About a year and a half ago, a group of friends and I journeyed through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, and through that experience I learned the immeasurable value of an “artist’s date” — a commitment of time spent on yourself, all by yourself, once a week. Basically, the idea is to invite your inner-artist (or your inner-child) on a creative date that can range anywhere from picnicking solo in a park, to spontaneously browsing through an estate sale, to leisurely exploring a little boutique that you’ve never taken the time to pop inside. It’s a restorative, and surprisingly very spiritual, practice to incorporate.
With this in mind, I spent some alone time on my birthday Friday at The Art of Dr. Seuss Retrospective at Abilene’s Center for the Contemporary Arts. My inner-artist squealed with delight at the decision, and the show proved to be everything she hoped it would be. Below are a few favorites from the extensive collection of Seuss’ well-known storybooks and his not-so-well-known political cartoons, advertising campaigns, and random sketches.
Dr. Seuss, who occasionally went by the name of Ted Geisel, clearly had a consistent and most contagious sense of play, which showed up again and again throughout the exhibit. The titles of his work, the quirks of his characters, the captions describing his processes and products — they all kept pointing back to a sparkly-eyed boy living in a man’s body who appears to have maintained both strong moral principles and an imaginative mindset even when confronted with life’s inescapable low points.
For example, the caption of Green Cat with Lights reads:
If you take a close look, you will notice something missing from this painting. The usual “Dr. Seuss” signature has been replaced with the moniker “Stroogo Von M.” The mystery surrounding this assumed name was only revealed in May 2011 by Audrey Geisel. “Ted liked to hang this artwork in the entryway of Seuss House [the Geisel home]. When people would come in, they would invariably ask about the painting. Ted would answer, ‘That’s my Stroogo Von M. How do you like it?’ In return, what he would get from friends was an honest opinion without them knowing it was his painting. It was one of Ted’s many practical jokes.”
Seuss gave me a great birthday reminder that a habit of lighthearted laughter is worth pursuing, as this natural medicine is known to enliven, heal, inspire, strengthen, bond, de-stress, energize, and defuse. In his own words…
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”
“If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good.”
Do you share Seuss’ sprightly spirit?