VIRTUAL SYMPOSIA
Enchanted: Mythology and Fairy Tales (October) & Enchanted: Epic Adventures in Fantasy Illustration (Past -June)

A VIRTUAL SYMPOSIA SERIES ORGANIZED BY THE ROCKWELL CENTER FOR AMERICAN VISUAL STUDIES

Symposia Information

Zoom Webinar (online)
NEXT: Friday and Saturday, October 22 and 23, 2021

Price: $20 covers both days of programs of the symposium

RSVP (October)

You can also access the complete video coverage of the Symposia on the Norman Rockwell Museum YouTube Channel.

Image: Donato Giancola, St. George and the Dragon, 2010, © Donato Giancola

Watch the June Symposium

Arthur Rackham, Storyteller, ca.1905

IMAGE: Arthur Rackham, Storyteller, ca.1905

Enchanted: Mythology and Fairy Tales

Friday, October 22 and Saturday, October 23, 2021 (Via Zoom)

Explore the history and meaning of mythology and fairy tales in our lives, and the mythic characters and stories reflecting the inevitable conflict between the forces of good and evil – both real and imagined. On Friday, art historian and catalogue essayist Alice A. Carter will offer a keynote focusing on fantasy in the age of discovery. On Saturday, Rockwell’s own flights of the fantastical will be explored by Chief Curator Stephanie Plunkett, and panelists Annie Stegg Gerard, Ruth Sanderson, Charles Vess, Victo Ngai, Justin Gerard, and Ian McCaig will discuss their inspirations and the presence of myths and fairy tales in their art.

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Symposium Schedule

Keynote:
Alice A. Carter, Art Historian and Author

On the Side of the Angels: Fantasy in an Age of Discovery

In the Age of Discovery, scientists were uncovering mysterious forces, objects, and elements at work in the universe. Alice A. Carter will discuss the discoveries that inspired artist/poet William Blake and many of his successors to create images combining natural phenomena with supernatural elements. Today, we classify these works as fantasy art, but in their day, the pictures were the honest manifestation of a widespread conviction that the visible world was only part of the story.

Alice A. Carter is cofounder and Professor Emeritus of San Jose State University’s award-winning Animation/Illustration program. A member of the Norman Rockwell Museum’s Board of Trustees, and former President, she has served as Co-Director of Education at the Walt Disney Family Museum and as visiting faculty for the University of Hartford’s low-residency MFA in Illustration. Carter’s illustration clients have included LucasFilm Ltd., Rolling Stone magazine, the New York Times, and ABC Television. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the country, including the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Art Institute of Houston, and the New Britain Museum. Carter’s publications include The Red Rose Girls: An Uncommon Story of Art and Love; The Essential Thomas Eakins; Cecilia Beaux: A Modern Painter in the Gilded Age, and The Drawings of Edwin Austin Abbey. Carter is a member of the Hall of Fame Committee at the New York Society of Illustrators and is on the advisory board of Spectrum Fantastic Art.

Opening Remarks: 
Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, Deputy Director/Chief Curator
Real and Imagined: Fantastical Rockwell

An ardent and perceptive observer, Norman Rockwell was a persuasive visual commentator whose realist paintings for popular periodicals inspired belief by millions in the innate goodness of humanity and the achievability of the American dream. Rockwell also inspired our love of fantasy in ways that he may not have fully perceived; his carefully constructed artworks for The Saturday Evening Post and other magazines, and for hundreds of twentieth century advertisers and products, are the work of a consummate mythmaker who understood his audience’s deepest desires and spoke to them from the heart. Art critic Peter Schjeldahl once noted that Rockwell’s “precisely observed facts squared with deeply serious hopes”[i] constituted “as accurate a graph as we have of what being American—a fictive condition, always,” could feel like.

Stephanie Haboush Plunkett is Deputy Director/Chief Curator of the Norman Rockwell Museum. She currently leads the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies and has organized many illustration-based exhibitions. Her most recent publication is Drawing Lessons from the Famous Artists School: Classic Techniques and Expert Tips from the Golden Age of Illustration.

Artist Panel One:
The Fairy Tale in Fantasy Art
With:

  • Annie Stegg Gerard
  • Ruth Sanderson
  • Charles Vess

Many of today’s popular fairy tales first appeared in collections published by Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen. The stories, however, evolved from folklore passed down for many generations. Master artists Annie Stegg Gerard, Ruth Sanderson, Charles Vess will discuss the portrayals of fairy tales in their art, and the antagonists who manifest themselves as tricksters, evil stepmothers, and other beings with fantastical abilities and powers.

Artist Bios:

Annie Stegg Gerard’s style is notably influenced by the Rococo artists of the eighteenth century, who emphasized a playfulness in their depictions of the beauty of nature, landscapes, and mythology. Stegg Gerard’s diaphanous oil paintings of fairies, dragons, mermaids, and other mythological creatures provide the viewer with a glimpse into another place and time.

Best-known for her illustrations of classic fairy tales such as The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Goldilocks, award-winning artist and author Ruth Sanderson’s paintings have been published in more than eighty books. Her beautifully rendered artworks can also be found in books such as The Enchanted Wood; The Golden Mare, The Firebird, and The Magic Ring; and The Snow Princess. She is Co-Director of the low-residency MFA in Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating and Certificate in Children’s Book Illustration programs at Hollins University.

One of the modern fantasy masters, Charles Vess began his career drawing for Heavy Metal magazine and National Lampoon, before working on major comic book titles for Marvel Comics and DC Comics. Along the way he met author Neil Gaiman, with whom Vess has collaborated many times. At the World Fantasy Awards in 1991, Vess and Gaiman won the award for Best Short Story for their work on the Sandman comic book. Gaiman and Vess also collaborated on the 1999 novel, Stardust, which was adapted into a feature film. Vess was declared Best Artist at the World Fantasy Awards in 1999, 2010, and 2014.

Artist Panel Two:
The Making of Myths
With:

  • Victo Ngai
  • Justin Gerard
  • Ian McCaig

Greco-Roman sculptures of mythological figures carved thousands of years ago express the power of the gods and of the myths themselves. These ancient tales have been favorite subjects of poets, storytellers, sculptors, painters, and illustrators throughout history and into modern times. Our panelists will discuss their interest in mythology and approaches to portraying capricious gods and other figures who entice humans to perform impossible tasks.

Artist Bios:

Born in Hong Kong, Victo Ngai studied at the Rhode Island School of Design. In her career, she has won numerous awards and accolades from her peers for her bold color palette and inventive designs. In 2018, Ngai won the Spectrum Gold Award for book illustration, and was awarded the advertising gold medal from the Society of Illustrators the following year. Ngai has illustrated advertising campaigns for McDonald’s, Apple, Johnnie Walker, American Express, and numerous other companies.

Justin Gerard’s fantasy paintings exhibit a bold color palette, inventive composition, and terrific wit. Reminiscent of the fantastic artworks created by Arthur Rackham, Palmer Cox, and Maxfield Parrish, Gerard’s monsters, demons, and trolls never seem all that evil. The creatures in Gerard’s world exhibit a light-hearted spirit within a thoughtful world of beauty and wonder built around them. His clients have included The Jim Henson Company, Warner Bros., HarperCollins, and Random House, and his work has been featured in Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, and the Society of Illustrators Annual of American Illustration.

Over the past thirty years, Iain McCaig has designed concept art, storyboard art, and designs for several blockbuster movies. He began his career in cinema creating artwork for Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Hook (1991), and Interview with the Vampire (1994). In 1999, McCaig was hired as a principal designer for the three Star Wars prequel films, as well as the more recent Star Wars movies. McCaig has also created concept art and design for The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008), John Carter (2012), The Avengers (2012), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), among others.

 

Symposium Gallery (October):

Annie Stegg Gerard, Penelope Friedrich, 2013, © Annie Stegg Gerard

Annie Stegg Gerard, Penelope Friedrich, 2013, © Annie Stegg Gerard

Ruth Sanderson, The Princesses Hurried Down a Lamp-Lit Path, 1990, © Ruth Sanderson

Alessandra Pisano, Revelations, 2017, © Alessandra Pisano

Charles Vess, Cover of Blueberry Girl, 2009, © Charles Vess

Charles Vess, Cover of Blueberry Girl, 2009, © Charles Vess

Victo Ngai, The Hand of the Queen, 2019, © Victo Ngai

Victo Ngai, The Hand of the Queen, 2019, © Victo Ngai

Justin Gerard, Mean Tweets, 2017, © Justin Gerard

Justin Gerard, Mean Tweets, 2017, © Justin Gerard

Iain McCaig, The Proposal, 1988, © Iain McCaig

Iain McCaig, The Proposal, 1988, © Iain McCaig

N.C. Wyeth, Legends of Charlemagne, 1923

IMAGE: N.C. Wyeth, Legends of Charlemagne, 1923

Enchanted: Epic Adventures in Fantasy Illustration

Friday, June 18 & Saturday June 19, 2021 (Past)

Explore the art and history of fantasy illustration and the mythical, mystical, folkloric artworks by masterful artists who are leading the way in this popular genre. Often inspired by the fantastical in literature, fantasy art has been prominent through the centuries in medieval, mannerist, magic realist, romantic, and surrealist imagery. The field’s historical underpinnings and inspirations will be the subject of conversation by exhibition curator Jesse Kowalski as well as prominent practitioners whose art is featured in Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration.

Symposium Schedule

Keynote:
Jesse Kowalski, Exhibition Curator
A History of Modern Fantasy Illustration

The curator of Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration, Jesse Kowalski is Curator of Exhibitions at the Norman Rockwell Museum. On Friday evening, he’ll discuss the centuries-old history of the fantasy genre and his process in compiling the most comprehensive presentation on the subject to date. On Saturday following opening remarks by Sara Frazetta of Frazetta Girls, seven noted artists including Julie Bell, Boris Vallejo, Anthony Palumbo, David Palumbo, Alessandra Pisano, Donato Giancola, and Gregory Manchess will discuss their art, process, and inspirations.

Jesse Kowalski spent nearly two decades at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, before joining the Norman Rockwell Museum’s staff. He has organized several popular exhibitions on the art of Andy Warhol that have traveled around the globe, including Andy Warhol: Portraits; The Prints of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again; and Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal. In addition, he has curated the first exhibition on the work of legendary comic book artist Alex Ross as well as Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning; Inventing America: Rockwell and Warhol (with co-curator Stephanie Plunkett); Never Abandon Imagination: The Fantastical Art of Tony DiTerlizzi; and The Art & Wit of Rube Goldberg, among others.

Welcome:
Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, Deputy Director/Chief Curator,
and Jesse Kowalski, Curator of Exhibitions

Opening Remarks:
Sara Frazetta, Frazetta Girls

Sara Frazetta, granddaughter of Frank Frazetta, a leading figure in fantasy illustration, will offer opening remarks. Following his death in 2010, Sara and her mother, Holly Frazetta, formed the company Frazetta Girls. Sara has been overseeing her grandfather’s legacy by licensing his artwork and promoting his life and work in social media and in an online store. She is preparing to open a museum of Frank Frazetta’s art in 2022.

Artist Panel One:
The Frazetta Legacy in Contemporary Fantasy Illustration: A Family of Artists
With:

  • Julie Bell
  • Boris Vallejo
  • Anthony Palumbo
  • David Palumbo

Julie Bell, Boris Vallejo, Anthony Palumbo, and David Palumbo are gifted artists who have been inspired by the notable legacy of fantasy and science fiction illustrator Frank Frazetta. This panel will explore their art, their position as the first family of fantasy illustration, and the creative and technical approaches that has inspired the acclaim and admiration of many fans.

Artist Bios:

After becoming a nationally ranked bodybuilder, Julie Bell began a career in illustration, creating advertisements for numerous companies, designing video game packaging art, and working in the comic book industry, where she became the first woman to illustrate Conan the Barbarian for Marvel Comics.

Considered one of the masters of modern fantasy illustration, Boris Vallejo has built a tremendous following in the genre of imaginative realism. Over the course of his fifty-year career, Vallejo has painted nearly every fantasy figure: Tarzan, John Carter, Conan the Barbarian, Red Sonja, and many more. His most-viewed work may be the illustrated film poster for National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), in which Vallejo parodies his own barbarian-themed work.

Julie Bell’s sons Anthony and David Palumbo have become accomplished fantasy artists in their own right. David Palumbo has built a career creating dramatic works in a classical style, often in the genre of dark fantasy. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Scientific American, Marvel Comics, and in products for Wizards of the Coast, Blizzard Entertainment, Lucasfilm, and Sideshow Collectibles.

Anthony Palumbo excels in both fantasy illustration and portrait painting. In addition to creating several artworks for the role-playing game Magic: The Gathering, Palumbo has created artwork for Dark Horse Comics, Fantasy Flight Games, and Heavy Metal magazine, among others.

Artist Panel Two:
The Epic Fantasy Adventure
With:

  • Alessandra Pisano
  • Donato Giancola
  • Gregory Manchess

The rich histories relayed by the storytellers, writers, artists, historians, and philosophers have helped to define epic adventures and fantastical characters through time, from The Epic of Gilgamesh in 2100 BCE to the dynastic rivals of The Game of Thrones. Alessandra Pisano, Donato Giancola, and Gregory Manchess will discuss their work as well as the fantasy narratives that have inspired it.

Artist Bios:

The winner of the Spectrum Rising Star award in 2017, Alessandra Pisano often paints images containing elements of mythology and magic. Her oil paintings provide a glimpse into a world where solitary women live and hunt in the wilderness alongside animal companions. Her clients include Wizards of the Coast, Sideshow Collectibles, Fantasy Flight Games, Upper Deck, and Catalyst Game Labs.

Donato Giancola’s admiration for the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien is made apparent in the numerous paintings he has created depicting the Lord of the Rings saga. He has compiled some of these works in the books Middle-Earth: Visions of a Modern Myth (2010) and Middle-Earth: Journeys in Myth and Legend (2019), which features more than two hundred illustrations.

Artist and author Gregory Manchess has created powerful artworks for book covers, magazines, and advertising campaigns, and has been commissioned for projects by the National Geographic Society, the United States Postal Service, and the motion picture industry. He is the author and illustrator of the fantastical adventure tale, Above the Timberline, and he is the designer of the Dragon Crew One patch, created for the historic first SpaceX/NASA collaboration.

Symposium Gallery (June):

Frank Frazetta, Escape on Venus, 1972, © Frazetta Girls

Frank Frazetta, Escape on Venus, 1972, © Frazetta Girls

Frank Frazetta, Egyptian Queen, 1969, © Frazetta Girls

Alessandra Pisano, Revelations, 2017, © Alessandra Pisano

Julie Bell, Pegasus Befriends the Muses, 2018, © Julie Bell

Julie Bell, Pegasus Befriends the Muses, 2018, © Julie Bell

Boris Vallejo, Sunrise, 1998, © Boris Vallejo

Boris Vallejo, Sunrise, 1998, © Boris Vallejo

Anthony Palumbo, Angel Token, 2011, © Wizards of the Coast LLC

Anthony Palumbo, Angel Token, 2011, © Wizards of the Coast LLC

David Palumbo, The Fallen, 2014, © David Palumbo

David Palumbo, The Fallen, 2014, © David Palumbo

Alessandra Pisano, Revelations, 2017, © Alessandra Pisano

Alessandra Pisano, Revelations, 2017, © Alessandra Pisano

Donato Giancola, Bag End: Shadows of the Past, 2013, © Donato Giancola

Donato Giancola, Bag End: Shadows of the Past, 2013, © Donato Giancola

Gregory Manchess, Deeelicately, 2015, © Gregory Manchess

Gregory Manchess, Deeelicately, 2015, © Gregory Manchess