HomeNovember 2011Oasis from Our Busy Lives

Oasis from Our Busy Lives

For many reasons the Chemers Gallery’s 20th Annual Children’s Book Illustration Art Show, slated for December 3 from 1 to 5 p.m., is very much in character with the overall philosophy of the gallery, which has been in business in Enderle Center in Tustin for 33 years.  “An oasis from our busy lives, Chemers Gallery strives to enhance and nurture the soil through the arts and community,” according to a brochure published by Enderle Center.
“A major reason we do the show is that we believe that learning about and becoming part of the arts community should start as early as possible,” explained Karen Raab, owner of the gallery, when describing what many people believe is its most anticipated event.  “It’s important to start as a young child to appreciate culture.  It promotes learning in science and math and makes a child well rounded.”
The event began when Raab’s mother, Rita Chemers, who started the gallery as “Artistic I” in 1978, “fell in love with a book called Song of Sedna, and the show had one artist, Daniel San Souci.”  Raab quipped that she “had art in her home from day one, and my mother had art before she had furniture.”
Chemers, who still does appraisals, has been retired for almost seven years, and Raab has carried on the tradition.  “Originally, I thought I was going to reform the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the medical field,” said Raab, who majored in physiology and toxicology and obtained an MBA while working at the gallery during the summers.
“Opening the gallery for the benefit of community organizations is a priority,” said the Enderle Center brochure.  Chemers Gallery “is a great venue for lectures and community art shows.”
In addition, there is always a “philanthropic component” in what Chemers Gallery does, according to Raab, a Chicago native who has been involved in the Jewish community through board affiliations with Jewish Federation & Family Services (JFFS), Young Leadership Division (YLD) and the Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE).  As part of its commitment to giving back to the community the gallery routinely opens its beautiful facility at no charge to Jewish and other philanthropic events and donates a percentage of the sales to organizations including those listed above and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Jewish Committee (AJC), Chabad, Chapman College, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Jack and Jill Guild.
Another reason for doing the show is the uniqueness of the event.  Chemers Gallery showcases award-winning illustrators at the show, attracting the young and young at heart to meet the illustrators and see their works.  “We’re the only people in California that have children’s book illustrations, so they’re more valuable and sought after,” Raab said.
The beneficiary for the children’s book illustration show this year is Chapman University College of Educational Studies, K-12 Literacy Programs, according to Raab.  The show features five of Chemers Gallery’s past best selling illustrators.  “We have two Jewish illustrators this year, Robin Preiss Glasser (from our community) and Elisa Kleven.  We also have the woman who illustrated the Harry Potter books, Mary Grandpre.  The other two illustrators are Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson (husband and wife) and Raul Colon.
Describing the show as “a perfect idea for holiday gifts,” Raab explained that all of the art in the gallery will be taken down and replaced with children’s book illustrations.  More than 300 illustrations will be available for viewing and purchase, as well as 50 books from “five and a half authors, one of whom is a husband and wife team,” Raab said.  There are books for children of all ages.
Although best known for her Harry Potter illustrations, Mary Grandpre has numerous children’s and chapter books to her credit.  Originally working exclusively in pastel, Grandpre also enjoys working in mixed media to create magic.
Raul Colon continues to bring history to life with his portrayals of famous figures and folktales.  Colon works with a watercolor wash and colored pencil, giving his illustrations an almost velvety illusion.  One of Colon’s recent books was written by Santa Ana’s own Rueben Martinez, who will also be at the event.
Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson, the dynamic husband and wife team, display amazing versatility in every diverse book they illustrate.  Working in collage and mixed media, they flawlessly portray the time and essence of a book in every page they create.
Elisa Kleven cuts teeny, tiny pieces of paper and fabric to make her intricate illustrations.  Always thought provoking and full of whimsy, Kleven writes and illustrates most of her charming books.  She always touches the heart.
Robin Preiss Glasser is the delightful illustrator of the Fancy Nancy books.  With more than 40 books to her credit, she brightens everyone’s day with her wit and charm.  For the first time, Fancy Nancy illustrations are available for purchase.  Original illustrations are painted using pen and ink and watercolor.
Chemers Galley began preselling both books and illustrations on October 1.  Presale of books and illustrations continues until each illustrator has sold 200 books or November 26, whichever comes first, and illustrations will hang from December 3 to 17.
In addition, Chemers Gallery offers a wide range of fine and decorative art, jewelry, glass, ceramics and custom framing.  Its services include appraisal, restoration, art locating and installation.  The gallery features more than 200 local, national and international artists ranging from fine to decorative art and contemporary crafts, including jewelry, art glass and ceramics.  Raab is always searching for unique new work for the gallery’s valued clientele.
Providing a large selection of custom framing, Chemers Gallery’s on-site framers treat artwork with care whether purchased at the gallery, clients’ own art or family heirlooms.  Choose from over 2000 frame styles ranging from hand-carved to eco-conscious.  Other services include corporate and residential consultations, appraisal, restoration and installation.  Art and jewelry come in all price ranges.
“We love what we’re doing, and people recognize that,” Raab concluded.
For more information, contact Karen Raab, Chemers Gallery, 17300 17th Street, Suite G, Tustin, California 92780; (714) 731-5432; www.chemersgallery.com; karen@chemersgallery.com.


  1. Wonderful article! Karen puts on a wonderful event at her gallery and I’m glad to see it get coverage. She is truly the most generous business owner I’ve seen, as she says “yes” to any philanthropic request. I can’t wait for the event!

  2. This year’s line-up is wonderful – but, then, every year’s show is special. Chemers always provides excellent services to its clients – from finding us what we want even if it is not in the Gallery at the time, creative framing options, and a great selection of gifts for ourselves or others. Its always a treat to be treated to outstanding customer care.


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