Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, the artist-focused convention that has been held for the last four years in Kansas City, will be moving to San Francisco in 2016 Spectrum Director John Fleskes announced yesterday. In partnership with the Academy of Art University, the convention will continue growing the public’s awareness of fantasy-themed art while bringing creators from around the world to exhibit and sell their works to collectors and fans in a welcoming atmosphere. The event will be held at the academy’s Jerrold building facility on October 28-30, 2016.
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live (SFAL) is an extension of the Spectrum annual, the award-winning book devoted to the year’s best fantastic art.
Beyond the art exhibition, workshops, panels and demonstrations, the long-term plan is for SFAL to expand to serve also as a trade show and job fair. “Whether it’s for film and television, publishing, comics, gaming, advertising or the theater, Spectrum has always been the home for the best and brightest creators of every type of fantastic art,” notes Cathy Fenner. “The show, like the Spectrum annual, makes it easier for art directors to connect directly with both new and established talent. Similarly, gallery owners and patrons are able to meet and form relationships with artists they might not otherwise know about. ‘More eyes equals more opportunities’ has always been our mantra, and the move to California will help that continue.”
John Fleskes, publisher of Flesk Publications and director of Spectrum, assumed the responsibilities of director and editor in 2013 following the retirement of founders Cathy and Arnie Fenner. He has been meeting with Academy of Art University representatives since 2014 in preparation for the move.
Founded in 1929 in San Francisco, the Academy of Art University is one of the country’s most innovative and creative institutions for higher learning. With nearly 18,000 students, it is the largest privately owned art and design school in the United States.
Cathy and Arnie Fenner have provided additional background in a public Facebook post.
The announcement has been made and we know that there are some that are disappointed that SFAL is moving to San Francisco in 2016 and others who are concerned about the switch to October for the show’s dates.
We don’t talk too much about all the behind-the-scenes stuff in organizing SFAL, but there were a lot of challenges and this year’s show was particularly difficult. It’s really a matter of available dates and venues and it has become increasingly hard in KC to get exhibit space at the same time a theater is available and there are enough hotel rooms for exhibitors and attendees. This year we were forced to change our exhibit space and our dates, which put us opposite the city’s long-running ConQuesT in the same hotel; they were gracious and we worked well together, but we felt like we were intruding on their territory, so to speak. Spring has always been surprisingly crowded for events downtown—we’ve never been able to rent the Music Hall, for example, for the awards ceremony because it’s booked solid with recitals and graduations in May—and with the pending construction of the Hyatt and the completion of the street cars, more and more conventions have been squeezing our dates. The addition of the KCComicon to the city in August along with the annual anime and horror cons—not to mention the World SF Convention in 2016—have made for a crowded genre landscape.
When we learned just before SFAL4 that the organizer of the local Planet Comicon had decided on the sly to move his 2016 show dates from March and secured our traditional dates for the convention center in May, the decision was sort of made for us. Competing for essentially much of the same audience in the same narrow time frame doesn’t make any sense: moving to March in THEIR original spot wasn’t an option for us because of a lack of hotel rooms (the Big 12 Basketball Tournement happens at that time; it didn’t affect the comicon because they draw very few overnight attendees whereas SFAL accounts for over 1000 hotel room nights). Moving to Fall in KC would have brought higher rental prices for a theater and fewer date options (the convention center is a busy place). Because of Planet Comicon’s tactic, the negative financial impact on the city, downtown hotels, restaurants, and businesses will be significant, but…that’s the way things are.
In light of the challenges we faced while organizing the 2015 show, John Fleskes had been exploring the possibility of moving SFAL to California and partnering with the Academy of Art University. Possible dates were explored throughout the lengthy discussions and though we realize that the October slot will conflict with other conventions, big and small, we also ultimately realize that there are conflicts with something somewhere virtually every week of the year. Spring wasn’t an option and October was the only time that worked with the University’s extremely busy schedule—so October it is.
We want to express our deepest gratitude to our KC committee who selflessly pulled together to make the first four SFALs possible: Carl V. Anderson, Amanda Banion, Arlo Burnett, James Fallone, Bunny Muchmore, Lazarus Potter, Jeff Smith, and Shena Wolf are eight big reasons why SFAL was such a positive experience for so many. We’d also like to thank our friends at Liberty Exhibition Services, the staffs at the Midland, Folly, and Alamo Theaters, our liaisons at the Marriott and The Aladdin Holiday Inn Hotel, and particularly John English and his instructors for their tireless support of the show and the hours spent instructing and encouraging young artists during the event. And, of course, we’d like to thank each of you who either exhibited at or attended the Kansas City shows.