Art: Secrets of the Deep at Malton Gallery

You’re a sneaky one, Dr. Seuss. With entertaining drawings, simple words and rhythmic rhymes, you taught us how to read.

click to enlarge Dr. Seuss’ “Turtle-Necked Sea-Turtle”
Dr. Seuss’ “Turtle-Necked Sea-Turtle”

You’re a sneaky one, Dr. Seuss. With entertaining drawings, simple words and rhythmic rhymes, you taught us how to read. 

Although we’re not 5 anymore, we’re under the spell of his imagination again at Secrets of the Deep, a traveling exhibit subtitled “The lost, forgotten and hidden works of Theodor Seuss Geisel,” at Malton Gallery in Oakley.

It’s tempting to dismiss this show unless equipped with an open mind and information about Seuss’ years as an ad man, editorial cartoonist, illustrator and especially as creator of previously unseen “Midnight Paintings.” 

This is a commercial exhibit, make no mistake. Though they carry Dr. Seuss’ signature, the artworks aren’t originals. The author died in 1991. For the past 18 years, his widow Audrey Geisel has authorized limited-edition “adaptions” — serigraphs and the like, plus reproductions of sculptures. The originals remain in her La Jolla, Calif., home and at the University of California-San Diego and, in the case of The Lorax, at the LBJ Presidential Library in Texas.

Because the 45 or so pieces shown are reproductions, some fall flat, leaving the observer longing for texture and brushstrokes. Some drawings — of the Lorax and Sneetches, for instance — look no different from pages of his books. But here’s the sneaky thing: You start remembering the books and smile at Seuss’ inventiveness. Once that happens, oh, the places you’ll go, as the title of his 1990 book says. 

Dr. Seuss’ 

Secrets of the Deep

 runs through May 30 at Malton Gallery. More info: maltonartgallery.com.

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