that I could explore painting because you have to paint in 20 minutes, which is a big-time restraint. You don’t get to do all the little details. You [got to] just slap it on there and go, so… it’s a different experience that I enjoy.” 

UW-Green Bay art education student, Abigail Marquardt, paints an abstract painting in the first round. Photo taken by Elsie McElroy.

Tarl Knight, the event creator and co-owner of the Tarlton Theatre, originally created this event based on similar events he saw in larger cities, like Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. “We thought let’s take a big city idea and bring it here to our little, small town and see what happens,” Knight said.  

The original Facebook that the Tarlton Theatre made for the first Art War: A Live Painting Competition. Image from Tarlton Theatre’s Facebook page.

The theatre is oriented to creating programs for marginalized communities and for all ages. According to Knight, ticket prices are often $25 dollars or less because they want to give opportunities for the working class. Many events, like the Art War, are often free and open to the public. Programming events are often announced and advertised on Facebook. Morgan, one of the artists, said that she had seen the Art War on Facebook and decided to try it out after watching the first art war. “It was just a great experience, and I would suggest that anyone interested would try it out.” 

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