Summer/Fall 2023 Exhibitions


July 29, 2023 - January 7, 2024 
Fig Garden, Duncan, and Hallowell Galleries

In 1963, author and illustrator Maurice Sendak (1928-2012) created one of the most beloved children’s books of all time—Where the Wild Things Are. Sixty years after its publication, the Fresno Art Museum is proud to present an exhibition of the work of one of the most influential children’s authors and illustrators of the 20th century. 

This exhibition of works by Sendak includes concept sketches, illustrations, and works on paper. Showcased are highlights from his career and the diverse art forms for which he became legendary from children’s literature to animation, set design for opera and theater, and films. At the heart of this exhibition are the images from the beloved book Where the Wild Things Are.

The works included in this exhibition were carefully selected from private collections and friends of the artist to provide an in-depth and intimate survey of Sendak’s career and his enduring legacy.

Born in 1928 to Jewish immigrant parents in Brooklyn, Sendak began illustrating stories as a child, inspired by the magical stories told to him by his father and older brother. Sendak was largely a self-taught artist. He often based his characters and stories on friends, family, neighbors, and even on pop culture.

Over the course of his career, Sendak illustrated more than 100 books. He was the recipient of numerous awards including a Caldecott Award, a Newberry Medal, a National Book Award, and a National Medal of Arts. His books and illustrations continued to be loved by children and adults all over the world.

Curator: Opar, Inc. and Steve Brezzo

Support for this exhibition from the Bonner Family Foundation, Anita Morris in memory of Randy Morris, Diane and John Hughes, Elsie Lamborn, and Harold and Janice Nikoghosian


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July 29, 2023 - January 7, 2024
Lobby and Concourse Galleries

American photographer Martha Casanave (b. 1946) is the 34th recipient of the Fresno Art Museum’s Council of 100 Distinguished Woman Artist Award. She is also a writer and educator, living and working in Monterey, California.

Casanave has been one of the few women photographers in a male-dominated regional artistic circle that included Ansel Adams and Brett Weston. Her dedication to her career and her contributions to the field of photography were strong factors in the Council of 100 choosing to honor her. Her approach to her subject matter is innovative in both technique and vision. Casanave situates the subjects of her portraits in their respective environments in a way that reveals aspects of their character and interests. With her degree in Russian Language and Literature, Casanave’s photographs taken during her many trips to the USSR raise our consciousness by revealing either the lives of underground artists or the social graces experienced in interactions with the general populace. In all of her work, Casanave experiments with traditional photographic techniques and alternative processes and does not work with digital images.

This solo exhibition Imaginings: Portraits and False Flag, with its accompanying catalog, features 27 large-scale photographs focusing on two different photography projects: 12 black-and-white portraits of famous women and men of the art world, and 15 color prints of selections from her USSR project.

The photographs in the Lobby Gallery were selected from Casanave’s People in Photography black-and-white portrait project and were taken between 1978 and 1983. Biographical wall texts accompany these portraits. The color prints exhibited in the Concourse Gallery were selected from her Russian project Out in the Cold: An American in the USSR and were taken between 1984 and 1995. Casanave now calls this series False Flag. This particular project has not been exhibited with so many images or in this way before this Fresno Art Museum exhibition. Also for the first time, all of the exhibited photographs have been printed in the same large size of 30” x 40”.

Martha Casanave won the prestigious Imogen Cunningham Photography Award in 1979 and the Koret Israel Prize in 1989. Her photography is published in four monographs, and she has taught photographic workshops and master classes in the United States and abroad. Her work has been shown internationally as well as nationally and is in the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Exhibition Curator: Michele Ellis Pracy, FAM Executive Director & Chief Curator

Martha Casanave: Imaginings, Portraits and False Flag sponsored by A Friend of the Museum, Fresno Art Museum’s Council of 100, Joan Poss, Harold and Janice Nikoghosian


July 29, 2023 - January 7, 2024
Moradian Gallery

Mary Blair (1911-1978) is known to Disney fans worldwide as one of Walt Disney’s favorite artists. A designer, illustrator, and colorist, Blair’s concepts set the tone for such iconic animated films as Dumbo (1941), The Three Caballeros (1945), So Dear to My Heart (1948), Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), and Peter Pan (1953) among others. Though Blair initially joined Disney reluctantly (she considered herself foremost a painter), she would rise to become the most influential concept artist at the studio during the mid-20th century. The exhibition of 26 works of art includes concept art for her many Disney animation film projects as well as four rare concept pieces Blair created in the development of the attraction It’s a Small World which debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and later moved to Disneyland.

Organized by the Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University, with works from the Hilbert Collection, Curated by Mary Platt

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July 29, 2023 to June 30, 2024
Contemporary Gallery

Artist and illustrator John Parra (b. 1972) wrote and illustrated an autobiographical book based on his childhood experiences working with his dad, a landscaper on California’s Central Coast. The resulting children’s book, Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son was just published in 2022 by Simon & Schuster and has already received many accolades from reviewers, critics, and fans.

Growing an Artist is a simple, warm, and inspiring book about the bond that is created between father and son. It is about a father who works hard and takes pride in his work and instills that same kind of pride in his child. It is about not letting anyone take away your pride if you do something well. It is about art—the art of growing beautiful things like a lovely garden or a son, who will grow into a talented artist. It is about the bountiful rewards of hard work, whether it be pulling weeds, pruning, and mowing to turn an uninspired yard into a beautiful garden or taking a blank canvas, and with a lot of practice, study, and patience, turning it into a masterful painting.

John’s childhood self, Juanito, helps his dad in his landscaping business, although he is sometimes distracted by what he sees in the natural world and stops to draw a bird or a plant that catches his eye. His father does not seem to mind. He recognizes his son’s natural talent. He knows that it may lead to his son becoming a landscape architect like he himself dreamed of becoming—or perhaps an artist.

John’s own purpose behind this story (and every story he illustrates with his colorful, vibrant, and finely detailed acrylic illustrations) can be summed up by Juanito’s words: “I will use my art to tell the stories of hardworking, passionate people who make the world more beautiful.”

More about John Parra (from

John Parra is an award-winning illustrator, designer, author, and educator best known for his illustrated, Latino-themed, children’s picture books. For his work he has received many awards including: three American Library Association Pura Belpré Honors, two Golden Kite Awards from The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and a Christopher Award. John’s illustrated book, Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos, was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2017. His recent books include Little Libraries, Big Heroes (2019)and The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne (2020). His new book, Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son, is his debut as both author and illustrator.

John’s illustrations for commercial clients include United Airlines, Hitachi, PBS, National Geographic, and many others. His designs can be seen on six U.S. Postal Service Forever postage stamps titled Delicioso (2017), and his MTA artcard poster, Birdhouse Subways (2020), was displayed throughout New York City subways. John was also invited by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to present a special event about his career and illustrations. He has taught art at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, California and regularly speaks as a visiting artist at schools and literary conferences across the country, advocating art and reading education. John is a graduate of ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, and currently lives with his wife, Maria, in Queens, New York.

About the book:
"A heartwarming family story that underscores the value of creativity, passion, and hard work."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Exhibition Curator: Susan Yost Filgate, FAM Education Director
Contemporary Gallery

Art of the Word: Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper & His Son sponsored by The Foundation@FCOE and Harold and Janice Nikoghosian

General exhibition support for the Summer/Fall 2023 Season from Coke and James Hallowell, Eaton and Gibson Family Fund of the Central Valley Community Foundation, Christy V. Hicks, Carole Anderson, Mrs. Bernice M. Woolf, David and MaryAnne Esajian