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Picture book exhibit engages patrons with interactive opening reception

An illustration by Susanna Chapman for “The Girl Who Ran.”
Susanna Chapman
An illustration by Susanna Chapman for “The Girl Who Ran.”

In a continuing effort to engage patrons with featured art, The Mosesian Center for the Arts in Watertown will host a reception on Thursday for guests to meet artists featured in the exhibition “Forever Young: Picture Book Art Exhibition,” running now through Sept. 15.

Jannie Ho
“Bear and Chicken” by Jannie Ho

The show features more than 25 artists and picture book illustrators, most of whom are based in New England. About two-thirds of the artists will attend the reception, including artist Susanna Chapman, who will represent the book she illustrated, “The Girl Who Ran: Bobbi Gibb, the First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon.” The book, a collaboration with Gibb that depicts her 1966 Marathon run, was written by Kristina Yee and Frances Poletti, and published last month.

Other illustrators at the event include Jannie Ho, illustrator of “Wheels on the Bus” and “Bear and Chicken,” Jennifer P. Goldfinger, who illustrated “Hello, My Name Is Tiger,” and Maddie Frost with “The Snowflake Mistake” and “How Do You Do, Mr. Gnu?” Books and prints will be for sale in a Pop-Up Shop, with artists on hand to meet guests and sign books.

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Kimberly Thompson Panay, director of exhibitions, said the Mosesian Center for the Arts had success with an event to celebrate its previous exhibit, “Reclaimed,” which featured art made from recycled and repurposed materials. She hopes to see multiple generations of families at the “Forever Young” celebration.

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“Picture books, I think, really are kind of the introduction of art to children and kind of start this lifelong love of art,” said Thompson Panay.

The exhibition features a range of art mediums from artists in different stages in their career. Some, such as Calef Brown, have had several picture books published already, while others have yet to be published and have concept work on display. About 10 artists have process work included in the exhibition, which shows their art at different stages of completion, from initial sketch to published piece. The art chosen represents a range of styles, from simplistic to more complex storytelling, designed to engage children of different ages.

An illustration by Maddie Frost for “How Do You Do, Mr. Gnu?”
Maddie Frost
An illustration by Maddie Frost for “How Do You Do, Mr. Gnu?”

“If only we could take the creativity we have as children and take it all the way through our lives,” Thompson Panay said. “It’s such a valuable thing. So I think that the opportunity to talk to artists, engage with them, to understand that you could make a career out of this if you wanted to, . . . [is] super valuable for kids, and also for adults.”

The first part of the reception, from 3 to 5 p.m., will include book readings from artists every half hour, gallery tours, a raffle giveaway of books from the exhibition, and an interactive oil pastel art activity hosted by the Watertown Free Public Library. From 5 to 7 p.m., artists will mingle with guests as snacks are served, the bar opens, and Charlesbridge Publishing’s pick for the best in show among artists seeking publication will be announced.

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Referring to dwindling funds for arts initiatives in public schools, Thompson Panay expressed support for “having free opportunities, like the exhibitions that we put on here at the center for folks to . . . engage, feel the creativity and that spark. I think it’s just really wonderful.”

Kaitlyn Locke can be reached at kaitlyn.locke@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at@ke_locke.