The Leo Politi Garden at California State University, Fresno’s Henry Madden Library will be dedicated at 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 2, with family members and university officials joining for the official opening of the recently completed space.
The garden honors the long friendship between children’s author and illustrator – and Fresno native – Politi and center namesake, the late professor Arne Nixon. Fresno native Politi lived most of his adult life in Los Angeles, returning often to speak, draw and paint at workshops put on by Nixon. Politi died in 1996, one year before Nixon.
Ground was broken March 8 on local landscape architect Robert Boro’s design, which , includes walkways, a curving bench and a fountain like the one in Politi’s 1950 Caldecott Award-winning picture book “Song of the Swallows.”
The garden is just east of the solarium, which connects the recently expanded library’s Table Mountain Rancheria Tower and south wing, which is home to the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature.
Speaking at the dedication will be Fresno State President John D. Welty, university Provost William Covino, Dave Tyckoson, the associate dean of the library, Boro and Arne Nixon Center Advocates president Denise Sciandra. Joining them will be Politi’s children, Paul Leo Politi and Suzanne Politi Bischof, and his granddaughter, Harmony Bischof.
Members of the Nixon Center Advocates in 26 states raised more than $75,000 for the Politi Garden several years ago. Nixon Center curator Angelica Carpenter said statuary and other features will be added when funds become available.
The garden represents Politi’s artistic style and showcases plantings typical of Southern California home gardens such as Politi’s. “Because the garden is in a sheltered niche, it can include delicate plants that need extra protection in Fresno winters,” said Carpenter.
She said it is especially appropriate to have a Politi garden on a campus and in a region rich in multiculturalism. “His focus on children from many cultures set a standard that changed the nature of children’s literature,” Carpenter said.
The garden also serves “as an outward sign of the treasures to be found in the Arne Nixon Center,” she added. “The garden is a tribute to our advocates group and to all the people who knew and loved Leo Politi and Arne Nixon or who have been inspired by their work.”
A display of Politi art and books will be mounted in and near the Arne Nixon Center. “The exhibit includes about 20 original paintings and beautifully inscribed first editions of his books,” Carpenter said.
The center also offers an online exhibition of Politi inscriptions, which he drew and painted in books:http://ecollections.lib.csufresno.edu/arne_nixon/collections/politi.php.
For more information about the garden dedication, contact Carpenter at 559.278.8116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.