Leitchfield’s own Larry Elmore was recently handpicked to be a featured artist in the Norman Rockwell Museum’s first ever exhibit highlighting fantasy art.
The exhibition, titled Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration, will be on display through Oct. 31 in the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
The curator of exhibitions at NRM, Jesse Kowalski, said Enchanted “presents the immutable concepts present within mythology, fairy tales, and timeless narratives of good versus evil and heroes and villains.”
The exhibition traces fantasy archetypes from the Middle Ages to today, and includes more than 100 artists from around the world across five centuries.
Elmore’s Eyes of Autumn, one of his most valuable paintings that originally served as the cover illustration for Dragon Magazine No. 150 (the October 1989 edition), is now on display in the Enchanted exhibition.
“I felt humbled that I was chosen to be in that group,” Elmore said.
A native of Grayson County, Elmore remembered that his school did not have an art program at the time and said he wished he “had a quarter for every drawing of mine a teacher destroyed.”
After college, Elmore was drafted into the U.S. Army and worked as an illustrator for the United States government in the Fort Knox Training Aids Department.
After leaving government service, Elmore was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons and became the game’s first professional illustrator in 1981, creating the art for many Dungeons & Dragons properties. After leaving the franchise, he illustrated cards for the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game and provided cover art for the MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) EverQuest.
Elmore also founded Elmore Production, his own art company, and has written several novels during his time as a freelance artist.
Elmore recalls that he was commissioned to paint a Halloween-themed illustration — what would ultimately become Eyes of Autumn — by a company specifically for use on the cover of Dragon Magazine.
Elmore said he was living in Wisconsin at the time, but the painting process reminded him about a certain place in Grayson County, remembering that before he moved to Wisconsin he had taken a picture of that place: an old building located in Bear Creek.
He said that building became the background of the painting; though he reimagined it so it looked as though it was falling apart, and replaced the actual building’s old tin roof with a shingled roof.
Add in the central figures, a witch and a scarecrow to ward off crows from the cornfields in the background, and Elmore had what has since become one of his most prized paintings, prints of which can still be purchased on his website, larryelmore.com.
Elmore said he is excited to see fantasy art finally receive more mainstream recognition and he feels proud that he can represent Grayson County’s creative community in the NRM exhibit.
“I always believed that fantasy art would find a place back in the 1960s when I was in college,” he said. “It was the only artform where your imagination could be free to express what you want.”
Elmore said the creative people from Grayson County often go unnoticed, but there are many crafting influential works, either through movies, music, art or writing.
“We’ve got people out there doing stuff all over the world that influences people and affects lives,” Elmore said. “Grayson County is my home. In a way, I’m living here because of that. I’m anonymous.”
Elmore’s Eyes of Autumn will be on tour through 2023, and he said it is expected to be in a museum near Nashville, Tennessee, later this year or next year.
For more information about the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration exhibition, go to nrm.org.