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​For the Lighthearted: Two Children’s Book Illustrators on Exhibit

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J. Otto Seibold and Mr. Lunch

J. Otto Seibold, Untitled, 2014. Vector illustration.The Contemporary Jewish Museum continues its tradition of presenting family-friendly exhibitions that explore the work of beloved children’s book illustrators with J. Otto Seibold and Mr. Lunch.

J. Otto Seibold is a self-taught and widely exhibited artist from Oakland, California, and one of America’s most influential creators of children’s books. His offbeat and wacky Mr. Lunch books (written with Vivian Walsh) were the first children’s books designed using computer software. The exhibition J. Otto Seibold and Mr. Lunch is based on these books and the exploits of the professional bird-chasing dog—Mr. Lunch (named after the Seibold family’s real-life dog, Dexter Lunch).

J. Otto Seibold, Untitled, 2014. Vector illustration

Seibold created the Mr. Lunch books in the 1990s on an Apple Macintosh using Adobe software. He was a pioneer in digital illustration and is considered one of the greatest artists in the field of vector design. While the images have their origins in technology, they have an appealing retro vibe. Seibold’s images and stories are zany, frenetic, vividly colorful and downright silly—you’ll laugh out loud.

In Mr. Lunch Takes a Plane Ride, Mr. Lunch is invited to demonstrate his bird-chasing skills on a tv show. But to travel there, he discovers that dogs must ride with the baggage. So he and his bird companion, Ambrose, amuse themselves by exploring the contents of suitcases. As the plane lands, they hastily repack the luggage without remembering what goes where, leading to some awkward mix-ups.

J. Otto Seibold, Detail from the cover of Mr. Lunch Borrows a Canoe by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh, 1994. Vector illustration

Mr. Lunch Borrows a Canoe recounts Mr. Lunch’s furious paddle to Venice after an autograph-seeking bear frightens him. In Venice, he encounters the biggest bird-chasing challenge of his career, but soon clears the plaza of pigeons and is celebrated with a civic ceremony.

This exhibition includes color prints of original vector illustrations, original pen drawings, storyboards and cover designs. Interactive play areas allow children to climb into a life-sized canoe or board an airplane, and go along with the adventures of Mr. Lunch.

J. Otto Seibold and Mr. Lunch: Through March 8,  Contemporary Jewish Museum

Bravo Chris Raschka

Chris Rashka, Charlie Parker Played Bebop, 1992. Charlie Parker played saxophone (Pg 6)

Chris Raschka is the award-winning illustrator of more than 40 children’s books. Fifty-eight of his original artworks are now on view at San Francisco Public Library in the exhibition, Bravo! Chris Raschka. His awards include the prestigious Caldecott Medal for The Hello, Goodbye Window and A Ball for Daisy; Caldecott Honor for Yo! Yes?; recognition from Publisher’s Weekly and the American Library Association; and his work has been selected four times as one of Ten Best Illustrated Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review.

Chris Rashka, Mysterious Thelonious, 1997. Title Page.

Notable in this exhibition are his jazz-related illustrations that marry music with paint. The wonderful paintings of Charlie Parker Played Be Bop embody rhythm. In the striking Mysterious Thelonious, Raschka translates music into color. The lovely characters of John Coltrane’s Giant Steps—a kitten, snowflakes and raindrops—depict instruments from Coltrane’s jazz interpretation of My Favorite Things.

Raschka also delves into the sound and flavor of language. A Foot in the Mouth encourages the investigation of sound through a collection of poems meant to be read aloud. In New York is English, Chattanooga is Creek, he suggests language gives a name a certain flavor—and asks what flavor is your city?

Bravo Chris Raschka: Through April 19, Jewett Gallery, Main Library. Chris Raschka will also be giving a lecture on April 8 at 6 p.m. in the Koret Auditorium at the  Main Library.

Chris Rashka images top to bottom:

Charlie Parker Played Be Bop , 1992. Charlie Parker played saxophone (Pg 6)

Mysterious Thelonious, 1997. Title Page

John Coltrane's Giant Steps, 2002. Sheets of Color

Chris Rashka, John Coltrane's Giant Steps, 2002. Sheets of Color

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