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The Ageless Magic of Dr. Seuss

That icon of imagination, Theodor “Dr. Seuss“ Geisel, is once again at home in La Jolla. A first-of-its-kind exhibit that encompasses 70 years of his irrepressible art and wit is now on view at the Fingerhut Gallery, just down the hill from where Geisel lived and created many of his most endearing and enduring works.

The local gallery is the first stop on a 40-city tour that celebrates “Seussentennial: A Century of Imagination,“ marking the 100th anniversary of Geisel’s birth on March 2. A resident of La Jolla from 1948 until his death in 1991 at age 87, Geisel is often called the champion of children’s literacy, fashioning in art and words such classics as The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, Green Eggs and Ham and, of course, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

“La Jolla was truly Ted’s downtown,“ says Tom Noel, director of Fingerhut Gallery. “He dined at La Valencia, shopped at Warwick's and Burns Drugs and on and on. It’s really appropriate that we launch this tribute.“

While best known as the author of 44 children’s books, Geisel also enjoyed a celebrated earlier career as a World War II political cartoonist and an illustrator and copywriter of hundreds of magazine advertisements. Many of these works-some never before on public display-are part of the Fingerhut exhibit.

The show highlights the common artistic links throughout Geisel’s body of work, Noel says. Of special interest, he adds, is “the 'Secret Art' collection“ of Geisel.

“These are pieces Ted never wanted to be seen during his lifetime,“ says Audrey Geisel, his widow.

“I really didn’t pay that much attention to them at the time. He’d be dry from his last book and not ready to start another. So he’d paint, but it had nothing to do with his books. It was his own private escape and full of that ol' Seussian humor.“

“Seussentennial“ continues at Fingerhut Gallery, 1205 Prospect Street, through December 14.

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