Newark Public Library Is First in Region to Showcase New Sabuda Pop-Up Books
Summer is popping at The Newark Public Library with the opening of the new exhibit “Robert Sabuda: Travels in Time and Space” on loan through September 8 from the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature in Texas. This is the first showing of this collection in the New York metropolitan area.
"The exhibit captivates the viewer with beautiful illustrations and eye-catching, colorful designs," said Library Director Wilma J. Grey, noting that Sabuda is well known for his illustrations, but even more famous for his paper engineering and pop-up books.
Often called the "Prince of the Pop-Ups," the Michigan native, who currently lives and works in Manhattan, brings new dimension to some classic tales, from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, to Alice in Wonderland. His bibliography includes many of his own works, including Saint Valentine, The Blizzard’s Robe, and The Mummy’s Tomb, and a series of Help the Animals pop-up books he illustrated for Reader’s Digest in 1995. He is recognized as the foremost living pop-up artist.
In The Blizzard’s Robe, a story illustrated with batik-style paintings, Sabuda makes his fires crackle, his sunsets glow, and the mosaic heart he created for his book St. Valentine, seems to beat in the pages.
Sabuda, who believes he became an artist the minute he picked up his first crayon, credits his fascination with pop-up books to a botched dental procedure when he was a boy. On a subsequent visit to a new dentist, his mother distracted him during their wait with a basket full of pop-up books the dentist had placed in the reception area.
"I opened the first one and was shocked and delighted when something leapt right off the page," he writes in a biography on his Web site. "I was so excited, I forgot all about the dentist."
Sabuda said he soon started collecting pop-up books and after carefully examining them and their mechanics, he started making his own.
The Newark Public Library exhibit includes original artwork from 13 of Sabuda’s books, ranging in style from stained glass, mosaic and batik work to the engineered paper pieces. Works in progress are shown alongside the final piece and are also interactive.
"We are fortunate to be able to bring Robert Sabuda’s artwork to Newark," Grey said, explaining, "this exhibit fits in with the Library’s extensive holdings of pop-up books in our Special Collections and gives us an opportunity to showcase our own treasures alongside the wonderful original artwork in this exhibition."
The National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) in Abilene, Texas, grew from a friendship between Dr. Gary McCaleb, a former mayor, and children’s author William Joyce, who had set one of his stories Santa Calls, in that community.
After an initial meeting, the men decided there was a need for a space dedicated to showcasing the artistic achievements of illustrators of children’s books. The Center provides a gallery for exhibitions of their work and creates exhibits, which it sends on tour to museums, arts centers, and libraries around the country.
"Robert Sabuda: Travels in Time and Space," is one of its 10 current traveling exhibits which include illustrators William Joyce, David Small, Mary Azarian, David Diaz, The Crews Family, Peter Sis, Paul O. Zelinsky, Denise Fleming and Bryan Collier.
The Sabuda collection has traveled to several Texas communities and has stopped in Wisconsin, Oregon, Florida, Georgia and Arizona. From Newark it will stop in Ohio and Utah.
©2006 The Newark Public Library