Last November, the field of contemporary realism took a big step forward when the first Figurative Art Convention & Expo (FACE) drew almost 350 people to Miami’s historic Biltmore Hotel for a lively celebration of art and ideas. Organized by Fine Art Connoisseur and hosted by publisher Eric Rhoads and myself, FACE offered a memorable combination of demonstrations by renowned masters, informal conversations among artists, and formal lectures by scholars. Participants gained technical skills and philosophical insights, all while getting to know each personally in a friendly, un-stuffy atmosphere.
Eric and I have long envisioned a forum like FACE: As we hoped, when like-minded people get together in person to share techniques and information, their sense of community and their passionate determination to excel grow exponentially. We all rely on social media and teleconferencing, but nothing can ever replace meeting face to face.
One highlight for me was the inspiring talk given by FACE’s youngest attendee, Fina Mooney, a 13-year-old currently studying part-time at the Art Academy in Minneapolis. Fina discussed why figurative art matters to young people like herself, bringing the entire audience to their feet. This led in perfectly to a full demo by our oldest attendee, the realist master Max Ginsburg (b. 1931).
It was a thrill to observe three more days of demos by world-class artists, and also a series of eloquent one-hour talks delivered by other masters. Watching demos often makes you want to try out what you’ve learned right away, so FACE offered an optional hands-on studio experience. For two nights in a row, 125 registrants filled a gigantic ballroom as they drew, painted, and sculpted from nine live models. That was a truly extraordinary sight.
A post-event survey of FACE participants revealed that while most were initially attracted by opportunities to meet and observe world-class artists, they also relished getting to know other artists, thus anchoring themselves within a supportive community. To that end, we are delighted that FACE will return to Miami again this year: November 7–10, 2018, with pre-convention courses on November 6. See you there!
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