Unlocking Wonderland At The California Center For The Arts

Magical Exhibit In Escondido Raises Awareness For Global Medical Relief Fund

Recently, I was invited to a party. An Alice In Wonderland party filled with beautiful artwork, talented people, delicious food and drink and cosplayers in full costume dress. Naturally, I turned the invitation down. I KID. It took me approximately half a second to accept, and seven eighths of a second to start wondering what to wear.

Unlocking Wonderland: The Exhibit opened on May 20 with a Preview Party/Fundraiser that was truly an enchanted evening. The California Center For The Arts was transformed into a Wonderland itself! Everywhere one looked was something magical: a gigantic caterpillar statue, a gorgeous woman on stilts, a ballgown made of playing cards, an entire table of desserts labeled “Eat Me.” You may not think a giant table of desserts is magical… we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one. Oh, and did I mention The Joker was there?

The Joker cosplay

That’s actor/cartoonist Dean LeCrone as The Joker. OR IS IT?!

If you are wondering if The Joker got lost or was maybe a few months early for Comic-Con, not so! This party also celebrated the opening of My Hero, an exhibit exploring the role of superheroes in our society. Costumes were encouraged, which obviously added to the fun. Especially when one would come across a scene like Catwoman and Cheshire Cat chatting it up at the buffet table, or the Queen of Hearts getting her photo with the Batmobile. These two fellas were sporting my favorite costumes of the night:

unlocking wonderland exhibit

Needless to say, I felt very silly for leaving my giant teacup at home.

As for the Unlocking Wonderland exhibit itself, I cannot recommend it enough. Over thirty artists paid tribute to Lewis Carroll’s Alice masterpieces, and the results were truly wondrous! I absolutely adored Follow The White Rabbit by Nicole Filiatrault:

White Rabbit painting

Could he be more perfect?!

Illustrator Dean MacAdam lent his inimitable style to the delightful Mac Wonderland:

Dean MacAdam Unlocking Wonderland

I too have always considered Cheshire Cat to be the center of the Wonderland universe.

The aforementioned, astounding giant Caterpillar entitled Helping Hands That Hinder by Adam Kyron Murillo may have won the award for most photographed artwork of the night…

beautiful Alice in Wonderland caterpillar statue

Mr. Caterpillar is ready for his close-up now.

And that stunning Queen’s Armor Dress, created by Erika San Luis Holly…please, someone figure out a way for me to wear it? PLEASE?

Unlocking Wonderland

Merely standing behind it was cold comfort.

Unlocking Wonderland was curated by Tracy Black, who was nice enough to reach out and invite me to this frabjous event. Tracy is a true Alice aficionado. Without exaggeration, every communication I have with her is completely Carrollian and an absolute delight. This exhibit she put together is a triumph in itself, but the fact that its goal is to raise awareness for the Global Medical Relief Fund makes it all the more impressive. The GMRF aids children who have been severely injured due to war, natural disaster or illness. Here’s Tracy with fellow GMRF supporter Neville Page and his extraordinary contribution to Unlocking Wonderland, Black Rabbit:

Neville Page sculpture

Photo by artist Michelle Agin

The meaning behind Black Rabbit, in Neville’s own words:
‘Utilizing the themes of “Alice in Wonderland”, I set out to create a piece of art that possessed aesthetics but delivers an important message. “Black Rabbit” attempts to tell the story of Albinism, specifically in Tanzania, where these special people are hunted, persecuted and mutilated for their limbs (which are perceived to be good luck charms).

Delicate and complex filigree cradle a beautiful shell of a classic rabbit form. So delicate is the structure and composition that one has to understand how to handle it to mindfully interact, experience and work with the subject.

Although white in color, black at the core.

Choosing to use the rabbit was deliberate as it directly points at those of us who also ignorantly shared in this mindset; many of us had a rabbits foot for good luck when we were children. Understanding ones own vulnerability to ignorance may give way to educating others to theirs.’

Truly, Black Rabbit is one of the highlights of this wonderful exhibit. If you are in Southern California between now and August 14, 2016, I urge you to stop by the California Center Of The Arts in Escondido to take in Black Rabbit and the rest of Unlocking Wonderland. I promise you will not regret making this trip through the looking glass!

Unlocking Wonderland cosplay Alice

Look, it’s Nerd Con! That’s not an insult, they were really there representing Nerd Con.

Did you visit Unlocking Wonderland? What did you think?

About Heather Haigha

Heather Haigha is your intrepid guide for all adventures under ground, through the looking glass, down the rabbit hole and sometimes even real life! Read her whimsical musings on the Alice Is Everywhere blog, and hear the melodious sound of her voice on the Alice is Everywhere podcast.