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“I Am Birch” selected for The Original Art Show


I Am Birch, a children’s picture book from Peaks Island artist Scott Kelley, has been selected for The Original Art show, a prestigious  annual exhibit curated by the Society of Illustrators in New York.

I Am Birch, which was published by Maine’s Islandport Press, is centered around an unlikely protagonist—the stump of a birch tree. The story begins with rumors of cold and darkness spreading through the woods. A widespread panic ensues among the animals, and they forage and stockpile, leaving their forest home in ruins. The birch shows kindness, humor, and wisdom to the animals and, ultimately, alleviates their fears to bring growth and harmony to the woods.

Some of the paintings in I Am Birch, Kelly’s debut children’s book, were part of “Birch,” a 2017 art show exhibited at Dowling Walsh Gallery in Rockland. Kelley had been working on a series of paintings of Wabanaki tribal elders, and another series of animals from the Maine woods. The two fused in his imagination. The story line was inspired by the legends of Gluskap, the heroic and kind-hearted figure of Wabanaki legends.

The Original Art, founded in 1980 by illustrators’ agent and art director Dilys Evans, showcases art from the year’s best children’s books as determined by a jury of outstanding illustrators, art directors, and editors. Two other Maine artists, Ashley Bryan and Matt Tavares, are also included in the 2018 show. Jurors for The Original Art awarded this year’s Gold Medal to Jose Ramirez for When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana (Simon & Schuster/ Atheneum).

Art by the featured artists will be on display at the Society of Illustrators (128 East 63rd Street, NYC) from November 7, 2018, to January 5, 2019. The Society will also host several community events and programs in conjunction with the exhibit. Selected books, medal recipients, and award winners will be recognized and honored during the Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony, held at the Society of Illustrators on Thursday, November 8, at 6:00 pm. Tickets are on sale for $25 members/ $30 non-members.

Kelley is a fine art painter whose work has been shown in numerous galleries and museums. He lives on Peaks Island with his wife and son.