Cartoons, monsters invade USF Thacher Gallery

Cute and colorful: Kim Dwinell’s bookish beast is among the characters featured in the Thacher Gallery exhibit “Monsters in the Bookshelf” at the University of San Francisco. (Courtesy photo)

Cute and colorful: Kim Dwinell’s bookish beast is among the characters featured in the Thacher Gallery exhibit “Monsters in the Bookshelf” at the University of San Francisco. (Courtesy photo)

Scooby-Doo and Shaggy look scared. Drawn in pencil on a large piece of crinkled newsprint paper, the cartoon characters cower in fear in the middle of a spooky library, surrounded by threatening villains.  

These icons of Saturday morning cartoon royalty are part of “Monsters in the Bookshelf,” a fun exhibit of work by children’s book illustrators and animators from a collective called Studio 5 at the University of San Francisco’s Thacher Gallery.

Everything from painted skateboards to 3-D bookhouses, artist notebooks and paintings are featured in the show, which is geared toward children and adults.

At 42 years old, Scooby-Doo remains one of the most popular cartoons for children. Animation cels in the exhibit, the work of Hanna-Barbera artist Bob Singer, pop out of the frames with such clarity that it’s as if there is an audible cartoon soundtrack in the room.

Illustrations by Caldecott Award-winning Alice Provensen, 94, who is still working, are in the show. People of many generations will be familiar with her drawings, which span the range of 20th-century illustration trends into the 21st.

Images from her 1956 book “The Iliad and the Odyssey” embody the chiseled geometric flair of the midcentury aesthetic, while 1968’s “Tales from the Ballet” shows a Chagall-like take on angularity.

Wooden “book boxes” stand curiously in the center of the gallery.  The little houses made by Marilyn Scott-Waters, known for books such as “The Toymaker: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself,” are at a child’s-eye level, inviting youngsters to peer at the paper-cutout characters inside and imagine a story.

Skateboards with illustrations by “Surfdude” comic creator J.R. Johnson are included in the exhibit, adding a contemporary pop culture element to the show.  

Kim Dwinell, author of “Surfside Girls” and sometime Disney collaborator, has a quirky, playful style, while J.H. Everett’s bold and brassy take on “Alice in Wonderland” comes in the form of vivid paintings created specifically for this exhibit. Andrew Mitchell, a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times, has a lively style that is also delightful.

The show is part of Kidquake, a kid-friendly branch of the San Francisco literary festival Litquake, which is hosting an artist meet-and-greet, story time, demonstrations and crafts event on Oct. 15.

Other programs include a lecture-demonstration from 4 to 5 p.m. Sept. 21 and poster-drawing workshops with the artists at Presidio and Park libraries from 3 to 5 p.m. Sept. 22.


Monsters in the Bookshelf

Where: Thacher Gallery, Gleeson Library, University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton St., S.F.

When: 8 a.m. to midnight Mondays-Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays, noon to midnight Sundays,  closes Dec. 16

Admission: Free

Contact: (415) 422-5178;

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