Visit The Mid-Century Modern Side of Peanuts

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Detail of March 1, 1953 strip © 1953 Peanuts Worldwide LLC

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk into a comic strip? As long as your disproportionately large head didn’t fall off, it would be a lot of fun. Impossible, yes, but you can come close to the experience at the Charles Schulz museum’s upcoming Mid-Century Modern exhibit in Santa Rosa.

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Items courtesy of Steve Cabella / The Modern i Shop

The centerpiece of the show, explained curator Jane O’Cain, is a series of vignettes staged to look like scenes from the strip that depict mid-century modern décor. They'll include works by Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Bartollucci and Waldhiem, and Isamu Noguchi.

The one pictured here is from a March 1, 1953 Sunday strip.

“In the final panel of that strip, Schulz includes a number of famous designers: the Barwa chair, the butterfly chair, it has an Eames chair in it and an abstract painting. We thought it would be interesting to replicate that panel in a vignette,” O’Cain said.

The exhibit, which runs May 4 through Oct. 27, features a collection of Peanuts strips from the 1950s and early 60s that show the characters living among mid-century modern accouterments.

It also includes photographs and other ephemera showing the Schulz family’s mid-century modern home decor. Schulz and his first wife Joyce were part of the post-war “young moderns” who first adopted the look.

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Courtesy of the Hallmark Archives, Hallmark Cards, Inc.

“We feel they were buying these pieces for their home and Schulz, who had the adage ‘draw what you know,’ worked these images in the comic strip,” O’Cain said. “I was talking to a guy named Steve Cabella, who is steeped in mid-century modern design. He suggested Schulz did much to popularize the mid-century modern look because obviously the Sunday funnies had such a wider audience than the design magazines of the day.”

Beyond Schulz and Peanuts-oriented exhibits, the Mid-Century modern exhibition includes a collection of mid-century modern decorative pieces, “so people can see how the design helped influence post-World War II life,” O’Cain said. “These are objects from northern California artists, so it just gives a little added detail to what was going on throughout the culture at the time.”

On Friday, June 7, the museum will be free from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and the First Friday Film Series will feature Eames: The Architect and The Painter, a Peabody award-winning documentary about Charles and Ray Eames, with an introduction by Eames Office archivist and Eames granddaughter, Llisa Demetrios.