Toddle-In to Bevier Gallery’s ‘You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby’

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You must've been a beautiful baby
'Cause baby look at you now.

We all have to grow up sometime—but the transition from angelic baby and cutesy toddler, to dorky brat and punky pre-pubescent, is a revelation in itself.

No more so than in “You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby,” an exhibition featuring self-portraits from 60 of America’s top illustrators, which will be on view at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Bevier Gallery. The show opens with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, and runs through Jan. 9.

“Illustrators tend to be the ‘regular Joes and Janes’ of the art world and most of them have a good sense of humor, even if their work is in a more serious vein (fantasy posters, paperback book covers, editorial),” says exhibition curator Robert Dorsey, associate professor at RIT’s School of Art.

The show, which debuted at the Society of Illustrators in New York City (curated by Murray Tinkelman) this past October, reads like a “Who’s Who” of contemporary illustration—and includes such legends as Bart Forbes, Jack Davis (MAD Magazine), C.F. Payne, Nancy Stahl and Bunny Carter. Showcasing a diverse blend of talents, their styles of illustration range from painterly, digital and photo-realism, to caricature, cartoons, drawing and collage.

“‘Beautiful Baby’ will reveal what these future artists may have been thinking as a toddler,” Dorsey explains. “For example, we see the impact that 1950s television had on a young Joe Ciardello with images of the Lone Ranger and Howdy Doody dancing in his head. Or James Bennett (illustrator of Jerry Seinfeld’s children’s book) who seems to be follicle-challenged even as a newborn.”

“And then there’s Vincent DiFate (Creature of the Black Lagoon poster fame) who appears as a young boy sitting on a rock near the water where he is visited by, who else? The Creature!” says Dorsey with a laugh.

The show will also include a self-portrait by Peter DeSeve, who designed all of the characters for Disney’s computer animated “Ice Age.”

The Bevier Gallery, handicapped-accessible, is located in the James E. Booth Building on RIT’s Henrietta campus. Regular gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday; 7 to 9 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 1 to 4:30 p.m., Saturday; and 2 to 4:30 p.m., Sunday. All exhibits are free. For more information, call the Bevier Gallery at (585) 475-2646.