Art Battle Pawtucket: Don’t brush this one off!

The Atrium on Main hosts Art Battle Pawtucket, part of Art Battle International (ABI), on the first Sunday of every month. This is a fun event where artists from the local area compete to have their artwork showcased and even sold. It’s a night of creativity and excitement as talented artists compete in this live-art tournament. Art Battle has produced over 2,000 events in 20 countries since 2001. Each event features 12 selected artists who go head-to-head in three rounds of live painting, with the winners determined by audience vote. You will witness feverish creativity as the artists compete in Pawtucket. Champions progress from city, to regional, to national, and ultimately to the World Championships. The winner of the March 5 Art Battle Pawtucket, Sydney Darrow, will go on to compete in Art Battle New York next month! Winners continue to elevate until the final showdown, where the final round winning artist will receive the grand prize of $1,000.

Throughout the night, spectators walk around an elevated stage as the artists rush to finish their pieces. It’s amazing seeing them do their thing, transforming a blank canvases into something special. There is no theme; artists are free to create whatever they can in the mere 20 minutes allotted. Spectators are then asked to vote for whichever piece they like best using a scan code on their phone. Six artists compete in the first round. A new set of six artists compete in the second round. In round three, the artists from each round who took first and second place in the voting move on to the third round. In this final round, the four winners are then given 30 minutes to wow the crowd.

It’s fun just being a spectator, but artists can apply to compete in their local Battle via the ABI website. There is no age limit. Proprietors Mike and Becca Bettencourt, along with daughter Jaiden and son Brendan, manage the restaurant, making sure everything runs smoothly. Mike Bettencourt says, “ABI encourages us to view artists’ work and choose who will compete. I pick the most fun-looking, intriguing ones, read the paragraph they’ve written and go from there.”

All the artwork is available for sale through a bidding process. Bidding starts at $55 and rises in $10 increments throughout the night. The artist receives 50% of the sale price while ABI receives the other half. Since all artwork becomes the property of ABI, you can see other pieces on the walls, available for sale from former events. Interestingly, the pieces that receive the highest bids at the end of the night are not necessarily created by that night’s winner(s)!

On the night I came to watch, a no-show created an opportunity for a woman to jump up and claim the spot, much to the chagrin of a young man who was also hoping for the wild card opportunity. If someone wants to fill an unclaimed spot, “Atrium does supply basic colors and some brushes,” says Bettencourt, “but competitors do typically prefer to bring their own supplies.” Bettencourt wants to give more artists an opportunity to compete and show their work, and is contemplating a way to make that happen. “I’d like to do something like ‘Atrium’s Got Talent,’” he says. Stay tuned!

A terrific bar bites menu is available on Battle nights, along with cash bar and DJ music to help round out the experience. Although Atrium on Main does typically have a full nightly menu, this is not a sit-down dinner kind of event. There are chairs scattered around the room for your convenience, but the fun is in walking around the platform to see the artists at work (and taking lots of pics)! The next Battle will be April 2. 

Visit any Tuesday through Saturday to try Atrium’s full menu too, as the food is amazing (wings are to die for!). Atrium offers nightly entertainment such as bands, games and comedy. The venue is also available for functions and private parties.

For more information on Art Battle Pawtucket, visit Atrium on Main’s website at or call 401-335-5500.