| When Kevan Seng realized he had no change for the bus, it was decision time: (1) turn back (2) carry on and have faith the flock in front could break a ten. It would be the latter, a choice that took him from medicine salesman to cultural ambassador, community builder, and founder of one of Vancouver’s best nights out – the Battle of the Brush.
At that bus stop in a featureless pocket of Richmond, Seng struck up a conversation with who he would find out was internationally renowned artist Raymond Chow. Seng’s interest in the arts made for decent conversation which eventually led to a future visit to Chow’s gallery and creation space.
That visit was something. He advanced up a staircase showcasing Chow’s work from the 60s and 70s on either side. “It was like going through a time warp” Seng recalls with a glow. The majority of Chow’s works awaited him at the top and Seng was taken further aback by the emotive power of the paintings. Awestruck, he wrangled with questions “Why was this place in the middle of nowhere?” “How can so much amazing be in the middle of nowhere?” That was the proverbial moment — out of that came a move to produce a photo calendar featuring Chinatown landmarks. From there came a deal with Chapters and a relationship with a manager looking for a draw for his store. That attraction would become live painting sessions. “I would notice people standing outside, in the rain, and I would invite them into the store, but they would just say they were fine. I was shocked at how people, no matter how old or how cold it was, would just stand and watch for a really long time. That’s when I knew I had something golden.”
Seng then began to dissect what people in Vancouver like a lot. Sports came around pretty fast. At the heart of it all – competition, teamwork, time, pressure, expectation, story, people, fun. Rolling everything together the format was confirmed and along the way a partnership was formed between Seng and J. Won Suh. Golden Brush Art Events was born. The two are now in their sixth season together and episode 1 happens this Friday, February 26 at Heritage Hall (3102 Main Street, Vancouver).
Five teams of two are given a month to prepare a collaborative piece based on a given theme. On the day of the event, situated on elevated platforms for spectator convenience, they have 80 minutes to realize their vision and inspire the crowd enough to earn the votes needed for sweet victory — a prize package that includes bragging rights and, most importantly, a famed Golden Brush for each member of the duo.
The crowd is encouraged to select the team that best reflects the theme in their work and best demonstrates a sense of collaboration. Seng comments, “Sometimes when a team paints you can see the friction in the painting and the painting is split into two.”
One of the finer qualities of the Battle is how it empowers painters not bound by red tape. A common industry practice is for a gallery to have a grip on their collection of artists. As a result, someone under an agreement would be in breach of contract if they participated in an event that contravened their exclusivity clause. In what can be a bitter business climate, the Battle of the Brush gives people freedom to market their talents without fear of nasty repercussion.
Top 10 + 1 Reasons to Go
(1) The Battle of the Brush is an an amazing value play – For as low as ten dollars (not far from free) one gains access to a life-altering event.
(2) Artists in attendance – What were they thinking? Where do they go from here? Current projects?
(3) Party with requisite DJ and bar – Great vibe. Groove with your buzz.
(4) A networking opportunity – Chat up the person next to you. It’s an art show. Good chance they’re interesting.
(5) An organic exhibit – The excitement builds with each new walkaround. Where does the artist take us next?
(6) A more exciting format than a conventional walk around gallery – Often things are better with a little friendly competition.
(7) Have you seen Heritage Hall? It’s exquisite.
(8) Some attractive people (physically)
(9) Some attractive people (intellectually)
(10) A multitude of wicked prize draws – How does a $100 gift card to Chambar sound in exchange for saying “Season 5 Episode 6”?
(10+1) Cover for Fortune Soundclub for after party – You were going there that night anyway? Bonus.
As Kevan, J. Won and their crew continue to build bridges and bring Vancouverites out of their caves, they help bring us closer to where we should be — a society that mingles and gets its face out of its phone and into the eyes of the person in front of it.
Below are images from previous shows. Reach out to Golden Brush Art to contact the artists and obtain copies of their work.
Tags: Art, artist, asian diaspora, asian diaspora stories, Chambar, chinese canadian stories, community, Fortune, inter-asian relations, inter-cultural exchange, Kevan seng, multiculturalism, painting, vancouver