Visitors go ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ at Henry Madden Library

The second floor entrance to the main portion of the “Down the Rabbit
Hole” exhibit welcomes guests into an exhibit that features more than
350 art pieces, including art by Salvador Dali, Charles M. Schulz, K
aren Mortillaro and Leonard Weisgard.
Alicia Acevedo / The Collegian

The Henry Madden Library and Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature have come together to bring a monthlong art exhibit to Fresno State for patrons to enjoy.

The exhibit, which opened Sept. 16 and is being run until Oct. 26, is titled “Down the Rabbit Hole” with Lewis Carroll and Leonard Weisgard.” The exhibit features artwork inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic books “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” as well as the art of children’s book author Leonard Weisgard.

The main exhibit can be found on the second floor of the library at the Leon S. Peters Ellipse Gallery. This portion of the exhibit features artwork inspired by Carroll’s books. According to the Arne Nixon Center, more than 200 hanging art pieces and 150 artificats, most of which are illustrations, can be seen here.

Much of the artwork featured is a part of the Arne Nixon Center’s permanent collection, while some of the other artwork is on loan from the artists and their families.

Some of the highlighted artwork includes offset lithographs by illustrator Anne Bachelier, woodcut illustrations by Barry Moser, whimsical art by Aliki, pre-publication page art by comic creator Willy Schermele, some illustrations by Salvador Dali, Weisgard and original illustrations by six Fresno State students, the Arne Nixon said.

The Arne Nixon Center is also displaying some loaned artwork by Charles M. Schulz and two bronze anamorphic sculptural illusion pieces by Los Angeles artist Karen Mortillaro. The exhibit marks the first time Mortillaro’s art has been on display.

On the third floor at the Pete P. Peters Ellipse Balcony visitors can find more original artwork by Weisgard, much of it on loan from his family.

The exhibit had its grand opening on Sept. 16 to a crowd of almost 100 pre-registered guests.

The night began at 6 p.m. when guests were brought in and invited to browse the gallery.

The guests were then offered hors d’oeuvres, water, soda and wine before being brought in for a brief Arne Nixon Center Advocates (ANCA) meeting followed by a lecture by children’s book historian, author and critic Leonard Marcus called “Revolution in 32 Pages: How Leonard Weisgard and Friends Re-Invented the American Picture Book.”

Marcus, who spent time with Weisgard at his home in Denmark during the 1980’s, discussed Weisgard’s life, career and the importance of his artwork during the lecture.

“Leonard was one of the first to connect modern art to art for children, and he did this through his illustrations in books for children,” Marcus said. “At the time his books were very experimental and many revere and were inspired by Weisgards work.”

The lecture was then followed by a book signing by Marcus where he signed books about Margaret Wise Brown, who often collaborated with Weisgard and his book about the history of Little Golden Books and its importance to children’s literature.

Marcus was impressed with the collection of Weisgard’s art that the Arne Nixon Center put on display.

“The thing I noticed was how new much of it looked and what variety they had,”  Marcus said.

Also in attendancce at the opening was members of Weisgard’s family.

The first pieces of the exhibit were purchased by the Arne Nixon Center in 2002 when they bought a large collection of Lewis Carroll-inspired artwork.

The idea for an exhibit was first concieved in 2005 when the center was given money by donors.

“In 2005 we were given some money by donors and were able to purchase five original paintings by Leonard Weisgard,” Arne Nixon Center and Down the Rabbit Hole curator Angelica Carpenter said.

The exhibit will also host a three-day-long conference from Oct. 21-23 before the exhibit comes to a close on Oct. 26.

The exhibit is acceptable for all ages and is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Other viewings are also avaible through the Arne Nixon Center.

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