Pictures not just for kids

Penelope’s Café in La Cañada this month installed a new art exhibit featuring the colorful illustrations of local artist Meredith Johnson. Shown through December, Johnson’s playful and cheerful children’s illustrations will be available for sale at the café.

Since founding Penelope’s Café in August of 2001, owners Penelope and Larry Moss of La Cañada have incorporated art into the gathering spot, displaying art and photography from a changing roster of artists. The Mosses change the exhibits about every 60 days, so there’s fresh art on the walls frequently throughout the year.

“I’m fussy, I don’t like the traditional art work around. I don’t like fruit bowls and palm trees. That’s why I like Meredith. She’s from a different world,” said Larry Moss.

Johnson, who has illustrated more than 200 children’s books, pulled 50 of her favorite pieces to be part of the exhibit. Vivid in color, the illustration prints done in marker, pencil and watercolor are joyful depictions of children in ballet class, playing with pets and riding bicycles.

“My favorite pieces come from the ballerina series (“All Tutus Should Be Pink, and Best Friends Wear Pink Tutus”). They were published 15 to 17 years ago, which is a long time for a children’s book to be around,” Johnson said.

Most pieces are priced at $60 and are already framed; the ballerina-themed books will be on sale, pre-autographed by Johnson. She’s offering $5 framed prints that accompany the books.

Artists and photographers often approach the Mosses to exhibit their art, but the couple were already familiar with Johnson’s work, since the two families live on the same street.

Since the exhibit has only been open for several days, Larry Moss hasn’t heard much feedback, but he believes that Johnson’s illustrations will win people over because people love children and Johnson’s work is clever, he said.


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