My dog loved chasing birds. As a senior dog, when we went for a walk around the block, she lurched toward every slow-moving pigeon. In her younger days, when we made it over to Crissy Field, Cleo's favorite game wasn't playing fetch but racing across the grass chasing low flying birds! If a dog could laugh from the excitement mine did. She never caught one but I don't think she wanted to, it was the thrill of the chase that she loved. You could almost say she was a professional bird chaser, like a certain Mr. Lunch.
I'm excited to share that this winter, dog lovers young and old can enjoy a special family-friendly exhibition in San Francisco that explores the work of beloved children’s book illustrator J. Otto Seibold and Mr. Lunch. This Bay Area artist who pioneered digital design for children’s books 20 years ago is the focus with the exhibition based on his three books that imagine the exploits of a professional bird-chasing dog: Mr. Lunch Borrows a Canoe, Free Lunch, and Mr. Lunch Takes a Plane Ride.
The inspiration for Mr. Lunch came from Seibold's own pet dog at the time named Dexter Lunch. Seibold's Mr. Lunch books were the first children’s books designed using computer software (Seibold is considered one of the great artists in the field of vector design). This interactive exhibition is designed in collaboration with Seibold himself to bring the stories to life!
“I'm digging through Mr. Lunch computer files made twenty plus years ago. It’s like looking at an old school photograph and thinking: I remember that shirt!,” says Seibold. “Now I'm bringing it all up to 2014 in the hopes that school age kids who come see the exhibit will look back in twenty years and think: I remember that show!”
Kids will love this show with all of its interactive potential for play
At the heart of the exhibition are the adventures of Mr. Lunch, based on the Seibold family’s real life pet dog at the time, Dexter Lunch. Children and families can experience these stories through several interactive play areas that recreate elements of the books in fanciful, kid-sized, immersive settings.
In the books, Mr. Lunch, a professional bird-chaser, maintains an office for himself and the birds. After morning bird-chasing practice, the afternoon is spent at their desks reading mail and placing bird seed orders. The exhibition includes a recreation of Mr. Lunch’s office with stacks of bird seed boxes and desks of varying sizes for Mr. Lunch and the birds. Children can sit at these to complete suggested gallery activities.
A larger desk is reserved for Seibold who will hold ‘office hours’ on select days to chat with visitors and conduct drawing demonstrations (check thecjm.org for times). On other days, visitors can view projected footage of these live demonstrations in this area.
From the press release:
Seibold created the Mr. Lunch books in the 1990s on an Apple Macintosh computer using Adobe software. He was a pioneer in digital illustration and is considered one of the greatest artists in the field of vector design, a method of illustration that uses geometrical formulas to represent images, as opposed to pixel patterning. Many reviewers have noted that while the images have their origins in technology, they have an appealing retro-hip, 1950’s feel. Seibold’s zest for zaniness results in pages that are frenetically filled with characters, objects, vehicles, buildings, labels, and silly signs galore.
I'm a huge fan of this style of drawing and bought Mr. Lunch books for my nieces and nephews. We loved the retro-look and feel of the images! I have our own copy of his book Olive The Other Reindeer along with the Olive in her antlers tree ornament. There is an engaging sweetness in the simplicity of both the stories and drawings that is delightful to kids and adults.
If you live in the area, or plan to visit San Francisco over the holidays, I highly recommend stopping by to experience this fun and engaging exhibition!