I was wondering if anyone who is on the Art Renewal Center mailing list saw a recent email from them containing a letter from Eric Rhoads regarding “realism” and the art world.
The message was basically a way to garner support for the upcoming Figurative Art Convention and Expo (FACE) but I personally felt the tone of the letter was to play upon the insecurities of emerging artists.
Though some of the message was encouraging and addressed a positive trend for artists pursuing a career in representational art, it seemed to be saying that unless you participate in the event you are somehow setting yourself up for failure because you’re not among the right people at the right time.
I feel the note sends a mixed message. It acknowledges that representational artists have up until now been largely shut out of the “mainstream” art world yet at the same time it suggests that artists who are not on board with FACE might be left behind much in the same way.
I would be curious to see how anyone else feels about it.
I’ve pasted the letter below:
"You are here at a moment in time that will have historic significance in the art world.
Those of you who are artists, or who are instructors teaching or running ateliers, stand to have more success than any representational artists in the last 100 years.
There is a wave coming.
It is my belief that the groundwork is being laid today for a new renaissance, one that has yet to be recognized by the powers that be in the “mainstream” art world.
In your lifetime you will see classically trained realists and highly skilled representational artists being embraced by top museums, and being purchased at enormous prices by collectors who will fight to own their artworks.
There will be a feeding frenzy for these works, paralleling that we have seen in the past few decades for postmodern works.
Will you be ready?
A Brief History
When I started Fine Art Connoisseur many years ago, it was a different world. If you’re under 45, it will be hard to even imagine how different things were.
There was almost nowhere one could learn historical painting techniques. Classical techniques had almost been lost at the hands of modernism.
There was no Internet to search, so if you wanted to learn art, you went to a college that had an art program. But most had shed life drawing and painting, and considered cast drawing and intensive study a fool’s game.
We were living in a world of “just throw the paint on canvas and express yourself,” as I was told by a teacher during my first art lesson. When I said I wanted to learn to paint a still life or a finely crafted figure or portrait, I was told, “That’s passé. No one does that anymore. You’ll never survive. No one wants it.”
I did not believe it then, and I don’t believe it now. Neither should you.
Today you have great organizations like the Art Renewal Center and magazines like Fine Art Connoisseur that serve and highlight the flourishing realist scene.
Today thousands of students are studying in ateliers - almost all of which did not exist just 15 years ago.
A Wave That Takes You to Giant Status
Today you are on the cusp of a huge opportunity. I’m seeing trends I’ve seen before in other categories, trends that have been predicted by anthropologists and historians, and I honestly and deeply believe that you will ride a wave that has the potential to take you, your art, and your name to heights you cannot even imagine at this moment in time.
Signals of Trends
I am seeing signals that the art world is starting to no longer rely on self-expression and creativity alone. Collectors are beginning to crave standards that can be measured. The $450 million price for Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is a substantial clue; its value can be measured and stands out in a world where there have been no definable standards for two generations. It’s been reported that 51 of the 54 students in Columbia University’s Master of Fine Arts degree program are demanding a refund of their tuition and fees (roughly $64,000 per year) because the resources and facilities were so terrible. The emperor is wearing no clothes, and now everyone can see him.
Who in the art world today is producing art that features technical skill and significant content? I think you know the answer.
A New Generation in Control
We will see a major change in the art world, driven by a generation that not only embraces high standards, but does not relate to the art of their parents and grandparents. The latter was cutting-edge at one time but is no longer meaningful for the new rebels taking charge.
What you do will be considered cutting-edge and modern.
We are seeing paintings today, crafted by both younger and older artists, that are every bit as strong as masterworks hanging in the world’s great museums. The fact that this has gone unrecognized is criminal. But it’s all about to change.
The important questions: Will you be in the right place at the right time? Will you be ready?
When the giant wave of opportunity comes, you must have your technical skills refined and your artistic soul fully developed because quality will be the number one predictor of success. This depends not only on what you’re learning and who you’re studying with, but also your role in the active community of artists.
Part of the Grand Plan
For many years we have been promoting this art and these artists, exposing them to anyone who will listen. We believed that such a moment in time would come, and the next step was certain to occur. We took that step last November.
The creation of our Figurative Art Convention & Expo (FACE) last year was, we humbly believe, a beacon of progress in this movement, and an important community gathering. It allowed those participating to meet, collaborate, and work toward the common goal of capturing the coming wave. It was a chance for dialogue and training, and simply to come together.
Though there are other successful events that focus on the development of artists, only one focuses specifically on the development of museum-quality artists in the realism movement. It focuses on the training necessary to ready these artists for for the wave ahead, and to offer opportunities for continuing education and practice.
Uniquely, FACE provides not only lectures, exposure to important people you need to know, and personal development in art techniques from leaders you may otherwise never have an opportunity to meet, but also a sense of community with those who share the mission. And we offer chances to apply what you’ve learned each day with an evening studio where you can paint or sculpt with live models, with Studio Mentors™ there to guide you. This coming November we are doubling the number of Studio Mentors.
FACE isn’t for everyone. To take part in a feat of this magnitude requires people so deeply committed that they are willing to invest in themselves. It tends to appeal to those who are committed specifically to realism in its various forms, and who are committed to museum-quality art with a purpose, not a focus on commissioned artworks alone.
The event reflects the new guard, with a spirit of fun mixed in with the learning. It embraces everyone and makes them feel welcome.
If this appeals to you, there are a couple of things we need to share with you:
Our first year sold out. Because of space restrictions in the same hotel, we believe it could sell out much sooner this year. We simply don’t have room for much growth.
We believe that once we announce our full faculty, we could see a rapid sale of more seats. So timing is important to reserve your position.
We try to offer first movers our lowest price, which allows us to pay some of the massive hotel and conference expenses up front. But that initial price expires on July 4; the registration fee will increase thereafter (if there are seats left). So if saving money is important, sign up before July.
Payment plans are available; the sooner you get in, the better the terms.
Thanks to two generous donors, we have increased the scholarship fund to $11,000 this year. This includes a new scholarship for teachers, in addition to those for students and one senior. The winners will be chosen soon, so please visit our website to file your application.
We are offering another pre-convention course this year. Casey Baugh, who no longer conducts regular courses, will lead a day-and-a-half workshop prior to the convention, available to registered FACE attendees only.
At this time last year, we had only a small number of people signed up. Yet for this year’s FACE, we’re already 30 percent sold out. If you want to be sure of a spot, sign up soon.
Word is spreading about how unique FACE is. We’re hearing from a large number of participants who plan to return, and many who plan to come for the first time.
We have added an entirely new demo stage, intended to offer longer in-depth demonstrations in portraiture and the figure.
Also new this year will be a podcasting booth, where you can watch commentators interview our guests. Podcasts will include Suggested Donation with Tony Curanaj and Edward “Ted” Minoff, as well as The Studio with Danny Grant.
If you want to catch the wave, truly be part of this movement, and be a museum-quality artist growing your skills in many areas, FACE is for you."