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Between the Lines: Fresno through the eyes of one artist

Penguins in tuxedos. Vintage jeans. Self-published comics. The Fresno Fair. Laika, the Soviet space dog. Penguins in tuxedos. Vintage jeans. Self-published comics. The Fresno Fair. Laika, the Soviet space dog.

These subjects are not unrelated; they are all parts of “Bookends,” the latest exhibition at the Phebe Conley Art Gallery.

The exhibition, which included an artist’s talk and reception, is a retrospective on the work of Doug Hansen, a Fresno State illustration professor, alumnus, author and artist.

The artist’s talk last Thursday took audience members through Hansen’s life, showing them artwork the illustrator created from his childhood to today.

“I tried to honestly describe the situations that pop up all the time in the life of a visual artist and the decisions that I made and there are no certainties except the joy of creating,” Hansen said during his talk.

Hansen was born in Fresno. His father was a naval aviator, which meant Hansen moved often. When it came to applying to colleges, he chose Fresno State due to convenience after having moved back to his hometown.

As a student at Fresno State, Hansen was an illustrator for The Daily Collegian and worked on school projects using a variety of media.

After graduating, he worked as a newsroom artist for The Fresno Bee, collaborating with authors, writing and illustrating his own children’s books, and later returning to Fresno State as a student and then a professor.

After his talk, attendees explored the “Bookends” exhibit.

Along the left side of the gallery was a row of comics Hansen illustrated with topics ranging from local Fresno landmarks to superhero-esque pages.

“The great deal of light space that’s used here is really bold but also very detailed,” Erich Schwartz, a graphic design major, said while looking at “Death Rattle No. 3,” one of the comics featured.

The works are grouped around the exhibition by similarity and also the time they were created.

Many of Hansen’s illustrations from his children’s books are shown in a row along the right side of the gallery.

“He’s depicting the ocean, and I have no idea how they got the ocean to look like that on a piece of paper,” said Mariah Calvert, a studio arts major. “It looks really 3D, and the waves in the background are different shades of blues and purples.”

Hansen’s exhibition will run through Feb. 22. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.