PORTLAND — “A child raised without art is as surely deprived as a child raised without love,” the renowned Maine artist and children’s book author Dahlov Ipcar has said, how she felt about the importance of creativity in a child’s life. She believed that creating fine art in children’s books gave all children a chance to see and experience professional art, whether they could get to a museum or not.

Ipcar loved books, libraries and children.

Sixty-five illustrations from Ipcar’s award-winning children’s books can be seen in a comprehensive and special exhibit at the Portland Public Library. The exhibit will be on view through Dec. 23. It is located downstairs in the George I. Lewis Gallery. An elevator nearby makes the exhibit handicapped accessible.

This is is a dream exhibit for children and teachers, as well as the general public. It encourages children to read books, use the library and enjoy the special creative style of one of Maine’s most famous artists.

The exhibit is in honor of Ipcar’s 100th birthday which would have been Nov. 12, 2017. The artist had planned to attend the function and had discussed it with curator Rachel Walls, whom she had selected as the representative of her art. However, she died Feb. 10, 2017 at the age of 99. Both Walls and Dahlov’s son Charlie helped select the art for this display.

The exhibit is also among many special events planned in honor of the 150th birthday of Maine’s oldest public library.

As a child, Ipcar lived in New York in the winter and spent summers in Maine at her family’s home, “Robinhood Farm,”on Georgetown Island. The farm would later become her permanent home.

While a youngster in Greenwich Village, New York, she would take the subway into the New York Public Library and spend hours and hours looking at books about wild exotic animals from far away places. We can see many of those animals in the works that she created throughout her life.

The exhibit is hung beautifully and imaginatively. Decals with enlarged images from different books are attached on the walls between framed illustrations.

Dahlov Ipcar authored 34 children’s books, three novels for young adults, and two adult fiction books.

Visitors can see, among others, illustrations from “The Calico Jungle,” “The Marvelous Merry Go Round,” “World full of Horses,” “The Cat at Night,” “Stripes and Spots,” and “Wild and Tame Animals,” as well as some from her earliest works.

A high point of interest in the exhibit is an enlarged mural- size illustration from her children’s book titled “Bright Barnyard.” This huge, orange decal in an alcove of the gallery lights up the exhibit like electricity with Ipcar pillows on the floor. Some Ipcar books are available there for children to browse through.

Another outstanding area in the exhibit shows and explains how the color printing process used to work to reproduce the color plates for her early books.

This exhibit is an educational and creative achievement around one of Maine’s most important artists and authors by an institution that was built for all people from all walks of life, to encourage a love of reading and access to books.

For more information about the Ipcar exhibit, or the Portland Public Library, call Rachel Harkness, Program Manager 871-1700.

Speakers, another exhibit

On Saturday, Nov.12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in honor of Ipcar’s birthday, Walls will have an open house at her gallery at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth. For more information call 266-5411.

On Saturday, Nov. 6, from noon to 1 p.m., as the author of “Dahlov Ipcar, Artist,” a biography for young people, I will give a talk in the gallery. And on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at noon, Carl Little, author of the adult biography “Dahlov,” will speak.

The library is located at 5 Monument Way, and is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday until 6 p.m. and Saturday until 5 p.m.

Dahlov Ipcar at her easel, at Robinhood Farm, Georgetown. The photo was taken by her son Robert in 2014. 

Dahlov Ipcar’s first children’s book illustrations were featured in “The Little Fisherman” by Margaret Wise Brown, published  in 1945. Two years later, in 1947, Ipcar combined writing and illustrating in her first book “Animal Hide and Seek.”