Plugging Various Artists from Portland's Ghosts of Summer!
It was literally only July 22nd, 2023 when I happened upon this single, small flier, tacked to a post by a collection of food carts I only rarely pass by. Had I not gone that particular route, that particular day, I would have never even found out that a Halloween CONVENTION
was scheduled just one more week from that fateful day, because I certainly never saw a single other advertisement for it anywhere, ever before or ever since, and this was even the convention's second year,
which means it came and went in 2022 without me ever hearing about it at all.
I feel like we need to have a few stern words with whoever's in charge of advertising this event, but I'm glad I at least caught it this year, and just in time to talk about it as 2023's first Halloween season post!
Held at the Oregon Convention Center, Ghosts of Summer
is a convention in every sense that usually entails. A modestly sized one, but one with music, games, events, panels, guests and vendors. Especially vendors! Most of the event was contained in two massive halls, one of them the darkened "SCARE ZONE" featuring a few miniature haunt displays, a movie screening tent, a bar, a stage for the live shows, a booth sized escape room, an axe throwing booth and an archery booth with various prizes. We didn't make much time to catch any events, but the Scare Zone was a cool place to explore with some atmospheric and more private areas to sit down and take a break.
The other huge indoor area was devoted entirely
to the vendors, and there were enough of them that a couple actually had to spill over into the Scare Zone. Only a couple of vendors sold any brand name items you could have found anywhere else, almost all of them consisting of independent local or visiting artists who either already had a Halloween-appropriate focus or made sure to bring only their gothfulest creations.
It unfortunately wasn't feasible for me to collect the social media links or good photos of everyone
, and if I had, this would become too ungainly of a post for most of you to even tolerate, but rather than just reviewing more of the convention itself, my focus for this article will be to promote every artist that I reasonably can, in no particular order, with the best of my hasty photos or an item I actually bought, where applicable:
Axa Vin makes all sorts of artwork, but especially painted on wooden cut-outs, and a lot of them are blacklight reactive; like this acid bottle!
There were a lot of different prints and stickers at this table, but I bought this tiny ghost using a mushroom for an umbrella.
There were a lot
of different things at this table, shared with another artist we'll get to shortly, but I thought you would most of all want to see this Reverse Mermaid Anglerfish and her husband.
Rose & Alder specializes in gothic crochet including many cute little knit ghosts, gothic rabbits and devils. Our favorite thing was this crocheted version of Wednesday Addams's headless doll.
Moody Scribbling had printed art as well as sculpted jewelry and accessories, including mushroom pins, but my only photo that came out was of these cute fabric ornaments. That's okay because they're very good.
Of all the many things by this artist, I felt a lot of you would appreciate the spider witch stickers.
Markerslinger shared a table with Scariyaki, and makes a wide variety of great stuff, but here's a sticker sheet with both Mothman and an Opabinia on it, for one.
I passed by this table twice before I noticed that the patterns on the hoodies and shirts were all stitched rather than printed.
Jackie seems to be an astoundingly
productive artist who's had entire gallery showings of her beautifully detailed work. These postcards of a cephalopod and crustacean woman, respectively, are also among the coolest I can show you without this page getting demonetized.
As the username implies, this artist works in more than 2-d mediums. I was just really drawn to that illustration of the leaf insect with the skull-like markings.
This guy said it was his first time selling his art, and since the convention hadn't even been open for an hour yet, I was supposedly the first person to ever buy anything from him when I bought this lovable sticker. As you can already see, he designs exactly my kind of creatures.
Soft, fluffy plushes with hard, sculpted skull faces! A cool niche I don't really see all that frequently.
Jean Lanenga makes what she calls "imperfect creatures;" stuffed entities with long, gangly limbs, weird skin patterns and delightfully minimalistic faces - usually just eyes! I couldn't resist showing at least two closeups.
Vanessa makes some beautiful, detailed watercolor paintings you should absolutely look at, but she was also giving away free coloring pages, like this Lepidopteran fairy.
My favorite thing by this artist was this completely one of a kind mummy candle holder, which she said she had the hardest time sculpting since she had to make and apply all those individual wrappings. The final effect is worth it!
It's not the only thing they make, but one thing made by (apparently) these two girls are these adorable little ghosts trapped (or perhaps just safely housed) in decorative cloches.
I bought one of those reflective moth person stickers. I wish I had this kind of digital painting talent, especially for fur!
Natalie actually gave me this Beta Wooper sticker when I couldn't get venmo to work right. I gave her one of my little bags of rubber bugs and an enamel pin, because that's something I was carrying around, but I feel I still owe her $2 for this Wooper.
In addition to prints and enamel pins, Melissa makes these awesome multi-layered, printed cut-out figures!
I've seen this artist's work at a year-round Portland store, too! All sorts of spooky ceramics, including body organ bowls, toxic waste mugs and strange creatures cobbled together from scrap.
Ira Pratt has been making original monster masks for many years with his own original technique, using baseball caps as a base to make these psychedelically colorful, snaggly-fanged monsters with articulated jaws!
This one takes a little explaining: artist, author and musician Oliver Owens had a table set up in the darkened Scare Zone, which wasn't the best place for clear photos of detailed artwork, but he showed me some of his in-progress comic series, Temple of Rot
, which is, if you're ready to hear something this "bogleech.com," is about a civilization of sentient bacteria that believe an ordinary fly is a god. The first volume is illustrated by Oliver's friend Amin, and while both are good artists with great design sensibilities, you'll especially want to follow Amin if you want to see more invertebrates, fungi and creeping things. Oliver himself illustrates the recently released part two, and every volume is meant to be accompanied by music courtesy his band
, but the specific tracks haven't been released yet at the time of this posting, so, you'll want to keep an eye on all that. It's obviously a masterpiece already.
Finally, we have the Unsettling Toys table. These folks don't make
the unsettling toys, but rescue
them! They take in broken dolls, decrepit plushes and forsaken puppets of all sorts, rehoming them complete with an adoption certificate!
adopted this mysterious "giraffe" made of woven straw, the only toy at this table with an "unknown story"
according to its tag. Who made this effigy? How long ago? It looks like it has longer, more antelope-like horns than a giraffe, and maybe it doesn't necessarily represent a giraffe at all, so Rev named it Kirin, because you have to pick a name for the adoption process!
On one final note, I mentioned there were just a couple of booths selling mass produced retail items. Thanks to one of those, I finally found one of these little latex eyeball guys, designed to clip onto your shoulder! I reviewed this product line a few years ago, and at the time, I was disappointed that I couldn't find this one for sale anywhere.
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