Good grief. It’s the mantra Charles Schulz lived through in his alter ego, Charlie Brown. Schulz played up this image of the lonely loser who agonized about feeling unloved, an anxiety-ridden man child who feared abandonment and used his own narcissistic beliefs as a protective barrier against life’s happier moments. Yet, nothing could be farther from the truth. Schulz certainly brought joy and comfort to millions during the 50 plus years he worked on the Peanuts strips and even beyond in death, his artistry earning the love that he felt eluded him. He captured life’s multi-layered emotional complexities through Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty, and the rest of the Peanuts gang. How many times have we laughed as Charlie Brown had the clothes knocked off his back after another disastrous pitch in a sandlot baseball game, ached for love unrequited as Lucy tried so desperately to win the attentions of Schroeder, frowned when Linus would wax philosophical to a befuddled Charlie Brown, cruised with Snoopy as the Red Baron or laughed at Snoopy’s aspirations towards literary perfection. Even Lucy and her psychiatric advice stand for a nickel provided a few good riffs about the state of the union, so to speak.
This unhappy loser provided more wit and wisdom than our present government could ever hope to achieve, and it’s all on display for the next two months at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. The exhibit opens on July 19 and runs through September 14 and is part of a larger touring exhibition by the Charles M. Schulz Museum of Santa Rosa. Featuring 47 high resolution reproductions of Schultz’s work on Peanuts and the showcasing of Peanuts memorabilia, Peanuts at Bat is an absolute must for any ardent lover of Schultz’s work.
Peanuts at Bat: The Life and Art of Charles M. Schulz, Riverside Metropolitan Museum, 3580 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, (951) 826.5124; www.riversideca.gov/museum. Runs July 19 – September 14, 2008. Admission is free, suggested donation, $3 per adult and $1 per child.