Art gifts

Middletown Arts Center hosts ‘Toby Gowing, Illustrations’ art exhibit


originally published: 03/18/2022

(Middletown, New Jersey) — Middletown Arts Center features the work of book illustrator and Middletown resident, Toby Gowing, from April 1-27, 2022. The exhibition, Toby Gowing, Illustrations, will feature nearly 50 of the artist’s illustrations spanning 1980-2010, as well than many of his paintings from life.

“Illustration gives images to words, just as words give images to music.” –Toby Gowing

For over 30 years, Toby Gowing has worked as a professional illustrator specializing in children’s and young adult books. After graduating from the Pratt Institute, she began her career in New York, designing book covers for numerous publishers, including Atheneum, Scholastic, and Scribners. In 1986, Gowing moved to Middletown, where she found a new subject for her portraits – neighborhood children who would pose for her.

Middletown Arts Center hosts 'Toby Gowing, Illustrations' art exhibit

Photo of Toby Gowing by Brad Berman

Avis Berman, writer, curator, and historian of American art, architecture, and culture, describes Gowing’s work in the essay, Thirty years of painting: “These paintings are united by their sense of drama, a commitment to finding a moment or incident that conveys maximum emotion. Gowing’s work features children who are brave or strong-minded, making their own decisions, achieving a flash of insight, leading an adventure or challenging their situation.Adults play a secondary role, in keeping with a major theme of so many of these stories: the power of young adults to shape their worlds, whether mundane or affected by The magic of illustration is a form of collaborative art – the illustrator strives to distill the meaning of the author so that the words flow from the page to a concrete moment or incident visualized from the Toby primarily uses oil paint in all of his work, allowing him to more easily revise with the slow-drying medium, as well as enjoy the range and richness of colors that suit his real style you.

In honor of Gowing’s love of books, a Meet the Artist reception will be held on Sunday, April 3, 2022 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. to kick off “National Library Week” (April 3-9, 2022 ). The event is free and open to the public.

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In conjunction with the Middletown Township Public Library, a videotaped tour of the exhibit will be available on the Middletown Arts Center and Library websites at and During the tour, Gowing will explain his process of illustrating books, give information about some works of art and an overview of his work experiences. Additionally, the library will host a special teen night led by Gowing titled How to Become an Illustrator on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 at 7:00 p.m.

The Middletown Arts Center is located at 36 Church Street in Middletown, NJ (next to the Middletown train station). Gallery hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday with evening and weekend viewing by appointment. To schedule a visit, please call 732.706.4100. Free parking is available on site and in the station’s paid lot on weekday evenings after 6:00 p.m. and on weekends. The Middletown Township Public Library is located at 55 New Monmouth Road, Middletown, NJ.

Middletown Arts Center (MAC) is an award-winning, state-of-the-art facility in Middletown, NJ that offers arts-focused performances, exhibits, classes, and camps. It is conveniently located opposite Middletown Station and its recently expanded MAC Annex is minutes from the Middletown Reformed Church Education Building. The MAC is operated by a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Middletown Township Cultural and Arts Council, which is dedicated to providing quality arts programming and events to Middletown and surrounding communities.

TOP IMAGES: The Solitary, 1986, oil on paper, 15 x 17 inches; Lombardo’s Law, 1993, oil on paper, 14.5 x 17.5 inches. Pictures of Brad Berman