UPCLOSEWITH ‘ I SPY’

ARTIST WAL­TER WICK’S WORK ON DIS­PLAY AT LY­MAN AL­LYN

The Day - Sound & Country - - I Spy - By SU­SAN BAN­NING DAY STAFF WRITER

IIt is the great parental co­nun­drum: Play­ing games with kids can be fun, but even­tu­ally some­one gets bored… and it’s al­most al­ways the adult. En­ter I Spy – not the “on the road” game, but the chil­dren’s book se­ries.

Th­ese ob­ser­va­tional clas­sics can en­rap­ture both the old and the young, and it’s not a game you have to “let” the child win. More of­ten than not, their abil­ity to see the for­est for the trees is keener than yours. It is both a de­mor­al­iz­ing and proud mo­ment for a par­ent to lose a round of I Spy.

The artist be­hind the books, Wal­ter Wick, has a stu­dio in Hart­ford and has taken his work on the road to mu­se­ums. Ly­man Al­lyn Art Mu­seum in New Lon­don has landed the exhibit, which is open now through Jan. 26.

On hand will be a dizzy­ing as­sort­ment of sets and large-scale pho­to­graphs thatWick has de­signed for the books. The three-di­men­sional look is what makes I Spy (andWick’s Can You See What I See se­ries) so unique, and the work he puts into the pho­to­graphs be­comes even more ev­i­dent when you see the set pieces.

“I think it’s go­ing to be huge,” said Su­san Hen­dricks, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the mu­seum. She pointed out that the exhibit at­tracted 20,000 vis­i­tors to the New Bri­tain Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Art over its three-month run there, yet an in­for­mal poll showed that very few peo­ple from this area made it up to the Hard­ware City for the show.

Wick is pro­mot­ing his lat­est Can You See What I See book, “On a Scary Scary Night,” and the elab­o­rate sets will be per­fect for Hal­loween. The six gal­leries in the mu­seum will be ded­i­cated to more than 60 ex­am­ples ofWick’s work, with the main gallery fea­tur­ing a street scene from the new book.

Hen­dricks ex­plained that what­ever room you are in will fea­ture a pic­ture from a book, with the text on the wall of what to find and the sets rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the pic­ture. The three-di­men­sional look will make you ap­pre­ci­ate how much work goes into mak­ing the pic­ture.

“(Ly­man Al­lyn in­terim di­rec­tor) Nancy Stula and I went to see the stu­dio in Hart­ford,” Hen­dricks said. “Ev­ery floor was ded­i­cated to a dif­fer­ent set and the shelves con­tained tackle boxes of things that (Wick) uses for the books. They were on floor-to-ceil­ing shelves and each one was marked. It was amaz­ing.”

Hen­dricks is also a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the all-ages ap­peal of the show.

“It turns ev­ery adult into a great big kid,” she said. “In not one of th­ese pre­sen­ta­tions that he will have on dis­play could I find ev­ery­thing. It’s so much fun, and a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity for the en­tire fam­ily to do to­gether. So, in­stead of ‘Mom and Dad bring­ing the kids,’ it’s ‘Mom and Dad play­ing with the kids.’”

The mu­seum is also adding a bilin­gual com­po­nent to the exhibit in an ef­fort to bring more New Lon­don­ers to their home­town mu­seum.

“We make a point to reach out to the com­mu­nity of New Lon­don,” Hen­dricks said. “Any­one who lives here can get free ad­mis­sion with ID that says they are from New Lon­don.”

The mu­seum is also the host for Wick’s book launch on Oct. 19 (he’ll be there to sign his book) and will have spe­cial events such as lec­tures, book sign­ings and a “Whit­tle LikeWalt” day.

There is an ad­mis­sion charge for adults (ex­cept for the Free First Sun­day oc­cur­ring on the first Sun­day of the month); chil­dren un­der 12 are ad­mit­ted free.

THIS PAGE, A VA­RI­ETY OF SETS AND DETAILED PHO­TO­GRAPHS THAT REP­RE­SENT WAL­TER WICK’S ART WILL BE ON DIS­PLAY AS PART OF THIS EXHIBIT. PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF LY­MAN AL­LYN ART MU­SEUM.

YOU’LL SEE THE SETS THAT COM­PRISE THE “I SPY” BOOKS UP CLOSE AND PER­SONAL IN THE LY­MAN AL­LYN GAL­LERIES. PHOTO COUR­TESY OF LY­MAN AL­LYN ART MU­SEUM.

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