Exhibit: Harold, Purple Crayon & Other Art by Rowayton Illustrators

The exhibit features work of one-time Rowayton artist/illustrators Jim Flora, Ruth Krauss, Crockett Johnson and Maurice Sendak.

Once home to several renowned author/illustrators, Rowayton now hosts some of their work in an exhibit opening Memorial Day Weekend. You can get tickets to an opening reception on Thursday, May 22.
Once home to several renowned author/illustrators, Rowayton now hosts some of their work in an exhibit opening Memorial Day Weekend. You can get tickets to an opening reception on Thursday, May 22.

In the magical stories of Harold and the Purple Crayon, created by the late Crockett Johnson (who lived in Darien and Rowayton) everything Harold draws become real. 

These delightful picture book classics are imaginative and joyful and are now part of a new exhibit at the Rowayton Historical Society entitled Rowayton and the Purple Crayon: Celebrating the Creative Culture of 1950s Rowayton. 

Designed to inform and delight visitors of all ages, the exhibition will feature the work of Jim Flora, Ruth Krauss, Crockett Johnson (born David Johnson Leisk), and Maurice Sendak

These four Rowayton residents were celebrated authors and illustrators and created some of America’s most beloved children’s literature.  

"At about the time of his [Johnson's] marriage to Ruth Krauss in the early 1940s, the couple moved first to Darien, Connecticut, and by 1946 to Rowayton, a small town on the northern shore of Long Island Sound, where he often sailed," according to the Kansas State University website. "During the time the Johnsons lived in Rowayton, Maurice Sendak, who illustrated eight of Krauss's books, spent many weekends at their home, learning about -- and collaborating on -- children's books."

To celebrate this extraordinary exhibition, the Society will host an intimate evening of cocktails and cheer at a preview reception on Thursday, May 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Pinkney House, 177 Rowayton Ave. 

The exhibition will open on Sunday, May 25, to the greater public as part of the town’s Memorial Day celebration.

“We are pleased to invite the community to preview this extraordinary new exhibit, which includes exciting loans from the archives and special collections at the University of Connecticut’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center,” said Wendell Livingston, President of the Rowayton Historical Society. 

“Attendees at the preview reception will be among the first to see priceless original art and sketches, book dummies, correspondence, manuscripts and more, while learning about fascinating private lives of these renowned artists,” said Curator Lesley Korzennik. 

Tickets are on sale at a cost of $25 per person and are available by emailing info@rowaytonhistoricalsociety.org. A portion of the ticket price will benefit the Rowayton Historical Society’s educational programming.

About the Exhibition: 

Visiting the exhibition, you will be transported back in time, reliving childhood favorites such as A Hole is to Dig, Harold and the Purple Crayon, the Fabulous Firework Family, Where the Wild Things Are, and the groundbreaking comic strip Barnaby. Marvel at Jim Flora’s playful and energetic illustrations.  

Delight in the grotesque fanged monsters from Where the Wild Things Are, and consider how their forms concerned parents when it was first published.  Savor the whimsical genius of the husband-and-wife team Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson and learn how their political views caused them to come under FBI scrutiny.  

The exhibition opens to the public on Sunday, May 25, and remains on display through Thanksgiving. Exhibition hours are Tuesdays 9:30am-12pm, Fridays 12-3pm, and Sundays 12-3pm. (Closed June 12 and July 6th and the month of August.) General admission is $5, free for RHS members. 

In connection with the exhibition, the Society will present a series of exhibit related programs. 

  • On Sunday, May 18 please join a very special lecture: "Radicalism, 'Red Scares', and McCarthyism" with Professor Elliot Kalner for an examination of the recurring pathology of fear, prejudice, and paranoia that have blighted our historical landscape, including Rowayton, from WWI through the 1950s and beyond.  The lecture takes place at 4 p.m. at the Rowayton Community Center, located at 33 Highland Ave., Rowayton; $5 general admission, free for RHS members.  
  • On Sunday, June 8th children and their families are invited to a special Tie Dye event in Pinkney Park with Seaside Delights from noon to 3 p.m. to make a colorful t-shirt that Harold would be proud to wear!  $10 per person, which includes a tee shirt and lessons on tie dye. 
  • Families can enjoy story time on Tuesday, June 10 in the Rowayton Library courtyard, featuring the works of Ruth Krauss.  The fun takes place at 4:15 p.m.
  • Mark your calendars for June 19 to attend a fascinating lecture entitled, Cool: How Air Conditioning Changed Everything.  The lecture will take place at 7:30pm at the Rowayton Community Center, located at 33 Highland Ave., Rowayton; $5 general admission, free for RHS members.  Visit http://www.rowaytonhistoricalsociety.org for more details and to learn about the exciting programming ahead during the summer and fall.


The Rowayton Historical Society would like to thank the exhibition’s sponsors, HarperCollins, Darien Rowayton Bank, Fairfield County Bank, Community Cooperative Nursery School, United Church Nursery School, Five Mile River Nursery School and The Ginger Man of Norwalk. 

The organization seeks to provide opportunities to discover and appreciate the history of Rowayton and its relationship with neighbouring communities.  The Rowayton Historical Society is a not-for-profit, privately supported, educational facility.  Please visit www. rowaytonhistoricalsociety.org for more information.

Editor's note: Most of this article is copied from an announcement by the Rowayton Historical Society on Norwalk Patch. Minor changes have been made, including the addition of the quote from the Kansas State University website.


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