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Once Upon a Time, in a Gallery Not So Far Away 

Wednesday, Apr 22 2009
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From Where the Wild Things Are to Stuart Little, the best children’s books are the ones that appeal to adults, too. Dark and slightly twisted, they reflect the troublesome, scary, but wonderful world that kids marvel at and grown-ups pretend to understand. The exhibit “Beyond the Page: Re-Illustrating Our Favorite Children’s Books” features works of art that reinterpret popular texts written for the pint-size bibliophile. Anne-Julie Aubry, who takes on Lewis Carroll’s always inspiring Alice, has the Queen of Hearts staring dispassionately at the viewer, swathed in a dress made of playing cards and holding her avian croquet mallet aloft. Set against a cloudy black background, the Queen looks pitiless and menacing. In a more eclectic choice, Gustaf Tenggren portrays the Poky Little Puppy with a miniature unicorn horn. His caretaker is a sultry waif who appears to be part robot. With 40 artists, the show offers something for every grown-up kid, but organizers haven’t forsaken the original audience: Those who flock to the opening reception on May 1 are asked to bring a children’s book to be donated to the San Francisco Unified School District.
May 1-23, 2009

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Andy Wright

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