By Jessica Hilo
When faced with the challenge of creating a book for a generation of not-yet-literate Baby Boomers, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, penned a quirky story around two rhyming words he found on a list given to him by the head of education at Houghton Mifflin. The Cat in the Hat inaugurated a series of unconventional but inspired books for beginner readers that changed how reading was taught and solidified phonics into early education.
Geisel went on to write and illustrate 44 books for children, and for his accomplishments we recognize his birthday, celebrated this month, as National Read Across America Day. But Seuss was a man more complicated than a rhymesmith. He enjoyed bawdy humor and chain-smoking. His catalogue of work touched on issues ranging from environmentalism to social injustice, propaganda, and womanizing. He was an introvert, but received a Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award, three Grammy awards, and three Emmys. And he collected silly hats. The Dennis Rae Fine Art Gallery celebrates the many sides of Seuss this weekend with "Hats Off to Dr. Seuss," an exhibition of never-before-seen hats and artwork from the author. The exhibit makes its third stop on a national tour in San Francisco and coincides with the 75th anniversary of another hat classic, "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins." In addition to headwear, there's a series of mixed media art, including drawings, paintings, and sculptures from the author's career.
"Hats Off to Dr. Seuss" starts at 10 a.m. and runs through March 31 at Dennis Rae Fine Art, 781 Beach St., S.F. Admission is free; 292-0387 or dennisraefineart.com.