Weekend pick: Fresno Art Museum goes ‘Wild’ with Maurice Sendak exhibition and more

Best known for his beloved children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are,” Maurice Sendak gets an honored spotlight for the remainder of 2023 at the Fresno Art Museum. A new slate of exhibitions opens Saturday, July 29. An opening receiption will be held 5-8 p.m. Friday, July 28, and will include a talk at 5 p.m. by Martha Casanave and exhibition curators.

“Maurice Sendak: 60 Years of Wild Things” includes concept sketches, illustrations, and works on paper. Beyond children’s literature, the artist was known for animation, set design for opera and theater, and films. At the heart of the exhibition, the museum says, are the images from “Where the Wild Things Are.”

In another exhibition, the museum continues its tradition of the Council of 100 Distinguished Woman Artist Award. This year’s recipient is photographer Martha Casanave of Monterey.

“Imaginings: Portraits and False Flag” features 27 large-scale photographs focusing on two different photography projects: 12 black-and-white portraits of famous women and men of the art world, and 15 color prints of selections from her USSR project, which she now calls “False Flag.” The project has not been exhibited with so many images or in this way before the Fresno Art Museum exhibition.

Michele Ellis Pracy, the museum’s executive director and chief curator, writes that Casanave has been one of the few women photographers in a male-dominated regional artistic circle that included Ansel Adams and Brett Weston:


Her dedication to her career and her contributions to the field of photography were strong factors in the Council of 100 choosing to honor her. Her approach to her subject matter is innovative in both technique and vision. Casanave situates the subjects of her portraits in their respective environments in a way that reveals aspects of their character and interests. With her degree in Russian Language and Literature, Casanave’s photographs taken during her many trips to the USSR raise our consciousness by revealing either the lives of underground artists or the social graces experienced in interactions with the general populace. In all of her work, Casanave experiments with traditional photographic techniques and alternative processes and does not work with digital images.

Rounding out the museum’s slate of exhibitions:

“The Magic and Flair of Mary Blair.” Known worldwide to Disney fans as one of Walt Disney’s favorite artists, Blair (1911-1978) was a designer, illustrator and colorist whose concepts set the tune for such films as “Dumbo,” “Cinderella” and “Peter Pan.” The exhibition of 26 works of art includes concept art for her many Disney animation film projects.

“Art of the Word: Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son.” The exhibition features work by author and illustrator John Parra.

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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