The Representational Art Conference (TRAC) 2015

Readers of American Arts Quarterly are invited to attend The Representational Art Conference (TRAC2015), scheduled for November 1–4, 2015. This event, to be held in a hotel facing the Pacific Ocean in Ventura Beach, California, will once again be organized by an energetic team at California Lutheran University, led by studio art faculty members Michael Pearce and Michael Lynn Adams. This duo created the conference in 2012 in order to bring kindred spirits together to discuss the aesthetic principles and values implicit in representational art of the twenty-first century. Rather than seeking to establish a single, monolithic aesthetic, however, TRAC offers participants a platform where they can identify commonalities, understand the unique possibilities of representational art and provide some illumination about future directions.

TRAC launched in October 2012 and went so well that a second gathering was held in March 2014. The third edition will occur this November, once again targeting registrants from around the world: academic and professional studio artists, collectors, critics, philosophers, art historians, students, gallery and museum professionals and amateur art lovers. Because the event is mounted by a university, its organizers are serious about publishing the papers presented there, and now anyone can purchase (via Amazon) the proceedings, edited by Michael Pearce from TRAC2012 (The Real Snake) and TRAC2014 (Kitsch & Beauty).

I participated in last March’s event, which featured an array of stimulating presentations. Among the keynoters were the philosopher and Oxford University professor Roger Scruton and the Seattle-based painter, author and atelier founder Juliette Aristides. A particular highlight was the lively discussion on art, kitsch and beauty pursued by Professor Scruton and the Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum. Other presenters included the artists Steven DaLuz, John Seed and Ruth Weisberg, and the museum director Michael Zakian, while demonstrations were offered by artists Virgil Elliott, Pam Hawkes, Jeremy Lipking, Graydon Parrish, Stephen Perkins, Tony Pro and Alexey Steele.

At our press time, the specific presenters for TRAC2015 had not yet been finalized, but we know that the theme will be “Rock Solid: Finding the Aesthetic Foundations of Contemporary Representational Art.” In their call for submissions, the organizers have posed questions that seek to uncover the roots and principles of representation in this post-postmodern era, specifically: “What are its guiding principles?” and “Are there aesthetic themes that connect works of representational art?”

Already confirmed for TRAC2015 are the keynote speakers Elliot Bostwick Davis (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), the sculptor Richard MacDonald, Fred Ross (Art Renewal Center) and the British neurobiologist Samir Zeki. The featured speakers and panelists include Candice Bohannon, Joseph Bravo, Greg Escalante, Peter Frank, F. Scott Hess, David Molesky, Julio Reyes, Alexey Steele and Ruth Weisberg. Among the demonstration artists will be David Jon Kassan, Jeremy Lipking, Nan Liu, Alicia Ponzio, Tony Pro, Mario A. Robinson and Lea Colie Wright.

Not all of the activities occur in the conference hotel. The registrants— expected to number approximately four hundred in total—will also enjoy off-site excursions to California Lutheran University’s Kwan Fong Gallery and William Rolland Gallery, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oxnard and the Museum of Ventura County nearby. For details, visit

—Peter Trippi

 American Arts Quarterly, Summer 2015, Volume 34, Number 3