February 2, 2012

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The poster for the upcoming Con Nooga (Chattanooga’s increasingly popular “other” multi-fandom convention happening Feb. 17-19 at the Chattanooga Choo Choo) features an unusual hybrid image by brothers and Nashville artists Michael and Paul Bielaczyc (pronounced BELA-CHICK).

Each contributed a portion of one of their paintings to this cosmic juxtaposition that will welcome con attendees. In the image (pictured here), Paul’s “We Need a Herd” meets Michael’s “It Came From Outer Space,” and the wizard-meets-alien motif conjures the paradoxical retro thrust into the future that characterizes much sci-fi and fantasy these days.

The brothers’ work was most recently on display in Chattanooga during Chattacon 37 (held Jan. 20-22 at the Choo Choo). They also appeared in a booth representing Aradani Studios, their own fantasy factory where they construct items such as “elf ears” and customized costumes and as well as commissioned art.

During Chattacon, Missy Lindsey, a friend of the Bielaczycs, startled attendees with her intricate rendition of the “Junk Lady” from the film “Labynrith,” which was actually more mobile sculpture than costume, exemplifying the impulse to bring to life imagery from beloved and often iconic fantasies.

Unlike Chattacon, where artists display their work in a gallery-like setting, Con Nooga allows artists to present at booths so viewers can meet the creators as they encounter the art. This concentration of fantastic art can be wonderfully heady.

Both are excellent events featuring fantastic works of art which engage elements of symbols, icons, characters, motifs and mutants merged into wide-ranging representational play. There emerge innovations of concepts and media—say “Hello” to the mechanical creators—and beauty becomes strangely contextualized and refreshed.

Michael Bielaczyc has been showing masks along with oils and inks, at times using an unusual method to cast bronze masks. He also develops video art. Paul works mostly in charcoal and pastel. Some of his subjects are dramatically active, as in the charcoal “Nightmare” and “Murder’s Call,” a print from ink. Still, his pastel “Cosmic Study” brings contemplative depth, suggesting how its simple subject, a night sky of stars, not only contains great energy, but also requires a developed skill in its rendering. The Bielaczycs maintain Aradani Studios in Nashville and they show regularly at cons in the capitol.

At Chattacon, featured guest artist John Picacio lit up the art show with his dynamic play of bright and dark tones applied to some magnificent projects, including reissues of Michael Moorcock’s significant “Elric of Melniboné” series. Picacio’s renderings of this melancholy sorcerer in both book covers and interior drawings exemplify an artist’s ambition to portray literary concepts at the imaginative frontier.

Among numerous other works, Picacio’s cover for Walter M. Miller Jr.’s post-apocalyptic science-fiction novel, “A Canticle for Liebowitz,” fairly shouts at the viewer. One of the genre’s most significant novels, this story is famous for the phrase “Twilight Zone” that lept off the page into the lexicon of sci-fi fans.

Chattanooga-area artist Kenneth Waters brought paintings to Chattacon as well, including “Kara” (acrylic) and “High Watch.” Joe Mueller’s “Bomber Girls” series featured pin-ups and bullet  holes.

Con Nooga

Feb. 17-19 Chattanooga Choo Choo

1400 Market St.


February 2, 2012

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