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Date of Issue: August 18, 2010

Island artists compete in Art Brawl

For your enjoyment

Bradenton Beach residents Amanda Landesberg, 23, and Zach Gilliland, 28, are stirring up the art and music scene with an umbrella project named “For your fantastical enjoyment,” through which they plan to host a variety of events. Islander Photo: Diana Bogan

Island artists are ready to rumble in the area’s second Art Brawl, a live art competition organized by a Bradenton Beach couple, Amanda Landesberg and Zach Gilliland.

The event, dubbed the “Beer Garden Throw Down,” will take place in the garden of Sarasota’s Cock and Bull Pub, 975 Cattleman Road, Saturday, Aug. 21.

The Art Brawl pits local artists against one another to create a new work of art for an audience of viewers, who will root for the ultimate Art Brawl winner. Each artist will be provided a 4 foot by 6 foot blank masonite board, but the medium with which they chose to transform the canvas will be up to each artist.

“The neat thing is that the artists have very different backgrounds — some paint, some spray paint. I use Sharpie pens and markers,” said Gilliland. It will be his first time participating. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be wild. It’s hard to put yourself in front of people and do your thing, but I’ve got a game plan. I’ll be dancing and drawing — two things that light me up.”

 Some of the weekend’s art brawlers are young Island artists. In addition to Gilliland, Holmes Beach resident and graphic-artist Cheeta Ruis is slated to compete. Ruis has participated in other live art events in the Tampa Bay area. Rounding out the Island’s representation are Anna Maria residents Justin and Rachel Noyes, owners of The Hive boutique in Bradenton Beach. They plan to compete as a couple.

The Island artists are joined by Barbara Gerdeman, an acrylic artist who works at Art Center Sarasota; Austin Kowal, owner of Clothesline in Sarasota, who creates one of a kind silkscreen-printed art clothing; Caitlyn Teagle, an illustration student at the Ringling College of Art and Design; and Javier Rodriguez, a Ringling school graduate and fine artist. Rodriguez participated in the first art brawl Gilliland and Landesberg organized earlier this summer in conjunction with the Vinyl Music Festival.

The art brawl is the first of many events that the Bradenton Beach couple hopes to ingrain into the local creative arts scene under the umbrella of their brainchild project called “for Your fantastical Enjoyment,” and labeled fYfE by the pair.

What drove the couple to bring fYfE to fruition was a combination of their frustration in trying to find local art and music events and their belief that Sarasota and Manatee counties are ripe with talent.

“They call this an arts town, but where are they?” said Gilliland. “We found ourselves driving to St. Petersburg and Tampa in our free time. So we decided that if we want a livelier art and music scene in Sarasota, then we should make it happen.”

“With fYfE, we want to make another outlet for young or emerging artists to showcase themselves as well as a new way for people to experience art,” added Landesberg.

Gilliland says the Art Brawl is a step toward that effort. “By putting visual artists out in the open it shows creativity at work. The audience is able to watch as the artist pours his or her passion onto the canvas and for the first time see how ideas formulate and come together as a finished work of art. That process, she says, gets lost in a gallery.

“I think that being able to see the artist’s progression might help some people feel more comfortable looking at art,” Gilliland said.

Even if you’re unsure an Art Brawl is going to be your idea of a good time, Landesberg says the environment at the event will be warm, friendly and laid back. Island band Fire Door will perform for the audience and to help inspire the artists, said Gilliland.

Audience participation is encouraged. There will be a community board on which guests can draw and Fire Door will host an open jam for musicians. Although the brawl is in part competition, it’s also in some ways an inclusive atmosphere.

The event begins at 8 p.m. with the art competition getting under way at 9 p.m.; artists will have four hours to complete their projects.

In the future the couple hope to create a sustainable business model for fYfE as a vehicle to support the creative community and add to its viability.

Landesberg and Gilliland plan to host an Art Brawl event on a monthly basis. The number of competitors is limited by the size of the venue. Artists, musicians and venues interested in participating in future brawls can contact the couple by e-mail at fYfE.srq@gmail.com. The couple says news, dates and information on events can be found on fYfE’s Facebook page.

“With each of our events, we want to work in a way to give back to the community,” said Landesberg. “Beginning with the Aug. 21 Art Brawl we are introducing the Creator is Life Fund. We are asking people to donate art and music supplies that fYfE will provide to a local school.”

About a year ago, the couple set out from the Holmes Beach residence of Amanda’s parents, Debbie and Saul Landesberg, to drive across the country in search of “the perfect place to settle down.”

“We ended up right back here,” said Amanda.

Landesberg, a New College graduate with a solid business sense, works at Exit Art on Longboat Key and Gilliland, a Newberry College graduate with a degree in studio art, works at Art Center Sarasota. Together they hope to see the creative arts community and fYfE grow “like bamboo.”

“Part of our mission is to give back. We love this area so much,” said Landesberg.”

And one thing you can count on, said Gilliland, “There will be more brawls.”