Meanwhile, Back at the Art Museum

What are people saying about the At the Edge: Art of the Fantastic exhibit of over 160 paintings, sculptures, illustrations, posters, and album covers from the past two centuries?

A fan who writes as Calisuri reviewed the exhibit for TheOneRing.net (Allentown Art Museum Showcase “At the Edge: Art of the Fantastic”):

The presentation is quite impressive – showcase fantasy art from hundreds of years ago to present. If you ever wanted to see works in person, but really didn’t want deal with going to a convention convention, this showcase is a perfect opportunity. Tolkien themed works on exhibit: The Hildebrandt Brother’s Smaug and The Gift of Galadriel, Ruth Sanderson’s Galadriel, Mark Zug’s The Sands of Gorgoroth, Matthew Stewart’s Battle of Five Armies, Stephen Hickman’s Siege of Minas Tirith (triple WOW factor in person), Darrell Sweet’s The Slaying of Glaurung, and last but not least, Donato Giancola’s The Hobbit (Absolutely stunning in person – and gigantic!).

Jason Stershic gushed about it in the Lehigh Valley InSight (Art of the Fantastic – From Star Wars to Lord of the Rings and Much More):

Anyway, the exhibit is awesome. It is an epic journey for your mind and imagination. The amazing thing about this exhibit is the history of the exhibit. The Lord of the Rings art was all done before Peter Jackson created the movies. The futuristic stuff looks futuristic even now, but was created decades ago. This isn’t just some art created in the last few years, this is a collection with age, and it appears only to be getting better with time.

And there’s a continuing stream of news and publicity about the exhibit.

Among The Morning Call’s pictures of the June 2 preview party are good photos of several sculptures and paintings, like Greg Hildebrandt’s remarkable “Smaug Destroys Laketown,” plus shots of artists James Gurney, Tom Kidd, and Jordu Schell standing beside their work.

Patrick Wilshire introduces the exhibit in a fine three-minute YouTube video produced by the Lehigh Valley Mirror.

A series of talks and presentations is running in tandem with the exhibit (ticket info here). To hear guest curators Patrick and Jeannie Wilshire personally tell you what to think about the exhibit jump on a plane, quick! They’re scheduled to lecture June 17 (tickets $15 for nonmembers). Or you can get Patrick’s opinion here for free.

6 thoughts on “Meanwhile, Back at the Art Museum

  1. Oddly enough, today I just received the exhibit catalog.

    Very impressive. All in color, with appropriate text around each piece of art and artist. While one may argue about the selection of a particular piece of art representing an artist (Krenkel comes to mind) there are always issues of what’s available. So it goes.

    I do think the Museum’s webpage for the exhibit (http://www.allentownartmuseum.org/exhibition/edge-art-fantastic) could be, shall we say, more expansive about the artists represented in the exhibit.

    That said, I am looking forward to heading up to Allentown to see the exhibit.

  2. One of the reasons I looked at the museum website as I drated this post was to see if they’d produced a catalog. There’s no hint there that a catalog exists. Where should I go for that information?

    And what would be a good bribe for hearing your thoughts about the exhibit after you’e seen it?

  3. The catalog retails for $30 and is sent Priority Mail for $5.15, so a total of $35.15

    Contact:
    Sharon Yurkanin
    Museum Store Manager
    Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley
    31 North Fifth Street
    Allentown, PA 18101
    610-432-4333, extension 113
    SYurkanin@allentownartmuseum.org

    I believe there’s a second printing in the works.

    As for a bribe … let’s see when I can get up there.

  4. If you are interested, I attended the At the Edge show in Allentown last week after having read a lot of the posts in various spots and some of the press releases. I am glad I saw it: my opinion is that it is a “good” show, but definitely not a “great” one.

    It might very well be (as the organizers claim) the “most comprehensive” exhibit to date–not having seen every art exhibit that has taken place it is difficult for me to know–but it certainly is not the most cohesive nor does it have a consistent level of quality that you’d expect in a museum show. There are some genuinely wonderful paintings that are unfortunately hung with more than a few that are honestly awful. Many well-known science fiction and fantasy artists are represented (though some significant names are missing), but again it is more a grab-bag when it comes to quality. The Frazetta paintings are not (arguably, I realize) his best and might leave people unfamiliar with his other work wondering what all the excitement is about. On the other hand. the Donato “Hobbit” painting is luminous and leaves you wanting to see more. John Palencar’s “Comet Rider” provokes a lot of thought whereas many others (by artists I will not name) left me wondering what the heck they were doing in the same building. For me, mixing a comic book artist’s STAR WARS piece with a DUNE cover with a symbolist painting with a life-sized monster statue all sends the signal that At the Edge doesn’t know what it is or what it is supposed to be. Without focus and genuine purpose, it’s an interesting and enjoyable mess.

  5. To Steve M –
    One of the main points of this exhibit is to show as many different kinds of SF and Fantasy art; a kind of retrospective in terms of year range AND style. It was our goal not to focus on one specific type of art throughout the 180+ year range, and to accomplish that, we had to run the entire gamut of this type of art.

  6. To Thomas E. –
    I think you misunderstood my opinion of the show. It was not the styles or variety that is disturbing, it is the lack of a cohesive vision and above all, the inclusion of some incredibly bad art that makes At the Edge a mess.

    If the goal of the show is to show that there is great art and terrible art created in the genre, that I could buy. But At the Edge is portrayed in all of the press releases, catalog, and the non-critical “news” coverage in the press as being a definitive exhibit and it is not. There has been no serious evaluation of the show, just puff pieces and blog posts primarily by participants. It doesn’t function from a historical perspective because of the glaring oversites, uneven quality, and the questionable inclusion of brand new art that was apparently created for the show. New art, which hasn’t withstood the test of either critics or time, would seem to be more suited for a gallery show, not a legitimate museum show.

    Another concern, after looking a little deeper into the background of this show, is that there are quite a number of pieces on display (including some of the newer ones) that are owned by the curators. You can go to their website to see that many of the art works Patrick Wilshire is extoling as important, significant, and historical in his radio and TV appearances are the property of Mr. & Mrs. Wilshire:

    http://www.munchkinpress.com/cpg149/thumbnails.php?album=6

    This raises a lot of questions, probably ones neither the museum or the curators would like to be asked. When the Eisensteins showed their art at World Con, everybody knew it was the Eisenstein’s collection. It would have been nice if the people so enthusiastically promoting (and maybe increasing the value of) the art in the media would at least admit that part of their excitement has to do with being the owners. Maybe the Museum’s staff should have read art critic Christopopher Knight”s article for the Los Angeles Times:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/oct/10/entertainment/la-ca-knight-notebook-20101010

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