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Another Artist I Love and a Nice Surprise

I'm a month late for his birthday but today I celebrate Maurice Sendak, one of my early idols, author of some of my favorite books, provider of countless happy hours.

Where the Wild Things Are has been called "The most suspenseful and satisfying nursery tale of our time."

How many of you can recite the opening lines illustrated here?

"The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another, his mother called him "WILD THING!" and Max said, "I'LL EAT YOU UP!" You know what comes next--Max is sent to bed without his supper and that night he sails off into a great adventure.

What song did you and your kids sing for the wild rumpus?

After Max has tamed the Wild Things, after the wild rumpus, he feels tired and longs to be "where someone loves him best of all" and so gets up to leave. The Wild Things say to him, "Oh, please don't go, we'll eat you up we love you so."

Sendak said he modeled some of the wild things on his Brooklyn relatives who came to visit every Sunday.

“There you’d be, sitting on a kitchen chair totally helpless while they cooed over you and pinched your cheeks. Or they’d lean over with their bad teeth and hairy noses and say, ‘You’re so cute I could eat you up.' And I knew if my mother didn’t hurry up with the food they probably would.”

That’s a child’s eye view.

Samuel Snoek-Brown wrote in a May 8, 2012 memoriam to Sendak,

"What parent hasn’t pretended to devour their children? Stuffing babies’ feet and fists into our mouths we coo, 'Oh, I could just eat you up!’ It’s an expression of deep, consuming love, and as babies we understood it that way."

Arthur told me that he knew baby Jessie was growing when he could no longer fit her whole foot in his mouth.

After I spent a day with Teddy he reported to his mother, "MomMom bite my toes!" I couldn't resist, but I want to make it clear that I never bit, I merely nibbled.

Then there's

The illustrations here, especially the cityscape made of old fashioned kitchen supplies and gadgets and the story of the bakers who bake in the night speaks to me in a deep way. It's like the opening piano tune on "I Shall be Released" on the Band's Album, "Music from Big Pink," It feels like an ancient memory that I can't quite bring back. Maybe it's because my Dad worked in the family business, a bakery, and I remember the wonderful smell of the place when we visited him at work.

Some people went berserk and tried to ban In the Night Kitchen because of this;

and if you didn't quite get it, Mickey is saying "Cock a Doodle-Do!" Is this obscene? It's awfully cute. I recommend reading In the Night Kitchen for yourself. If you haven't already done so you're in for a treat.

Those are tales of wild adventures but Sendak was vastly versatile. His illustrations of Else Holmelund Minarik's Little Bear series are gentle and tender, sweet but never cloying, and beautifully drawn.

These three are only a few from Sendak's great oeuvre; I'm sure you have your own favorites.

Our love, admiration and gratitude span the generations. On the day Maurice Sendak died Jessie posted this picture with the caption, "Thank you Mr. Sendak."

On another front, you may remember how often I speak and write about Robertson Davies, the great Canadian novelist. I reread him often, I love to quote him, and whenever I'm in a secondhand book store I look for more copies to share with friends. You might say I'm a Davies missionary. One of the joys of these books is the cover art.

Arresting, evocative, intriguing, these images really pull you in. I was delighted to learn that I know the artist--one whose work I've admired for years. Bascove! A one name artist whose paintings and prints have that mysterious evocative quality I found with Sendak. Here's a painting from her series titled "Bridges and Cityscapes."

Here's the link to Bascove's website.

And a link to her show at the Norman Rockwell Museum. It's over, but you can read all about it.

And now a little bit about me. My drawing, "The Garden at Night" is on view in a virtual show at this link

I hope you'll give it a look. To see mine you'll scroll through some very beautiful work. I looked again at this piece,

and thought about the blue tile floor and how out of perspective it is, so I started a new piece with a blue tile floor in more proper perspective. As I worked it became more and more BLUE.

And then Sunday's Style section said that cobalt blue is the big color this year! More synchronicity! so I called Jerry's Art-o-Rama and ordered some big paper. Watch this space for further blue development.

June 10, 2022

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