Art Gallery Displays the Works of Jon Muth

The Abraham Art Gallery's new exhibit, "Zen Tales: The Art of Jon J Muth," includes original paintings and illustrations from Jon Muth's career as an award winning children's book artist opens February 14 th, and will be open through April 18th, 2020.

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Jon Muth moved to New York City as a young man to earn a living as a comic book artist, and at the age of 18, showed in his first solo exhibit. Over the course of 20 years, Muth built an impressive resume illustrating and collaborating with a variety of other artists and authors; among them are J. M. DeMatteis's comic series, 'Moonshadow,' the 'Sandman' series by Neil Gaiman, and Grant Morrison's 1994 'The Mystery Play,' which won Muth the Eisner Award, the comic book industry's highest honor.

Through comic book drawing, Muth developed an interest in the relationship between the words, the reader and the art. His experiences informed his later work when he transitioned to illustrating children's literature after the birth of his first son; becoming a father awoke in Muth the desire to explore his new role and inspired his paintings children continue to enjoy worldwide.

"Jon Muth has an amazing and precise command of the watercolor media, and an ability to convey great storytelling through his simple yet elegant paintings." says Dr. Candace Keller, curator of art for the Abraham Art Gallery. "His ability to capture light effects in his compositions is particularly wonderful! We have selected original paintings from 15 books he has illustrated, and the exhibit is family friendly and great for people of all ages. Muth has created illustrations for a variety of books by well-known authors as well as two books of poetry compiled by Caroline Kennedy, and both the artworks and the books are available in the gallery. We welcome teachers to bring student groups, and we offer opportunities for a reading of selected books for young students to enhance their experience".

Muth has traveled to Austria, Germany and England to study multiple mediums and styles of art including painting, prints and stone sculpture, which he says has a particular poetry of its own, giving the impression of permanence while still susceptible to change. Of all his studies, Muth discovered a life-long affinity for the quality of authenticity he found in Asian art, culture and lifestyle, learning sho, or brush calligraphy, in Japan. These influences are evident in the fluidity of his illustrations. He uses a large brush dipped in Asian ink to produce the fine lines as well as the broad strokes, leaving some drawings without color, and illuminating other pages with watercolor and pastel. When he draws with children on visits to libraries and schools, Muth strives for immediacy, as he says, to draw without effort, correction or re-thinking, to emphasize that the essential nature of the subject being drawn can quickly be discovered through the motion of lines "like a concentrated exhalation of breath."

Muth has been commissioned by publishers and authors to either compose an original work, as he did in 1996 for Japanese publisher, Kodansha, the monthly series 'Imaginary Magnitude,' or illustrate some else's work as he did in 2005 for Caroline Kennedy in the national bestselling anthology of poetry, 'A Family of Poems'. His own book, 'Stone Soup', a familiar tale set in China, won the National Parenting Book Award. 'Zen Shorts' was named the 2006 Caldecott Honor Book and was consecutively a New York Times bestseller. In 2009, he was named Illustrator of the Year and winner of the Children's Choice Book Award for his book, 'Zen Ties'.

Muth has also been awarded a Sydney Taylor Award, was a Book Sense book of the Year finalist, and won the Gold Medal Award from the Society of Illustrators for his paintings in 'Come On, Rain!' written by Karen Hesse. The Abraham Art Gallery presents this exhibition in partnership with the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature.

"Certain stories leave you with more than when they found you," Muth says, and his work strives to reveal the essence of those stories as well as impart the same effortless peace to his readers that he finds in his craft.

The refreshingly vibrant art of Jon J Muth captivates all ages and is on display in the gallery until April 18th, 2020. The exhibit includes selected works from 'Poems to Learn By Heart,' 'Come On, Rain!,' 'I will Hold You 'Til You Sleep,' 'Stone Soup,' 'Zen Ties,' 'Zen Shorts' and many others. The Gallery will host readings from the books for children on Wednesdays and Fridays that can be made by appointment.

The Abraham Art Gallery is located on the Atrium level of the Wayland Baptist University campus library. Hours are Monday thru Thursday, 10am- 5pm, Friday from 10am- 4pm and Saturday 2pm- 5pm. Group tours are welcome and can be scheduled by special appointment. For more information call (806)-291-3710.