Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum

Wausau, WI




Gizmos, Gadgets, and Flying Frogs: The Art of William Joyce and David Wiesner


The Woodson Art Museum's winter exhibition -- "Gizmos, Gadgets, and Flying Frogs: The Art of William Joyce and David Wiesner" -- offers a joyous-romp through the pages of 15 books written and illustrated by two of America's leading juvenile fantasists. The exhibition opens on November 10, 2001 and continues through January 27, 2002.

The magic of childhood is a constant in the artworks of both Joyce and Wiesner -- and both readily admit to the fact that they themselves have never truly grown up. And it shows -- in pages filled with children who have a joyful exuberance for the unexpected and the unexplainable. How else to make sense of a family adopting a stray brontosaurus in Joyce's "Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo"? Or the giant parsnips soaring past Providence or artichokes advancing over Anchorage in Wiesner's "June 29, 1999"? (left: William Joyce, from Leaf Men, © 1996 William Joyce)

Such is the world of these award-winning children's book illustrations -- where frogs ride flying lily pads through moonlit backyards and Santa-inspired escapades begin with a flying-canoe trip to the polar ice cap. Full of droll humor and good old-fashioned imagination, the images of William Joyce and David Wiesner remind viewers of the playful mindset of children and their expansive ability to embrace oddity with gusto.

Joyce's whimsical, yet perceptive illustrations are packed with the artist's inventive whatchamacallits and thingamajigs, crazy inventions that children see as perfectly normal. Just this side of slightly wacky, Joyce uses bright colors, exacting detail, and distinctive book design to give a voice and face to his unlimited sense of exaggeration.

Among Joyce's titles represented in the exhibition are "George Shrinks," "Santa Calls," "A Day with Wilbur Robinson," "Nicholas Cricket," "Bently & Egg," "Rolie Polie Olie," and Joyce's personal favorite, "The Leaf Man."

David Wiesner wholeheartedly lives by the adage "A picture is worth a thousand words," and his wordless and near-wordless picture books have gained for him an international reputation. He especially favors wordless books because "each reader really completes the story; there is no author's voice narrating the story." (right: David Wiesner, from Sector 7, © 1999, David Wiesner)

Such exercises in visual literacy are evident in his 1989 Caldecott Honor book "Free Fall" and the 1991 Caldecott Medal winner "Tuesday." Other Wiesner titles in the exhibition include "Hurricane," "Gargoyles," and "Sector 7."

Visitors to the Woodson Art Museum this winter are certain to leave "Gizmos, Gadgets, and Flying Frogs" enriched by a whole new way of looking at chessboards, clouds, veggies, bugs, and a host of other "ordinary" things that Wiesner and Joyce enchantingly transform into the extraordinary.

The 112 original illustrations comprising "Gizmos, Gadgets, and Flying Frogs" -- 44 by Wiesner and 68 by Joyce -- are on loan from the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature, Abilene, Texas.

Read more on the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.in Resource Library Magazine

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 6/3/11

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