Popular artists to visit FMU

FMU’s Fine Arts Department has teamed up with the Office of Student Affairs and the Campus Activities Board to bring ‘cool’ artists, video gamers and cosplayers to FMU as a celebration of the cool in popular arts.

“Cool-Con” will consist of artist talks, demos, and meet-and-greets, and has been in the planning since early last fall. The idea originally stemmed from “Comic-Con,” an international comic convention that attracts super-fans from all over the world who dress up in elaborate costumes of their favorite characters, also known as cosplaying.

Howard Frye, associate professor of art education and coordinator of the art education program, and Alex McGill, student life specialist, have been working on bringing this event to life ever since Frye had a famous guest speaker, Marvel cartoonist Sanford Greene, for an open art talk at FMU. The event attracted 40 students who expressed interest in his work and meeting him.

“All the art students gathered around him,” Frye said. “They kept him for what seemed like another two hours. They asked him, ‘Could you draw me a picture?’ ‘Could you sign my poster?’ and he was very accommodating. But as he was trying to leave, they followed him out to his car and I said ‘Guys you have got to let him go,’ so I knew there was a big demand.”

The event will host a number of people who are respected in their field, such as James Sizemore, a producer and director who is known for his makeup and costume skills and owns his own sci-fi themed toy company and Bryan Ransom, CEO of Moondog Animation Studio.

Other artists will include M. Wayne Miller, a cover illustrator for specialty-press and mass-market book publishers; and A.L.Sirois, a graphic artist and performing musician who has contributed comic art to major comic publishers like D.C. Comics.

This event was made possible by the REAL and PEAK grants and a lot of preparation and planning. Frye said that originally things were a little slow in the making, but things eventually fell into place.

“It actually started last semester,” Frye said. “So it’s almost been a full academic year of planning. It was a hard process because it was originally supposed to be done in the fall. I just could not find the people. It was like one hurdle after another. Finally, gradually, it built momentum.”

Frye tried to find people from many different areas of the art industry. He wanted everything from video game designers to caricature drawers.

“I ventured away from a Comic-Con,” Frye said. “We’re calling it Cool-Con. Because Comic-Con is trademarked, so you can’t use that term really. Instead, I thought that instead of it just being about cartoons, I’d like to do anything that is cool in the popular arts, so that can be animation or even graphic design. I thought about bringing in an airbrush artist, a tattoo artist and just a lot of different types of people.”

The event will begin in the Smith University Center (UC) commons with a

meet-and-greet, where guests will be able to walk around and meet the various artists and see demos of their work.

Starting at 10 a.m. on March 21, there will be various talks and panel discussions in the classrooms upstairs in the UC. After the talks, there will be a showing of the movie “Black Panther.”

“I want to see how this comes together,” Frye said. “Right now there is a great unknown. You’re not sure how it’s going to turn out, but you think it’s going to turn out exciting. I want to see the results, and that it does meet a need, and a want and desire from the students; it’s something that I know the students are going to like as opposed to doing something that you have to force them to go to.”

The event will be free and open to anyone from the university or surrounding community who has an interest in the various art fields.