Iron Artist Competition - Visual Arts Event

Reviewed By Karen Staehling

Fringe Reviewer

Underneath the vaulted ceilings of Kansas City's most iconic historical building, visitors to Union Station on Saturday witnessed an art event like no other: Iron Artist. This Fringe Festival competition challenges artists to create a completed artwork in only one hour using the materials supplied and a "secret ingredient" that must be incorporated into the final piece. The secret ingredient is revealed right before the clock starts ticking. This year's secret ingredient was Fringe Bucks, scrip given to Fringe volunteers that can be exchanged for show tickets. What better way to celebrate the Fringe Festival, a primarily volunteer-run organization, than by incorporating the volunteer spirit into every piece of spontaneous art.

A charismatic man in a black suit with a batman symbol embroidered on the back hosted the event. This reporter inquired about our mysterious host's name but was told his name was Brad, just Brad. Eight artists entered the blue tarped, roped-off arena, but only one could claim the grand prize and be crowned Iron Artist of 2022. The competition was stiff this year and included Fringe artists Ellen Creed, winner of Iron Artist 2019, Melissa Hawkes, and Sandy Woodson; new Fringe executive director Audrey Crabtree, and Fringe interns, Carolyn Goddertz and Elaine Stone; and two adventurous audience members who were recruited on the spot. Like other years, the audience decides the winner by placing their votes in plastic cups in front of each artist.

The event kicked off with Brad starting the clock and announcing, "Anyone can be an artist if you are willing to art ." As onlookers witnessed the creative process in action, artists grabbed bottles of glue, sparkles, feathers, flowers, and the requisite Fringe Bucks. There were several scissor emergencies and glue drama at station number one. The struggle was real with the pom pom balls. Twenty minutes into the competition, Brad announced the grand prize, a rainbow-sequined stuffed unicorn pig. This casual, fun competition just got real.

At thirty minutes into the event, our first artist finished her piece. Titled "Ironic," this piece had a number one created from two-dollar Fringe Bucks and a number two made from one-dollar Fringe Bucks. That was "Ironic," but would Alanis Morrissette vote for it if she had been watching? Other pieces included a 3D rendering of a crazy cat lounge, wearable art, and a crayoned landscape with glitter basketballs hidden among grass designed with Fringe Bucks.

As Brad did the 30-second countdown, artists polished their pieces, and onlookers voted for their favorites. Could it be ironic? Crazy Cat? Or will the grand prize go to one of the returning veteran artists? Host Brad counted the votes and declared that returning artist Ellen Creed was the winner for her colorful explosion of Fringe Bucks and glittery objects entitled "Open Spaces." Congratulations, Ellen, on winning the 2022 Iron Artist competition and looking forward Iron Artist 2023!

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