Geneva Anderson digs into art

As Peanuts turns 60, the Mahoney Library Gallery explores “Peanuts in Petaluma”…through October 30, 2010

You don’t have to twist any arms to get long-time Petalumans to talk about wristrestling. For those of us who grew up in Petaluma in the 1960’s, wristwrestling and Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts comics, which appeared in both the Argus Courier and Press Democrat newspapers, were an integral part of our lives. “Peanuts Comes to Petaluma,” at the Mahoney Library Gallery through October 30, gives us a chance to look back on those days through the genius of Schulz as a storyteller and one of the great artists of our time. 

Between April and May 1968, Schultz created 11 Peanuts comic strips, all related to Snoopy coming to Petaluma to win the Petaluma World Wristwrestling Championship.   The Charles M. Schulz Museum, of Santa Rosa, has generously lent the Mahoney Library Gallery full size high-resolution scans of all Schulz’s original 4 panel gag strip drawings related to wristwrestling in Petaluma.  These are scans of ink drawings with each panel measuring about 4 x 4 inches.   The series tracks Snoopy’s pilgrimage to Petaluma to compete and his exploits with iconic Peanuts characters Charlie Brown, Linus, and Lucy.  

Snoopy was so memorable, loveable, because we all could read his mind as his very human thoughts unfolded.   Schulz knew that most dog lovers and owners felt that they alone had special insights into their dogs’ thoughts and in creating Snoopy he gave us a dog who we could rely on to be himself, even when he was doing something crazy.  In imagining himself capable of entering and winning the world’s wristwrestling championship, Snoopy channeled the inner sportsman in all of us– and the traveler and the dreamer.  Never mind that almost everything Snoopy tried, ended him up back in his doghouse laid out flat, tired, but he was never ever defeated.  Unfortunately, Snoopy did not thoroughly read the instructions before embarking on his journey to Petaluma.  In the final strip, he was eliminated because the official armwrestling rules stated you must lock your thumbs with the opposing competitor.  Snoopy had no thumb.

The "Wristwrestling Memorial Sculpture," 1988, by artist Rosa Estabanez features World Wristwrestling founders Bill Soberanes and Dave Devoto locked arm in arm.

Peanuts ran in over 2,600 newspapers, with a readership of 355 million in 75 countries, and was translated into 21 languages. Reprints of the strip are still syndicated and run in many newspapers.

 The exhibition also includes a rich archive of historical materials—books, newspaper clippings and photographs–that Mahoney librarian and gallery curator, Karen Petersen, has collected   about Charles Schulz and wristwrestling in Petaluma.  There is also information about sculptor Rosa Estabanez, who created the Wristwrestling Memorial Sculpture in 1988, which quickly became a downtown Petaluma landmark (intersection of Petaluma Blvd. North and East Washington Street).  The sculpture commemorates the late Argus Courier columnist Bill Soberanes, co-founder of the Petaluma World Wristwrestling Championship, along with Dave Devoto who is depicted wristwrestling Soberanes in the sculpture. The Mahoney Library Gallery exhibition coincides with the sculpture’s restoration undertaken by the city of Petaluma.

The “Peanuts” exhibit is funded by a grant from the Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation, the Randolph Newman Cultural Enrichment Endowment, and is being displayed courtesy of the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California.


Snoopy turns 60 and there’s a nationwide celebration

The exhibition also coincides with the 60th anniversary of Peanuts comic strip and there are a number of events happening nationwide to celebrate Schulz’s achievement.

Portraits of Schulz” October 1 – February 6, 2011, Charles M Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa, CA.  An exhibition celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Peanuts though portraits of Schulz.  See rare self-portraits by Schulz, as well as how fellow artists captured and admired him through their own art in a mixture of mediums from oil paintings to sculptures. This exhibition will run concurrently with the debut of Schulz’s photographic portrait in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

A photograph Charles Schulz will be presented to the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in a ceremony for invited guests on October 1, 2010. The 1986 photograph, created by acclaimed portraitist Yousuf Karsh, is the Portrait Gallery’s first image of Schulz.

Charles Schulz, by Yousuf Karsh. Chromogenic print, 1986. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Estrellita Karsh in memory of Yousuf Karsh ©1986 Estate of Yousuf Karsh.

On October 2, the National Portrait Gallery will host a family-and-friends day with events for all ages: cartooning workshops; a screening of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; and guest appearances from Snoopy and Peanuts animation producer Lee Mendelson.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will also mark the 60th anniversary with a case that will feature objects from Schulz.

Sparky: The Life and Art of Charles Schulz  Author Beverly Gherman’s all-ages biography on the Schulz, an insightful look into the life and career Charles Schulz. Gherman will be at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco from 1:00-3:00pm on Saturday, October 9, 2010 signing books and leading a discussion about Schulz.

 “Peanuts Comes to Petaluma,” through October 30, 2010, Mahoney Library Gallery, Mahoney Library, Petaluma Campus SRJC, 680 Sonoma Mountain Parkway, Petaluma, CA  94952.

Gallery Hours:   Monday-Thursday: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday: 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m – 3 p.m.

Parking: $4.00 parking permits required in campus lots.  Automated machines take cash and coins.

October 6, 2010 Posted by | Art | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment