There was an archery range, a great reptile exhibit and a falconer with some absolutely gorgeous birds, including two beautiful owls.
|A beautiful, if paranoid looking owl|
They also had a large battle arena where you could check out a foam weapon and shield and enter to do battle. Most of the battles were over pretty fast, though the couple that I watched had high entertainment value. I saw a giant of a man absolutely whaling on a small young woman, but she had a shield and was using it to stay alive. She looked like she was having a blast, while he looked like he was fighting for the independence of Scotland.
The event was spread out over what seemed to be the entire Salt Lake Convention Center, which is pretty good sized. The local news reports put the attendance at 55,000. It was over the July 4th weekend and I don’t know if that hurt it or helped. It did seem slower on the 5th, so maybe people had one too many hotdogs and were slow out the door.
There was a really great range of celebrities on hand. Elijah Wood kicked off the event with by deejaying the opening event. Many other LoTR actors were there, including Sean Astin, Billy Boyd and John Rhys-Davies. It also marked the first Con appearance by Simon Pegg, who proved to be a massive draw from what I heard.
One of the more spectacular panels had a huge list of celebrities, including Muddy Color’s own Donato. Here is a list from TheOneRing.net of those on the Tolkien panel:
Sean Astin (Samwise)
Adam Brown (Ori)
Billy Boyd (Pippin)
Jed Brophy (Nori)
John Callen (Óin)
Peter Hambleton (Glóin)
William Kircher (Bifur)
Sylvester McCoy (Radagast)
Graham McTavish (Dwalin)
Mark Ordesky (Executive Producer LOTR)
John Rhys-Davies (Gimli)
Ken Stott (Balin)
author Doug Adams (‘The Music of The Lord of the Rings’)
artist Donato Giancola
If you are a Tolkien or LoTR movie fan, this seems like it was THE event to be at.
Josh Patel was one of the organizers of the event and he also happens to be a huge supporter and patron of the fantasy arts, buying many paintings from various artists through the years. He started a few years back with a vision of assembling a great collection of fantasy art for a museum. That might still be in the works, but I think that part of the vision that he had evolved as an element of FantasyCon. Josh commissioned a series of very large paintings by artists such as: Brom, Donato Giancola, Justin Gerard, Annie Stegg, Jeff Easley, Christophe Vacher, Mark Poole, Eric Velhagen, Rob Alexander and Heather Theurer. You could see the great love for the art and artists in the magazine that was handed out at the door. The “Masterworks Artists” that were invited were featured larger than the celebrities! All the masterworks paintings were very large, most of them in the range of 6 feet or so tall, though some were larger!
|Donato and I in front of his amazing painting. It was huge. 1 football field x 1.7 football fields. It is actually a quarter mile behind us in this picture.|
|Steve Argyle and his wife Kat|
I had the chance to sit on a panel titled “Why We Paint” along with Donato, Eric Velhagen and Heather Theurer. I felt honored to be there with all three of those artists. We also had a great dinner with Annie Stegg, Justin Gerard, Kim Kincaid and Tara Larsen Chang.
|Annie Stegg and Justin Gerard - They told me about a great project they have coming up. I won't spoil it in case it isn't out there already, but I can't wait!|
|Me realizing how much I like getting out of my studio and going to conventions|
What is the biggest thing I have learned after exhibiting at a few events this year? Get out there, get a booth/table and show your work. Meet and make fans and friends and find inspiration for your own work along the way. I hope to see you at a future event and possible FantasyCon 2015.