Edward Gorey House Opens Book Cover Show “From Aesop to Updike”

Edward Gorey is well known for over 100 written and illustrated works (though not all titles are books) including The Gashlycrumb Tinies and The Doubtful Guest. The author-artist’s set and costume designs for his award-winning Broadway Dracula, and his animated sequences to PBS Mystery! boosted his creative achievements.

However, this output overshadows his achievements as a much-in-demand illustrator for other authors. While Gorey was busy creating his world of stiff Victorians, sinister Edwardians, doomed infants, strange creatures, stifling interiors and mysterious landscapes, he was also busy creating a significant body of commercial book design for a variety of authors and publishers. Our 2015 exhibit, From Aesop to Updike: Edward Gorey’s Book Cover Art & Design, is a varied sampling of almost five decades of commercial work–an integral component (and not just an intriguing sideline) of Edward Gorey’s artistry.

Additional Material about the Exhibit: Early Gorey Covers
Between 1953 and 1959 Gorey created fifty covers for Doubleday Anchor, and his work defined not only the Anchor line but his own developing style as well: a unique application of hand-lettering instead of standard set fonts, a sparse, dramatic use of spot colors (occasional inks other than black) and an ability to distill a book into a quickly graspable cover design, aided by the fact that he had often read the assigned book, perhaps more than once.

“I hate (Henry James) more than anybody else in the world except for Picasso.” – Edward Gorey

From Doubleday Anchor, Gorey moved to Looking Glass Library, an imprint focused on children’s and young adult titles. Despite the frequent woes that befell children in his own books, Gorey had become increasingly in demand as a children’s book illustrator, permitting him to become a freelance artist as well as an author, an occupation he successfully pursued for the rest of his life.

Becoming Edward Gorey
By the late 50s Gorey had a solidly defined style: a penchant for black and white line art (and selective color use as budgets permitted). Some of Gorey’s favorite artists can be surmised by images in his work: Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, Edward Lear and Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations in Lewis Carroll’s Alice books (although Gorey gave special praise to the Brothers Dalziel for their masterful wood block engravings of Tenniel’s pencil drawings). Commercial projects that spun from Gorey’s art began to provide needed income, but always with the understanding that the end products would be identifiably Gorey.

As with any commercial illustrator, with gradually increasing demands for his unique “touch,” Gorey soon began to be burdened with freelance contract deadlines, and all the while his ever-present muse urged him to create. When asked by Vanity Fair in their Proust Questionnaire, If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? he replied “To be able to say no.” His work ethic, which was renowned, prevailed. He began to balance his freelance work with his own creative projects. He organized and worked longer hours. Somehow Gorey managed both his commercial working world and his creative endeavors, leaving a body of work that remains delightful, diverse and enduring.

From Aesop to Updike: Edward Gorey’s Book Cover Art

This exhibit runs from April 16th to December 27th, 2015.

For their assistance in this exhibit, special thanks go to Andreas Brown of the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, Steven Heller, Sam Speigel, Pomegranate Press, San Diego State University, John Carollo and Dr. Joseph Stanton at the University of Hawaii.
Planning Your VisitSpring hours are…
Thursday through Saturday: 11am to 4pm
Sunday: noon to 4pm

Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and $2 for children 6 to 12. Children under 6 free.
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Pelican Dreams – compelling new film from Judy Irving

PelicanDreamsposterby CJ Verburg

If you’ve ever watched a pelican fly, or dive for fish, or simply sit on a post contemplating the world, don’t miss this fascinating new 80-minute documentary from the filmmaker who gave us The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.

Here’s the latest news from Judy Irving:

“Pelican Dreams” is winding up its 100-city national theatrical run this month. The long-awaited DVD will be released April 7th, and as of today you can order it here:


Along with the 80-minute feature movie, the DVD contains an 
additional 80 minutes of Extras and Bonus Features, including an update on Morro the Pelican, a sequence that explains how pelicans can fly so close to the water without falling in (!), and a behind-the-scenes visit to composer Bruce Kaphan’s recording studio.

Judy adds: “If you’d like me to sign/inscribe the DVD, please specify wording when you place your order. Happy Earth Day!”

I’ve seen three versions of Pelican Dreams and marveled each time at the beauty and insight of this close-up portrait of a species, with particular focus on two birds that Judy got to know personally (as you might say). At its San Francisco premiere at the Balboa Theatre, I wasn’t the only viewer who floated out happily seeing the nearby ocean–and the pelicans whose life centers there–with fresh eyes.