On Friday, the husband and I hopped on a jet plane to Florida (without kids!!) to see work from my first picture book, "Maya was Grumpy" exhibited as part of "Sendak & Co." at the Appleton Museum in Ocala Florida. To say that I was amazed to be a part of the exhibit is a huge understatement. When I received the brochure pdf, I was floored by the talent that was featured in the show.
These illustrators are my idols, the creators of books I have loved, studied, drooled over and admired, some since my childhood. If you had told me a year ago that my work would be featured in a museum with Matt Faulkner, Ed Emberely, Molly Bang, David Shannon, Shaun Tan, Chris Raschka and Peter McCarty (to name but a few) I might have laughed in your face. This was something beyond my wildest dreams. And to be featured in an exhibit that is a tribute to Sendak. Well, that is something the kid who poured over the illustrations for "Where the Wild Things Are" and "The Night Kitchen" would have never, ever imagined.
The day of the exhibit, we flew down to Orlando, rented a car, left the airport, returned to the airport to get the toll pass that was supposed to be in the car and drove an hour and 15 minutes to Ocala. We checked in, changed in a whirlwind of clothes and makeup and headed to the museum, running about 20 minutes late. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect. I knew the caliber of featured talent would be amazing but had no idea what my role among these greats would be. I was a bit nervous.
As we turned and started to see signs for the museum, then pulled into the driveway, my nervous-ness morphed into excited butterflies.
The Appleton sign.
The building was beautiful and big and check out that banner! Here is a close up:
The parking lot was packed and there were people milling around in fancy attire for the Director's Circle preview. As soon as we found a parking space I leapt from the car, and almost ran to the front door. A violinist was stationed outside the glass entrance which was lit with beautiful Christmas decorations from another exhibit and if I could have squealed in delight without alarming the innocent bystanders, I would have. We checked into the front desk and walked to the exhibit. I was bouncing with anticipation by the time we rounded the corner and saw this:
(these photos were taken the next day)
Here is the description of this amazing show:
As soon as I entered the exhibit I saw work from "I Need My Monster" and "When a Dragon Moves In" from my Flashlight Press illustrator mate, Howard McWilliam. I'll admit it, I was pretty zeroed in on finding my work. I knew I would walk around later and absorb the amazin-ness but first I wanted to see what the curator had chosen to display. I had sent several pieces, not knowing what would fit into the space. The husband was walking ahead of me and pulled to a stop and took out his camera. There, on the feature wall in front of us, between Molly Bang, David Shannon and Chris Raschka hung Maya.
I shuffled, I squealed and I did a funky little excited dance. I was surrounded by people who probably suspected I was about to go into a fit. I didn't care. There they were, the result of so much blood, sweat and tears, a gigantic digital learning curve and the result of much patience from my editor, the prints and sketches and different versions of Maya. There on the wall, in a freaking museum, surrounded by my idols. (Oh, how I would love to post the picture of the entire wall that my husband took, but the lovely curators at the Appleton advided me that they don't own the rights so I can't share other illustrator's work. Makes sense, but man, it was awesome.)
After almost knocking one of my prints off the wall in my excitement and getting reprimanded by a guard, I met Lyn Lacey. Lyn is the curator of this exhibit. Working with Ruth Grimes, the curator of the Appleton, they have put on this incredible show. Their passion and dedication to this exhibit is unbelievable. Lyn corresponded with me throughout this process and was so sweet, kind and passionate about this exhibit that I couldn't wait to me her and Ruth in person.
I was not disappointed. When Lyn and I walked around the exhibit the next day with me squealing over Brian Selznick, Shaun Tan, Emily Gravett and Don Wood (and everyone else, let's be honest here) it was so wonderful, the history she gave me behind each piece and the reasons behind where Ruth had displayed them was incredible. These two ladies are wonderful and I can not overstate how incredible this exhibit is. Even if I had not been featured, I would have to see it. There is so much history, craft and talent on display. If you are interested in children's book and illustration, you need to see this exhibit. In fact, I wish it would travel. Something like this needs to be seen in NY or LA and it would be especially pefect for the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in MA. Seriously. The exhibit is geared for children as well, with reading corners, hands on books, and pictures hung lower on the walls so they can inspire the next generation of wild things.