New Dr. Seuss exhibit focuses on Seuss the artist

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California Tower in Balboa Park

LOS ANGELES — Most of us know about Dr. Seuss the author, but a new exhibit in San Diego showcases Seuss the artist.

“Ingenius! The World of Dr. Seuss” focuses on original sketches and oil paintings by Seuss, the visual and literary genius behind the fantasy world of the Grinch, the Cat in the Hat and other characters.

“Many locals know that Dr. Seuss lived here, and while they have read his books, many have not yet seen his art,” Susan Brandt, president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.P. says in a statement. “This exhibition will show the community another fantastical side of Dr. Seuss.”

Dr. Seuss, a.k.a. Theodor Geisel, was born in Massachusetts but lived and worked in La Jolla for more than four decades. He died in 1991 at age 87.

The show, which opened last weekend, includes artwork of famous characters such as the Cat in the Hat and the Lorax as well as a Seussian interpretation of local landmarks like the historic Hotel del Coronado.

Other original artworks on display include a wildly colorful “Firebird” and a creature called “Martini Bird.”

Geisel churned out illustrations, modeled sculptures and oil paintings after starting out as an editorial cartoonist in the 1920s. His more than 40 children’s books filled with magical creatures in swirling landscapes were a hit with baby boomers — and they still resonate with kids.

The museum describes his work as “somewhere between the Surrealist movement of the early 20th century and the inspired nonsense of a child’s classroom doodles.”

The show also features a reading nook for kids where San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and others will read from the works of Dr. Seuss on weekends.

The exhibition is part of the 2015 Centennial Celebration of Balboa Park, whose ornate museum buildings were constructed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

Tickets cost $8 for adults and $4 for children 6 to 17 years old. The show will run through Dec. 31, 2015.

Info: San Diego History Center, 1649 El Prado, Suite 3, Balboa Park; 619-232-6203

Story by Mary Forgione of Los Angeles Times