SAFETY HARBOR — Many a belly-bouncing youngster has taken the title of Dr. Seuss' 1963 book, Hop on Pop, literally.
Now, just in time for Father's Day, kids young and old can spring on over to Syd Entel Galleries and Susan Benjamin Glass, which is offering a new release of an old sketch adapted from Hop on Pop.
Diptychs are $695 and single prints are $395 (unframed).
Already bought your Father's Day gift? Good for you.
Too pricey for your budget? Then buy a blue shoe.
Rhymes aside, the Safety Harbor gallery doesn't charge admission and welcomes lookers. It carries a sizable collection of Seuss lithographs, serigraphs and sculptures reproduced from originals.
Other cool art that will likely appeal to Dad: a Borowski glass retro car, Marc Tickle kaleidoscopes, Josh Simpson glass paperweights, Kathy Hudson glass coasters and Thomas Arvid giclees featuring realistic-looking wine bottles.
Fathers can appreciate the relationship Theodor Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss ("Ted" to friends and family), had with his father, Theodor Robert Geisel, a zoo superintendent in Springfield, Mass. He credits his dad, "the finest man I'll ever know," for much of his success as a writer, poet and cartoon artist.
After visiting the zoo as a child, Ted would return home to sketch the animals he'd see. His father would send him horns, antlers, feathers and beaks from dead zoo animals while in college. Ted turned them into zany sculptures, which he called "unorthodox taxidermy." The body parts also inspired the menagerie of crazy characters that inhabited the pages of his children's books.
In the gallery, three resin taxidermy sculptures peer down at visitors with typical Seussian charm (unruly hair, oversized beaks, etc.) Their names are equally charming: an "Andulovian Grackle," a "Semi-Normal Green-Lidded Fawn" and a "Mulberry Street Unicorn" (Ted grew up on Mulberry Street).
A nearby gallery wall is lined with dozens of instantly recognizable illustrations from books including Sam I Am; Oh, the Stuff You Will Learn!; Black Fish, Blue Fish, Old Fish, New Fish; Kid, Lion Stroll, You'll Move Mountains.
So how did Ted become "Dr. Seuss"?
In 1925, after being caught drinking gin in his room at Dartmouth College, Ted was banned from his position as editor of the college's humor magazine. He began publishing his cartoons under the pseudonym "Seuss," his middle and his mother's maiden name.
When he boasted that he had won a fellowship to Oxford University (a bit prematurely), his father was so proud he reported it to the newspaper. The story was published on the front page the next day. Ted never won the scholarship, but to save pride, the elder Geisel scraped together enough money to send him to Oxford anyway.
"His father had hoped he'd become a doctor, but at the same time, totally encouraged him to do what he wanted to do," said Susan Benjamin, gallery owner.
Ted quit Oxford, married his classmate Helen Palmer, and became a writer and illustrator for the humor magazine Judge. His first cartoon for Judge appeared in 1927, and by 1928, he was adding the "Dr." to his name to compensate for the doctorate he never got at Oxford.
In doing so, he honored his dad.
Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at [email protected]