Jess vs. Imaginative Realism

Story book characters that come (nearly) to life. Fantastic beasts found mostly in video games. Sirens calling straight from the pages of comics. Fantasy and sci-fi currently are dueling it out for pop culture domination, and right now, you can visit a small slice of the battleground at the Canton Museum of Art.

Story book characters that come (nearly) to life. Fantastic beasts found mostly in video games. Sirens calling straight from the pages of comics. Fantasy and sci-fi currently are dueling it out for pop culture domination, and right now, you can visit a small slice of the battleground at the Canton Museum of Art.

The current exhibit, Dream Worlds: The Art of Imaginative Realism, open now through March 12, is guest curated by Canton native, Chris Seaman, an award-winning artist-illustrator in his own right. He has assembled other such artists from around the country (and a surprising number from right here in Northeast Ohio) who play a pivotal role in the art of cinema, television, print, gaming and more.

Described as a melding of fine and commercial art, the exhibit also answers a question that is all too familiar to the art student: “How will you ever make money as an artist?”

These successful artists have worked with Marvel and DC, LucasArts and Hasbro. Their work has graced the pages of books, comics and magazines. They’ve won awards, created commissions and hung in galleries. Now they are artfully hung in a world-class museum (so there, you career-nagging cubicle pushers).

What is most interesting to this visitor, and perhaps the most intriguing aspect of art of this ilk in general, is not how they do it from a technical standpoint, but rather how they create things that don’t exist in this world, seemingly out of the thin air of imagination.

In other words, these artists must not only be technically proficient in their crafts, but imaginatively proficient as well. And indeed they are. The 20 “double threats” whose work is included in Dream Worlds use the same precision and detail demanded of fine artists but cannot draw on memory or real-life recollection as their more traditional counterparts.

And thus the CMA has done it again, curated an exhibit of art that helps you understand why the artist picks up his brush, art that makes you want to become an artist yourself.

Kudos to the museum staff for celebrating exceptional if unusual work. It’s a breath of fresh dragon fire to see something so delightfully unconventional in our museum.

More, please.

For more information, including hours and special events, call 330-453-7666 or visit cantonart.org.

Editor’s note: Love the exhibit and looking for more than a primer to Imaginative Realism? Visit IKON Images: The Illustration Gallery in downtown Canton. Owned by Rhonda Seaman (Chris Seaman’s mother!), you can further expand your education in this artistic movement and even take some exquisite work home to your own gallery.