State of the Art: Illustration after Howard Pyle

Caryl Huffaker
Caryl Huffaker

In this part of the world acclaimed illustrator Howard Pyle is legendary. Acknowledged as the teacher and mentor of the famous illustrators of the 19th and 20th century at his death in 1911, this prolific artist and author was mourned by people around the world. It seems fitting that the latest exhibit at the Delaware Art Museum, which was founded by the students and patrons of Howard Pyle at a time before anyone challenged the value of illustration as an art form.

Pyles influence on the world of contemporary illustrators is still considered paramount even as illustrations move into the fields of digital and three dimensional art. This collection of paintings, carefully chosen by collector and authoritative David Apatoff with assistance by the museums Curator of Illustration Mary F. Hollahan have been chosen carefully to show eight distinct outgrowths in modern illustration.

It is not just the forms of reproducing the art that has changed now digitally in full color, in action as in the cartoon Wheres Nemo? using symbols, on video games, as well as the strange new economics now in the illustration profession. The technologies for reproducing and distributing the pictures have lessened the cost so that copies can be easily available to the public. Illustrations are known to influence the public, such as the Uncle Sam posters Uncle Sam Wants You that inspired so many to enlist in World War II.

With the thousands of illustrators out there in the modern world, the museum has concentrated its show on eight artists, each of whom is a master in one phase of illustrative art.


There is Bernie Fuchs, who was at the head of the revolution in new styles of illustration, beginning by painting photographic quality depictions of cars but then developed a style of impressionistic views that gave vitality to magazine illustrations. Milton Glaser developed what is known as conceptual design that is stylized paintings where the viewer can tell it is supposed to be a melon, a pear etc., even though it really does not look like fruit. Mort Druckers pen and ink drawings were perfect for comic strips and the caricatures he did for years for Mad magazine. Artist Phil Hale does both illustrations and fine paintings using powerful compositions with moody themes.

The other featured artists are Sterling Hundley who combines traditional media with digital technology, John Cuneo, winner of numerous awards for his pen and ink cartoons that have a frankness not possible in Pyles day, Peter de Seve who became famous for his covers for The New Yorker but moved into animated films including Mulan, A Bugs Life and the Ice Age and Ralph Eggleston, who was Art Director at Pixar for Toy Story.. This fascinating show will be at the Delaware Art Museum through June 1, 2013.


The big event this weekend will be on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 600 E. Market St., West Chester when the Chester County Community Foundation will hold its first Lincoln Oscar Awards. At 6 p.m. the Lincoln Movie Chat will begin. The Red Carpet Arrival Telecast begins at 7:00 pm with the 85th Academy Awards Oscar Telecast beginning at 8:30 p.m., which will be hosted by Seth Macfarlane in Hollywood and emceed by our own Malcolm Johnstone and Rosemary Connors.

A special guest will share stories of being on the set with Daniel Day-Lewis and Stephen Spielberg. There are prizes for Best Mary Todd Lincoln Costume, Best Oscar Glamour Glitz and Best Pajamas. It should be a blast with special drinks and hors doeuvres, pasta and desserts. Tickets are $75 and up. Contact Lisa Slawinski at 610-696-2628.


Heres what sounds like a fun party. The Willowdale Steeplechase will hold its third annual Preview and Mardi Gras Party on Saturday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. at the Yellow house at Willowdale. The evening will have dancing and silent auction with catering by Jimmy Duffy. Mardi Gras Party tickets as well as race day parking space renewals may be purchased online at www.willowdale.orgor call 610-444-1582. Party tickets are $75 each or $140 a couple. If you renew a steeplechase parking space prior to March 1, you will get one complimentary party ticket.


The Chester County Community Foundation has announced that the date for their annual celebration benefit Sweet Charity will be held at Waterloo Gardens on March 19 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. This is one of the most delightful parties held each year with a competition among the best kitchens and bakeries for the best dessert, and the attendees get to sample them all! To receive your invitation calls Lisa Slawinski at 610-696-2628.


This Saturday, Feb. 23, will be the first Kennett Winterfest from 12:30 to 4 p.m., held in a tent on South Broad Street and Cypress Streets in Kennett Square. Tickets are $65, $15 for designated drivers, for unlimited tastings of 25 unique craft beers and warm food from Talulas Table. Music will be by Shady Groove Trio featuring Bernie Gillespie, Matt Kresge and Mark Swartley. Tickets must be purchased on line in advance at

Polar Plunge

Every year I tell myself that I am going to go watch the Polar Plunge to benefit the Brandywine Valley Association, and every year when that morning arrives it doesnt seem like such a grand idea. Once again I missed it, but after seeing the photos I have to think I missed a very enjoyable time, just so I would not be one of the people plunging into the 38 degree water. To try and offset the chilling wind there was a bob fire, hot chili and dancing to the music by DJ Del Bittle. Nearly $17,000 was raised. Golden Plunger Awards went to Robin Reynolds on behalf of April Filiault of West Chester who raised $900 individually and The Longwood Rotary/Unionville High School Interact Team who raised $1,254 as a group. Best Costume went to Wes Resser, who referees for the Brandywine Roller Girls, as the Beast of the Brandywine. The award for the largest group plunging went to Widener Universitys Kappa Sigma Fraternity with a record 37 members who braved the icy water.

Congratulations to all these brave souls who braved the cold for a good cause.


The Southeastern Chester County Historical Society will show a free film at Kennett Friends Home on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. This film, Whispers of Angels staring Edward Asner and Blair Underwood tells stories of the daring exploits of abolitionists William Still of Philadelphia and Thomas Garrett of William. You are invited to bring a friend.


The 23rd annual Jazz Festival at West Chester University will hold all the performances at the Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre. 817 S. High St. The performing stars are Julian Lage Group, Wednesday. Feb.27 at 8 p.m.; Tom Lawton Trio on Thursday, Feb. 28, at noon; WCU Faculty Jazz Octet on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 8 p.m.; Keith DeStefano and Puzzlebox on Friday, March 1, at noon; WCU Jazz Sampler on Friday, March 1, at 8 p.m.; and WCU High School Jazz Festival on Saturday, March 2,from noon to 6 p.m.

All concerts except the Jazz Sampler and WCU High School Jazz Festival are free to the general public. Tickets to the two final shows may be reserved by calling 610-436-2266.

Hurley Burley

This story of a group of self-absorbed actors searching for meaning to their miserable lives was produced on Broadway years ago. Now it is returning to the Adrienne Theatre Feb. 28 to March 24. If you order tickets on line before March 1 you can get 30 percent off by using the code EARLYBURLEY. Their address is NewCity Stage.Org


Tom Petty Tribute Band The Big Jangle -Of the several Tom Petty Tribute Bands this one with top musicians from the Philadelphia area recreates the songs and sounds of tom Petty and the heartbreakers from their music over 30 years. Feb. 22.

Hallelujah the Hills This is an extremely popular indie band from Boston that has been performing for almost 10 years. Feb. 23.

Theatre N at Nemours

Searching For Sugarman This is an exhilarating documentary about two celebrated producers who discovered a fabulous musician in a Detroit bar in the late 1960s. They recorded him, expecting him to become one of the recording artists of his generation. He bombed amid gruesome rumors of his onstage suicide. However, a bootleg recording began being played in South Africa made him a phenomenon over two decades. This tells the extraordinary story they found when they researched what had become of him.Feb. 22 at 2 p.m., Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. and Feb. 24 at noon.

Just 45 Minutes From Broadway This film has an actress, fleeing to her parents home after a romantic break up, where she can react to her friends and theatrical family who live just 45 minutes from Broadway. Feb. 22, at 8 p.m.; Feb. 23 at 2 and 8 p.m. and Feb. 24 at 2 p.m.


Vincent in Brixton A moment in the life of Vincent Van Gogh at Walnut Street Independent Studio on 3 through March 10. Call 215-574-3550.

Caryl Huffaker lives in Kennett Township.