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First Personalities – Maira Kalman

First Personalities is a series on the First Person Arts Blog where we check up on and catch up with past Festival and Salon presenters and participants.

When I got my blogging assignment this week to cover an illustrator, an author, a TED speaker, a designer and a New York Times columnist and blogger, I thought it was awfully ambitious to be covering so many artists in just one post. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that these are in fact the many hats worn by one very busy and very talented artist. I am writing about none other than Maira Kalman who, in addition to the myriad accomplishments listed above, was an artist in our 2007 First Person Festival, presenting her book “The Principles of Uncertainty,” based on a column she wrote for the New York Times. An illustration from the book is immediately below.

A sample from "The Principles of Uncertainty"
Her next book, “And the Pursuit of Happiness,” will be out in October of this year, based on her New York Times blog by the same name. To find her elsewhere around the web, check out everything from her illustrated edition of Strunk and White’s classic The Elements of Style to her children’s books and New Yorker covers. I also highly recommend the video of TED talk; her humor and storytelling style make me think we should get her out to compete at our next StorySlam in February!

Here’s another illustration; this one is from her illustrated “Elements of Sykle,” illustrating the line “His first thought on getting out of bed—if he had any thought at all–was to get back in again.”"His first thought on getting out of bed—if he had any thought at all–was to get back in again."
You might ask, with all of that and having already announced her upcoming book release, what else could she be up to. Well, January 15th saw Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) open at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania. This will run through June 6th and is scheduled to tour in San Fransisco, Los Angeles, and New York. It is the first major museum survey of Maira Kalman’s work and we are thrilled and proud to have it open right here in Philadelphia! Finally, on Wednesday, February 10th at 6:30 PM you will have an opportunity to see Ms. Kalman live at the ICA. Whether you loved her at the First Person Festival in 2007 and want more or are just discovering her now, we hope you’ll attend!

– J. Rudy Flesher

Upcoming Events
  • BEyond Expectations – The Talk: Parents, Sons and the Police
  • Date: March 7, 2019
  • Time: 6:30 PM
  • Venue: SouthWest CDC
  • Location: 6328 Paschall Avenue
  • StorySlam: Promotions (tickets on sale 3/4/19)
  • Date: March 26, 2019
  • Time: 7:30 PM
  • Venue: The Playground at the Adrienne
  • Location: 2030 Sansom Street