This June, revel in the enchanted world of magic, discover the Mystic Realm, and share a family’s passionate love of fantasy art. A special installation created with an eclectic collection of sci-fi and fantasy inspired mixed-media objects will be on view at Lebanon Picture Frame and Fine Art Gallery. This wondrous and magical event will commence with an Artists’ Reception on June 7, from 5-8 PM, as part of the First Friday Art Walk in Downtown Lebanon.
Cynthia Hardwicke, along with her son Justin Pettingell and nephew Zack Rudy, form the Mystic Realm Studios, an art collaborative based in Mechanicsburg, PA. Each of the artists are heavily inspired by the fantasy and sci-fi genres. Even though they collaborated as a family to bring their collective fantasy world to life, each artist provides a unique vision and contribution. “Our biggest strength that we have in common is our ability to joyfully brainstorm and problem-solve with the uniqueness that each new exhibit or installation brings us,” remarked Hardwicke, an art educator for over 30 years. Hardwicke moved around for much of her childhood and found refuge in her love of fantasy novels. Her art is especially influenced by the English illustrator Arthur Rackham and her love of the natural world. For this particular exhibit, Hardwicke has crafted a series of “Mini Enchantments” in the form of portable shadow boxes in bas relief dioramas, which will allow the viewers to take a piece of the Mystic Realm home with them. “We want the viewer to feel as though they can become tiny and walk around in our fantasy worlds,” she said.
Growing up with artistic parents, Pettingell learned from a young age that any common object could be used for an artistic purpose. He uses many found and recycled materials to build his installations. Even though he always had a tremendous interest in glass art, Pettingell did not start making art until well into his adulthood when he helped his mother build their studio, which included the opportunity to incorporate a glass workshop. “As soon as the torches were turned on, I was hooked,” said Pettingell. He also has an appreciation for the unpredictability of the creative process, “Many of my creatures began or were completed by modifying a piece of art that went wrong somewhere. This is one of my favorite things about art. It is completely unpredictable.” Pettingell and his cousin, Rudy, both cited influence from classic sci-fi movies, graphic novels and fantasy illustrators such as H. R. Giger and Brian Froud. Rudy, a self-declared “jack of all trades,” brought a great deal of passion and energy into the collective. Rudy has dabbled in nearly all forms of art and design and excelled in ceramics and modeling clay. To him, making art is instinctual and personal. Rudy also has his own perspective on the creative process, he remarked, “true mastery of art I feel is unattainable by any artist, but we can still strive for perfection, and come very close.”