Friday, February 02, 2007

Highly interesting fantasy artist -- and local!

I see in today's Times-News that works by fantasy artist James Odbert, a.k.a. Nybor, will be on exhibit through March 3 at the Brickhood Hearth restaurant on Main Street in Romney, W.Va., which is about 27 miles south of Cumberland on Route 28. The exhibit opens with a reception tonight (Feb. 2) at 7:30. Moreover, Nybor lives in Keyser, W.Va., about 22 miles south of Frostburg.

I don't see a website for Nybor, but googling around, I see that his art appeared in 1970s fanzines alongside Phil Foglio and Tim Kirk; that in the 1980s he did illustrations for Analog magazine, covers for books by Gordon R. Dickson and Theodore Sturgeon, and (apparently) the original maps for Robert Asprin's Thieves' World series; and that his painting Kiss of Ages was a Judges' Choice at the Millennium Philcon, the Philadelphia World Science Fiction Convention of 2001.

Dickson raved about Odbert's cover and interior illustrations for the 1978 edition of his novella Home from the Shore, calling it "something not merely entirely new in publishing but in artistic concept ... The result is something more than a book. It is a mechanism for the imagination."

In recent years, Nybor has been very active in occult circles. The Witches' Voice calls him "one of the community's most respected elders"; scroll down to see a great photo of him by Bill Kilborn. (In the photo, he reminds me of the late Georgia outsider artist Eddie Owens Martin, a.k.a. St. EOM.) Nybor also is on the Grey Council, the faculty of the online Grey School of Wizardry (which claims 612 students). Here's his faculty bio:
A graduate from the Minneapolis School of Art, Nybor has owned and operated art studios in Minneapolis and New York City and is most renowned for his black and white science fiction art, including book and magazine covers and interiors. In the 1980’s, Nybor was freelancing in New York, designing logos and knocking out magazine illustrations for a variety of publications. He was busy, prosperous, and developing ulcers in the fast-lane society. In 1985, he gave up the tie, tails, and “cocktail crowd” for a humbler, more peaceful life in the West Virginia mountains where he could dedicate himself to creating the art he wanted to create. When you look at the detailed and colorful works of Nybor, you would never know that this artist has been colorblind since birth.
Nybor's "major lifework" is the Nybor Tarot Deck, published in 2001; here are some samples.

As Mel Allen would have said: How about that?

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