Remember that FIELD OF DREAMS line "Build it and they will come"? Pat and Jeannie Wilshire have done just that -- built the best annual sf/fantasy art event in their hometown of tiny Altoona, PA, and lo, the artists came. IlluxCon 2 happened this past weekend, and it was a blast. It's a gathering of some of the best sf/fantasy artists in the world for a four-day weekend, exhibiting their art and hanging out with hardcore collectors, art directors, and sf/fantasy art afficionados -- and unlike most sf/fantasy cons, this one's all about celebrating the visual arts.
I was honored to be amongst the select list of invited artists who exhibited their work and talked shop -- and it was definitely a diverse all-star list including Michael Whelan, Dave Seeley, Vincent Villafranca, Bob Eggleton, Eric Fortune, Bruce Jensen, Daren Bader, Donato Giancola, Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, John Jude Palencar, Brom, Jordu Schell, Justin Gerard, Justin Sweet, Lucas Graciano, Michael Hayes, and many more. Pyr's Lou Anders and Wizards of the Coast's Jon Schindehette were amongst the art directors present to review student portfolios.
Like most art shows, the exhibition and selling of original art and merchandise is a big focus of the show, but what I liked about this one was the energy and camaraderie. The programming was terrific and art-centric ranging from demos to virtual studio discussions to art director q&a's. IlluxCon was a first-class affair. Pat and Jeannie organized this from scratch. They're passionate about sf/fantasy art and they've got a progressive can-do spirit. I think that makes all the difference in the world. They've presented a stellar case study for how to run a first-class art show, how to properly market a first-class art show, and they did it without the infrastructure and resources of larger sf/fantasy conventions.
I had a blast and I'm strongly considering returning for next year's show. Here's a Flickr set of iPhone shots to give you a taste of the action.