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Issue Date: August 2011

Art I Am

A traveling exhibit of bronze Dr. Seuss characters shows a different side of the children's book author.
Gina Kuzmick

Things change, of course, when a 6-foot-tall Cat in the Hat shows up: Rainy days can be less dreary. Public places are made more lively. And Dr. Seuss gets some well-deserved appreciation as an artist.

The oversized bronze kitty, with his wide grin, gallant stride and outstretched umbrella, is the ringleader for the Chase Art Companies' sculpture garden on display at Eton Chagrin Boulevard until Sept. 16. Since its creation in 2009, the touring exhibit, which includes Seuss favorites such as Sam-I-Am, the Lorax, the Grinch and Yertle the Turtle, has visited various museums, botanical gardens and even the Clinton Presidential Library.

"[Dr. Seuss] wasn't just a children's author but also a significant artist of the 20th century," says Bill Dreyer, curator of the Art of Dr. Seuss collection.

Beyond the illustrations for his famous books, Theodor Seuss Geisel created surrealist paintings and 3-D sculptures of fanciful fish, birds and other characters he dubbed the Unorthodox Collection of Taxidermy. "You may know Dr. Seuss through his children's books, but there is a whole other world of art that is beyond [that]," says Dreyer.

For the traveling exhibit, Geisel's wife, Audrey, approved each storybook character selected to be portrayed in bronze by sculptor Leo Rijn, who created the original sculptures for Universal Studios' Seuss Landing.

"They're a tribute to Dr. Seuss' most beloved characters," Dreyer says. "Each has a wonderful story and an important message. His stories touch on some of the most pressing issues to date — from resource conservation to racial equality."

Dreyer hopes that the garden will shed a new light on the cherished characters and their artist. "People go [into the exhibit] thinking they know Dr. Seuss. But they come away saying, 'I never knew how wonderful of an artist he was.' "

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