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Before Symeon Shimin became an award-winning children’s book illustrator beginning in the 1950s, he plied his trade in Hollywood, creating large-scale posters for films, including Gone with the Wind. During the Great Depression, Shimin was contracted by the Public Works Arts Project to paint a mural in the Department of Justice Building in Washington, D.C. Called “Contemporary Justice and the Child,” the piece took four years to complete and can still be seen there today.
I recently interviewed Independent writers Charles Donelan and Josef Woodard, who each contributed an extended essay to the coffee-table book The Art of Symeon Shimin. Donelan and Woodard, along with UCSB theater professor Michael Morgan and the author’s daughter, Tonia Shimin, will present the book on Thursday, February 6, 7 p.m., at Chaucer’s Books.
I spend a good deal of my free time looking at art, but I have to admit that before this interview, I didn’t know who Symeon Shimin was. Assuming I’m not alone in that regard — after all, this is the first book devoted to his work — what are the reasons for his relative obscurity, and why is now a good time to showcase his art?