Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Gen Con 2020

For those in the Gen Con art show, today would have been set up day. We had either arrived in the last day or two, or we are driving or flying into Indianapolis at various times throughout the day. We hit the ground running to get all of our stuff into the convention center and set up as quickly as possible, all the while stealing precious moments with faces we have not seen in months. A quick hug here, a high five there, some excited words and talk of where we all will be eating dinner or grabbing a drink later in the evening, soon we would be sweaty and tired having toiled in the sweltering convention center. It is the start of four or five exhaustive days of a special kind of family reunion.

My Gen Con set up in 2011, my first year in attendance.

There is a smell to Gen Con. Not the one often joked about when a throng of game enthusiasts, though that can be found if you search for it. I think it is the carpet, or the air handling system, or maybe even an odor that is pumped into the center. It is partially chemical and yet also clean. It brings a smile to my face when I smell it for the first time. I know that I am home. When you arrive on set up day, there are two clearly divided groups, the first has come to play and game for four or more days, and that is about to bust in anticipation for the first day of Gen Con to begin. The second is already working and likely has been working for at least a day to get everything perfect for the days to come. While I know very few at Gen Con that exhibits beyond the borders of the Art Show, there are familiar faces in the crowds. Venders that have repeatedly set up in the same location so that I pace them multiple times in a given day. I don't know them, I have never talked to them, but they are kinsmen of the con and seeing them somehow makes me feel comforted and that I am among my people.

My Gen Con set up in 2018.

This Gen Con would have been my tenth consecutive year in attendance. This Gen Con would have seen the release of my book, The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia. This Gen Con I would have attended as one of three Featured Artists. None of this is happening. I resigned myself to this reality some months ago having taken a realistic view of our nation's lack of sets to address the existence of COVID19, let alone do anything to combat it. We have the virtual Gen Con that will be starting tomorrow, and there will be around 20,000 in attendance, which is inspiring in and of itself. It is significant that so many events have taken on the challenge of hosting a virtual event this year. However, I feel if something does not happen this year to address the pandemic, there will be no events next year as the convention can not financially afford not to have in-person events.

My Gen Con set up in 2019. I was liquidating the last of my client merch and older work in preparation for the arrival of my book and all the art and prints that would be associated with it.

As exhausting as these big conventions are and as much as I sometimes wish for a respite from the time and energy commitment, now that is has come to pass and it is not happening, I miss it. I miss the people that I share these crazy four days with, the friends in the art show, the friends in attendance, and the new friends we make each year. There is never enough time, and the convention is over in a blink, but those moments we have are special and keep me going for the rest of the year. Gen Con, in many ways, has been an artistic reset for me each year. An ending and a beginning. This year would have been the best of beginnings for me, but alas, that is not to be. We look to next year. We shall hope. We shall be patient. There has to be another Gen Con, and when that happens, I will be there as a Featured Artist, and I will have my books with me.

The crowd waiting to get into Gen Con 2019 and the reason you can't have Gen Con during a pandemic.

That's all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday! Until then...

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