Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, the alchemical spectacle…


For those unfamiliar, Spectrum Live is a recently launched show that ties into the Spectrum Annual, a carefully selected volume of the best inScience Fiction and Fantasy Art. Curated for the last 2 decades by Cathy and Arnie Fenner. Spectrum Live is alchemical because it transforms the attendee thru the experience. One can’t help but come away excited and inspired, ideally even better informed.

Trying to remember everything that happened over this amazing weekend is likely a complete fool’s errand, so naturally I will attempt to record it here, in the fuzzy post storm light of a Kansas City morning. The party consisted of John Polidora, painter par excellence, John Scharmen, animator extraordinaire, and myself, technically an artist. Our trek began with the travailles of modern American travel, a cancelled flight and a show we needed to get to 1600 miles away.

Quickly we decided that leaving our fate to the airline and possibly missing half the show was not an acceptable solution, and jumped into a rental car for a 30 hour trek across several states, driving in shifts and gazing in wonder at the amazing landscape. JP did have a booth to get to, after all, and road trips are a sort of meta myth, traveling on the open road…

Traveling through Kansas.

We survived! 30 hours of driving…
20130520-080234.jpgLeft to right: John Polidora, Paul Forest, John Scharmen.

Sleep deprived and excited, we arrived @ 6pm on a muggy spring Friday, anxious to see everything, which is of course an impossibility. One cannot navigate such a place without encountering its fascinating inhabitants, artists of every stripe, and engaging with them. This is the real magic of Spectrum, creators creating in every corner, joyously sharing the dark secrets of their craft. Sculptors, painters, craft printers, publishers, all eager to meet, share and learn. Art forming the sun around which we all orbit.

That Friday night we tried ever so hard to at least glance at every aisle, but it was in vain. Around every corner was a new vista, dragons, fae, lovely ladies and villainous monsters, all distinct visions with a depth of character in both the images and their creators.

The first order of business was to get JP setup at his booth, shared with the incredibly skilled LD Austin. LD is a remarkable illustrator, imbuing her characters with depth, charm, and occasional malice. Soon, a complete tableau of JP’s witches & vikings, LD’s dragons, goblins & griffons was ready for viewers.

An array of the history of the Spectrum Annuals was splayed out at the very first aisle, with a dominating visage of this year’s grandmaster winner Brom staring directly at JP and LD’s booth. The photo is much scarier than the man,very much on purpose I suspect. Brom is the only artist to have been featured in all 20 Spectrum Annuals.

We made a beeline for the booth of Paul Bonner and Jean Baptiste Monge. Though their subjects may seem to overlap, fantasy creatures of all kinds, their styles are complementary. Jean Baptiste’s puckish sprites and waifs seem right at home in Paul’s world of brutish creatures, steadfast warriors and mythical creatures. After some delightful conversation, long study of the masters originals, and the acquisition of some tomes, we were off again, exploring.

Before we knew it,the closing of the first day was announced, and we hurried off with friends old and new to dinner. You might think this the end of day 1, but upstairs at the Aladdin, in addition to drinks and great conversation, a life drawing session was underway…

To be continued…

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