The Grand Bazzar of Ethra VanDalia at IX 2021
Last week I was able to return to in-person conventions. Given all the events of the past two years, there is something comforting about it being Illuxcon. IX has been a special part of my life since 2009, and it was not the same last year without it. To ensure that we had the safest event possible, only fully vaccinated individuals could attend, and during event hours in event venues, masks were required at all times. It was the least we could do to help create a safe and enjoyable experience.
I am not sure I can put into words how much this year's IX means to me. I knew I was missing friends and the greater art community and family, but until I got there, I was unaware of how desperate I was to be part of it again. I feel I had been wandering the desert got two years and finally found water and food. I know I was not the only one feeling this. I am filled with hope, love, and the creative spark again. Hopefully, I will channel this, as I have done in the past, to push forward with new work. It's not just about art; so much of what made IX great this year was simply being around friends and people again. At times, it was emotionally overwhelming, and it took everything I had to keep my composure and enjoy the moments.
I will be honest, I did a lousy job of taking photos of IX this year. I never left my booth during show hours, except for restroom breaks, lunch, and the panels I was a part of. Not only did I do a poor job of documenting the event, I never saw the main show except for my floor and some of the first floor. I visited the fourth floor early on set up day before most people were even there and never again. This is all on me, and I regret it. For better or worse, I was focused on the Grand Bazaar this year now that the books are available. I wanted to be present in the booth at all times and available to talk to people about my work. The funny thing is, after all the preparation and work I did to ensure IX was the best it could be, I forgot to plan how I was going to talk about my book. For years I practiced talking about the book I was working on, the book that was just over the horizon. I never thought I would have trouble talking about the book right in front of me. Since it was the only thing that I didn't plan or prepare for, it was the one issue I had. In general, I think I am talking about the book wrong, but I will need to talk about this another day when it is the focus. Suffice it to say, by the end of IX, I understood the problem, and I have some plans on how to move forward.
I think I could keep talking about how much IX meant to me and how important it was to finally be happening again, but I think now is a good time for images and thoughts associated with them.
Now that the book is out and I have a complicated setup at conventions, the only travel solution is a trailer. I know I packed way more books than I needed, but it was my first convention with them, and I wanted to be optimistic.
Even though it has been a long time since I did an event, Mietze could tell something was up and tried his best to stick close to the items going with me. I think he hoped to come to IX with me.
Once again, we had the pleasure to stop at Natural Bridge Part on the journey to Reading, PA. The weather was much better this year, and we were presented with a gorgeous morning to take in this natural wonder.
Part of the trail was closed, but we could still take in a lot of the natural beauty of the park.
New to us this year was the Dinosaur Kingdom 2. It was not open, but there were a collection of monsters outside to enjoy.
Also new to us was the Nature Bridge Zoo. They had a surprisingly large selection of animals.
This zoo allowed for many close encounters with beautiful creatures.
The one thing I was most surprised by was being able to hand-feed giraffes.
We have taken part in feeding giraffes at the Jacksonville Zoo, but it was nothing like this.
I made to take as many photos as I could since I am not sure when I will be this close to a giraffe again.
I love me some hornbills and will always photograph.
I am sure you were wondering if this post was actually about IX! After two days of driving, we were finally in Reading, PA, and at the GoggleWorks.
I may have been the first to unload, which meant I had many helping hands to get all the art, books, and booth stuff moved to the second floor. Those boxes in the background are mine too.
The first thing to do is hang the art and figure out where it all needs to go.
Once the art is sorted, it comes down, and the red walls go up. Then the art goes back up, and I can begin working on the rest of the setup.
Nearly done! Art and books made as prominent as possible.
The remarkable thing about IX is that you never know what is hiding around the next corner. For me this year, it was seeing my most favorite of favorite Larry Elmore painting in person. I never thought in a million years I would have the chance to see it.
Then over dinner, I got to talk to Larry about the painting.
I made sure to mask up in style with our new branded masks!
As with every event, I did a few drawings on Magic artist proofs.
Being at a fully vaccinated event means you can do things like this.
Another unexpected surprise was the visit of King, a European eagle owl. Plenty of photos were taken.
Book buddies! Jon Sideriadis and I were side by side in the show.
I managed to get a couple photos in the Showcase, and most of them were of Tom Kuebler's new work.
Realizing I hadn't taken any photos of the show, I took a couple of the second-floor gallery.
OH! And there are always more artist proofs.
I forgot that at in-person events, I can do things like sketching in copies of the Grand Bazaar.
The Peanut Bar is a Reading and IX tradition, and it was wonderful that they were gracious hosts and made us feel welcomed.
I had the honor to panel with these fine humans - Allen Panakal, Jon Sideriadis, and David Thorn Wenzel. Had a wonderful time, and hopefully, we shared some wisdom and experience with those in attendance.
Sadly, IX had to come to an end. But worry naught, IX 15 will be returning to the GoggleWorks next year!
That's all for another exciting week on the blog. See you back here next week! Until then...
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