Collaboration yields access to ‘Dinotopia’ exhibit at NH Institute of Art in ManchesterBy TERESA SANTOSKI Staff Writer
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Connections are important. Knowing the right people in the right places can get you all kinds of things – a reservation at a popular restaurant, for example, or tickets to a sold-out show.
Or, in the case of the New Hampshire Institute of Art, it can get you the loan of an exhibit of artwork by celebrated illustrator James Gurney, best known for his series of “Dinotopia” books.
It all began when the institute’s staff decided to invite Gurney to give a lecture.
“He shared that the Norman Rockwell Museum had curated an exhibition of his work,” said Jim Burke, chairman of the NHIA’s illustration department.
Burke is well acquainted with Stephanie Plunkett, the deputy director of the Stockbridge, Mass., museum. “I had given a lecture myself at the Rockwell Museum back in 2006, and we had kept in touch,” he said.
Burke contacted Plunkett about the possibility of borrowing part of the Gurney exhibit. Working together with Vice President of Development Suzanne Lenz and Gallery Director Andrew Lucas, both at the NHIA, Plunkett, Burke and Gurney were able to bring a selection of pieces to the NHIA.
The opening of “Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney” was held Feb. 20, coinciding with Gurney’s lecture on how to develop a fantasy universe. It will remain at the NHIA through Wednesday, March 13, at which point it will return to the Rockwell Museum.
It isn’t unusual for the NHIA to host such a well-known artist. “With the illustration department, we generally have three or four visiting illustrators per semester,” Burke said. “They are always of the highest caliber and some of the biggest names in the industry.”
The department does its best to bring illustrators who are in keeping with the students’ interests, and achieves this by asking students each semester to compile a list of artists they find most inspiring.
“James is always at the very top of that list,” Burke said. “So many of the students have grown up idolizing ‘Dinotopia’ books.”
Gurney has also written several successful art instruction books, lectures regularly and maintains an informative blog at gurney journey.blogspot.com.
“He has a huge following, which includes students at the NHIA,” Burke said. “It seemed natural to invite him.”
The on-campus response to the lecture and the exhibit has been tremendous.
“The majority of the students have seemed to be in awe, and just can’t believe that this exhibition is on our campus and that they had an opportunity to meet James,” Burke said.
Community members who have viewed Gurney’s exhibit have found it fascinating, as well. “It is quite magical to see all the originals, and the textures and brush strokes that he’s created within the paintings,” Burke said.
The NHIA has extended its gallery hours to allow more people to see “Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney.” The gallery will be open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday and noon-4 p.m. Saturday, returning to its normal hours after March 13.
“When this show was at the Norman Rockwell Museum, over 25,000 people came,” Burke said. He sees this exhibit as only the beginning of the NHIA’s relationship with the Rockwell Museum.
“They are a first-rate museum with an exceptional collection of Norman Rockwell originals,” he said. “We’re really excited about this collaboration.”
Teresa Santoski can be reached at 594-6466 or tsantoski@nashuatele graph.com. Also, follow Santoski on Twitter (@Telegraph_TS).
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