Maggie + Alice = A digital wonderland for viewers of all ages in Carlsbad
By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt
After over a decade as a still-life photographer, digital artist Maggie Taylor started using a flatbed scanner to bring the haunting, dreamlike images in her head to life. For all her 21st century skills, her favorite century is the 19th, perhaps not so surprising for someone who received a B.A. in philosophy from Yale. And her masterwork, “Almost Alice”, a series of images she created to accompany the text of Lewis Carroll’s Victorian classic “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” is now on exhibit at Carlsbad’s Cannon Gallery, part of a national tour.
The Alice project was a three-year adventure for Taylor, from 2005-2008. She began in her usual way, by collecting antique photographs and other paraphernalia from thrift shops, scanning them, combining found images with her own, and layering and manipulating them with the help of Adobe Photoshop. Alice shows up as a different Victorian girl in each piece, and the process is long and meticulous, with Taylor often using up to 60 layers of scanned tintypes, small toys and figurines to create a single image.
Last spring, Joseph Bellows Gallery showed selections from Almost Alice in La Jolla, with the Florida-based artist and her husband (and former photography professor) Jerry Uelsmann on hand at the opening. In the fall, Uelsmann and Taylor displayed some of their photomontages in at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, in a show called “New Realities,” which included a few of the Alice illustrations. But this is the first time all 45 of them will be on display in our area, and truly, it’s a wonderland for viewers of all ages.
The exhibit opened on July 17 with a mad tea party, hosted by the Carlsbad Friends of the Arts, in the Cannon Gallery courtyard at the Carlsbad City Library complex. Fanciful Alice-related table decorations were designed by library staff volunteers, and tea-time sweets and savories were served to all comers.
On Aug. 20, families are invited to make mad hats with the Rad Hatter, Tony Melendez, who has been helping folks create their own fantasy headgear out of brown paper bags for the past 20 years. The afternoon event will also include a dance performance by the California Ballet, featuring scenes from “Alice in Wonderland.”
“Kids can really get to see the story come to life,” said Judy Sharp, who has been the company’s ballet mistress since 1988 and also teaches ballet at UCSD’s Department of Theater and Dance. “It’s a great way to combine literature, music and dance, and we even invite kids to come up onstage.”
Carlsbad Arts Education Coordinator Tanya Rodzach added, “Our family events are super-fun to plan and create. Maggie Taylor’s pieces are so whimsical and yet elegant, they really lend themselves to a family event. And we’re excited to be bringing a ballet here. It’s a wonderful tie-in to the exhibit.”
For family fun this month, go see Alice. Your kids will love it. So will you.
If you go
What: ‘Almost Alice: New Illustrations of Wonderland by Maggie Taylor’
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays–Saturdays; 1-5 p.m. Sundays to Sept. 9
Where: William D. Cannon Art Gallery, Carlsbad City Library complex,
1775 Dove Lane
Contact: (760) 602-2021
Note: A Gallery Guide with excerpts from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ helps you follow Alice’s adventures as you enjoy Maggie Taylor’s images, but it would be great to read the book — or watch the movie — with your family before seeing ‘Almost Alice.’
Free Event: Saturday, Aug. 20, Family Open Studios with the Rad Hatter and California Ballet, rad hatmaking and other art projects, plus guided tours of the exhibit 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Performances 11:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.
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