The Wave Is Coming

Hello All.

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.

Massive Changes

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."


A great post Tony—thank you!

We spoke about this yesterday in our bi-weekly artists round-table and I agree whole-heartedly that this is indeed intended to play upon the insecurities of emerging artists.

Let’s break this down and see if there is a wave coming—and if so—do these people have any idea on how to catch it. Furthermore, is their process for “catching the wave” worth shelling out a ton of money?

For starters, I recommend looking to resources that collect actual data to evaluate some of the claims made by the speaker. The speaker here, (Mr. Eric Rhodes), is stating that he believes there is “a wave coming.” He also states that we’re are all facing a moment of historic significance, at the cusp of a new renaissance, and should be prepared for the “feeding frenzy” for skilled representationalism that is sure to follow. His substantiation for these claims? The existence of the Art Renewal Center, Fine Art Connoisseur (a magazine his company launched), and a plethora of skill based art schools emerging over the past 15 years, a $450 million price tag for Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, and a report 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.

Now while it is true that the (alleged) Leonardo painting Salvator Mundi did sell for $450.31 million (far surpassing the previous record held by Picasso’s Women of Algiers, which fetched US$179.4 million at Christie’s in 2015–thus making it the most expensive painting ever auctioned to date)–there may be many more factors to consider when pondering the meaning of that price tag beyond its representational nature.
(You can learn more about that particular work here:

The claim about the Columbia students demanding a tuition refund is true, but in this context, the mention of the story seems to imply some educational issues that are not experienced within more traditional training programs (which isn’t necessarily true). However, the issues at the core of this story are in regards to the physical conditions of the school and access to the faculty that was advertised. Writer Juliette Verlaque for the Columbia Spectator writes, "In her studio in Prentis Hall, Lama has faced freezing temperatures, flooding in the hallways, and pieces of limestone falling from the ceilings. She has not been able to meet several of the professors that she came to Columbia to work with, including Sanford Biggers, an internationally acclaimed artist who has been on sabbatical for more than two years. And she, along with her classmates, has spent countless hours reaching out to facilities, writing letters, and sitting in meetings with Columbia administrators." (You can read this full story here:

Now I think that the schools are a good sign of increasing interest there is no mention of any hard data or trends regarding FAC subscriptions or ARC memberships so I am not sure what can be gleaned there.

If you are interested in learning about some of the ongoing trends in the art world I would recommend looking into hard data resources like the TEFAF report or The Art Market (Art Basel/USB) report.

Or you can dig into some online statistics/data gathering sites like Statista:

So let’s suspend disbelief for the moment and just proceed as though there is a representationalist wave coming. Can Eric Rhodes and the FACE event help to prepare you for it?

Well, if we look at Eric Rhodes own biography, we find that it is not easy to pinpoint where Mr. Rhodes’ expertise in building successful art careers comes from. I encourage you to dig through this yourself: And yes, you read that right—Mr. Rhodes has a whole website dedicated to art marketing. But again, aside from launching a company that launched an art magazine and a vague claim of “a decade in the art industry”, I don’t know where he’s pulling this expertise from. Nonetheless, he’s selling the dream to whomever is willing to buy in:

And for $150.00 per DVD you can learn Eric’s Art Marketing Secrets to Success:

Not too mention the $700.00 Art Marketing in a Box in which he states that it is his “life’s work to change the lives of artists by showing them proven methods to sell their work.” Again, his own bio seems to weave a different “life’s work.”


Now while this promo makes Mr. Rhodes look pretty popular and widely published, I still see nothing about any appropriate expertise in building successful art careers. But who knows? Maybe he has experience he just chooses not to promote.

So what about the convention he’s promoting in the email Tony mentioned? To recap, of the conference he writes: "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.

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."

So basically, FACE is only for the people that are really serious about their art.

How serious do you need to be? About $1000-$1500.00 to start. This does not include airfare, lodging, (if applicable), nor does it even allow you to access all of the events (some include a separate fee.) You read more about the event and its costs here:

Another eye-rolling aspect here is the cap of “350” attendees that is blasted in a red banner crossing the top of the site. This is an old sales-pressure tactic of “limited supply.” In other words, you better hurry and cough up the cash or you’ll miss the wave for sure.

Now with all of that said, some people really seem to have enjoyed the last FACE convention. Here’s a few of the testimonials they feature:

I will be back nov 2018 to join the 2nd FACE, AM GLAD I JOINED , I AM EVEN MORE DETERMINED NOW TO KEEP ON PRACTICING NON STOP - Lulu Bridal Gowns Alterations

Loved the Face Event. I am looking forward to next year. Thanks Eric. -Louise T. Minges

It’s like seeing Hollywood stars, but for artists! -Rena DiPofi

It has been by far the best experience I’ve had as an artist outside my studio or Atelier. -Santiage E. Perez

Unbelievable experience! Sooo memorable! Soo grateful for this very special FACE event! -Carol D. Smith

In addition, I have to acknowledge the great lineup of artists that they gather for the event. The 2018 FACE event boasts an impressive faculty:

So all in all—FACE sounds like it is indeed a great opportunity to get together with many like minded individuals to celebrate your passions, talk some shop, and to learn from/hob-knob with some very well known creatives. If that is worth the money for you then you should surely grab your surf board and head on out to sunny Fla.

But will Mr. Rhodes help you to catch that coming wave? If there is one… I don’t think it’s likely.


I have heard about the boot camp videos but I have never seen this promo clip before. Eek.

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Since writing my response, I got to wondering about the verified circulation/readership numbers which are presented to artists to elicit advertisements. It’s pretty interesting. I’ll be posting about it shortly.

I think that it’s important to note that conventions are money makers and FACE was not held as a charitable event to help educate representational artists. Even the artist/instructors are there to make money, sell their CD’s and grow their brand so that they can continue to support their artistic endeavors. Although Eric Rhodes is a painter, he is also a businessman, marketer, and entrepreneur.

I admire Eric Rhodes in a few ways: I’m a reader of his magazines, a listener of his podcast and he’s played an active role in facilitating the growth of what he calls “The plein air movement - the new golf”. He seems to have an honest passion for representational art, its growth in the marketplace and encouraging artists to continually learn and strive for excellence, but he is a marketer and he managed to link it with his passion for painting and found a few ways to make a living doing so. Not unlike the plethora of artists that sell their workshops, lectures, books, online/streaming instruction, instructional DVDs, ateliers, etc.

A lot of this paid information can be good and useful but the price can be high and the results can be disappointing. If someone has $1500 to spend on the convention admission + hotel, food, and other random expenses to further their painting education, they might be better off saving to attend an atelier or purposefully choosing the DVDs, books, supplies, etc. to best suit their needs, and practice…practice…practice.

I admit that rubbing elbows with like-minded artists sounds fun and I’m sure there’s valuable information to be learned, but I think that we should be careful not to become “serial workshoppers” and understand that too many varying techniques can be confusing and too much influence can squelch creativity and uniqueness.