Imagine taxidermy that smiles, society ladies depicted as fanciful birds drinking tea and a wiggly worm inspired by Jackson Pollock but created by Dr. Seuss.
Pieces like these will all be available for viewing and purchase at an exhibition coming to the Leawood Fine Art gallery, 11709 Roe Ave, running Thursday through Sunday. Prices on the items for sale run from $295 to $30,000.
People know Theodor Seuss Geisel as Dr. Seuss, the author and editor of American children’s classics like “The Cat in The Hat,” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
As an artist, Geisel produced work that expanded well beyond the children’s book illustrations. Most of this art was never sold, and remains in his family’s private collection. Geisel’s widow kept a promise to her husband to wait several years after his death to publish and sell any of this work.
It is currently available in only 35 galleries around the world, but this special exhibit is bringing the work to Leawood.
Geisel art expert Valerie Jackson is giving a free presentation Friday at an opening reception for the exhibit between 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. about the art and the history of a beloved American artist.
In an interview, Jackson explained Geisel that hid from publicity much of his life and made his widow promise to wait several years after his death before publishing reproductions of his work for sale.
“He never wanted any originals sold,” Jackson said. “The family is publishing them basically so the world can see through his eyes and get to know him better.”
The work includes reproductions of what Geisel called “Unorthodox Taxidermy.”
“His father was a superintendent of the zoo in the 1930s...That is where he got a lot of his animal influences,” Jackson said. “When he grew up, his father would send him animal parts when the animals died at the zoo. He got plaster and the real parts of the animals and he created these amazing sculptures.”
The original sculptures still hang in the family home. Available for sale are reproductions made with molds and resin and painted by master artists.
There are about 140 published pieces in the collection at this point. However, until the last year, the work has only been available at the 35 galleries selected by the Geisel family.
This is one of the first times the art is available at a gallery in the Kansas City area.
Jackson says the reaction most people have to seeing the work in person is simply joyous.
“People come from all over the world to see it,” Jackson said. “Their faces light up and smile. Some people cry in front of the pieces. They say it just takes them back.”
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday
10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
An opening reception is planned for 6-9 p.m Friday.