A mural party at the Rosenbach, a frank conversation with Maurice Sendak & the musically inspired “Grace Notes”
from Emaleigh Doley
On April 13, the Rosenbach Museum & Library threw a very special party to celebrate the completion of conservation work on The Chertoff Mural painted by Maurice Sendak. I’ll simply say the author and illustrator’s only surviving mural is charming and whimsical; its journey to Philadelphia from a New York apartment, almost unbelievable; the conservation work, remarkable.
The party was attended by Nina and Larry Chertoff, who were just kids when Sendak painted the parade of animals and children marching along their bedroom wall circa 1961. Friends and family of the Chertoffs, the mural conservation team, friends of Maurice Sendak, many generous supporters to the project, and Rosenbach staff (who have worked tirelessly to share the mural with the public), all joined in the festivities. Sendak, now 82, was unable to attend, but was there in spirit, and the party went on in his honor!
Last week, Amy Rosenberg interviewed Sendak from his home in Connecticut for a story in the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer. The subject of their discussion went far beyond the conservation project. Sendak spoke about why he chose the Rosenbach to be the home for his life’s work (where it can be seen, not simply archived), his memories of painting the mural, life and aging, his new book Bumble-Ardy, opera, being gay, his late partner Eugene Glynn, and much more. I could tell you more, but you should just take a quick break and read the article: Sendak, picturing mortality.
At the party, guests were invited to sign a life-size replica of the nearly 4’ x 13’ mural alongside the very signature of the artist himself. The replica will go in the museum’s archives. Derick Dreher also presented Larry and Nina with copies, thanking them for their generous donation to the museum; Maurice Sendak kept the printer’s proof.
If you visit the Rosenbach this Spring and Summer, you’ll also get to see Grace Notes: A Sendakian Rhapsody (on view through August 7). Sendak has said music helps inspire rhythmic compositions, colors, and even characters in his pictures. Standing in the gallery, you can see clearly the influence of music in his art – some of the figures seemingly dance off the wall.
Preliminary drawing for A Very Special House, written by Ruth Krauss. Pen and ink, watercolor. © 1953 by Maurice Sendak. All rights reserved.
The museum has a touchscreen in the gallery space that plays selections of music with special significance to specific pieces on display. Side by side with the artwork, it’s easy to picture Sendak working late in his studio to Mozart and Beethoven and more. Imagine that.
Still want to know more about the mural? The New York Times, WHYY’s Newsworks, The Associated Press, and The Philadelphia Inquirer all spin the tale. Larry, Nina and Sendak also spoke with NPR’s Robert Siegel in February for a delightful segment on All Things Considered. You can hear that story online and a follow-up story featuring letters from listeners who had much to say. Last but not least, our early press release announcing the project includes some fine insider details about Sendak’s long relationship with the Rosenbach.
The Chertoff Mural. © Maurice Sendak 1961 and 2011. All rights reserved. Photographed by Douglas A. Lockard. Post-production by Stephen Stinehour.
Margery and Frank Cooper explore Grace Notes: A Sendakian Rhapsody. Photo by Susan Beard.
Party guests were invited to sign a life-size reproduction of the nearly 4’ x 13’ mural. The reproduction will go in the museum’s archives. Here’s yours truly… The little boy playing the trumpet is my my favorite character.
Megan went bird crazy and signed the beak!
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