Everybody loves Maurice Sendak. Like so many others, I’ll never forget the first time I saw the wonderfully grotesque, slightly terrifying and yet oddly kid-friendly creatures of the famed children’s author/illustrator’s classic Where The Wild Things Are. He captured childhood not through a perspective of “innocence,” like so many others do, but rather a more evocative lens of childlike curiosity and emotional revelry. Gone only six years now, the late Sendak’s imagination and illustrations continue to inspire new generations of artists, authors and readers.
Now, Sendak’s genius is about to get a little closer to Saratoga Springs. Yaddo announced this week a new grant from The Maurice Sendak Foundation to fund a residency at the world-renowned artists’ retreat at Yaddo’s 400-acre estate. Designated for an artist whose primary media is nondigital work on paper (like Sendak himself), the Sendak/Glynn Narrative Illustration Residency (Dr. Eugene Glynn was Sendak’s partner of more than 50 years) will support one artist for a residency at Yaddo, which can last anywhere from two weeks to two months, in addition to a $1000 stipend. “We’re grateful to The Maurice Sendak Foundation for the opportunity to expand Yaddo’s burgeoning community of narrative artists,” said Yaddo President Elaina Richardson in a statement. “The funding will help to support work that is, in Maurice Sendak’s words, ‘not vapid or stupid, but original; work that excites and incites.’”
Contiguous to the Saratoga Race Course, Yaddo consists of a 55-room mansion (currently under renovation) and studios on 400 acres of private land, pines trees and manicured gardens, only a small portion of which is open to the public. Although it keeps a very low profile about all the famous artists coming and going within its walls (many Saratogians aren’t even aware of the retreat), Yaddo is one of the most successful artist communities in the county. Painters, writers, poets, musicians and now filmmakers and other creative types have been checking in and out of the many rooms of Yaddo’s main Victorian mansion since it first opened to guests in 1926. The track record speaks for itself: so far Yaddo has hosted writers who have won 74 Pulitzer Prizes, 68 National Book Awards and even a Nobel Prize (Saul Bellow). The list of alumni includes the biggest names in the arts and entertainment such as Truman Capote, Leonard Bernstein, Alice Walker, Raymond Carver, Langston Hughes, Aaron Copland, Eudora Welty and Philip Roth, among many others.
The Maurice Sendak Foundation is a charitable organization that supports the legacy of Maurice Sendak and nurtures emerging and established artists in children’s literature and theater design through its own residency program and fellowships. Stationed in the late author’s home in Ridgefield, CT, the Foundation also promotes children’s literacy and animal welfare programs. Lynn Caponera, President of The Maurice Sendak Foundation, is excited about the new partnership with Yaddo. “Maurice, throughout his lifetime, was a student of all the arts, and we are delighted to be able to give illustrators the opportunity to enhance their craft by enabling them to work among other Yaddo residents,” she says.
The application deadline for the Sendak/Glynn Narrative Illustration Residency is August 1.