First a confession: My attention has been divided lately and I might have left my heart in Santa Barbara. Not romantically like Judy G., but I've been moonlighting on an exhibition that turned into one of those magical collaborative work experiences in which each person involved has improved the final results. Of course, I am also in love with the weather, the smell of the air, the plants, and the pace.
The exhibition in question, "Over Rainbows and Down Rabbit Holes: The Art of Children's Books" represents a sampling of Zora Charles's art collection. She and her husband Les are former teachers and perpetual book lovers, and the exhibit (at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art until June 15; moving to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art on November 11) spans 100 years of illustration but concentrates on picture book art of the past 50 years.In my catalog essay, I got to hold forth on the problems of taking picture book art out of context, offering my PB101 mini-course about art and text working together, page design, sequence, pacing, and bookmaking. Of course, everyone won't actually BUY the catalog, or even read the essay if they do... For myself, I have come around to believing that showing this kind of art in a museum is not a sacrilege against picture books but can in fact open people's eyes to the quality and complexity of a seemingly-simple, well-crafted picture book. What do you think? Have I gone over to the dark side?
Rather than going on and on about the exhibition itself, I will leave you with a few photos.
Librarians and booksellers were out in force during the posh Saturday night opening.
The installation design by Scott Flax includes a circular reading area made of 6-foot hedge benches. The Seussian flower arrangements were just there for the opening.
Left to right: Les, Zora, Lolly, and Bruce Robertson (my partner in curatorial crime). The masks were made by SBMA's wonderful education department to instigate a hunt for animals found in the art.
Top photo: Lolly Robinson. Other photos courtesy of Santa Barbara Museum of Art.