NecronomiCon 2017 Report

Once again, I am absolutely thrilled to have attended and participated in NecronomiCon Providence. The folks at the Lovecraft Arts and Sciences Council once more put on a grand event with a broad array of programming and guests.

Wednesday the 16th

Since Portland, Oregon to Providence, Rhode Island is a long haul even by plane, we woke up at 3am in order to get to the airport on time. (Confession, I’m not sure I got more than an hour of sleep before 3am.) This day essentially consisted of travel, napping, checking in to the hotel, unpacking/prepping to set up my table, and eating delicious hamburgers at Harry’s Bar and Burger.

Thursday the 17th

The official start of NecronomiCon, with registration and vendor set-up both starting at noon. We got right to work in order to finish up in time to attend the opening ceremony at the First Baptist Church followed by the art show reception at the Woods-Gerry Gallery. Set-up was thankfully uncomplicated since I had made an effort to plan a display that could be packed in our luggage. The most complex part of the job was assembling my standing print rack, which was only complicated because it had been quite some time since I last assembled it.

Richard Stanley, Fufu Frauenwahl, Cody Goodfellow, Liv Rainey-Smith

Once everything was in order, we headed back to the Biltmore to get cleaned up, and came upon Richard Stanley, Fufu Frauenwahl, and Cody Goodfellow, which is a wonderful mix of talented human beings to happen upon. Not long after we ended up crossing paths with Ellen Datlow on the walk to the First Baptist Church in America. We all ended up being slightly late to the ceremony due to the vagaries of traffic, and sadly missed a bit of Gigi Mitchell-Velasco’s organ performance, but we didn’t miss out on the opening remarks or invocation from poet laureate Donald Sidney-Fryer. The opening closed at a little after 6pm, at which point we made the uphill trek to the Woods-Gerry Gallery and the opening reception of Ars Necronomica: Wonders of the Visible Weird.

Scott Nicolay, Anya Martin, Liv Rainey-Smith

That reception was the highlight of the convention for me. The gallery was just perfect for the show, and I was awed by the quality of the work. I feel this was the best Ars Necronomica show to date, and I’ve participated in the show every year, so I’m not just saying that because I was in this year. (For a better look at the show, check out these photos posted by RISD.) The opening reception was very well attended and I was thrilled to run into fellow artists Jeanne D’Angelo, Michael Bukowski, Fufu Frauenwahl, Nick Gucker, Skinner, Gage Prentiss, Sara Bardi, Drew Meger, Kurt Komoda…and I’m probably forgetting a bunch of people because it was wonderfully overwhelming. I was also happy to run into a few writer friends at the opening, Scott Nicolay, Anya Martin, and Michael Cisco. One of my two artworks in the show, Liber Ivonis, was made for Michael Cisco’s story by the same name. It was a great pleasure to get to talk to him about the piece, though I was saddened to learn that the print I sent him several weeks ago has gone astray. I’m contemplating printing a small edition of the Liber Ivonis block just so I can replace the lost one.

Discussing Liber Ivonis with Michael Cisco

We left the art reception a little early in order to make it to the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society live radio play, The Haunter of the Dark. If you’re not familiar with the HPLHS, they produce Lovecraft inspired radio plays, films, clothing, and props. They are excellent at mimicking historic styles and their adaptations of Lovecraft’s stories are quite well done. I always make an effort to see their live performances and not just for the stickers in my lifetime membership book!

HPLHS Passport

Friday

The vendor’s rooms opened at 10am and to our very pleasant surprise, became busy rather quickly. We’d been a bit worried since there ended up being two separate vending rooms, one upstairs, and a larger one downstairs. My table was upstairs, and I quickly learned that if I asked someone “Have you been to the downstairs vending room yet?” the answer was often “There’s a downstairs too?!” Thankfully, it turned out some of my friends vending downstairs (particularly Nick Gucker and Arkham Bazaar) were also pointing folks upstairs. Both rooms had excellent mixes of publishers, artists, and dealers of all things weird fiction, so I can honestly say I don’t think either room was “better”.

The Silver Key here is by Gage Prentiss, the sculptor working on the H.P. Lovecraft Providence Statue Project. This key is cast bronze with silver plating, and is quite substantial! Additionally, Gage told me he customizes the wax before casting each key, so no two are exactly alike.

Aside from spending a bit of time exploring the vending areas and chatting with friends I ran into, selling art kept me busy until vending close at 6pm. We had just enough time to grab some dinner with friends before hitting the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s 2nd live radio play, The Brotherhood of the Beast. Afterwards, we encountered a perennial problem at the Biltmore, too many people and not enough elevators. Once we finally made it up to the 14th floor, we encountered a new problem. All of the keycards had quit working. Someone clearly performed an arcane ritual incorrectly because the problem was hotel-wide. Thankfully our floor had been “fixed” so I just had to go back down to the lobby for new cards. A few unlucky souls had to have bellhops let them into their rooms with a master key multiple times throughout their stay.

Vending photo ©2017 Todd Chicione

Saturday

Another full day of vending, which thankfully wasn’t difficult because I was able to trade off table duties with my husband Mike. I left around 2:30 to grab a little lunch, and make my way up to the Biltmore Grand Ballroom for the Established Artists of the Weird panel. The panel was expertly moderated by Dave Felton and featured artist guest of honor, John Jude Palencar, Bob Eggleton, Steve Gervais, Lauren Panepinto, Rick Sardhinha, and me. We each spoke a bit about the work we’ve done and our experience in the realm of Weird. The conversation put a lot of focus on the experience of working professionally, and how technology has changed the way we work. I personally was quite happy to have Panepinto with us since she’s an experienced art director and designer, which gives her a different perspective from working artists. I’d love to start seeing more art directors on professional art panels because they’ve got solid advice for aspiring artists.

©2017 Todd Chicoine

Sunday

We got up extra early in order to attend the Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast, featuring Cody Goodfellow, Anthony Teth, Scott R. Jones. Each preached their own particular flavor of mythos religion, the Esoteric Order of Dagon, the sylvan ways of Shub-Niggurath, and of course, good old fashioned Cthulhu worship! All this was backed by a choir led by Darrell Schweitzer with musical accompaniment by Faye Ringel. It was good fun and well worth a little bit of sleep debt.

Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast ©2017 Todd Chicione

Vending was from 11-4 since this was the last day of NecronomiCon. Towards the end of the day staff came around with a case of Narragansett’s Lovecraft themed beer, The Temple,  for each vendor. I sampled some during the art reception on Friday, and found it delicious, so I’d have gladly taken the case, but there was no way we’d be able to fly home with it, or drink it before flying out on Monday, so we had to pass. Happily I later learned that the remaining beer was being divvied out to the volunteers, without whom the event could not have happened.

After tear-down we met up with friends for dinner, and then called it a night so we could get properly packed for our flight home. I’m happy to say our bags were a lot lighter, even with the addition of books, art, and other miscellaneous purchases and trades we’d made throughout the weekend.

Monday
Our flight wasn’t until the afternoon so we checked out, checked our bags with the concierge, and walked a bit of the city. I finally got to visit the Athenaeum, and the bronze bust of H.P. Lovecraft, created by Bryan Moore.

Our journey home was uneventful, and a great opportunity to read most of the way through the excellent Looming Low anthology I picked up from Dim Shores.

If you’re a fan of the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and Weird Fiction in general, I highly recommend a visit to NecronomiCon 2019. I’ve left so much out of this write-up, not because it wasn’t worthwhile, but because it was such an intensely busy and fun weekend. I’m honored to have been a part of it and hope to participate again in 2019.