The Spectrum Muse–Pictures and Story Behind The New Redesigned Spectrum Award

The new Spectrum gold (left), grand master (center) and silver (right) awards are made of bronze and 15 inches tall on a marble base.


Spectrum Fantast Art announces the new redesigned Spectrum award unveiled at the Spectrum 22 awards ceremony on March 23, 2015 at the historic Folly theater in Kansas City, Missouri. The new awards are designed by Colin and Kristine Poole.

Spectrum-Awards-003The Silver Awards are bronze with a silver nitrate patina. This creates the luster of silver while still being decidedly a bronze. The flame of creation is cast in sterling silver.

The Gold Awards are bronze with a golden patina. The flame of creation is sterling silver gilded in 24K gold.

Around the base of the sculpture, inscribed text alludes to ancient cuneiform writing pressed into clay tablets and features the artists’ invocation to the Muse: ‘Sing within me Muse, Dwell in my imagination, Inspire me to bring forth my creations.’

Spectrum Grand Master Award


Spectrum Grand Master Award
Spectrum Grand Master Award

The Grand Master Award has to be distinctive, so the sculpture has additional embellishments that are iconic to the body of the work of this year’s recipient–a nod to their unique brilliance.

All of the bronzes have a polished black marble base.

When the new director, John Fleskes, assumed his role with Spectrum 21, he began to lay the foundation to create an entirely redesigned award to further serve as an encouragement through the form of respect and support to the artists whose work is selected by the Spectrum jury for special recognition.

There is significance in both being nominated and in winning a Spectrum award. It serves as a recognition of achievement that is made even more significant when it comes from a jury of their peers. When it comes to peer awards—artists to artists—there’s a purity that adds meaning to the honor. The Spectrum award is not something that can be won; they’re earned.

“The Spectrum awards have always been about providing the artists with an award that they could call their own,” explains John Fleskes. “I wanted to hand out an award that people would hold and say, ‘this is too nice to be an award!'” With that goal in mind, Fleskes was on a secret quest during the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live event in 2013 to find the perfect person to make the award. “I walked the floor and spent a significant amount of time at each of the sculptures booth to get to know the creators and get a close look at their beautiful works. Once the show was over I had seven people in mind who I knew would do an amazing job–and they had no idea! A month later, after consulting with Arnie and Cathy Fenner, we made our choice.

“The work of Colin and Kristine Poole immediately made an impression on me. The combination of sophistication, elegance, with a fine art flavor and touch upon the fantasy element made me feel confident that they would create something of a timeless and graceful nature. Plus, we had a few conversations during the show which gave me the assurance that they would be fun to work with. I wrote Colin and Kristine to inquire if they had the interest in taking on this monumental task. To my delight they were enthusiastic. They ended up pouring a tremendous amount of energy into every facet of the task for almost a year.”

“When John approached us about creating a new award for Spectrum, our answer was an unhesitating ‘not only yes, but hell yes!'” share Colin and Kristine Poole. “We’d be honored, delighted, thrilled and flat-out tickled pink!” For the Poole’s, having the opportunity to create an award that acknowledges the talent, imagination and creativity of the best of the best in fantastic art is nothing short of a dream.

“Within moments, a myriad of concepts raced around in our minds,” recalls the Poole’s. “One thing was certain, we knew from the start that we were going to go all-out with this. It had to be a bronze sculpture – after all, this is Spectrum! We’re sure if adamantium had been an option, we would’ve pushed for that!”

Fleskes gave the Poole’s carte-blanche to come up with a concept and design. “My style of art direction is very hands off,” explains Fleskes. “We began with extended discussions as we brainstorm topics and ideas to get the ‘feel’ of what we wanted. Then I turned them loose knowing that the outcome will be superior. It’s an exciting and invigorating process. I had no idea what the Poole’s would come up with, but I knew that the award would be superior. I was never concerned.”

After a series of emails and phone calls with Fleskes, the Poole’s had enough information and freedom to focus on the task at hand. A concept was born within a few weeks. “We often hear of the ‘Artist’s Muse,'” begins the Poole’s. “Of the nine muses in ancient Greek mythology, there actually wasn’t a muse for the visual arts–in those times, painters and sculptors were considered merely technicians who copied nature. Given the incredible range of imagination and creativity demonstrated by artists in this field, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to create the Muse of Creation to reward their achievements.

“We submitted three mockups showing the evolution of ideas we had for the Spectrum Award. From these three different possible directions, the final choice was unanimous between John, Cathy and Arnie.

Spectrum-Awards-002“In this version, the Muse is portrayed as a classic, French-style sculpture, an elegant presence you might find on a monument in Paris – quiet, simple and direct.  She is wearing an elaborate horned headdress which can be seen either as ornamentation or as part of her being. In this rendering, the Muse is enchanted by the artist’s creation and is herself presenting an award to the artist. In her outstretched hand is the ‘flame of creation’–a three-dimensional adaptation of the Flesk Publications logo.

“Creating 17 bronzes on this scale for much less than the typical foundry bid provided us with a bit of a challenge from the beginning. The uniqueness of these awards with the combination of materials would have been cost prohibitive to hire out, but we felt it was important to have these awards be different from all others. We began problem-solving with our typical ‘jump and then figure out how to sprout wings’ approach.

“We have both worked in bronze foundries and have cast our own work start to finish–including molding, wax pouring and chasing, investing with ceramic shell, pouring the actual bronze, de-vesting and chasing the bronze and patination. Kristine’s experience with silver casting also came into play as the Muse progressed. This background in bronze and silver casting processes proved critical as we were able to take on parts of the production that were too expensive to hire others to do, parceling out the mold making and the welding/patinas to the best in their fields in Santa Fe.

“This has been an adventure–not the Bilbo Baggins type (although at times it has seemed like Orks were at the door), but more akin to Iain McCaig’s ‘Shadowline’ creatures flooding our lives and keeping us awake through the night juggling persistent and inflexible deadlines, to allow the other participants in the process the time they required to complete their parts.

“As we write this, our studio is a beehive of activity as we are in the final all-out push with the award ceremony just around the corner–our excitement grows day by day.

“One of the great things about the entire process was experiencing people’s enthusiasm to be part of the project. More often than not, when we told people about Spectrum and the award, they were more than generous with their time, expertise and facilities. An example of the typical scenario we encountered was when we approached an engraver to produce the nameplates on a tight schedule, he responded with ‘there is no way I’m not going to be part of this! Whatever you need, I’ll make it work.’ He, like so many others, was ready to dive into a challenging time frame and work with us to make all the parts come together. Throughout the entire process, John has been exceptionally supportive and encouraging–and frankly a delight to work with. We would like to express our immense gratitude to all of these people who jumped in to help and in particular, special thanks to Brad Neighbor, Chris Gugelman, Mike Massey, and Diane Tintor.”

“Beyond the recognition of individual achievement, the awards—the iconic trophy, the ceremonies, the traditions—are a celebration of us all, of the art community as a whole,” adds Spectrum founders Cathy and Arnie Fenner. “The more attention that is attained for what we do the better it is for everyone and awards—and the electricity and excitement of presentation ceremonies—are invaluable ways to grow the public’s awareness and (hopefully) appreciation of who we are. They’re educational moments.

“That was the motivation behind the Spectrum Awards ceremony as part of Spectrum Fantastic Art Live. It would have been infinitely easier—and cheaper—to give the awards out in a hotel ballroom or in the convention center, but…where’s the fun in that? Artists and their works affect our lives every day in an infinite number of ways so it only seems right that for at least one night of the year there’s a spotlight on the art community with a gala in a real theater with all the trappings.”

The Spectrum 22 awards were presented on May 23 at the historic Folly Theater in Kansas City during Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 4. You can see all of the award winners for each category here.


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