What: Dr. Seuss’ “Secrets of the Deep” art exhibition
When: OpeningSaturday, Oct. 8
Where: Jean Stephen Gallery
912 Nicollet Mall
It has been said that nearly one in fourpeople in the world are familiar with Dr. Seuss. Though impossible to confirm, that fact probably isn’t too far from the truth.
Theodor Geisel’s genius has resulted in more than 222 million books sold, three Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards and a Pulitzer Prize, making him the most famous doctor without a Ph.D.
This Saturday, Jean Stephen Galleries will be opening Dr. Seuss’ “Secrets of the Deep” art exhibition, featuring several previously unreleased pieces from the Seuss estate archives. The exhibit features refined illustrations along with earlier developmental stage drawings of most of Seuss’ most beloved characters.
Notably, rough sketches of what would eventually end up as illustrations for “The Cat in the Hat” provide an intimate glimpse into the beginning phases of America’s most famous feline. And many other highly revered characters are also represented, such as the Lorax, the Sneetches, the Grinch and Sam I Am. Some are exactly as you remember them, others are in more premature stages.
The exhibit also features many of Seuss’ little-known sculpture pieces, or “unique taxidermy,” a technique he used to bring his characters to life in 3D. The collection is a nice sampler platter of Dr. Seuss’ imaginative universe, a testament to his work’s cultural endurance.
“He had a good message then, and he still has a good message now,” said Jean Danko, who co-owns the gallery along with her husband, Steve. “People just like his work, the colors. It just makes them smile.”
Steadily marching through his sonorous rhyming and typically anapestic tetrameter, Seuss’ didactic moral lessons are strengthened by the imaginative simplicity with which they are told.
Though he claimed that when he began writing he didn’t have a moral trajectory, his work is undeniably allegorical, breeding social and political commentary that was radical for his time and still remains relevant.
“His work touches a common chord with so many of us,” said Steve Danko. “He has such a wonderful way of portraying things, [the stories] still hold their meaning today.”
Seuss uses rudimentary moral lenses to examine foundational issues. Generations of readers have passed the stories along; it’s their natural simplicity that has allowed the stories to maintain fundamental relevance. Seuss has an innate ability to make even the most complex worldly issues seem silly, a perspective all too rare amid the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life.
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to get Seuss’s take on our current economic turmoil and the post-9/11 terrorist hunting spree. But the Seuss exhibition at Jean Stephen Gallery invites the community to reminisce and revel in his timeless classics. Perhaps we might begin to realize that we’ve been acting a little silly ourselves lately.
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