Dr. Seuss' centennial celebration

Early drawings are on display in Ocean City

Arts: museums, literature

July 22, 2004|By Jeffrey Dieter | Jeffrey Dieter,SUN STAFF

Pay a much-needed visit to the doctor - Dr. Seuss, that is. He's best known and loved for his colorful children's books that tickle the tongue and pique the imagination.

There's no need to mention titles. Odds are you already have in mind a picture - a plate of green eggs and ham, perhaps, a Horton, or maybe a Lorax talking to trees. These characters, and the legacy of the man who created them, are timeless. But Theodor Seuss Geisel's career neither begins nor ends with his 44 children's books. The works from this other part of his career are on view in Ocean City at The Art of Dr. Seuss: A Retrospective and National Touring Exhibition, which celebrates what would have been the artist's 100th birthday.

According to his publisher's official Seuss Web site, Geisel openly admitted to his lack of formal art education, although he was an incessant doodler. He went on to Oxford, where his doodles caught the attention of fellow student Helen Palmer, who encouraged him to become an artist and later married him.

After graduation, Geisel joined the staff of Judge, a weekly New York humor publication. His work during this period shows the beginnings of the popular characters from his later children's books, such as elephants that resemble Horton and predecessors to Yertle the Turtle.

Geisel also worked for Standard Oil's advertising department and contributed to PM , Life and Vanity Fair magazines. Eventually, he became a success in publishing with his second book, The Cat in the Hat, which he wrote when Houghton Mifflin and Random House asked him to create a primer for children using a list of specified vocabulary words .

The Ocean City retrospective includes his early magazine illustrations; a selection of his editorial, advertising, military and book drawings; and his Secret Art collection.

The exhibit is on view through Aug. 2, and admission is free.

Atlantis Gallery is at 5 Somerset St., just off the boardwalk. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Call 410-289-4447.

For more arts events, see Page 32.

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