STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Norman Rockwell Museum (NRM) announced the upcoming winter exhibition, "Jan Brett: Stories Near and Far."
Featuring more than 100 original illustrations, sketches, and personal artifacts, this seasonal family-friendly exhibition explores the range of Brett's art and the travel experiences that have inspired her many books and characters. Spanning twenty-five years, "Stories Near and Far" is the most extensive exhibition of Brett's picture book art to date, and will be on view from Nov. 13, 2021 to March 6, 2022.
"Jan Brett, our Berkshire neighbor, is beloved near and far," NRM Director/CEO Laurie Norton Moffat said. "We are immensely grateful to Jan and are honored to present the most comprehensive exhibition of her work, an exhibition for all ages. Like Norman Rockwell, Jan's work inspires happiness and joy in people of all ages. She takes us on adventures through villages in faraway locales, creating intimate and enchanting scenes to engage every reader and viewer and has inspired millions of children and parents around the globe."
According to a press release, Brett's global perspective has been inspired by her appreciation for world cultures and her many travel experiences, which have taken her from Arctic Sweden to Namibia, and from Costa Rica to China. The rich traditions and cultures of the countries she visits and her own menagerie of animals serve as a starting point for her stories, and the artist's home is filled with objects and artifacts that she has collected along the way—including a selection that will be shared publicly in this special exhibition for the first time.
"We are thrilled to be working with Jan," Deputy Director/Chief Curator, Stephanie Plunkett said. "Who takes great pleasure in engaging deeply with readers, both through her books and the many talks and signings that connect her with people across the country and throughout the world."
Her illustration style incorporates pen & ink along with watercolor and emphasizes layouts with intricate, stylized frames and borders, which carry unique and unexpected elements that enhance her narratives.
One of Brett's favorite books, "Berlioz the Bear," was set at Tanglewood, and the book's setting drew upon an orchestra tour to Germany and Austria. Berlioz is a character based upon her husband, musician Joe Hearne who has been a bass player with the BSO for 59 years, and other characters were inspired by his fellow orchestra members.
While many of Brett's works are set in faraway places, some of her books reflect locations closer to home. "Mossy" unfolds by a turtle pond in Hingham, where Jan grew up, and The Easter Egg is set in her hometown of Norwell. She also created a homage to Norman Rockwell by painting her own version of Stockbridge, Massachusetts' Main Street for her book, "The Night Before Christmas."
Others are set in "Jan Land," the colorful made-up world that exists only in the artist's vivid imagination. The complete suite of artworks from her recent publication, Cozy, will be on view, as will examples from Jan Brett's The Nutcracker, which will debut this fall.
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MDAR Commissioner Marks 'Green Friday' at Seekonk Tree Farm
By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
Seekonk Tree Farm was selected for the annual 'Green Friday' pronouncement. MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux traveled to the family-owned farm to present Peter Sweet Jr. and family with the state proclamation encouraging state residents to buy their greenery local.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — State Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux traveled to Seekonk Tree Farm to celebrate "Green Friday" with the cutting of a Christmas tree. The day is meant to encourage residents to source holiday plants from local farms.
Lebeaux presented the owners of the farm, the Sweet family, with a proclamation that marked Nov. 26 as Green Friday and outlined the many benefits of their line of work.
This includes adding $3.5 million to the state's economy each year with the sale of about 83,000 trees, providing a renewable source of energy when burned, producing biomass and removing carbon dioxide from the air, and providing stable refuge for wildlife.
"We try to rotate every year and it was the Berkshires turn this year," Lebeaux explained.
The farm has been in business since 1979, when Peter Alden Sweet Sr. married Carol Joan Wright. With the help of a $50,000 grant from MDAR, the family was able to build a gift shop/workshop that was completed about a year ago.