Good morning all and welcome back to the Mirror Gallery here on Hipsters of the Coast! It’s the eve of release for Dominaria Remastered, and although this set was previewed in its entirety in 2022 beginning as far back as August, it officially releases at your LGS tomorrow! It brings together 27 sets across 30 years of gameplay, blended into a singular draft experience with no shortage of incredible new artwork and reimagined favorites from across Magic’s history. I thought about trying something different for this article like I’ve done with other “masters” sets, but being the very beginning of the year, I landed on a good old fashioned Grand Art Tour to look at some of the very best.

If you’re new to the Grand Art Tour series, it’s my review column begun back in 2019 and inspired by New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz’s 2010 article entitled A Grand Tour. It has since become the vehicle for me to highlight my favorite paintings from each major set release, and showcase through a critical eye those works that stand apart and best tell the story of the game. I want to tell you why I think they’re important, and highlight elements you can’t see just by looking at the cards.

Many previous Grand Art Tours focus on a theme, from supreme storytelling, to technical prowess, and the works that follow are the best of the best in both categories from DMR. The 99 new pieces of art in this set are so strong I’ve forced myself to distill down to a single work in each color. It’s the first time I’ve ever done that, but extraordinary catalogs call for something a bit different. This is the Dominaria Remastered Grand Art Tour.

White: Serra Avatar by Victor Adame Minguez

Serra Avatar by Victor Adame Minguez, oils and acrylic on board, 16” x 20”

It’s not every year one of what will be a Top 5 artwork hits in the first set, but I think that’s exactly what we see when looking at Minguez’s latest creation, Serra Avatar, and the title artwork for this article. We see the Avatar of the planeswalker Serra as it’s being dressed for battle, larger than life, lumbering through the clouds and onward to what lies forth. It’s a fabulous story told in miniature, with twenty tiny angels (for the 20 power and toughness) woven with immaculate detail, with absolutely no loss to legibility. Minguez’s value control is second to none, and remember, he’s partially colorblind. I simply can’t say enough good things about this painting.

Blue: Time Stretch by Dominik Mayer

Time Stretch by Dominik Mayer. Digital.

Dominik Mayer’s style is unmistakable from across the table, and his sole card in Time Stretch seeks to tell the story of the age-old Tolarian Academy and its storied history on Dominaria. Mayer has created both literal and figurative lenses into the events of the school through the years, most of them destructive, but each incredibly important to its overall legacy. It’s a legible narrative come alive in the abstract, something he’s become known for in his work for the game, and will live on as another chapter in the history of Tolaria.

Black: Vampiric Tutor by Richard Kane Ferguson

Vampiric Tutor by Richard Kane Ferguson. Traditional.

I could have probably done an entire article on this new Tutor Series by Richard Kane Ferguson, but the Borderless Vampiric Tutor is my favorite of the four. We are told a clear story of what appears to be a quest for power and happen upon the figure at the precise moment of the deep breath before the plunge. Will the mage take the orb? Will something happen before? Or after? Whatever happens RKF gives us one delicious tale in his signature style, and we know that once this is resolved, whether within the artwork or within the game, things will change forever.

Red: Slice and Dice by Jeremy Wilson

Slice and Dice by Jeremy Wilson. Traditional

Tahngarth, the minotaur hero of Talruum and first mate aboard the legendary Skyship Weatherlight, is seen simply doing what he does best: slicin’, and dicin’! One of the best warriors across the entire plane of Dominaria, Wilson has employed all the things that he does best to project the hero as we’ve never seen him before, from that blood red background to the unparalleled command of negative space. It’s a most striking first new art for Slice and Dice in nearly twenty years.

Green: Nature’s Lore by Julie Dillon

Nature’s Lore by Julie Dillon. Digital

I have absolutely fallen in love with Julie Dillon’s work since she rejoined Magic last year during Streets of New Capenna. In Nature’s Lore a simple story is conjured with creative composition, captured in a limited palette both fitting of the card and all that its color stands for. She is very quietly leaving an exceptional mark on the game as she continues to illustrate these cards that will see considerable play, and is an artist I’ll be watching particularly closely this year for what she might do next.

Multicolor: Decimate by Drew Tucker

Decimate by Drew Tucker. Traditional.

How do you capture the raw energy of a red and green spell? A dragon, an explosion, and the big brush strokes of the one and only Drew Tucker, of course! The damage and destruction of this color combo is not often represented in such a stylized way, but Tucker is able to harness the essence of that chaotic energy and funnel it into a story that is fully realized. I’m fortunate to get to see his work in-person almost every year now, and can only hope this will be one of them. Decimate, indeed

Artifact: Legacy Weapon by Ryan Pancoast

Legacy Weapon by Ryan Pancoast, oil on canvas, 18” x 24”

We know Pancoast’s work, especially from the last few years, by his legendary creatures. He’s very much responsible for depicting some of the most important characters in the current Magic story, but this piece, tasked by Art Director Zack Stella, required more than one central focus. The Legacy Weapon was different, and Pancoast would create a blend of history and nostalgia the likes we’ve never seen before:

A Visual Guide to Legacy Weapon by Ryan Pancoast 1. Power Matrix 2. Touchstone 3. Thran Tome 4. Mind Stone 5. Bones of Ramos 6. Skyshaper 7. Karn 8. Weatherlight 9. Mightstone/Weakstone 10.Hourglass pendant 11. Gerrard 12. Null Rod 13. Thran Forge 14.Thran Turbine 15. Chimeric Sphere 16. Squee’s Toy 17. Juju Bubble

He’s incorporated all the pieces of the Legacy Weapon into one coherent and legible masterwork, plain and simple. Many of us grew up with John Avon’s Legacy Weapon, and this new Pancoast painting pays homage while calling forth something beautifully fitting for Magic’s 30th anniversary and the story in which we’re about to embark.

Land: Maze of Ith by Mark Tedin

Maze of Ith by Mark Tedin, acrylic gouache on card stock paper affixed to hardboard. 11” x 14”

One of the game’s first twenty five illustrators, Mark Tedin has found a regular role within the master sets reimagining some of the most important cards in the game’s history. That duty was tapped again for the Maze of Ith, a new perspective on undulating maze of the High Arcanist. The pathways and passages reach skyward toward the moon, allowing no hints as to its beginning or end, and I love when an artwork fills the frame entirely and uses it’s boundaries as a part of the design.

Wrapping Up

I won’t always be able to do these Grand Art Tours delineated by color, but I found it useful, both for brevity and forcing me to hone my eye: I want to like everything, but looking closer often reveals more new and exciting things, and by writing less for each entry, I’m forced to get to the crux of what makes each work sing. Hopefully both of those have come across; it’s something I’ll be striving for in 2023.

Looking forward, I’ve got Part II of my Secret Layers of Secret Lair covering the Astrology Basic Lands, and then we heard straight into the depths of New Phyrexia for the month of February. Also, a quick reminder that the show I guest curated, Magic: The Gathering in Miniature, opens up at Gallery Nucleus in just a week! Check out the previews and jump into their Patreon for earliest access.

Remember, to see original #mtgart and other #vorthos related things, follow me on Twitter ( Feel free to ask questions or retweet to continue the conversation. Thanks and see you next time!

Donny Caltrider (he/him) is a Senior Writer at Hipsters of Coast writing about all things related to the art of Magic: The Gathering and the larger imaginative realism genre. He has an M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and enjoys telling stories about art, objects, and the intersection of fantasy with real-life. When he’s not writing for Hipsters or working with artists, you can find him traveling with his wife, petting his two cats, and watching the Baltimore Orioles.

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