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‘Ghost Stories and Fairy Tales’ exhibit blends nostalgia, surrealism and mystery at Muzeo Museum in Anaheim

Geoff Mitchell wants people to find their own unique meaning in his art.

“People tend to ask, ‘What’s this about?’” said Mitchell, 46, of Anaheim. “I leave my work up to interpretation. I like to capture my audience with mystery.”

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Mitchell’s surrealistic art is on display at the exhibition, “Ghost Stories and Fairy Tales: A Ceremony of Make Believe,” at the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center in Anaheim.

With 45 paintings, two films, self-produced music and a miniature diorama, Mitchell’s ability to create in a variety of mediums is showcased.

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The exhibit captures all the senses.

The display room lighting is dim, only spotlighting the artwork. The music — recorded by Mitchell — playing over the loudspeaker is haunting and captivating. It’s all meant to create a meditative experience, said Josh Spears, museum executive director.

“This exhibit is so unique because it takes you into a different world,” said Spears. “It takes your mind somewhere else. You can so easily get lost in Geoff’s pieces.”

Artist Geoff Mitchell talks about one of his pieces, “A Land of Great Inventions,” at his "Ghost Stories and Fairy Tales" exhibit at the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center in Anaheim.
Artist Geoff Mitchell talks about one of his pieces, “A Land of Great Inventions,” at his "Ghost Stories and Fairy Tales" exhibit at the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center in Anaheim. (Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The exhibit’s centerpiece is a three-part diorama that tells a ghost story.

Mitchell started crafting miniatures in 2013 and the scenes displayed at the museum were originally meant for a stop-motion film. Instead, he decided he was more interested in making fixed scenes.

The diorama — all created by hand — is accompanied by an ethereal, dream-like soundtrack that Mitchell composed.

While Mitchell now engages in a variety of art forms, he focused on painting when attaining his master’s degree from Memphis College of Art and Design and his bachelor’s from Western Michigan University.

Two of Mitchell’s short films — made in 2004 and 2005 — are also on display.

All of Mitchell’s work is abstract and tends toward nostalgia. One of his favorite paintings features a blindfolded girl either tethered to or leading a young boy with a handgun and cowboy hat.

"The Locket Miniatures" is one of three story scenes created by artist Geoff Mitchell as part of "Ghost Stories and Fairy Tales" on display at the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center in Anaheim.
"The Locket Miniatures" is one of three story scenes created by artist Geoff Mitchell as part of "Ghost Stories and Fairy Tales" on display at the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center in Anaheim. (Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Mitchell said he values ambiguity because he wants viewers to have a chance to make the art their own.

“Personally, I get bored when something is defined for me,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said he’s also been working toward creating imaginative experiences rather than art shows. Abstraction beckons deep thought.

“I want to create a journey for people,” Mitchell said.

The nostalgic qualities of Mitchell’s work is meant to further the art’s storylike qualities.

“I avoid the present because we know it so well,” Mitchell said. “Things of the past aren’t known so well anymore. We are separated enough from them through time that they’re easier to fantasize about.”

If You Go

What: “Ghost Stories and Fairy Tales: A Ceremony of Make Believe” art exhibit

Where: Muzeo Museum at 241 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim

When: Exhibit runs until July 15; the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday

Cost: Adults are $10, children are $7 and students/seniors/military members are $8

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