The Paley Center for Media was the place to be last night for Star Trek fans, as it marked the Opening Night of the Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz exhibition. Walking up to the center in Beverly Hills, California, a line of people could be seen outside, waiting to get in. Inside, final preparations were being made. Four big screens televised clips from classic Star Trek episodes: “Arena” and “Amok Time,” amongst others. Postcards and Vulcan Ale bottle openers were spread out across tables. At the far end of the room, bartenders stood ready to serve such Star Trek-inspired libations as Votto Voce wines and Vulcan Ale.
The art of Juan Ortiz hung – all 80 episodes represented -- on a long, expansive wall. Ortiz arrived just shortly before 7 .p.m, taking time to talk to the media and pose for pictures in front of his artwork. The media and tonight's many guests, seeing the 80 pieces of art side by side, all together for the first time ever, lingered, pointed at and discussed their favorite episodes represented in the artwork. Fans snapped pictures of themselves and their friends in front of the art and had a fun time finding their favorite episodes on the wall. Many of the guests wore the Juan Ortiz art t-shirts (shirts with “Mirror Mirror," “Catspaw” and “Arena” emblazoned on them were seen more than once). Also more than once, we glimpsed fans mouthing the dialogue to their favorite scenes as those scenes played on the big screens.
Ortiz had spoken with the media and fans for about 20 minutes or so when Star Trek's legendary Nichelle Nichols arrived. She and Ortiz posed for pictures and then quietly had a moment to themselves during which Ortiz noted different episodes and some of his favorite art pieces. Afterward, Nichelle graciously talked with fans, posed for pictures and signed whichever pages fans asked her to sign from within Juan’s new book, The Art of Juan Ortiz. Other notables in attendance included Mike and Denise Okuda, as well as Trek music expert Jeff Bond and Neil S. Bulk, producer of the Star Trek TOS soundtrack set.
By 8 p.m., a long line of well of nearly 200 people lined up to have Ortiz sign their books. He chatted and signed well into the night, past 9:30, and happily posed for pictures whenever asked. Several fans delighted in showing Ortiz the t-shirts they were wearing showcasing his artwork.
Clearly, a great time was had by all.
Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz will open to the public on November 20 and run through January 5, 2014. The exhibit features all 80 of Ortiz’s TOS pieces, which vividly personify each episode (and the original pilot) in the form of movie posters, comic books, pulp novel covers, advertising and product packaging.