Friday, November 22, 2013

Children's Book art at the Society of Illustrators

Building Photo - Today
photo from
Illustrator Judith Moffatt and I traveled to New York to brunch with fellow illustrators and two Highlights for Children editors at the Society of Illustrators at 128 East 63rd Street in New York.

Judith Moffatt at the Society of Illustrators
Founded in 1901, the Society's mission is to promote the art of illustration, to appreciate its history and evolving nature through exhibitions, lectures and education, and to contribute the service of its members to the welfare of the community in large.

Cheryl Kirk Noll, Sharon Vargo, Mary, Ellen Appleby
Rose Mary Berlin arranged for a group to attend an elegant brunch buffet. My favorite part was the fellow who cooked a made-to-order omlette right at the buffet table. Of course, the buffet couldn't hold a candle to Highlights brunch!! 

We then went to the "The Original Art" exhibit, which runs through December 21, 2013. It's an annual exhibit (founded by Dilys Evans in 1980)  celebrating the fine art of children's book illustration. (How appropriate!)

Jennifer Yerkes

This years show features 125 books selected by a jury of illustrators, art directors, and editors.  This year’s Silver Medal winners are Jon Klassen for The Dark (Hachette Book Group / Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) and Simona Mulazzani for I Wish I Had... (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). The Gold Medal winner is Jennifer Yerkes for A Funny Little Bird (Sourcebooks / Jabberwocky).

Upper: Peter Brown, Lower: Molly Idle

Some of my favorite art was by Melissa Sweet, Molly Idle, Jill McElmurry, and Jason Chin.

I have a connection to Jason's family... one of those "red thread" stories, where you find yourself with ties to certain people throughout your life.

Jason's mother, Mary was a high-school friend in Delaware. His father, Ray was a grad student when I attended RISD, and taught one workshop in my illustration class. I've always credited Ray for teaching me how to do watercolor washes, and I use his lesson to this day to teach my students.

Ray and Mary's  younger son, Michael was born on the same day as my son, Phil. The Chins moved to Lyme, NH, where another friend of mine lived, as well as Trina Schart Hyman.

Jason went to Syracuse, and I've followed his soaring career ever since. His art from "Island: A Story of the Galapogos" is stunning.

It was exciting to pore over the art of display. From oils to watercolor, cut paper to digital, all of the work is beautifully designed.


front, L to R: Kelley Cunningham, Judith Moffatt, Dolores Motichka
middle: Cheryl Kirk Noll, Mary Wilshire Magnusson, Barbara Lanza, Paige Billin-Frye,
back: Ellen Appleby, Rebecca Thornburgh, Mike Moran, Sharon Vargo, Rose Mary Berlin

PS. Thanks to Judith Moffatt for all of the group shots.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Children's Books in New York

The lion at NYPL, thanks to Wickipedia Commons
Last weekend, I took a magical trip to New York City. My thanks begin with Rose Mary Berlin, who contacted illustrators who had met at past Highlights for Children Illustrator's parties. She arranged for us to meet at the Society of Illustrator's on 63rd Street in New York City.

Fellow illustrator, Judith Moffatt and I bussed down to the city and stayed in the East Village with her friend Ellen. We had a terrific weekend of friends, food, sightseeing, and children's book exhibits.

We began at the New York Public library... the Schwartzman Building where the famous lion protects the front entrance at 42nd and 5th. An exhibit called "The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter," curated by Leonard Marcus, was showing.

The stunning ceiling at the NYPLibrary
Goodnight Moon exhibit
Judith Moffat and me at the
The exhibit started with the oldest known copy of the New-England Primer, where children were taught about the Bible. ("In Adam's Fall, we Sinned All.")

It finished with comics and graphic novels, from Shaun Tan's Arrival to Art Spiegleman's Maus.

In between were original handwritten manuscripts from Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, an original edition of William Blake's Songs of Innocence, which he wrote, illustrated, and printed himself in 1789.

We saw original Pooh stuffed animals, and a Japanese woodblock- printed book from 1720 known as Aka hon, or "red books." These kusa zoshi were especially earmarked for children. Original John Tenniel drawings from "Alice in Wonderland" are also included.
Original Winnie the Pooh toys

I found this book of interest... perhaps an original "pop-up" book? It included a real example for teaching workhouse children how to sew.

Since the exhibit is in the city, a section focused on modern books about New York City, and by New York author/illustrators (of which there are many!) 

A docent leads a tour weekdays at 12:30 and 2:30, and there is no charge.  This fine show runs through March 23, 201.

An excellent article from HornBook explains the process of the curator, Leonard S. Marcus.

Soon, Judy and I were racing off to our brunch at the Society of Illustrators, and more adventures in our Phantom Tollbooth auto. More to come in my next post.