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Dr. Henrietta Smith and East Coast Assistant Director Maria Treadwell Hear Illustrator Jerry Pinkney

Henrietta and Jerry Pinkney

This article might well be titled, “On the Road Again”  On a sunlit Saturday morning, Dr. Henrietta Smith and East Coast ‘Assistant Director, Maria Treadwell journeyed across the state to participate in a  program featuring the renowned illustrator, Jerry Pinkney.  Illustrator Pinkney is known, nationally and internationally, for his illustrations in books whose theme cover a wide range.  Learning that along with Tom Mix, and the Lone Ranger, there were also Black Cowboys, he did a memorable book about Black Cowboys in the West.  He also paid tribute to the heroic deeds of John Henry. Aware of many societal problems. he was selected to illustrate Patricia McKissack’s, Going Someplace Special, and the Billie Holiday – based God Bless the Child.
A most inspiring and handsomely mounted exhibit featured his latest triumph, The Lion and the Mouse, an Aesop Fable.  During his presentation he announced that that title had been selected as one of ten of the Best Illustrated Books in the United States for 2009!
An appreciative audience, watched a slide presentation as the artist talked about the many factors that have influenced his work – his parents who supported his interest in art from childhood, as well as  meeting with already established artists who encouraged him  He spoke of the background work that always preceded the work on any project: research, research, research and visits to sites which would at some time become a part of a story.  He showed a picture of his studio in which he remarked, ” There is no telephone, no television, no computer, and no people, unless invited! – only books and music. Of course one could also see, paper supplies, pens, pencils and stack of yellow legal pads on which he stated, ” my first sketches always begin.”  He talked of his work process from pencil sketches to finished product, and mentioned how closely he worked with his art editor, and the importance of listening to a voice other than one’s own, if one would be successful in any field.
No matter what your age, accept this invitation to take more than one looks at the many books this talented artist – truly gentle spirit, has illustrated.  After his presentation, Smith and Treadwell returned to the exhibit, to take a second look at the illustrations and saw much more than had been seen before.
With autograph copies in hand the travelers headed home, reflecting on this visit, and hoping some of you will join in if the Orlando Museum of Art can bring Jerry Pinkney back – along with poet Marilyn Nelson, to discuss their joint venture in the production of Sweethearts of Rhythm – female singers and swingers of an earlier era.

Henrietta Smith/MT

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