‘Nanuq was Standing Right in Front of Tigluk,’ Wendell Minor’s 2009 watercolor and gouache on paper illustration for ‘The Last
‘Nanuq was Standing Right in Front of Tigluk,' Wendell Minor's 2009 watercolor and gouache on paper illustration for ‘The Last Polar Bear' by Jean Craighead George.

STOCKBRIDGE -- The Norman Rockwell Museum is marking the four-decade career of award-winning illustrator Wendell Minor with the exhibition "Wendell Minor's America," opening Saturday and running through May 26.

"Wendell Minor's America" traces the personal and artistic journey of the acclaimed book illustrator and admirer of Norman Rockwell through original artwork, artifacts, and references from Minor's expansive visual chronicles, as well as commentary about his collaborations with our nation's most prominent authors, scientists, and historians.

Highlights include original work from, among other books, "Reaching for the Moon" and "Look to the Stars" by Buzz Aldrin; "Sitting Bull Remembers" by Ann Turner; "Abraham Lincoln Comes Home" by Robert Burleigh; "Arctic Son" by Jean Craighead George; "Shane" by Jack Schaefer; and "America the Beautiful" by Katharine Lee Bates.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue featuring essays by many of the noted authors and editors with whom Minor has partnered.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, who has collaborated with Minor on "1776," "John Adams" and "Truman," will offer remarks during a special opening reception Saturday evening from 6 to 8:30.

McCullough and Minor will discuss the art of collaboration Sunday morning at 11 during a brunch at the museum.

In a news release, the museum quotes McCullough as having recently remarked that "Minor is always showing what he loves -- the great outdoors, crystal night skies, the moon in all its phases, the plain vernacular architecture of American small towns and remote farm houses showing what you love to your audience is the heart of effective teaching. Besides being a supremely gifted artist and natural storyteller, Wendell Minor is a very great teacher -- which is another reason why his work is of such value."

"[We are] honored to present (this exhibition)," chief curator Stephanie Plunkett said in a written statement.

" we have long admired [Minor's] beautifully conceived artworks and designs, which underscore his belief that words and pictures, imagined in concert with one another, have the power to expand meaning."

"Wendell has been a long-time friend and trustee of (the museum)," adds museum director and CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt. "He has helped guide the museum's illustration vision, and been a strong voice for collecting and scholarship relating to this important American art form. We are delighted to have the opportunity to share his own masterful work with our visitors."

"I always looked forward to a Norman Rockwell cover. Somehow I felt he brought people and places to life," Minor is quoted as saying in information supplied by the Norman Rockwell Museum.

"I distinctly remember his Saturday Evening Post cover, ‘Breaking Home Ties' in 1954. I looked at that painting and said, ‘I'm going to go away someday, to school and learn how to draw. I think every Rockwell painting that I saw gave me that sense of wanting to find that America."

Minor was born in Aurora, Ill. in 1944. After completing his studies at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., he began creating original designs for Hallmark Cards, as well as book publishers in New York City. His cover illustrations have enhanced more than 2,000 works.

Minor draws upon his lifelong affinity for environmental issues to create illustrations for children's books, which he finds especially satisfying. They allow him to combine his love of the outdoors with his independent pursuits -- including painting the landscape from life, in the outdoors.