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Joslyn Art Museum Presents Fantastical Pictures and Pop-ups
Cinderella. Image © Sabuda and Reinhart.

OMAHA, NE.- Celebrated children’s books creators Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart are the best-known pop-up book artists working today as well as the makers of the remarkable The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the three-volume series Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs, Sharks and Other Sea Monsters, and Megabeasts. Working in a shared studio in New York, the two have created an assemblage of hand-crafted popup books that are both intriguing and breathtaking at the turn of every page. From October 10 to January 3, Joslyn Art Museum presents Wizards of Pop: Sabuda & Reinhart, an exhibition dedicated to the inventive creations of these two book artists.

Wizards of Pop is organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, Abilene, Texas. The exhibition includes over 60 images from 13 picture and pop-up books. The book art reveals a variety of media and techniques — with picture book illustrations in batik, marbleized paper mosaic, and delicate cut paper, and pop-up books rendered in pencil, marker, watercolor, acrylic, and linoleum block print. The exhibition features imaginative two-dimensional artworks from such books as Saint Valentine, The Blizzard’s Robe, and The Paper Dragon, as well as innovatively engineered three-dimensional pages from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Encyclopedia Prehistorica series, Young Naturalist’s Pop-Up Handbook: Beetles and Butterflies, Cinderella, and STAR WARS: A Pop-up Guide to the Galaxies, among others.

Sabuda and Reinhart’s inventive creations have universal appeal, calling readers of all ages to explore the fantasy of their books. Between them, the artists have garnered numerous illustration awards, with several of their books appearing on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Matthew Reinhart
“Art was always a tremendous part of my life. Drawing pictures and making crafts were my favorite activities in school and out. I drew whenever and wherever I could! My school notebooks often had more drawings than notes. I loved animals (and still do) so I drew them everywhere. Dinosaurs, like I think about every kid on the planet, were my favorite and I could rattle off the name of every single one before I could add or subtract. As I got older, I was captivated by the movie STAR WARS. The richness of the universe George Lucas created on the screen fueled my young imagination. Creatures, monsters, spaceships, and action heroes filled my many sketchbooks growing up.

Like most high school graduates, I wasn’t completely focused on a career. I didn’t know there were cool jobs like paper engineer (pop-up designer) or that I could make a living being a children’s book illustrator. Like most doctors’ children, I was convinced to study biology to prepare for medical school. College was great, but I wasn’t really happy. Medicine was not my calling. I’d always taken art classes along with my biology courses, so I had built up a bit of a portfolio. I moved to New York after college, and met the extraordinary paper engineer Robert Sabuda while doing some volunteer work. His book The Christmas Alphabet had just been released, and he told me he had studied at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. I was inspired — so, with the blessing and support of my understanding parents, I enrolled as an industrial design (specifically toy design) student the following year. Pratt was fantastic, though my initial dreams of being a toy designer soon transformed into paper engineer, thanks to the help of Robert. I really got into pop-ups after working with Robert on books like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, A B C Disney, and Movable Mother Goose. My first big break of my own in the pop-up world was The Pop-up Book Of Phobias, which was my first solo paper engineered book. Since then, I’ve gradually begun to illustrate and paper engineer my own titles, and occasionally co-author books with Robert.”

Robert Sabuda
“I grew up in the small rural town of Pinckney, in southeastern Michigan. From the moment I could hold a crayon came the discovery that I was an artist. I spent hours, days, and weeks drawing, painting, cutting and gluing. My bedroom was a constant whirlwind of pencil shavings, drippy paint brushes, and mounds of paper scraps. My mother's pleas of "when are you going to clean up this mess?!" went unanswered. At school my teachers asked me to create their bulletin boards because they knew how much I loved art. This was the first time I discovered that paper could be used for more than just drawing and painting on. I covered the bulletin boards with cut paper collages. At home I started to fold and glue paper together to make little model houses. But the best discovery came when I folded together many pieces of paper, stapled them down the middle and created a book. I immediately began making books of all sizes filled with simple stories and happy pictures.

My passion for books took an unexpected twist after a trip to a new dentist. While we waited (I was very nervous) my mother noticed a wicker basket filled with books and suggested I bring one over for us to share. I went to the basket and realized right away that these books were special. I opened the first one and was shocked and delighted to discover it was a pop-up book! Shortly after that, my mother brought home some old manila filing folders from work, which were perfect for making pop-ups. Everyone started giving me pop-up books as gifts and soon I was able to make simple pop-ups.

Throughout middle school and high school I continued to improve as an artist and left Michigan after graduating to attend Pratt Institute in New York City to study art. During my junior year at Pratt I did an internship at Dial Books for Young Readers. I learned everything about how a children's book is created, and I decided then and there that I would be a children's book illustrator.

Today I work in my studio in New York City that I share with my partner, children's book creator Matthew Reinhart. We love making books. It's hard work but the best part is not worrying about making a mess. When being an artist is your job, you can make as many messes as you want to!”

Joslyn Art Museum | Wizards of Pop | Robert Sabuda | Matthew Reinhart |

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