Bringing Books & Art to Life #254

Authors, illustrators and artists fill many roles: from teaching to creating. We enjoy some of their creations in the books we read, both as children and adults. Today we speak with Debra Spark and Garry Mitchell, an author and an artist who are also college professors—and have been happily married for many years. We also speak with popular Maine-based children’s author/illustrator, Chris Van Dusen.

Art by Garry Mitchell. Extrovert, acrylic on panel, 2016.

Acrylic on panel



Chris Van Dusen

Chris Van Dusen is a children’s book author and illustrator based in Camden. His first book, Down to the Sea with Mr. McGee, was published in 2000, and he has since written and illustrated seven other books and illustrated eight more.

Garry Mitchell

Garry Mitchell is an artist who has exhibited nationally and internationally. He has received fellowships from Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, the Edward Albee Foundation, and the Provincetown Fine Arts Workcenter, among other places, and grants from the Ford Foundation, the Massachusetts Arts Council, the Arizona Arts Commission, and the Maryland Commission on the Arts. He’s exhibited in many cities, including New York (Barbara Toll Gallery, The Hyde Collection, Damon Brandt Gallery, the Drawing Center, Claudia Carr Gallery, and Art in General,); in Boston(Alpha Gallery) and Tokyo(Japanese International art Expo, and Zephyrus Contemporary Art.). In Maine, he’s been included in Biennials at the Portland Museum of Art , and Maine Center for Contemporary Art. He has had solo exhibitions with the Colby College Museum of Art, University of Maine-Farmington, Maine Center for Contemporary Art, and ICON Contemporary Art. (ICON represents Mitchell’s work in Maine). Garry teaches studio art at Colby College

Debra Spark

Debra Spark is the author of six books of fiction, including, most recently, Unknown Caller, The Pretty Girl, and Good for the Jews. Other books include Curious Attractions: Essays on Fiction Writing, the anthology Twenty Under Thirty, and the recently reissued Coconuts for the Saint. She teaches at Colby College and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Spark has published numerous articles, book reviews, short stories, essays, travel articles, food articles, and ope-eds in publications like Agni, the Boston Globe, the Cincinnati Review, the Chicago Tribune, Epoch, Esquire, Five Points, Harvard Review, The Huffington Post, Maine Magazine, Narrative, New England Travel and Life, the New England Review, the New York Times, Ploughshares,, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, Food and Wine, and Yankee, among other places. She is a senior writer for Maine Home+Design, a shelter magazine for which she writes a monthly feature on homes in Maine. She has been the recipient of several awards including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Bunting Institute fellowship from Radcliffe College, a Wisconsin Institute Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, a Michigan Literary Fiction Award, and the John Zacharis/Ploughshares award for best first book. A graduate of Yale University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she is a professor at Colby College and teaches in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She lives with her husband and son in North Yarmouth, Maine.