Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Last Call: The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats, through January 29

Ezra Jack Keats, "Crunch, crunch, crunch, his feet sank into the snow." Final illustration for The Snowy Day, 1962. Collage and paint on board. Ezra Jack Keats Papers, de Grummond Children's Literature Collection, McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi. Copyright Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.
The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats, The Jewish Museum, through Sunday, January 29, 2012.

Now that New York has just survived its first snowy day of 2012, it's time to visit or revisit another "snowy day" in the form of Ezra Jack Keats' original art for his enchanting book A Snowy Day (1962).  Born Ezra Jack Katz (1916-1983) to poor Eastern European Jewish immigrants living in Brooklyn, he experienced first hand the pain of antisemitism and being an outsider.  This aspect of his life accounts for his choice of African-American protagonists, featured for the first time in modern American children's literature. 

Best known among all his characters is Peter, the adorable little boy who ventures outside into the snow to make a snowman, snowangels and snowballs.  When he decides to bring one snowball home in his pocket, he discovers - much to his chagrin - that his precious creation has disappeared.  But luckily, more snow falls the next day and he goes out this time with his friend to enjoy another snowy day.

The Jewish Museum exhibition, curated by Claudia J. Nahson, displays 80 items, including preparatory sketches, dummy books and the finished paintings and collages.  You will also find a cozy nook filled with copies of Keats' picturebooks to read alone or aloud with your companions.

Keats wrote and illustrated 22 books for children and illustrated altogether 80 books in over 40 years of professional publication. This exhibition offers an incomparable opportunity to savor the colors and textures of his original compositions.  Brightly illuminated with vibrant hues and patterns, Keats knowingly captured body language that communicates childhood feelings - hopes, fears, disappointments and dilemmas.  Moreover,  his work reflects the art from this era by marrying his solid classical training to the influences of Synthetic Cubism and the latest Color Field painting

You can, of course, visit the exhibition online, but honestly, there is no substitute for viewing these magnificent works in person.  Here is a video to get you out to see this wondrous Snowy Day:

If you miss the show in New York, you can still catch the exhibition at the Eric Carle Museum of Children's Books located in Amherst, Massachusetts, June 26 - October 14, 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment