Doug Hansen sits surrounded by his illustrations bound in books and hung on the concrete walls of his second floor office at the Conley Art building.
The Fresno State art professor, illustrator and author is getting ready to showcase his work in an exhibition, titled “Bookends,” starting Thursday at Fresno State’s Conley Art Gallery. His art career began there more than 40 years ago.
“When you think of bookends as being these solid supports at both ends with a bunch of creative stuff in the middle, that’s one way of looking at [the exhibition],” Hansen said.
“Bookends” is separated into sections, each devoted to a period in Hansen’s life and the work he created.
Included in the exhibition are political cartoons he drew decades ago for The Daily Collegian as an art student.
“At that time, there was a lot of unrest because especially in the English faculty, a lot of them were speaking out against the administration here on campus and they had a protest after they were locked out of their offices by President [Norman A.] Baxter,” Hansen said.
The unrest at Fresno State at the start of the 1970s mirrored the overall political climate at the time and ultimately influenced the kind of work Hansen did for The Daily Collegian.
He was occasionally given a full page dedicated to whatever comic he decided to create for that day, he said.
“They didn’t tell me what to draw,” Hansen said. “It was like ‘fill up the page;’ That’s all they cared about.”
One of his first comics for The Daily Collegian was titled “1984.” It focused on what the campus might look like years ahead from the 1970s, focusing on topics like what the university would look like for minority students, the issue of freedom of speech, and commenting on the governor of California at the time, Ronald Reagan.
Hansen has collected the comics over the years and will showcase them alongside his other works beginning on Thursday.
That exhibition will run through Feb. 22. Gallery hours will be on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hansen will host an artist’s talk from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Conley Art Room 101 and a reception from 5 to 8 p.m.
After graduating, Hansen went on to be a Fresno Bee newsroom artist and an author and illustrator of children’s books.
“I had a feature [in The Fresno Bee] called ‘Fresno Sketchbook’, and I would drive around, draw pictures of whatever was interesting to me, talk to people or research it, and then hand-letter whatever it is I found out about,” Hansen said.
His features were later collected into two books. He also illustrated stories in The Bee for David Mas Masumoto, a local author. Those illustrations were also collected into two books.
All of these works come together in “Bookends,” showing the progression of a young, unrefined and “immature” (his words) Hansen to whom he is today.
“Illustration can be very powerful and I hope people will come to some appreciation, not just look at the artwork but think about how the pictures work with the text in every circumstance to create something special which is an illustration,” Hansen said.