Since it’s December, it seems appropriate to wrap up the past year of learning about the artwork sponsored by Century Walk with a holiday-appropriate piece: “The Grinch.”
This faithful three-dimensional adaptation of the beloved Dr. Seuss character was installed in 2012 outside of the Naper Boulevard library. It was the third Dr. Seuss statue that Century Walk placed in front of a library. “The Cat in the Hat” was installed at Nichols Library in 2007 and “Green Eggs and Ham” was installed at the 95th Street Library in 2008. Now each of Naperville’s libraries has a Dr. Seuss statue to greet the city’s youngest readers.
All three of the statues were created by artist Leo Rijn. Audrey Geisel, the widow of Theodor Geisel (who wrote as Dr. Seuss), started The Art of Dr. Seuss Collection six years after her husband’s death and Rijn was chosen to create bronze renditions of these favorite books.
Theodor Geisel actually created quite a lot of art in addition to the book illustrations, most of which was never displayed during his lifetime. Not only did Geisel illustrate his books and paint, but he also created the Unorthodox Collection of Taxidermy. He “stuffed” and “mounted” totally invented creatures similar to those in his books, often using actual horns, beaks and other parts from deceased zoo animals. Audrey fulfilled his wish to share his “secret art” with the public by launching the Dr. Seuss project in 1997. The collection includes limited edition reproductions of his original art as well as interpretations of his work by other artists, such as these sculptures by Rijn.
A number of bronze statues were created by Rijn for the the first Tribute Collection. In addition to the three installed by the Century Walk in Naperville, other characters he sculpted include Horton, the Lorax and the Turtle Tower.
Rijn was also commissioned by Universal Studios to develop scale models of Dr. Seuss characters to be used at their theme park in Orlando. Seuss Landing, for the youngest park visitors, features several of Rijn’s Dr. Seuss sculptures and the buildings and decor were all influenced by his art direction.
When not sculpting Dr. Seuss characters, Rijn works on Hollywood film projects. His art has appeared in films from “Masters of the Universe” to “Star Trek” to “Thor” and he has worked