Taxidermy With Dr. Seuss

Seuss header

San Diego is a hotbed of Dr. Seuss-iness, which is not surprising as he lived here from 1947 until his death in 1991.  Mandeville Special Collections in UCSD’s Geisel Library is filled with his notes and original artwork, and there is a bronze statue of him sitting at a drawing desk outside the library named after him.  UCSD also celebrates Dr. Seuss’ (Theodor Geisel’s) birthday in the beginning of March each year, and gives away thousands of pieces of free cake.  See my post You Had Me At Free Cake for a description of this whimsical event.

There is another, temporary Seuss-fest in San Diego, at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.  They currently are showing an exhibit of his artwork including sculptures, paintings, and drawings, which runs until December 2015 (Ingenious! The World of Dr. Seuss).

Sam and Trevor had a half day a few Wednesdays ago, so we headed to Balboa Park, our Explorer Passes in hand.  Explorer Passes give you admission to all of the museums in the park (but not the Zoo), so we had a lively debate (as usual) trying to figure out where to go.  Trevor reminded me of the Seuss exhibit, which ended the discussion.  Off we went!

From the lobby there is a view of a vibrant yellow wall, which is hung with fanciful taxidermy specimens.  Taxidermy as only Dr. Seuss could conceive of it!

Taxidermy with Seuss.2

Here is an old photo of Dr. Seuss under one of the taxidermy heads that hung in his home, holding a little dog.  Is it just me, or is this juxtaposition a tad creepy?

Dr. Seuss with dog

Speaking of Dr. Seuss’ home, one of the first things you see in the gallery is a huge photo of him sitting at his work table.  His home sits on top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, and offers views up and down the coastline.  As a creative person, I can only imagine how cool it would be to do your work with that view outside your giant windows.  Sublime.

Dr. Seuss at desk

The gallery was filled with paintings by Dr. Seuss.  Below are a series of cats.  From the left, “Cat From the Wrong Side of the Tracks”, “Wisdom of the Oriental Cat”, “Joseph Cat and His Coat of Many Colors, and “Green Cat with Lights”.

Different Seuss Cats

The colors were so vibrant.  On the left below are “Free Bird” and “Fire Bird”.  I didn’t get the title of the one on the right.   So I’m going to make one up.  How about “Little Red House in a Big Big Universe.”

Colorful Seuss paintings

Self portraits by Dr. Seuss.  He forgot to put on his happy face.

Self portraits

Sometimes the exhibit strayed into more adult themes, like the “Facts of Life” on the right.  The one to the left is Dr. Seuss’ version of “Abduction of the Sabine Women”, which depicts Roman men abducting neighboring Sabine women to help populate their new city.  Hard to imagine a children’s book based on that theme.  It would be enough to give Cindy Lou Hoo nightmares!

Facts of Life.Sabine

This one is “After Dark in the Park”.  Who knew the little animals were so happy?  I wonder what’s in their water…

Park after Dark

There were also amazing sculptures, including, of course, the Lorax.  It inspired Sam to get all “Hand of God”.

The Lorax

Bitter Teen Trevor found his soul mate, Mr. Grinch.  And Horton is hearing a Who.

Grinch+Horton

Had to get a photo of Sam I Am with some green eggs and ham.

Sam I Am

WHEW!!!  What a great exhibit.  Though they started out chipper as chipmunks, the boys found it a bit exhausting.  Fortunately there were giant poof pillows, upon which they sank gracefully down.

Before and after

If you live in San Diego or come to visit, this exhibit is up in next December.  If you would like more info on Dr. Seuss, there is a nice article from 2004 in UCSD Magazine, where the author visits Dr. Seuss’ house and interviews his widow Audrey (Oh the Places He Did Go).

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Filed under Arts/Crafts/Photography, Family

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