Mother Falcon Strikes Back
8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12,
at Mother Falcon
817 E. Washington St.
The original version of this story incorrectly indicated that there was only one female artist exhibiting in this show. The story has been revised to correct the error.
This year Orlando is the host city for Star Wars Celebration V, the official Lucasfilm convention last held in 2008 in Tokyo. As many as 30,000 fans from around the world are expected to attend the four-day event, which starts Thursday, Aug. 12, at the Orange County Convention Center. Meanwhile, in the heart of downtown, the owners of Mother Falcon clothing, John and Melissa Felcman, have plans for their own Star Wars tribute on Thursday. They're organizing an art show in honor of the 30th anniversary of the release of The Empire Strikes Back — "arguably the best movie ever made," says John Felcman, a die-hard Star Wars devotee.
The couple made plans months ago to clear out their Thornton Park T-shirt boutique and throw an unofficial convention kick-off party. At the center of the festivities is the Mother Falcon Strikes Back exhibit of original 12-by-12-inch art works created by 30 locals who were invited to get down with the Imperial mission.
While the event can't promise the possible thrill of a personal brush with Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher (both of whom will be on hand at the convention center), it does feature some clever artwork, such as Pat Fatica's acrylic painting of Yoda, titled "You Would Destroy All for Which They Have Fought and Suffered." Fatica's verdant green Jedi Grand Master bears expressive liquid eyes — common in Fatica's alienlike portraits — that peer out of his wrinkled, leathery face, framed by his pointed elfin ears. Fatica also contributed the one Princess Leia piece in the show, "A Saber Takes Labor but a Blaster Is Faster," which the Felcmans didn't want to unveil in advance of the show.
Brice Stephens captures the likeness of a friendly, fluffy tauntaun, a camel-like animal native to the icy planet of Hoth. Per his established technique, Stephens paints on windows "backward," applying the last layers first. In this case, he started with black ink to outline the tauntaun, then added layers of acrylic paint. The fictional animal appears in the opening scene of The Empire Strikes Back, in which Han Solo finds Luke freezing in the snow and slices open his tauntaun so they can crawl inside to stay warm.
The furry Chewbacca gets a hipster update in Scott Donald's scratchboard, "Chewie Loves Prog Rock." The black-and-white finds a laid-back Wookiee wearing a pair of earphones and looking cool enough to hang out behind a DJ deck. Gianelle Gelpi weaves pinks and other pastel shades into her acrylic-on-canvas "Chewie," which shows a kinder, gentler warrior twisting his mouth into a seductive Elvis sneer.
The dangerous Boba Fett looks colorfully tribal in Charles Marklin's rendering of the bounty hunter in a red-hued helmet. Bad-guy Fett is one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars universe. In a different attack, Danny Haas used a nostalgic graphic-style to create a commemorative 30th-anniversary film poster; Fett is the dominant image, rocketing upward at an angle, while Solo's Millennium Falcon and Luke Skywalker's X-Wing are keeping pace in a symmetrical position behind him. John Felcman says the character looms large in the legend, if for no other reason than he ended up outsmarting Han Solo, "and that's the best thing, if you are a true fan."
Andrew Spear also created two intricate pieces for the show, including a heavily detailed graphite drawing titled "Probe Droid." In the ESB film, the probe droids are sent to Hoth to flush out the rebels' location and the battle begins. Spear's other work, "Warhol Was Wrong IG-88 & Bossk Celebrating 30 Years," remembers the two bounty hunters who had barely 10 seconds of screen time but developed a cult following for their badass ways.
Other participating artists include Horsebites, who drew a rebel soldier in graphite and color pencil on a circular slice of wood, for a rustic feel. Don Grace III went for something a little more lighthearted with "R2-TA-2," which pictures Chewie getting a tattoo by C-3PO; take note of the small set of flash in the upper-right corner, revealing 13 detailed designs. Other artists who contributed to the show include Eric Althin, Tobar Rodriguez, Dres13, Socky Chop, Brandon McLean and Nyahzul.
The commemorative event is not just about visual art, though. The local Manteis Project will be set up inside to play music directly from The Empire Strikes Back film, as well as the band's own electronic tunes that fuse live instrumentation and evoke the world of Star Wars. The "cantina" will take over the shop's back parking lot; costume dress is encouraged; a free photo booth can provide a memento; and there will be surprises. Also, all the art works are for sale or can be added to a T-shirt. Street parking for the event might be a problem: the Felcmans already have 300 RSVPs for the firstname.lastname@example.org