ddrees art

My art work and thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘children’s books’

Illustrated Books in Baltimore 1

Posted by ddrees on June 20, 2009

t-49.exehis post was planned for April during spring break but, alas, other demands for my time emerged so the content is becoming more historic than current for Baltimore. After I graduated from Penn State in 1970 and failed to find a teaching job in higher education after sending perhaps two hundred letters of application, I landed in Baltimore working as Gallery Director for Ferdinand Roten Galleries on Mulberry Street. Roten’s was near the main Hutzler’s, and other still flourishing but soon to disappear downtown department stores. The job was wonderful in that I got to see terrific prints and meet some of the artists, but I wanted a teaching job. I immediately started on a second round campaign to get a higher education job. As it happens, I was around the corner from the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library so I immediately started combing their shelves of college catalogues for art department chairperson names and such. There was no easy way to look colleges up without the WWW . There was a directory of college personnel, whose title I forget, but you couldn’t get information about the department and what their faculty artwork looked like and such in the same place. Pratt had an excellent collection of catalogues. I could go to the Pratt on lunch hour. What a boon.

cathedral from prattwindow©bronxbob

cathedral from prattwindow©bronxbob

pratt gallery

pratt gallery

Pratt window©Bronx bob

Pratt window©Bronx bob

prattacrosscourt

prattacrosscourt

pratt cofferedcieling

pratt cofferedcieling

Anyway, from the second round of application letters, I got an interview at Catonsville Community College, now CCBC, and had an instructor spot by February 1971. Though I felt that my being in Baltimore was by lame chance, perhaps as Fred Astaire once said “luck is a fool’s name for fate”.  Baltimore has proved to be a rich place to be. I had and have a strong interest in illustrated books. Coming out of PSU I had done some study in illuminated manuscripts with the incomparable Tony Cutler, Evan Pugh Professor of Art History. I like to mention these connections because of the six degrees of separation phenomenon.I had already modestly started collecting illustrated children’s books , notably buying a first edition of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are when it came out in 1963.

where_the_wild_things_are

Soon enough I discovered that Baltimore was a great repository of illustrated books of all types. The Pratt was wonderful but there was the Evergreen Museum and Library of JHU, which had natural history books. There was JHU Sheridan Libraries, which had a rare book collection. I got my gloved hands on manuscripts at JHU while taking illuminated manuscript art history classes under Dr. Sandra Hindman now of Les Enluminures . I also put up an exhibition of called The Art of Marbling in the Sheridan in 1991.And there was the Walters Art Museum with its superb collection of manuscripts and books where I have seen numerous wonderful exhibits over the years. I wish I hadn’t been so influenced by the academic rhetoric of my younger years that called illustration a a “minor” art form, because it certainly has been a joy to me.

golden legacy ©Child at Art

golden legacy ©Child at Art

This spring break we went to the Enoch Pratt Free library to see the exhibit,Golden Legacy: Original Art from 65 Years of golden Books sponsored by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature in Abilene Texas and touring till January 2012. This show closed at the Pratt on May 18. Next stop Omaha Nebraska.

This exhibition will present the most extensive public showing ever of original illustration art from American publishing’s best loved and most consequential picture-book series, Little Golden Books—the history-making experiment that celebrates its 65th anniversary in 2007. Launched in 1942—the first full year of America’s involvement in the Second World War—Little Golden Books made high quality illustrated books available at affordable prices for the first time to millions of young children and their parents. Among the artists who contributed to the ambitious series were greats of the European émigré community (including Garth Williams, Feodor Rojankovsky, and Tibor Gergely) who had gathered in New York as the European situation worsened; alumni of the Walt Disney Studios (including Gustaf Tenggren, Martin Provensen, J.P. Miller, and Mary Blair), who came East for the artistic freedom and control associated with picture-book making; and such American originals as Eloise Wilkin, Elizabeth Orton Jones, Richard Scarry, and Hilary Knight.

golden legacy ©Picture Books

golden legacy ©Picture Books

kids at show©Picture books

kids at show©Picture books

There is a book on the exhibit available at NCCIL as well as children’s books signed by the authors in their store. NCCIL has other touring shows available and a schedule on their site. The site also has information about contemporary artists. We took some pictures of the artwork but it was difficult to shoot. Two of my Baltimore /Flickr contacts have picture sets about this show as well, Child at Art and Picture Books. My sisters and I owned quite a few of these books and they may still be in my mother’s attic. I include a few favorites here but check the Flickr sites and NCCIL for much more. The Pratt continues to have great book related exhibits and is a beautiful place to visit itself. I really enjoyed seeing the original artwork with its fine craftsmanship up close.

color kittens provensen

color kittens provensen

Feodor Rojankovsky

Feodor Rojankovsky

firetruck tibor gergely

firetruck tibor gergely

gergely

gergely

maryblair atpratt

maryblair atpratt

i can fly mary Blair

i can fly mary Blair

richard scarry

richard scarry

rooster struts scarr

rooster struts scarr

scarry i am abunny©Child at art

scarry i am abunny©Child at art

scarrybunny

scarrybunny

tibor gergely

tibor gergely

garthwilliams

garthwilliams

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Winky Dink and You

Posted by ddrees on August 20, 2008

Winky Dink and You screen

Winky Dink and You screen

I 14remember when Winky Dink started being broadcast on TV in1953. My sister Jane and I got a screen kit and joined the fan club right away. The screen was a piece of transparent but greenish flexible, erasable plastic about a sixteenth of an inch thick that would be placed over the TV screen so you could draw on it with crayons. Winky Dink would then have you follow dot-to-dot instructions to complete drawings or decipher secret messages. We loved it. They sold millions of fifty cent kits by mail, but then there were thee cent stamps. My Dad became characteristically angered because he feared we would get radiation from being so near the TV. Perhaps he was right. He was always very cautious on our behalf. I started checking to see if I was glowing in the dark.

Winky dink golden book

Winky dink golden book

You can buy a Winky Dink video now after it disappeared for years. Except for my sister, no one I know has any recollection of it. It was the first interactive screen show and I think we kind of knew it was rich but when it ended nothing like it followed for decades. Anyway, none-other than Stan Vanderbeek was working on the Winky Dink show. “Vanderbeek began his career in the 1950s making independent art film while learning animation techniques and working painting scenery and set designs for the American TV show, Winky Dink and YouWho knew he would later be a colleague in our academic enterprise?

Winky Dink crayon set

Winky Dink crayon set

For many creatives of a certain age, the notion of interactivity was very attractive but needed to be supported by an entire industry. You could not do it alone. Whereas, you could paint and draw alone. I guess you still need the backdrop of the computer and software industry to do anything like that alone, but at least, if you have the time and money, you can learn Flash or whatever and make interactive stuff. You can be a one person band. It is a huge change.

In those days, my hometown had one good TV station and static on others, even though Daddy climbed the roof to put up an antenna. Most all the kids watched the same thing because they had the same good channel. You could count on your coevals to have the same TV experiences you did. We took it for granted that the same pieces of info would be referenced. It was pretty much controlled input with music too. Radio stations played a small repertoire of tunes and we now know that payola was being practiced. The incredible variety of music available now puts an entirely different perspective on creativity in the culture.

I think we got the TV when I was six. Before that I would go to watch TV at Dickey Roberts house and I would have met him in kindergarten at Egbert Bagg School. (I always wanted to know who Egbert Bagg was, and here through Google my wish is granted.)  Dickie, who looked like Winky Dink, and I were best buddies but he moved by the end of first grade. I started getting a complex about losing people around then. Dickie’s TV had a tiny round screen. Our first set was a twelve incher. Like me, my family was too frugal to be early adopters. I am still waiting for the cell phone, hand held gadget thing to sort itself out before I get in that habit. I have gotten along without one for sixty-two years and it somewhat bothers me that young people have instantaneously been so stuck on them. I get the impression that they are afraid to do anything alone.

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