An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Nov 5, 2013
10:56 AMThe Connecticut Table
New Maurice Sendak Exhibit at New Britain Museum as Sipping, Dining Opportunity
A Maurice Sendak set design. All Sendak images © Maurice Sendak; courtesy of the New Britain Museum of American Art.
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“The qualities that make for excellence in children's literature can be summed up in a single word: imagination. And imagination as it relates to the child is, to my mind, synonymous with fantasy. Contrary to most of the propaganda in books for the young, childhood is only partly a time of innocence. It is, in my opinion, a time of seriousness, bewilderment, and a good deal of suffering. It's also possibly the best of all times. Imagination for the child is the miraculous, freewheeling device he uses to course his way through the problems of every day....It's through fantasy that children achieve catharsis.”
Amid such hallmark themes as the riotous imagination of children and their intense responses to emotional uncertainty, there’s another element commonly in the recipes of Maurice Sendak’s unique, treasured and award-winning children’s books—food.
It plays a central role in Where the Wild Things Are, and in In the Night Kitchen, and it likewise will have prominence as the New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA) unveils its new exhibit, Maurice Sendak, this Saturday.
With approximately 70 works by the late artist (1928–2012), a 30-year resident of Connecticut, accompanied by 50 statements by celebrities, authors, and noted personalities about the influence of Sendak’s work, the exhibit celebrates the 50th anniversary of the publication of Where the Wild Things Are.
The exhibition, which opens Nov. 9 and runs through Feb. 9, will include original book illustrations, opera set design drawings, movie concept sketches, and other works on paper from Where the Wild Things Are and other stories, as it surveys highlights from Sendak’s career.
The food theme shows up in two very different ways on two (different) days. First, guests at a fundraising event Friday evening for the museum’s educational programs will get a sneak peek of Maurice Sendak as part of a scotch-versus-bourbon event, in which they will get to taste a variety of prestigious single malt scotches, boutique bourbons and “wild whiskeys,” along with enjoying delectable cuisine inspired by these spirits and served by Plan B Burger Bar and Tisane Euro-Asian Café.
Spirits on the tasting menu include Breckenridge, Balcones, Bunnahabhain 18-year and 25-year, Dalwhinnie's Distillers Edition, Talisker 25-year, Jameson 18-year and Vintage Reserve and many more.
The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m., and the cost is $100 per person. Space is very limited, which means anyone interested in attending should get tickets as soon as possible online at nbmaa.org, or by contacting Lacy Gillette at email@example.com or at (860) 229-0257, ext. 230.
The next night, to coincide with the formal opening of the exhibit, the museum is holding a Maurice Sendak Dinner at 6:30 p.m. The cost is $50 per person, and reservations are required. Call (860) 229-0257, ext. 0, for reservations. (See the menu, left.)
Once all the sipping and feasting are done, what remains is a terrific exhibit paying tribute to Sendak, who famously said, “You cannot write for children. They're much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them.”
“As visitors enter the exhibition, they will step into a world of imagination and fantasy,” says a release on the touring exhibit, featuring works loaned from private collections and friends of the artist. “In addition to original illustrations and commentaries, a projection of the 2009 film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are will be on [a] loop, and monitors interspaced throughout the gallery will serve as a media library of clips, interviews and celebrity readings. A reading nook and in-gallery activities are also part of this family-friendly presentation.”
Among the contributing commentators for the exhibition are playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner, writer and illustrator Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel), director Spike Jonze, comedian Stephen Colbert, actor and director Tom Hanks, author Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Barack Obama, the release says.
Other notable figures have also offered warm words and memories when describing Sendak and his legacy. Former President Bill Clinton says, “Perhaps no one has done as much to show the power of the written word on children, not to mention on their parents, as Maurice Sendak.”