“Pictures Tell Stories: Children’s Book Illustrations,” a new exhibition from Scottsdale Public Art, runs through Sept. 20, at the Civic Center Public Gallery.
Scottsdale Public Art will hold a reception for the exhibition from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Aug. 20, at the Civic Center Public Gallery, according to a press release.
Located inside Scottsdale Civic Center Library, 3839 N. Drinkwater Boulevard, the exhibition is free to view during regular library hours and features art from the collections of two retired librarians, Cathy Bonnell and Mary J. Wong.
In addition to highlighting “their passion for children’s literature and illustration," the former librarians have hundreds of original artworks from picture books in their collections.
Recognizing that “images and books play a vital role for young minds to see and understand their place in the world,” the release detailed their enthusiasm and advocacy in reading and libraries.
Wong said her collection began after she met and became friends with Jack Gantos, the Newbery Medal-winning author of the Rotten Ralph books. She scheduled him to appear at the school where she worked then.
During one of his trips to Phoenix, the author gave her an original illustration from “Rotten Ralph,” the release stated.
“I didn’t realize I could ‘own’ an original illustration from a picture book,” said Wong in a prepared statement. “I now have around 200 — maybe more — original illustrations on the walls throughout my house. Adding original illustrations to my collection has become an addiction that soothes my soul.”
Wong, a Peoria resident, spent her career as an elementary special education teacher, reading specialist, and librarian in the Paradise Valley Unified School District.
She noted illustrations add layers to the story and encourage readers to look beyond the words on the page. Illustrations can help beginning readers develop new vocabulary, the release said.
Bonnell, a Phoenix resident, “became hooked” on picture books while taking a children’s literature class at California State University, Los Angeles.
A librarian for the Washington School District, for 30 years in Arizona, she brought in many children’s book authors and illustrators to speak to students at her schools, said the release.
“Many illustrators are happy to sell pieces to you if they can tell you really appreciate it,” said Bonnell in a prepared statement. “Several have said, ‘I’d rather you have it than stack it under my bed!’ There is barely a space in my home that doesn’t have framed picture book art.”
Wong and Bonnell befriended hundreds of authors and children’s book illustrators throughout the years while collecting their original artworks and first edition books, many of which will be shared with the community through this exhibition, the release said.
“I’m so inspired by the passion they have for the illustrators and authors of children’s picture books,” said Raisanen Wendy Raisanen, curator of collections and exhibitions for Scottsdale Public Art, in a prepared statement.
“Many of these artists are living in Scottsdale, Phoenix and other towns in Arizona. I hope young artists, illustrators and storytellers can be inspired too.”
Learn more at ScottsdalePublicArt.org/events.