Mon
Feb 16 2009 2:32pm

The Art of Boskone

The 46th annual Boskone has managed to skip cheerfully down the fine, funky line between low-key and action-packed, presenting an overwhelming plethora of panels extending from each bleary, sleep-deprived morning into every jittery, caffeine-fueled night. Generally speaking, events can be divided into five major categories: Art, Literature, Science, Filk/Music, and Weapons/Combat Techniques. Although yesterday was the last official day, I’m still hoping that those last two categories will somehow merge into an amazing uber-genre, becoming the Voltron of Con topics, if you will.

Imagine all those velvet-cloaked, filk-loving dervishes of destruction, hymnal in one hand, lightsaber (or dagger, or rapier, or German Longsword) in the other...or maybe we just need to invent some sort of lute/battle axe combo. Either way: I think we can all agree that an unstoppable killing/filking force would be unleashed upon the world, for better or for worse.

Maybe next year. Fingers crossed.

While awaiting the coming Filkpocalypse, I’ve certainly been tempted by some of the more random-sounding panels (“How Underwear Reflects Sexuality in Cultures,” for example, or “Treachery for Fun and Profit”), but for the most part, I’ve been addicted to the art panels all weekend. Featuring an array of talent including this year’s official artist, Stephan Martiniere, as well as Donato Giancola, Dan Dos Santos, David R. Seeley, Alan Beck, and a revolving cast of characters popping in and out over the course of the weekend, Boskone has turned into a premiere venue for showcasing some of the absolute best in SF/Fantasy art.

The hands-down favorite from Saturday’s offerings, “Sketch to Finish” featured Donato, Dos Santos, Martiniere and Dave Seeley offering a rapid but comprehensive overview of their individual processes, from Donato’s meticulous historical research and use of models in his painting of the Battle of Agincourt to the more digitally-driven work of Martiniere and Seeley. While all four artists incorporate diverse techniques and employ different media, it’s fascinating and sometimes utterly surprising to see exactly how those processes overlap and diverge.

Moreover, shoving four detail-obsessed, crazy, hypertalented artists into a single hour is something of an amazing feat—thus, panels like this tend to provide a top-down, rocket-fueled glimpse into some of the most creative artistic minds working today, and I would encourage anyone with even the slightest interest in the creative process to pounce like a rabid puma the next time the opportunity arises...maybe at next year’s Boskone, if need be. But go—just hearing Donato talk about hiring members of the SCA to “come over and die in [his] living room” is worth the trip. And for a better idea of what the panel was like, you can check out Dan Dos Santos’ trailer from his Massive Black DVD, detailing the creation of his cover for Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker. It’s mindblowingly cool, I promise.

Highlights from the rest of the weekend include various tours of the Boskone Art Show, including a selection curated by Tor.com’s own Irene Gallo, hourly demos by more of the same amazing artists, and a panel called “Stupid Art Tricks” with Seeley, Dos Santos, Bob Eggleton and William O’Connor, all of whom are as entertaining as they are talent. This year’s Con has been an embarrassment of riches for art fans, collectors, and aficionados, and it’s clear that the focus on art and artist will continue to be one of the major draws in years to come (at least until my unholy filker-warrior hybrid is finally forged in a fiery hellpit somewhere).

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