Lewis Carroll’s classic books, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass,” will come alive in a major art and artifact exhibition Sept. 16-Oct. 26 at the Henry Madden Library at California State University, Fresno.
Visitors will enter “Down the Rabbit Hole with Lewis Carroll and Leonard Weisgard” through a full-size silhouette of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and then find themselves in a world of dreamlike interpretations.
More than 200 hanging art pieces and 150 artifacts, mostly illustrations, will create stimulating visual, sculptural and literary interpretations of the two Carroll books.
The Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Fresno State is hosting the exhibition, which is suitable for all ages. It will be open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 1-5 p.m. Saturdays and 2-5 p.m. Sundays. Other viewings may be arranged by calling the Arne Nixon Center at 559.278.8116.
A historically rich introduction to author Lewis Carroll (whose real name was Charles Dodgson), his literary muse, Alice Liddell, and the original “Alice” illustrator John Tenniel, will greet viewers along the south wall of the second-floor Leon S. Peters Ellipse Gallery. Viewers will discover the inspirations for the dreamlike themes that would come to inspire a Surrealist art movement and support a cultural shift to Wonderland from Victorian England.
The main gallery will offer a variety of original and limited-edition illustrations from the Arne Nixon Center’s permanent collection. Included will be original art by Leonard Weisgard for his 1949 edition of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass.”
Exquisite offset lithographs by illustrator Anne Bachelier, woodcut illustrations by Barry Moser, whimsical art by Aliki, and pre-publication page art by comic creator Willy Schermele also will be displayed, along with original illustrations by six Fresno State students in art and design professor Doug Hansen’s advanced illustration class.
Materials on loan include art by “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz, loaned by the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa; anamorphic bronze sculptures loaned by Los Angeles artist Karen Mortillaro; and original art – Edward Gorey style – loaned by author/illustrator Byron Sewell.
This exhibition marks the first showing of two of Karen Mortillaro’s anamorphic sculptural illusions, representing the first two “Alice” chapters, in what will someday be a series of 12 (for the chapters in the first book).
Integrating science into artistically surprising forms, Mortillaro lifts Tenniel’s images from the flat page, transforming them into three-dimensional forms that change depending on the observer’s point of view. Maquettes, or character studies, will be included in the exhibition.
A gem from the Arne Nixon Center’s permanent collection will feature Salvador Dali’s “Alice” illustrations. Selected portfolio pages will showcase original gouache medium published by Maecenas Press in 1969. Dali’s interpretation brings together two of the most creative minds in Western culture, as both Carroll and Dali are considered ultimate explorers of dreams and imagination.
Glass cases will highlight varied interpretations of the “Alice” stories: first-edition picture books, foreign translations, movie scripts, poems, sheet music, pop-culture spinoffs and an illuminated manuscript will be shown.
On the third-floor Pete P. Peters Ellipse Balcony, viewers will find additional and original illustrations from picture books by Weisgard, on loan from his family.
The range of color and media in his books, including gouache, poster paint, crayon, chalk, decoupage, stenciling, and pen and ink, present his innovative, mid-century modern style. In colorful scenes or monochromatic chapter headings, Weisgard’s use of negative space, coupled with a multitude of techniques, reflects his charming, magical style.
Weisgard won the 1947 Caldecott medal for illustration for his illustrations of “The Little Island” by Golden MacDonald (pseudonym of Margaret Wise Brown).
The exhibition is sponsored by the Arne Nixon Center Advocates (ANCA), Library Dean Peter McDonald, the Leon S. Peters Foundation and ANCA Secret Garden donors.