2015 was a very exciting year for Alice in Wonderland fans!
The 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland inspired a plethora of Alice exhibits, conferences and celebrations all over the globe. I personally cannot afford to travel all over the globe, so I used some Southwest and Jetblue miles and visited what I could here in the US. Behold, Heather’s 2015 Alice in Wonderland Year in Review!
February 2015 – Peanuts in Wonderland in Santa Rosa, California
In February, I went on a quest to find Alice on California’s Central Coast. The first leg of the trip featured a visit to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa for its delightful Peanuts in Wonderland exhibit. Schulz was a big fan of Lewis Carroll, and he featured text from the Alice books in several Peanuts strips. Those strips, along with examples of Alice in other comics, were on full display. So was a delightfully disappearing Cheshire beagle! I helped by contributing some art to a room I am pretty sure is devoted to children’s activities and not grown women with Alice and Snoopy obsessions.
The Peanuts in Wonderland exhibit ended in April, but the Charles Schulz Museum is worth a visit any old time. Permanent installations include a replica of Sparky’s work space (us fans in the know call Charles Schulz “Sparky”), a huge mural made up of teeny tiny Peanuts strips, an outdoor Snoopy labyrinth and a screening room where you can watch Peanuts cartoons and Charles Schulz interviews to your heart’s content. As you might expect, the gift shop is totally OMG. Next door there is Snoopy’s Home Ice, a skating rink where Charles Schulz skated every day, and also The Warm Puppy Cafe. But I digress.
April 2015 – Lewis Carroll Society of North America Meeting in Austin, Texas
My very first LCSNA meeting took place at the University of Texas, where us members got to visit the Harry Ransom Center’s wonderful Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland exhibit. Everything about this exhibit was top notch, from the rabbit hole entrance to the interactive puzzles to the passport you could stamp at the different stations. The piece de resistance had to be a 1933 paper filmstrip that was painstakingly restored and actually watchable! I enjoyed the comprehensive displays of Alice illustrations throughout the years, and also throughout the world. For example, there was a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in Swahili in which someone pasted the original John Tenniel illustrations next to illustrations of an African Alice. So cool!
I again helped by contributing some White Rabbit origami to a room I am pretty sure is devoted to children’s activities and not grown women.
The Lewis Carroll Society of North America meeting was a fairly quiet affair. Among other topics, we learned about a new Mad Tea Party statue being created for a park in Texas. Magician Christopher Morgan gave a very entertaining talk about Lewis Carroll’s word game called Syzygies. Much like today’s Jumble, Syzygies were published in the newspaper. Carroll’s ever-changing rules for the game vexed many readers, who would then write angry letters. LC would often reply, usually in a humorous fashion. It was all very reminiscent of today’s silly social media squabbles, albeit with better vocabulary.
A bonus April Alice activity I wasn’t expecting: attending the Wonderland Award reception at the University of Southern California! I had the pleasure of meeting fellow LCSNA members George and Linda Cassady in Austin. They possess an amazing Lewis Carroll collection that they house at USC. For twelve years now, they have invited college students to explore the collection and create any type of entry that strikes them: poems, paintings, video games, sculptures and more. First prize is $3000! 2015’s winners designed a popup book that hooks up to a computer. I very much enjoyed flicking the hedgehog in the book and watching him roll across the screen. Truly, a perfect combination of Carrollian whimsy and technical expertise! Also important: the reception had amazing desserts including meringue mushrooms and Queen of Hearts tarts.
May 2015 – Vin De Syrah in San Diego, California
If there’s one thing I love, it’s discovering Alice-themed bars and restaurants. It only took a few dozen trips to San Diego to find out about Vin De Syrah, a Wonderland of a wine bar. Let’s be clear, this is a serious wine bar with an appreciable selection. They just happen to have brilliant Alice in Wonderland touches like giant chairs, black and white checkerboard floors and green grass on the walls. And would you look at the hidden door!!!
June 2015 – Alice Is Everywhere is born!
Well, kind of. I bought the url.
What did the rest of the 2015 Alice in Wonderland year have in store? Oh, just an Alice musical, a tea shop or two, and a little celebration called Alice150! Tune in next week to learn all about it.