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Art Beat: A Not So Small World

David Small and Sarah Stewart are bonded in marriage and more. They are bonded by their mutual love of art and literature.

Small has written and illustrated nearly 60 books, including all of Stewart’s award-winning picture books. The Western Michigan University Libraries will debut their archive acquired from David Small and Sarah Stewart with a series of community events and exhibits, titled “It’s a David Small World: A Journey Through Life and Art.”

“As far as I know, there are two exhibits of my children’s books work,” Small says. “The original art from my children’s books, and I believe it’s equally divided between the KIA and the Kalamazoo Public Library. A lot of it comes from a Texas traveling exhibit that was down in Abilene for many years.”

Artwork from Small’s graphic novels will be on exhibit at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center and an archive exhibit at Western’s Waldo Library. At WMU’s Richmond Center for Visual Arts, an exhibit will focus on the gardens that appear in the work of both Small and Stewart. That will include “garden diaries” that Stewart kept to document her successes and failures as a gardener. It’s curated by Tanya Bakija, the coordinator of exhibitions at the Richmond Center for Visual Arts.

“Dr. Steuer has her own artist side,” says Stewart. “As a librarian, she’s going to seek out that storytelling that’s true of good librarianship, trying to teach us through telling the story. And she’ll do that in a big way with my Garden Diaries, because they’re odd.”

Stewart says her diaries are filled with “words and pictures and pieces of things from nature.” Also unusual, she says, is that she writes about what she’s done wrong in her garden—and not just the blossoming successes. It is the basis, she says, for a manuscript she is currently working on.

Along with a series of exhibits, Small and Stewart have also scheduled other events. One will take place at Bookbug/this is a bookstore in Kalamazoo: a book launch for Long Road to the Circus, a middle-school level historical novel by author Betsy Bird and illustrated by David Small. Bird and Small will give a presentation and sign books on Saturday, October 16, at 4 p.m. Registration is requested.

A full listing of all Small and Stewart exhibits and events is available on their website.

Listen to WMUK’s Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.