They say it takes a village to raise a child and while the Magic Art Show is perhaps most directly the child of Mike Linnemann, Ricardo Evangelho, Josh Krause, and Brian Scott Walters, it took a massive village of Magic community members to raise it to the lofty heights that it has achieved. The gallery is the largest collection of publicly accessible on-display original Magic art that has ever been assembled. It did not come together easily but after last night’s preview opening it has quickly become one of the highlights of Grand Pris Las Vegas.

Yesterday I was able to check out the show while they were getting ready to open and I caught up with Josh Krause of who was responsible for organizing the show’s successful Kickstarter campaign and was in the midst of hanging art while graciously agreeing to answer some questions about the show’s inception, assembly, and future. So how exactly did this come together?

“Mike has been throwing around this idea for years and years and years. We tried to make it happen at GP Seattle and it fell through, and a couple of GP Portlands after that all fell through. Finally, the announced GP Vegas and it was coming close to the 25th anniversary and he said we’re making it happen. We got Rico from Cardamajigs involved, we got Brian involved, we got me involved. We each brought our own set of skills to the project and it’s come together pretty well.”

Josh’s main focus was organizing the Kickstarter but he is also a major collector of Magic art himself. Though he wasn’t able to bring all of his pieces, as the means to safely transport his 30″x40″ stretched canvas artwork for Aurora Eidolon eluded him. Josh is one of more than 20 private collectors whose pieces are on display this weekend in the gallery.

Asked about the total size of the show, “It’s over a 100 [pieces total]…we had a few drop out at the last minute we had the new Nicol Bolas scheme by Zack Stella, he couldn’t fit it on the plan so he had to leave it behind. We have a lot of great art. Lucas Graciano just brought in his Insult to Injury panorama.” Additionally there are 54 different artists represented across all of the pieces in the gallery.

The gallery itself was curated in a way that was designed to highlight some of Magic’s most memorable worlds. Josh explained, “It’s organized by plane. You walk into Amonkhet and then you “planeswalk” into Mirrodin and then you into Ravnica, Innistrad and you’re back out.” One of the best walls in the show happens to be in Mirrodin where artwork for Skullclamp, Arcbound Ravager, and Disciple of the Vault share a space.

The artwork on display is a 50/50 mix of completed art and concept art. Some pieces are a mix, because they were painted in a non-digital medium but then completed using digital tools. Josh gives an example, “Voidslime over in Ravnica, Jim Murray did the vibrant greens digitally and so you’ll see they’re dark gray/green.”

The village that helped raise the Magic Art Show is not just the Kickstarter backers who helped raise the funds for the gallery. Several artists contributed much of their own art. Josh noted that Howard Lyon and Lucas Graciano both brought a few very impressive pieces. Also most of the art from Amonkhet is on loan from artists who already sold the pieces, but at the request of the gallery and with agreement from the buyers were able to hold onto the pieces to display here.

Artists and backers weren’t the only source of support. Channel Fireball helped secure the space and the security for the gallery while also securing booths for Josh and Rico to bring their businesses to the event. Wizards of the Coast was also very supportive of the event and helped arrange for art to be shipped to the venue.

Lastly, I asked Josh about the future of the Magic Art Show, “It’s a good first try. I hope we can take this idea and take it to new venues and new themes. We’d love to do something for the 25th Anniversary and find the right venue and the right theme.” Mike Linnemann echoed Josh’s sentiment when I ran into him later at the preview show. He agreed that it’s not a matter of “if” there will be another gallery but “when” and “where” it will take place.

Mike suggested coyly that his ideal show for the 25th anniversary would be a display of as much of the original artwork for Magic’s Alpha set as possible. This is a project he’s had going on for quite some time, and the scope of it would be more than double the size of the gallery here at GP Vegas. I told him I hope he can do it, because it would be quite the marvel.

For now, I’ll leave you with some of the community’s reactions of last night’s preview.

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