Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I up and saw something pretty amazing last Thursday night. It was The Original Art Exhibition in New York City at the Society of Illustrators, featuring genuine artwork from lots of the very best children’s book illustrators in the business. Trust me. As every artist on the planet will tell you, no matter how beautifully the artwork in a book is reproduced, the original art is soooo much better and richer and juicier. So blog readers, if you’re anywhere even vaguely near the vicinity of 128 East 63rd Street, you are hereby invited to take a gander….this show will be hanging out on the walls over there until December 29th and then the whole thing will disappear.

Bad news:

In this digital age, free or almost free access to (mostly bad or boring) art is becoming the way of the world. Who wants to pay actual money when you can get pix for next to nothing, even if they’re full of, um, pap? And who knows how long we’ll be able to hold real books made out of real paper in our hot little hands?

Good news:

There are still brilliant illustrators out there who are passionate about using their brains, honing their skills, and inventing something unique, long-lasting, luminous, and memorable with their own two hands. And this show proves it.

Better news:

If you’re one of the lucky ones, illustrating books is among the most interesting jobs you can ever imagine. Why settle for an ordinary livelihood if you can do work you love in the arts? Oh. Did I say “work?” My bad. Despite the long hours and labor-intensive requirements, illustrating books somehow feels a lot more like play to me. (And besides that, you don’t have to drive in rush hour traffic to get to, um, work…)

Preaching-to-the-choir, get-on-your-high-horse type of news:

We dumb down our culture in the worst possible way when we ignore the arts. We put ourselves at risk of losing the very same kinds of creativity that can make us shine. We lose our ability to enrich our day-to-day lives in substantive ways and even—or especially—to have some fun.

Let’s take a quick trip backwards to the days when boatloads of people from around the world began to wander onto these shores. To make a better life for themselves and their families, the rules used to be as follows:

The first generation to come to America had to do hard manual labor to make sure that their children got a good education.

The second generation got the good education so they could become business owners or doctors or lawyers or scientists or engineers.

That way, the third generation could afford to reach the True Summit of Civilization by going into the arts if they were so inclined. I have absolutely nothing against hard manual labor. I have absolutely nothing against becoming a professional. But Choir, let’s make sure the arts survive and grow, OK?


Anonymous said...

Brava Roz! Here here! I second that emotion!

Kaplans said...

I attended the exhibit not knowing what I'd see; I left wanting to take my own children there. I was stunned at the difference between what I've seen in books and what I saw on the wall. And found myself revisiting pieces of art over and over. Seeing the art that night was a much deserved reward for a horrible, two-hour ride into the city in the pouring rain. I have a whole new appreciation for children's illustrators!

Rosalyn Schanzer said...

Thanks, guys. And I'm so glad that you saw the show. The artwork is enormously impressive when you see it in person.