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Places Near and Far: Award Winning Original Art from Favorite Children's Books
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the most extensive private collection of original artwork from children's books in the United States must be a story of epic proportions. On September 26, 2004, the Reading Public Museum will present Places Near and Far: Award Winning Original Art from Favorite Children's Books which will contain Caldecott-winning art and other highlights from the private collection of Dr. J. Robert Dornish, former professor of Children's Literature at Kutztown University, Kutztown, PA. Ron Roth, Director and CEO of the Museum comments, "This exhibition will be an event especially interesting to families and children of all ages. What is particularly unique about this exhibition is that it is comprised of the original art that was created for the finished, published books. I think visitors will be surprised at the technical virtuosity and variety of media used by these artists/illustrators. I am very appreciative for Dr. Robert Dornish's generous loan to the Museum of these works from his personal collection."
As the Newberry Medal awards the most distinguished children's book, the Caldecott Medal is awarded to the most distinguished picture book every year. The award was established in 1937 by Frederic G. Melcher and was named for English illustrator Randolph J. Caldecott. Many of the artists in this exhibit have won Caldecott awards or honors, while most have won distinguished awards for their illustrations and their books have sold millions of copies world-wide. There are 34 different artists featured in the exhibit, including Mary GrandPré, Betsey Lewin, Thomas Locker, Richard Egielski, and Paul Goble. A variety of Caldecott-winning children's books will be available to purchase at the Museum Shop. (right Artist/Illustrator Joseph Smith, from "The Yellow House" by Susan Goldman Rubin, 2001, watercolor and gouache on paper, Loan, Dornish Collection.)
Allentown resident, Dr. Robert Dornish, has been collecting original artwork from children's literature for about 10 years. He has collected 97 different pieces, 3 of which come from Caldecott award-winning books and a total of 19 from Caldecott winning artists. Two of his first paintings collected, also his favorites, are by Thomas Locker, whose artwork will be featured in the exhibit. His interest in collecting the artwork stems from his collection of children's books, which he has been collecting for over 33 years, since he began teaching. Dornish has over 10,000 books, 7,300 of which are autographed, and 137 of which have received the Caldecott Award or Honors. Although the options are vast, one of his favorites is the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, whom he has met on numerous occasions. While a quarter of his books lie in the Dr. J. Robert and Alice R. Dornish collection at Kutztown University Rohrbach Library, the other 7,500 books are located in the his own private library in his home. Dornish and his wife, Alice, hope that "the collection of books and original art from them will provide children, and those who instruct them, with the best of these two art forms." Their collection of books and artwork continues to grow today.
Places Near and Far: Award Winning Original Art from Favorite Children's Books will be on exhibit in the Cove Gallery and Atrium Alcoves until January 16, 2005. It is supported in part by Fleetwood Industries in Exeter, PA and through grants from the Friends of the Reading Museum, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
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