THE BRINTON MUSEUM presents its 16th Illustrator Show, featuring art from the first 15 years, 2003 through 2020. This exhibit will be on display in the S. K. Johnston, Jr. Family Gallery beginning February 14th and continues through March 7th. Featured are original storybook illustrations, watercolors, paintings, and pencil sketches by award-winning artists and nationally known illustrators who were invited as featured artists for The Brinton’s Illustrator Shows.
The concept of the Illustrator Show series of exhibitions evolved out of a desire to expand the institution’s educational outreach by introducing students from the area to the fascinating world of art and children’s storybook illustration. As part of the Illustrator Show’s program, each featured artist was encouraged to be in residence at The Brinton to meet and talk with students of all ages, and also present a Gallery Talk to the public. School tours of the Illustrator Shows have been successful in reaching thousands of students, K-12, from Sheridan and Johnson counties as well as Wyola Public School and St. Labre Indian Catholic Academy in Montana.
“It’s terrific to see the interaction between the various artists and the students,” says Barbara McNab, The Brinton Museum’s curator of exhibitions. “Listening to everyone’s questions, “How?”, “Why?” and “What?”, is magical. I love to see those hands up in the air – “Call on me! Call on me!” It’s hard to tell who is having the better time, the artists or the school tours. It’s a marvelous way to learn about art.” The Brinton provides color markers and a drawing pad for demo sketches. It’s not uncommon for each class to leave with an original sketch as a gift to the school. Henry A. Coffeen Elementary in Sheridan boasts having a suite of framed illustrator art on display in its school library; it’s become a tradition.
The Brinton Museum’s Illustrator Show events are a coveted opportunity for teachers to bring a unique art education experience to their students. Unfortunately, school tours for the 2020 exhibit, which featured storybook illustrations by the award-winning painter Theodore Waddell, had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In lieu of on-site visits to The Brinton, the museum’s curatorial staff developed a variety of online programs for children who were attending classes virtually from home. If there is a bright side to the pandemic, it’s that museums, including The Brinton Museum, are more aggressively turning to online education to reach their audience. However, nothing truly replaces the experience of seeing original art first-hand. It’s hoped that docent-guided tours of the Illustrator Show – A Look Back at the First 15 Years – will again resume in February.
Featured in the 2021 exhibit are a selection of original illustrations from most all of the previous shows, including works from the 2012 “The Dickens of the Bradford Brinton Memorial & Museum” exhibition, as well as the shows’ accompanying children’s storybooks.