Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Bones of Convention Art Shows

One attraction seen at most conventions – Sci-Fi, Anime, and even gaming – is the Art Show. There you will find a mixed bag that might include oil paintings, acrylic, pencil, or computer generated illustrations, numbered prints, sculptures, hand-made jewelry, and even original work done right there at the convention (sometimes with input from onlookers). You can bid on the pieces, or sometimes just buy them outright.

But what goes into having an art show? Lots of things. All of the artists need to be contacted so they know where to bring their art – or where to send it if they won't be at the convention in person. Organization and planning are needed to make sure nothing gets lost. And when you purchase that glorious image, the artists need to get paid for their sales.

There is also some special furniture needed to put on an art show, called art panels, or "flats." Most of the art is in the form of paintings or drawings, and they need to be hung up on something. Hotels get pretty testy about driving nails into walls to hang art, so conventions bring in flats. It is rumored that the first art shows just had paintings lying on the floor, and you'd walk around looking down at them. That didn't end well.

OSFest used wood frame flats for the past four years. They had been constructed almost two decades ago, and served well at conventions such as Concussion, Nuke-con, AnimeNebrasKon, oh and OSFest. But wear and tear had taken their toll.

At OSFest 4 we decided to retire those venerable display boards and at OSFest 5, next July you will see art displayed on newly designed art flats. The design is very flexible, they will fit whatever room we happen to be using. It is also much lighter and compact for storage and transport. (Ask some of our volunteers how easy it was to move the old flats!) And they are intergratible with the art flats used by Constellation so either convention will be able to effective double its art show when possible.

Of course, you don't care about what the art is hanging on. The point is that a lot of work goes into producing the show, some of it as mundane as cutting PVC pipe to hang the pretty art, which is what you really want to see. So come to OSFest 5 and see what national artists have dreamed up for our enjoyment, you might even want to buy one or two to take home. See you in July.

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