Thursday, February 6, 2014

Molson Collection of Art Exhibited In Petoskey

by Frank Boles

On January 18, I had the opportunity to attend an exhibit opening at Petoskey’s Crooked Tree Arts Center (CTAC) featuring fifty-two original works of art selected from the Francis and Mary Lois Molson Art Collection, which is currently on loan from the Clarke Historical Library. The Molson Collection is a superb group of original art drawn for publication in children’s books. It features work created by some of the finest contemporary illustrators in the field and is one of the gems of the Clarke.

Cover art from The Frog Princess by Gennadii Spirin
Although the Clarke regularly displays some of these treasures on a rotating basis, rarely is there an opportunity to see so many of these works at one time. However, through April 5 the opportunity will exist in Petoskey. CTAC has installed the art in a marvelous exhibit that I encourage you to visit.

I am particularly pleased that, in conjunction with the show, school children are being encouraged to read some of the books in which the art appears and then visit the gallery to see the original art work. The works are, of course, beautiful and, as Francis Molson has noted, "It’s much different to see the original artwork, than just the prints in books." In commenting on the collection, Francis Molson also said, "Surely it will benefit students." Certainly the art work has proved beneficial to Central Michigan University students when it is used in various classes. But I think it is also important to make the experience created by the art available to children in northern Michigan. A lifetime of reading can begin by experiencing a single work of art found in this collection.

Perhaps the most important, and least predictable, outcome from the exhibit would be a newspaper story published in some future edition of the Petoskey News-Review, or the New York Times, that begins, “I was inspired as a child by an art show I saw in Petoskey.” A critical part of the Library’s mission is to make the legacy of the past available today to inform, inspire, and change the future. One never knows exactly when or how that mission will impact an individual life, but creating or enabling exhibits using Clarke material, like the Molson art on display at the Crooked Tree Arts Center, creates the opportunity for that moment of individual inspiration to occur.

For more information about the exhibit, and the Crooked Tree Arts Center’s hours and other policies please visit the CTAC’s website,