Last Saturday afternoon I attended the art exhibit for the brand new book Wild Ocean, released through Fulcrum Books and edited by Matt Dembicki. The exhibit took place at the Off-Rhode Studio gallery portion of Art Enables in Washington, D.C.. The book will mark the third major graphic novel anthology edited by Matt Dembicki and released through Fulcrum. A portion of sales from Wild Ocean will be donated to Pangea Seed, who use art as a means of spreading the word about oceanic wildlife conservation. In addition to this excellent exhibit, beautifully put together by the fine folks at Art Enables, Matt held a free comics-making workshop with an emphasis on paneling a story line. Above is a shot of the book and below is some original cover art by Steven Russell Black, on exhibit at Off-Rhode.
Putting together a comic strip is no easy task, and it's good to see some behind-the-scenes original art from a book, showing some of the hard work and process that went into it. It's also good to see comic art increasingly accepted as a valid fine art form, which was quite evident at the Wild Ocean exhibit. The image above is one of two amazing pieces of original art that sold on opening day, by Matt Dembicki. The next couple of images below include more of Matt's work, featured in Wild Ocean.
Despite the wet, rainy weather, it was good to see so many people come out to Art Enables Saturday! The people who participated in Matt's workshop really got into it, and it was cool to see some of the great work they were doing, some of which was quite humorous and well drawn.
I remember when the school district I work for offered a grant to visiting artists for several years. Four years in a row I had Matt come by my school to do comics-making workshops. Matt's a natural teacher, as well as artist, and he's come a long way since the early days of organizing comic-jam mini-zines.
The people I met, and some of whom I had the pleasure to meet again at the opening were all so good to talk to and so supportive of the arts. It's comforting to know there are quite a few folks out there who care about and cherish work made from another individual's hands and heart. Lots of art sold on opening day, as red dots were abundant. I was fortunate enough to sell three of the eight pieces I have in the show pretty early on Saturday, which meant a whole lot to me, especially since I got to talk to a couple of the wonderful people who bought work I made for the book. I know I've said this before, but this is something I absolutely never ever take for granted and it truly warms my heart to know my art goes out to good people and places in the world. I am eternally grateful for this.
Above are some shots from my work in the show, and below is a sneak peek at my story's opening pages, lettered by Matt Dembicki. I'm so happy a poet, artist and photographer I met on Flickr named Simon Clarke allowed me to use his seahorse haiku, which I thought served as a perfect verbal introduction to the story of this revered and mysterious little beast of the sea.
Again, the work in the show and book is pretty astounding, and what I love about these anthologies from Matt and Fulcrum is the sheer variety of styles, bucking the trend of increasingly slick, generic-looking paint-by-numbers work found in so many major comics publications today.
In the exhibit, visitors are also treated to some top notch oceanic and aquatic-themed work made by some of the regular weekly artist participants who come by Art Enables to get their art on! Below are just a few examples.
A huge thanks goes out to Matt Dembicki for putting this book and show together. I don't know how he does it all, and sometimes I think he has secretly cloned himself a few times to accomplish all that he's done in the past decade or so. Also, many thanks to all of the amazing artists and authors involved, and to Fulcrum Publishing for making Wild Ocean a reality. A big thanks goes out to Mary Liniger and Beth Baldwin and Art Enables for putting on a beautiful show as always, and to the truly awesome folks and friends who came out in support of the book and exhibit! If you're in the Washington D.C. area during the next couple of weeks, don't miss this!