Celebrating the Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration

Everyone remembers the magic of opening a children’s book and seeing pages splashed with colorful pictures. This year, from Sept. 7-Nov. 23 the Dove Library is giving audiences of all ages a chance to find this magic once again. At the William D. Cannon Art Gallery, pages have come alive and sprung onto walls that feature several noted Southern California illustrators.

“Many artists will do an original piece of art like a collage, painting or watercolor, and then, they take it to the publisher and mass produce it,” Curator of Exhibitions Karen McGuire said. “This show has the original art that you wouldn’t normally see outside of our studio.” 

This show, titled The Original Art, is a national showcase of some of the year’s best-illustrated childrens’ books published in the U.S.

“Since we are at a library, it makes sense to do a children’s book show, and we started planning this four years ago,” McGuire said.

The show recognizes 67 Southern California artists and displays 106 works of art. Some of the illustrators include Carlsbad’s own Janell Cannon as well as Susie Ghahremani, Salina Yoon, Lori Mitchell, Jennifer Hewitson and Tracy Sabin.

“The show is open and free to the public,” McGuire said. “We do four to five exhibits a year so this is our 72nd since we’ve opened the gallery, and each one is different and unique.”

Along with being open to the public, this gallery also hosts more than 2,000 elementary-level students throughout the year.

“Our three-part-art gallery education program is geared for third and fourth grade students in Carlsbad,” Arts Education Coordinator Tonya Rodzach said. “It connects to not only the visual and performing arts state standards, but we also link to common core standards and language arts.”

With the three-part-art program, students get a preview in their classrooms that connects to what they are going to see. Then, the kids come in for a two-hour field trip. They come through the gallery for a docent lead tour of the exhibit followed by an investigative gallery activity to look at the works of art more closely.

“After the tour, they do their own art project in a room that we converted into an artist studio,” Rodzach said. “For this exhibit’s art project, in particular, they will be creating their own accordion fold books and designing their book cover and story because it relates to the gallery theme.”

This three-part-art program was started in 1999 when the gallery was built and since then, it has garnered national recognition for being a high-quality arts education program. Students and visitors are able to appreciate the large range of creativity in children’s books at this new exhibit.

“This art show is really great because unlike most, that interest only a certain age group, it appeals to all age groups from old to young,” McGuire said.