The Sordoni Art Gallery at Wilkes University presents Selections from the Sordoni Collection of American Illustration & Comic Art from April 7 to May 20. Drawn from the private collection of Andrew J. Sordoni, III, the exhibition features 135 original artworks by more than 100 artists including “Golden Age” illustrators N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish and Frank Schoonover.
Norman Rockwell and J.C. Leyendecker, both known for their mass-market magazine covers, are also represented. Subject matter varies from adventure to courtship to Westerns, pulps, and glamour and provides a glimpse into popular culture and interests from the late 19th century to the present as reflected in the taste of the collector. The exhibition includes paintings and drawings that appeared on magazine covers, interior story illustrations, advertisements, book jackets, album covers, daily and Sunday comic strips, cartoons, and movie cels.
Notable comic strip artists on view include George Herriman (Krazy Kat), Harold Foster (Prince Valiant) and Charles Schulz (Peanuts) along with Wilkes-Barre native Ham Fisher (Joe Palooka). Cartoons that appeared in periodicals such as The New Yorker, Playboy and The National Lampoon by Buck Brown, John Caldwell and Charles Rodrigues are also represented.
“Andrew Sordoni’s unyielding support has helped us usher in a new era of the arts at Wilkes University. I can think of no better way to close out our first year in the Gallery’s new location than by featuring selections from a collection he carefully cultivated over 50 years,” said University President Patrick F. Leahy. “The American Illustration and Comic Art exhibition is indicative of the high-profile exhibitions we will continue to host at Wilkes University.”
“I grew up in a family that valued art. My mother, who with Wilkes president Dr. Farley, established the Sordoni Art Gallery in 1973, was a professionally trained artist. The walls of our home were decorated with paintings and drawings. As a boy I was fascinated with great characters who never were and began collecting readily available, and cheap, movie lobby cards graduating to movie cels, comic strips, and illustrations as opportunities and resources allowed,” said the collector, Andrew J. Sordoni. “Looking back over a half century of collecting, I see a diverse group of art that shares one common thread: All of it sparked a visceral response in me at the time. That, rather than a programmatic approach, defines this collection, which we are pleased to share.”
The exhibition is curated by Stanley I Grand. A catalogue with essays by the curator and contributions by David Apatoff, Sam Gross, Laurie Norton Moffatt, David Saunders, Heather Sincavage, Jim Steranko, and Fred Taraba accompanies the exhibition.
A reception will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 7. It is free and open to the public. In addition, the gallery is hosting an afternoon lecture series. Lectures begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Sordoni Art Gallery at 141 S. Main St. They are also free and open to the public. Scheduled events include:
- April 11, “Curator’s Tour” with Stanley I Grand, Ph.D.
- April 25, “What Makes a Pulp Different from a Slick” by David Saunders, illustration historian and son of Norman Saunders who is featured in the exhibition
- May 2, “The Solitary Figure in American Illustration” by Andrew J. Sordoni, III
For more information, visit www.wilkes.edu/sordoniartgallery.
The $3 million, 7,000-square-foot Sordoni Art Gallery is a culmination of a gallery revitalization plan to enrich the arts for students, faculty and staff while contributing to cultural life in the local community. More than double the size of the former gallery, the new space opened in 2017 and is outfitted for high-end national art exhibitions and includes versatile opportunities for teaching and learning. The gallery shares space with the Karambelas Media and Communication Center at 141 S. Main St. in Wilkes Barre.