At the 2019 Figurative Art Convention & Expo, Casey Baugh and Reisha Perlmutter during a fun round of “Musical Easels.” Prior to this, Peter Trippi gave an interesting presentation on the future of the realism movement, including the strengths and the challenges that artists and galleries are facing.

Throughout history, gatherings of artists working toward a common goal have changed the world. The Figurative Art Convention is no different.

Together we are stronger, our voices louder, and the synergy of our actions more powerful.
–Pierce Brosnan, actor-artist

Amazing things happen when people get together. Seemingly impossible challenges become doable. Difficult goals become less daunting. Unity, support, and accountability to one another keep us on the right path.

Figurative Art -
At Philadelphia’s Studio Incamminati in March 2018 (left to right): JaFang Lu, Eric Rhoads, Nell O’Leary, Kerry Dunn; the artists’ portraits of Rhoads appear at right in the same order.

Throughout history, gatherings of artists working toward a common goal have changed the world. These collectives, often starting as a couple of individuals collaborating on a project, have resulted in massive change. A fine example is the French Impressionists, who in 1874 mounted their first exhibition under the rather unpromising name “Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Engravers, etc.”

Its members dreamed that one day their work would be accepted despite the fact that it did not suit the old-school strictures of academic tradition. Their efforts created a movement that ultimately transcended unnecessarily politicized organizations like the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and Paris Salon, which wanted to control who and what got seen, recognized, bought, awarded with honors, and so much more.

Today, ironically, thousands of artists — most of them young — are being excluded by the “contemporary art” system that considers their artistry unimportant and their rigorous atelier training as an unnecessary repetition of what’s come before. These artists now constitute a new avant-garde. Some create works that are impeccably rendered, while others use looser handling informed by the legacy of abstraction. Regardless, their representational artworks are implicitly modern and deserve to be seen alongside contemporary creations of all kinds. In this digital era, there is and should be room for everyone.

Through my passion for representational art, I’ve made it my life’s mission to unify the artists in our community and work with them toward a brighter future of full acceptance by collectors, curators, critics, and the general public. It is my goal to see them receive the financial rewards and professional respect they deserve. Once fully recognized, they have the potential to change the way all of us see, just as the Impressionists once did.

I began the effort 15 years ago by launching this magazine and, after much effort, the Figurative Art Convention & Expo (FACE), held for the first time in 2017. There museum-quality figurative and portrait artists gathered to learn, grow, and get to know other members of their tribe. From this event came unity, collaboration, and the start of the ultimate artists’ collective, one devoted to the preservation and promotion of contemporary representational art.

FACE is a place we can call home, where we are not trying to fit in with others who don’t share our interests. It’s about encouraging one another and finding ways we can move forward as a group. As one artist told me after FACE 2017 concluded, “I have felt so isolated and alone in my studio. Now I’m part of a family working toward the same goal. This has changed my life.”

Our experiment has begun to make waves and we’re already noticing collaborations among artists who met at FACE. For this and many other reasons, this coming fall we will build upon our previous successful editions to create another, hopefully even stronger, event.

Your passion is welcome and your presence is essential if you want to be a part of this movement, in whatever role you care to play. We invite you to join us for FACE 2020 in Baltimore this fall ( This movement is too important to allow it to be sidelined by those who control the “mainstream” art world. Artists, and those who support artists, need to connect at this gathering, where we will draw renewed strength as we pave the way to our brighter future.

Figurative Art Convention FACE 2020

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Eric Rhoads is a career entrepreneur, with 30 years of launching companies and media brands, creating startups, and building businesses, including over 40 years’ experience in the radio broadcasting field, 25 years in the publishing business, and a decade in the art industry. Rhoads serves as chairman of the board of Streamline Publishing, Inc., a company he founded in 1986 (includes Fine Art Connoisseur magazine, Fine Art Today, and more). He also serves as a consultant and adviser to companies in media, technology, digital media, and art.


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