Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Art and the Nickel

Saturday night Muffin and I participated in an event that is unique to our hometown.  Several years ago our mayor at that time had a brilliant idea to establish a museum for children's illustrated literature.  After some temporary homes and many years of raising funds the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature, NCCIL (pronounced Nickel) found a home inside a building that was reclaimed and restored by the Preservation League.  It is the ideal size and has a gallery, a shop with reading room, a foyer and combination craft room, and a caterer's kitchen.  The NCCIL organizes exhibits which travel to other museums and libraries throughout the nation.  Open for tours to teachers, children, workshops with artists and lectures for adults the NCCIL is a fascinating place for youngsters and oldsters.  The artists who visit are unfailingly grateful for a place to display their original artwork, because after it is printed in books the works are almost always stored away.  The museum is the only place of its kind where original illustrations are shown in collections by the artists who created them. 

Last Friday night the NCCIL celebrated the opening of a show by celebrated artist, Etienne Delessert, Swiss born illustrator and author of many award winning children's books.  My favorite is Full Color, a whimsical, imaginative approach to teaching a color wheel. 

Before the guest of honor spoke on behalf of his show we were entertained by the Hardin-Simmons University Cowboy Band. They entered with their signature "cowboy shuffle", performed for about thirty minutes, then tossed their hats in the air and shuffled out.  Then dinner was served buffet style by Harold's BBQ, featured in Texas Monthly Magazine as one of the best BBQ places in Texas. I agree!  The chicken was so tender you could cut it with a plastic fork. Delicious brisket and sides of beans and potato salad. Dessert was either peach or blackberry cobbler.  Of course there was iced tea. And Mr. Harold Christian was there to assist serving the BBQ himself.  He's such a nice man.

Dinner music was by Lori Sims, a lovely red haired fiddler who strolled among the tables and played classics: Cotton Eyed Joe, Old Joe Clark, Orange Blossom Special, and Faded Love, among other titles.

When all is said and done however, it is the art that made a very rainy Friday night glow with entertaining warmth and imaginative spirit. 

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