CANAJOHARIE, N.Y. — The Arkell Museum is presenting the exhibition “Wizards of Pop: Sabuda & Reinhart” through December 30. The exhibition features the amazing work of pop-up book creators Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart and contains more than 70 original works from 13 of their books. “Wizards of Pop” includes the classic stories of Peter Pan, Jungle Book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Cinderella. There are also works created for their encyclopedias on dinosaurs, sharks and fairies.
Matthew Reinhart will visit the Arkell Museum on Saturday, November 12, to talk about his work and lead workshops on making pop-up creations. His books will also be for sale in the museum shop and he will be signing books after his presentation and workshops. These activities are free with regular museum admission, $8 for adults, and $6 for seniors and students. Children under 12 are free when accompanied by an adult. Members always receive free museum admission.
The exhibition is organized by National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature in Abilene, Texas.
Art was always a tremendous part of my life. Drawing pictures and making crafts were my favorite activities in school and out. I drew whenever and wherever I could. My school notebooks often had more drawings than notes. I loved animals — and still do — so I drew them everywhere. Dinosaurs, like I think about every kid on the planet, were my favorite and I could rattle off the name of every single one before I could add or subtract. As I got older, I was captivated by the movie Star Wars. The richness of the universe George Lucas created on the screen fueled my young imagination. Creatures, monsters, spaceships, and action heroes filled my many sketchbooks growing up.
Like most high school graduates, I wasn’t completely focused on a career. I didn’t know there were cool jobs like paper engineer — pop-up designer — or that I could make a living being a children’s book illustrator. Like most doctors’ children, I was convinced to study biology to prepare for medical school. College was great, but I wasn’t really happy. Medicine was not my calling. I’d always taken art classes along with my biology courses, so I had built up a bit of a portfolio.
I moved to New York after college, and met the extraordinary paper engineer Robert Sabuda while doing some volunteer work. His book The Christmas Alphabet had just been released, and he told me he had studied at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. I was inspired — so, with the blessing and support of my understanding parents, I enrolled as an industrial design — specifically toy design — student the following year. Pratt was fantastic, though my initial dreams of being a toy designer soon transformed into paper engineer, thanks to the help of Robert.
I really got into pop-ups after working with Robert on books like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, ABC Disney and Movable Mother Goose. My first big break of my own in the pop-up world was The Pop Up Book Of Phobias, which was my first solo paper engineered book. Since then, I’ve gradually begun to illustrate and paper engineer my own titles, and occasionally co-author books with Robert.”
I grew up in the small rural town of Pinckney, in southeastern Michigan. From the moment I could hold a crayon came the discovery that I was an artist. I spent hours, days and weeks drawing, painting, cutting and gluing. My bedroom was a constant whirlwind of pencil shavings, drippy paint brushes and mounds of paper scraps. My mother’s pleas of ‘When are you going to clean up this mess?!’ went unanswered. At school my teachers asked me to create their bulletin boards because they knew how much I loved art. This was the first time I discovered that paper could be used for more than just drawing and painting on. I covered the bulletin boards with cut paper collages.
At home I started to fold and glue paper together to make little model houses. But the best discovery came when I folded together many pieces of paper, stapled them down the middle and created a book. I immediately began making books of all sizes filled with simple stories and happy pictures.
My passion for books took an unexpected twist after a trip to a new dentist. While we waited — I was very nervous — my mother noticed a wicker basket filled with books and suggested I bring one over for us to share. I went to the basket and realized right away that these books were special. I opened the first one and was shocked and delighted to discover it was a pop-up book! Shortly after that, my mother brought home some old manila filing folders from work, which were perfect for making pop-ups. Everyone started giving me pop-up books as gifts and soon I was able to make simple pop-ups.
Throughout middle school and high school I continued to improve as an artist and left Michigan after graduating to attend Pratt Institute in New York City to study art. During my junior year at Pratt I did an internship at Dial Books for Young Readers. I learned everything about how a children’s book is created, and I decided then and there that I would be a children’s book illustrator.
The Arkell Museum is at 2 Erie Boulevard. For additional information, www.arkellmuseum.org or 518-673-2314.