Oz Exhibit Opens at El Segundo Museum of Art

Freddy Fogarty, center, at the opening event for Experience 41: Oz

Due west in the “wish I were there” category, the spacious galleries of the El Segundo Museum of Art (ESMoA), just a stone’s throw from LAX, feature the museum’s own lavish, mural-filled Oz exhibit. Visitors can interact with online content inspired by the collection of original art borrowed from collectors around the country. (To get a feel for it yourself, click into the “Grid” section of the ESMoA website.) Five massive murals look at Oz from unique perspectives, so visitors see “… Munchkinland through Glinda’s bubble, or the poppy fields as the size of a regal mouse.” And everywhere there’s original art.

Left to right, Peter Hanff, Catherine Bienvenue, Bob Baum, Clare Baum, Paul Bienvenue — aka “the best friends anybody ever had.”

The Oz Club rarely loans material from our collection, but you will see pieces from our collection here. I loaned a few, as did Peter Hanff (Oz Club director, past-president, curator, and more), Brady Schwind (Lost Art of Oz project), Cindy Ragni (Wonderful Books of Oz rare book specialist), Patty Tobias (one of my very first Oz friends and a past recipient of the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award), many other Club members.  Perhaps most of all, Freddy Fogarty.

Freddy Fogarty at home.

Freddy, a collector from El Segundo, is who first involved me by looking for original art that might be available for this exhibit. Would I loan? Could I recommend others to approach?  (You know that song in Oklahoma, “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say ‘No'”? That’s my mantra….)

Freddy lives in an environment packed with Oz. Cases line his room floor to ceiling packed with books, toys, and vintage Oz treasures. Posters cover every scrap of wall space. The presentation of his collection at home is so striking the museum opted to recreate a part of it on its own walls. Extraordinary!

Patty Tobias arriving from the Emerald City for the opening event. Her lovely John R. Neill portrait of Polychrome is among the original artwork on display.

Expanding on this already unique exhibit, ESMoA is offering public programming on an events calendar starting with a June 27 panel. Freddy, Patty Tobias, and Paul Bienvenue (Book Collectors Guide to L. Frank Baum and Oz) will “discuss the fun and magic of collecting Oz artworks and memorabilia.” The talk will be moderated by curator Jeff Cason.  Keep an eye on their event calendar for more; I understand they are looking for a date when Brady Schwind can speak.  Judging from the look of this exhibit, there’s just no telling what all they might dream up to do!



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