I can’t think of more fitting way to start Montclair Art Museum’s Eric Carle: Animals and Friends exhibition than with a video clip of Mister Rogers visiting Eric Carle in the artist’s studio. Both men celebrate(d) play, individualism, creativity, and friendship. And this new exhibition—curated by Gail Stravitsky and on view through January 3, 2016—highlights all those things with a focus on animals and childhood.
Eric Carle: Animals and Friends includes more than 60 original works from Carle. Especially noteworthy are Carle’s colorful, hand-painted tissue paper collages, which form the basis of his illustrations. Since his best-known work, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, was published in 1969, Carle has illustrated more than 70 books. The works in this exhibition address the subjects of two recent publications by Carle: his love of color and use of imagination expressed in The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse (2011) and the celebration of childhood from Friends (2013).
A great addition to the finished collages are the inclusion of Carle’s work process (beginning with the clip from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood). You’ll see pencil studies and book dummies/mock ups next to finished pieces. You’ll also learn that The Very Hungry Caterpillar started out as Willi the Worm.
A first time addition to any MAM exhibit, is a Reading Nook. MAM has a Family Learning Lab on the third floor for hands-on play for youngest museum visitors, but by including this special interactive space right next to the works of art, Stravitsky truly combines Carle’s love of books, art, and play. Guests are invited to grab a book and sit on the cozy rug or plush and colorful beanbag. It’s a bright and inviting space and a highlight of the exhibition.
This is truly an exhibition for all ages. From the parents who read and loved Carle’s books when they were young to this generation of children—Carle’s art and stories are timeless.
Eric Carle: Animals and Friends kicked off with the MAM Lawn Party on Saturday, Sept. 12, before it officially opened to the public on Sunday, September 13. MAM will invite families to visit again with some special events:
This month’s MAM Family Art Adventure will focus on the newly opened exhibition. Go to MAM for an hour-long, drop-in gallery program for children 5 and up and their adult companions. Explore and discuss artworks and engage in fun activities in MAM’s galleries and sculpture garden.
MAM Family Art Adventure
Saturday, September 19 at 2 pm
$6 per family for members / $15 per family for non-members
The Eric Carle Family Day invites you to participate in a day of exploration with many dynamic Museum-wide art activities! Enjoy an Eric Carle Reading Marathon, a toy workshop featuring toy collector/author Dorothée Charles, and art projects inspired by the current exhibition Eric Carle: Animals and Friends.
Eric Carle Family Day
November 15, 1–4 pm
Free member family; $10 nonmember family (up to 6 people)
Montclair Art Museum
3 South Mountain Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042
Wednesdays through Sundays, Noon – 5 pm