The GoggleWorks Center for the Arts hosted the 14th annual IX Celebration of Imaginative Realism, a gathering of artists, students and collectors of Imaginative Realist art. Each year, over 200 artists and art collectors converge at IX from around the world.
Presented by IX Arts Oct. 20 to 24, the event also included film screenings, live demos, talks, portfolio reviews, workshops and evening events as well as complimentary programming hosted at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Reading. The artists represented include those famous for their work in film and video game concept art, award-winning personal work, illustration, and international gallery exhibitions.
Patrick Wilshire and his wife Jeannie founded IX Arts, the first organization dedicated exclusively to contemporary imaginative realism which Wilshire defines as “the realistic depiction of the unreal.”
“We’re just very happy to be back. Last year we were online virtual,” said Jeannie Wilshire. “This year it’s fantastic to be back in Reading.”
When Wilshire first envisioned an art exhibit in 2007, the biggest challenge he faced was to determine the necessary elements for a successful show. A tripartite structure consisting of artists, students and collectors was the solution. This model is one of the reasons the show has been able to thrive for more than a decade.
Every year more than 200 artists from all over the United States, Canada, Britain, Europe, and Australia come to exhibit their work at IX. Thousands of pieces of original artwork are available for sale ranging from under $100 to over $20,000, and like the price tags the experience of the artists also varies from students to the most famous artists working today in the genre of imaginative realism and fantasy art.
Explaining the principle reason The GoggleWorks was chosen as the site for the show, Wilshire said it’s hard to find an artistic venue, as opposed to a sterile convention center, that has the capacity to handle the show, and GoggleWorks fit their needs perfectly. Throw in the award-winning Double Tree Hotel and that combo is tailor-made for IX, he said.
In Reading since 2016, IX is contracted with both GoggleWorks and Double Tree through 2025.
“Honestly, we love Reading across the board. The city just has a great vibe,” said Wilshire.
As IX Arts focuses on the creative side of culture, Wilshire offers his take on the importance of the arts and music education in school.
“It’s almost impossible to become invested in the arts without actually experiencing the arts in a meaningful way. For a lot of people, school is the best and most available way to make that connection.”
Offering advice, Wilshire said, “Draw, draw more, keep drawing. There’s a lot of different ways to approach a career in the arts, but technical skill is a key component if you want to be successful as an illustrator or realist artist.”
Meeting the Artists
Walking into the GoggleWorks, I’m met with a flurry of activity. Artists scurry to meet their fans and talk about their artwork. Every blank space here is an opportunity for self-expression, even the business cards.
With art on three floors, there is the possibility of sensory overload. Much like a buffet, I try a little bit of everything.
Heading over to the freight elevator, I’m met by its operator decked out in a jacket worthy of her official position complete with epaulettes. The elevator carries me to the fourth floor. When the doors open at my destination, I wonder if I am in a museum. Beautiful oil on canvas paintings are barely confined by the borders of their gorgeous frames adorning the walls.
I strike up conversations with some of the artists to get some real-life context for the event.
“I’m here to show my artwork with a lot of industry professionals and people I admire and respect in the industry so it’s always a fun time to be here,” said artist Aedan Roberts. “That’s really why I come, to network; see people that I don’t get to see on a regular basis, because we come from all parts of the United States, and sometimes around the world so it’s a lot of fun. It’s a wonderful experience.”
On the main floor I meet James Herrmann, a bronze sculptor from Ohio.
“I love the media of bronze because it is a permanent media that will allow me to sculpt in clay but yet create a work that is permanent and will last for a millennium,” said Herrmann. “The show is something I found out about through other artists.”
He very much enjoys participating in the show because of all the other artists.
“If you’re an artist, just the creative vibe of all the energy and all the creativity of the other artists, it does stimulate you so I really enjoy being here each year, and soaking in the creativity, and ideas other artists bring to the show,” said Herrmann.
One of the elements required for artists after inspiration would be models. Cynthia Manion worked as a model for fantasy artists Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell, who were also at the show.
Bell did a painting of Manion and Galen Irby together as mermaid and titan. Manion appears on the cover of Bell’s 2022 fantasy calendar.
“I’m thrilled to be here,” said Manion. “It’s so wonderful to be around the people and see everybody again.”
Next year’s Celebration Of Imaginative Realism Event is set for Oct. 19 to 23. For more information about IX Arts, go to www.imaginativerealism.com and www.ixgallery.com, or the virtual extension of the IX show at www.ix-online.com.
Rodeo Marie Hanson of Fleetwood is a teen columnist specializing in coverage of entertainment events and celebrity interviews. Follow Rodeo’s Drive-Thru Hollywood News on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rdthn/ and on her YouTube Channel Rodeo’s Hollywood Drive-Thru News at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5zPmRRqa9HK_-Z9-G9OPGA.
Source: Berkshire mont