Fans of science fiction, fantasy, and everything in between no longer have to wait until the annual local conventions to view or purchase geeky art.
Allan Gilbreath has opened a new geek-themed art gallery at 546 South Main in the South Main Arts District. IONS Geek Gallery celebrated its soft opening on May 16th, but the opening celebration will continue until the South Main Trolley Night on May 29th, the official grand opening.
Gilbreath is one of the hosts of Geek Tank on WREC 600-AM and a managing editor at fantasy and science fiction publisher Dark Oak Press. He's heavily involved in the local theme convention scene. He assists with MidSouthCon and Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention yearly, and he will be hosting the Memphis Comic Convention this August. Convention organizers have been encouraging the development of IONS due to the limited local venues for geeky art.
"At the conventions, you get to run into a lot of writers, artists, sculptors, and actors," Gilbreath said. "Basically, the only place you can find true contemporary art is at these conventions. So people who like elves, fairies, and dwarves are stuck with low-quality posters and calendars, or you happen to know the convention circuit and you can go meet [artists] like Dean Zackary or Mitch Foust."
The issue with this, according to Gilbreath, is that once a convention is over, the featured artists take their creations and leave, and collectors don't have another chance to purchase the artists' works until the next yearly convention. Now, he said, there will be a place for contemporary artists to show their work throughout the year.
"Memphis has had a science fiction convention in [town] for more than 30 years," Gilbreath said. "And most people don't know that. Memphis actually now has five or six genre conventions, and most people don't know that [either]. So, we were like, 'Well, perhaps it's time to bring this to the brick-and-mortar world.'"
When it came to finding a place to open the new gallery, Gilbreath and his team looked at Broad Avenue and Overton Square before settling down in the South Main district in a building constructed in 1910.
"The people we met down on South Main were probably the biggest cheerleaders of getting our type of facility down there. We had such a tremendous response from [people] in the downtown area. We received a lot of positive feedback and affirmations. This isn't your everyday artwork that you see at the mall."
As time goes on, Gilbreath hopes to host art signings and meet-and-greets with artists. During Trolley Night on May 29th, artists Mitch Foust, Dean Zachary, Kimberly Richardson, and Jim Hall will be at the gallery and sign their work.