Exhibition Looks at 25 Years of Work by Nation’s Premier Historical Picture Book Illustrator

 

Wendell Minor, "Heartland (Red Barn Flag)," 1989. Cover illustration for "Heartland" by Diane Siebert, Thomas Y. Crowell, New York. ©Wendell Minor. All rights reserved.

Wendell Minor, “Heartland (Red Barn Flag),” 1989. Cover illustration for “Heartland” by Diane Siebert, Thomas Y. Crowell, New York. ©Wendell Minor. All rights reserved.

(STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.) – Norman Rockwell Museum celebrates award-winning illustrator Wendell Minor’s four-decade career — highlighting his many cover illustrations and children’s books illustrations, each inspired by his love of history, art, science, and the natural world — in Wendell Minor’s America, on view from November 9, 2013 through May 26, 2014. Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, who has collaborated with the artist on such books as “1776,” “John Adams,” and “Truman,” will offer remarks during a special exhibition opening at the museum on Saturday, November 9, 2013, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

“Wendell Minor’s America” traces the personal and artistic journey of the acclaimed book illustrator and admirer of Norman Rockwell, through original artwork, artifacts, and references from Minor’s expansive visual chronicles, as well as commentary about his collaborations with our nation’s most prominent authors, scientists, and historians. Highlights include original work from such books as “Reaching for the Moon” and “Look to the Stars” by Buzz Aldrin; “Sitting Bull Remembers” by Ann Turner; “Abraham Lincoln Comes Home” by Robert Burleigh; “Arctic Son” by Jean Craighead George; “Shane” by Jack Schaefer; and “America the Beautiful” by Katharine Lee Bates. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog featuring essays by many of the noted authors and editors with whom Minor has collaborated.

Wendell Minor, “Abraham Lincoln Comes Home,” 2008. Cover illustration for “Abraham Lincoln Comes Home” by Robert Burleigh, Henry Holt and Co. Watercolor, gouache and pencil on paper. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. ©Wendell Minor. All rights reserved.

Wendell Minor, “Abraham Lincoln Comes Home,” 2008. Cover illustration for “Abraham Lincoln Comes Home” by Robert Burleigh, Henry Holt and Co. Watercolor, gouache and pencil on paper. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. ©Wendell Minor. All rights reserved.

Award-winning illustrator Wendell Minor drew his way through childhood in Aurora, Illinois, inspired by the richly illustrated magazines that were so much a part of American life during the mid-twentieth century. Today he is considered one of our nation’s premier historical illustrators, traveling throughout the United States to research, draw and paint on location, and immerse himself in the subject at hand.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, who has collaborated with the artist on such books as “1776,” “John Adams,” and “Truman,” will offer remarks during a special exhibition opening to be held at the museum on Saturday, November 9, 2013, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The author recently remarked that “Minor is always showing what he loves — the great outdoors, crystal night skies, the moon in all its phases, the plain vernacular architecture of American small towns and remote farm houses… showing what you love to your audience is the heart of effective teaching. Besides being a supremely gifted artist and natural storyteller, Wendell Minor is a very great teacher — which is another reason why his work is of such value.”

“Norman Rockwell Museum is honored to present ‘Wendell Minor’s America,’” states chief curator Stephanie Plunkett. “Like so many throughout the world, we have long admired Wendell Minor’s beautifully conceived artworks and designs, which underscore his belief that words and pictures, imagined in concert with one another, have the power to expand meaning.”

“Wendell has been a long-time friend and trustee of Norman Rockwell Museum,” adds museum director/CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt. “He has helped guide the museum’s illustration vision, and been a strong voice for collecting and scholarship relating to this important American art form. We are delighted to have the opportunity to share his own masterful work with our visitors.”

“I always looked forward to a Norman Rockwell cover,” says Wendell Minor. “Somehow I felt he brought people and places to life. I distinctly remember his ‘Saturday Evening Post’ cover, ‘Breaking Home Ties’ — in 1954 I looked at that painting and said, ‘I’m going to go away someday, to school and learn how to draw. I think every Rockwell painting that I saw gave me that sense of wanting to find that America.”

Presented through Norman Rockwell Museum’s Distinguished Illustrator Series, “Wendell Minor’s America” will take visitors on a journey through history, from sea to shining sea, reflecting on the artist’s love of our country’s varied landscape and a deep respect for the environment.

Since his childhood in Aurora, Illinois, Wendell Minor (b. 1944) has had a romance with America. And as he explores more regions more closely, his love of the country grows with a vision that celebrates the beautiful, the lyrical. After completing his studies at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, Minor began creating original designs for Hallmark Cards, as well as book publishers in New York City. His cover illustrations have enhanced more than 2,000 works.

The artist draws upon his lifelong affinity for environmental issues to create illustrations for children’s books, which he finds especially satisfying. They allow him to combine his love of the outdoors with his independent pursuits — including painting the landscape from life, in the tradition of classic American painters such as Homer, Hopper, and Wyeth. His wish is to inspire children to go out into the fields and woods and mountains to see wildlife in its natural habitat, and to give the children a positive perspective about the beauty that abounds in the world.

To research his children’s books, Minor has traveled from the tropical Everglades to the Arctic Circle to the Midwest to the Grand Canyon. He loves bringing the scenes of nature to children and is particularly close to the children’s books he has illustrated. Minor has said, “A picture invites the viewer into it and offers a sense of mystery. It lets the viewer become part of the process.”

His award-winning books have frequently been named on the annual lists for Notable Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies, Outstanding Science Trade Books, and IRA Teachers’ Choices. His books have also received the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio and Parents’ Choice Awards and been featured on PBS’s The Reading Rainbow.

Wendell Minor has had numerous solo exhibitions, and his work can be found in the permanent collections of Norman Rockwell Museum, the Illinois State Museum, Muskegon Museum of Art, Mattatuck Museum (of Connecticut), the Mazza Museum at Findlay University, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Museum of American Illustration, NASA, Arizona Historical Society, U.S. Coast Guard and the Library of Congress.

He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Norman Rockwell; he serves on the Advisory Council for the Connecticut Center for the Book; and he is a member of The Children’s Book Council (CBC), a nonprofit trade organization dedicated to encouraging literacy and the use and enjoyment of children’s books. Referring to himself as a “recovering dyslexic,” he speaks in classrooms across the country, sharing with students of all ages the difficulties he experienced with reading as a child, and for those who have similar difficulties, how they too can overcome them.

Minor lives and works with his wife, Florence, and their two cats, in rural Connecticut.

Exhibition-Related Programs and Events

EXHIBITION OPENING

“Wendell Minor’s America”

Saturday, November 9, 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Comments at 6:30 p.m. by artist Wendell Minor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough

 

Exhibition features more than 150 original artworks, as well as artifacts, and references from Wendell Minor’s expansive visual chronicles. Art and commentary reflecting Minor’s collaborations with our nation’s most prominent authors, scientists, and historians, will showcase a quarter century of unforgettable picture book art. A reception and book signing will follow, including refreshments and a cash bar.  Museum members free; guests $20. RSVP by November 4 at 413.931.2264 or rsvp@nrm.org.

 

Talk & Brunch

“The Art of Collaboration with Author David McCullough and Artist Wendell Minor”

Sunday, November 10, 11 a.m.

A conversation about the nature of artistic collaboration with artist Wendell Minor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough. Acclaimed as a master of the art of narrative history, David McCullough has written many books about America’s history ? including “The Great Bridge,” “The Path Between the Seas,” “1776,” “John Adams,” “Truman,” and others ? featuring striking cover illustrations by his friend and long-time collaborator, Wendell Minor. A delicious continental brunch will be served and books will be available for signing. $20; $15 for Museum members.

 

Family Day

“All Aboard! Railroads and Trains“

Saturday, November 23, 1 to 4 p.m.

December School Vacation Week Workshops

“Page Turners: Exploring the Art of the Picture Book”

December 23 through 28, 1 to 4 p.m. (closed December 25)

 

Educators’ Symposium

“True Stories: Non-Fiction Children’s Books in the Classroom”

Saturday, January 25, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

TALK & PERFORMANCE SERIES

Great Americans

Three festive evenings that bring historical figures and themes from “Wendell Minor’s America” to life. A reception and refreshments will follow each program. Adults $10, $6 members; Children 12 and under $5; free with Museum admission.

 

“Abraham Lincoln Remembers”

Saturday, February 15, 5 p.m.

“The Shakers: Culture and Community”

Saturday, March 15, 5 p.m.

 

“Hearsay to Heresy: An Evening of Satire, Balladeering, and Political Unrest”

Saturday, April 19, 5 p.m.

Distinguished Illustrator Series

Norman Rockwell Museum’s Distinguished Illustrator Series honors the unique collaborations of outstanding visual communicators today. Presented by the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, the nation’s first research institute devoted to the art of illustration, the Distinguished Illustrator Series reflects the impact and evolution of Norman Rockwell’s beloved profession, exploring a diverse and ever-changing field.

Norman Rockwell Museum holds the largest and most significant collection of art and archival materials relating to the life and work of Norman Rockwell. The Museum also preserves, interprets, and exhibits a growing collection of original illustration art by noted American illustrators, from historical to contemporary. The Norman Rockwell Museum Art Collection and Norman Rockwell Archive inspire a vibrant year-round exhibition program, national traveling exhibitions, and arts and humanities programs that engage diverse audiences. The Museum’s collections, which are made accessible worldwide, are a comprehensive resource relating to Norman Rockwell and the art of illustration, the role of published imagery in society, and the American twentieth century.

 

Since its inception, the Norman Rockwell Museum has explored the impact of illustrated images and their role in shaping and reflecting our world through changing exhibitions, publications, and programs. Dedication to a deepened understanding of the art of illustration has led to the formation of the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies. The first of its kind in the nation, this research institute supports sustained scholarship and establishes the Norman Rockwell Museum’s leadership in the vanguard of preservation and interpretation relating to this important aspect of American visual culture.

 

 

Norman Rockwell Museum is located on 36 park-like acres in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Rockwell’s hometown for the last 25 years of his life. The Museum is open year-round; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. From May through October, hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; from November through April, hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Rockwell’s studio is open May through October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Museum admission is $16, $14.50 for seniors, $10 for students, $5 for kids, and teens 6 to 18, and free for Museum member, active military personnel, and children 5 and under.

 

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