The Representational Art Conference 2014 was held in Ventura from March 2 to March 5 and presented by the California Lutheran University Arts Initiative. TRAC2014.
It all started when Linda Schroeter informed me that TRAC was an event not-to-be-missed. A forum for people who embrace Contemporary Realism and all forms of Representational Art. I was in the process of completely re-designing all of the spaces in my gallery: warming up the rooms for a proper atmosphere to feature the representational art of Schroeter, as well as Sebastopol artist, Naomi Marino, who had just returned from five years training at the Angel Academy of Art in Florence. My gallery spaces are now radiant with their brilliant paintings. As the three of us were preparing for our first exhibition at BJGALLERY it was soon determined that the three of us would attend TRAC2014. Together.. . . . And we did. And I just got home. In my need to write about TRAC and all that I saw and felt and learned, I’m using this seminal event to launch the “From Roll Top Desk of Robert A.” column.
March 5, 2014, Ventura — I arrived at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Sunday night and registered around 7:00. There was a robust crowd enthusiastically moving from conference rooms to ballrooms to halls where art demos were in full swing, vendors with generous offerings of art supplies were at every corner and representatives from ataliers and academies were hawking their programs. I spotted Naomi at a ‘Mixed Media’ demo and Linda at a ‘Portrait in Oil’ demo. The Joint was Jumpin’. So, with my Conference ID Badge and my Canvas Goody-Bag I made the rounds and elbowed my way in.
Sunday, March 2nd was Oscar Night in the rest of the world. But not here in a crowd of 250 artists. I recall seeing, out of the corner of my eye, a big screen in the lounge, with some red-carpet-ish thing going on. But I, along with everyone else, was too engrossed in the wealth of Art that boldly flanked that black slab of electric noise. It was that kind of visual and philosophical contrast that became an ongoing theme for the days to follow. Days that took on a university feel — as all of us were showered with academic and scholarly insights, opinions and perspectives. That Sunday night glimpse was an indicator of the energy, enthusiasm and valuable lessons that were in store. I went to my room to rest up and prepare for the following day, with breakfast at 8:00 and the keynote speaker at 9:00 — Oxford Professor, Roger Scruton, fresh off the success of his incisve book “Beauty” would prove an inspiring speaker.
The last time I felt this excited in So. California it had something to do with Mickey Mouse & Mister Toad’s Wild Ride. This was definitely a FINE ART ‘E-Ticket’.
Upon registering, each of us was given a schedule of “papers” that were being presented over the next three days. After the kick-off breakfast we were on our own to devise our personal program by selecting the speakers and topics of our choice.
9AM. Roger Scruton set the proper tone for the event. Intellectual. Opinionated. Informative. His talk was laced with fine-tuned observations of the state of representational art and peppered with historical and philosophical quotes. From Jacques Lacan to Hegel to Mahler to Clement Greenberg, we were enlightened to the good news that is in store for those who embrace the values and traditional qualities of representational art. And we were graced with Roger’s views of the dominant post-modern world of “fake” art (from fake emotions) and “the reality that feeds on fakes”. And that Andrew Wyeth is finally getting his due. . . as an ARTIST.
I enjoyed Scruton’s theories and views and joined in the standing ovation that followed. Whereas I am not as stridently opposed to the dominant post-modern state-of-the-arts, I definitely welcome this “Movement” to ignite the emergence of contemporary realism into our culture and into the hearts and minds of the next generation.
I felt a unifying sense of purpose and interest from everyone I met over the next few days. A shared passion for the kind of art that is being created by trained academic (and intelligent) artists. All whom I met and conversed with were focused on the importance and depth of this conference. I proceeded to attend my personalized schedule of speakers.
Eager to listen and to learn. As I sat in packed rooms to hear the views of individual speakers I was caught up in the swell of what was referred to as the “Movement’. This surge of interest in our shared passion for representational art that brought us together. (Souls from 29 states from across the nation). Presenters like Alan Lawson, Realist Artist, who spoke of “Thought & Emotion”. Michael Pierce, Professor of Art at CLU, who spoke of “Emergence”. Peter Trippi, Editor-in-Chief of Fine Art Connoisseur, who spoke of “Community”. Odd Nerdrum who spoke of “Kitsch”. Ruth Wiesberg who spoke of “Art”. And it was all, unwittingly, tied together into a form of solidarity that was palpable.
Briskly roaming the colorful halls, revisiting the generous vendors and speaking with new friends, I was continually recharged by the energy that was everywhere. All in the company of great art and great artists. I guess you could say I had a pretty good time.
Linda and Naomi and I made the best of it. We touched base to share experiences and to recommend others. I was impressed by both of them. By their eagerness to learn more about their craft. And to learn of the philosophy, history and values that are behind the kind of beautiful and exotic art they create. I left on day three but they stayed for day four. Texting me the great moments that were continuing to happen. As I drove north I couldn’t resist visiting Waterhouse Gallery in Santa Barbara, that has been exhibiting realist art for over 30 years. Entering San Francisco I took a turn at Geary St. and headed for the John Pence Gallery (Realist Gallery established in 1975). THE Realist Gallery. Those galleries — along with the amazingly educational TRAC2014 event — inspired and motivated me to continue my mission to connect art lovers with talented realist artists. To be part of The Movement. The Community. The Emergence. The Kitsch. The Thought & Emotion. The Art.