Jan 23, 2009

A Bob Winquist Party-Calarts, Saturday January 31 at 4pm

Calling all interested parties:


TOMORROW: Saturday, January 31st at 4pm in the Main Gallery at Calarts

Bob circa 1960
Bob Winquist led a life that extended far beyond his tenure at Calarts as instructor, mentor and head of the Character Animation department, but for so many of my colleagues that was where we met him and how we remember him. If you read the comments left on my original post it's plain that even though most of us hadn't seen him for well over a decade he's been fresh in our minds all along--a fact that I think we'd all have liked to relate to him if we'd had the chance to get together again.

While we can't do that, we can get together and remember Bob, kibitz with his family, and pay the man some well-deserved tribute.

Martha Baxton of the Character Animation dept. is taking RSVPs: mbaxton@calarts.edu

But it really isn't essential that you do that, and there's no token of admission required-just show up. Guacamole on Bob. Informal of course.
It should be great fun. I know Bob's nieces and family are looking forward to seeing this other side of their uncle's life, one that meant a lot to him.
Incidentally, I've heard from some fellow alumni that they've received no official word or details of this happening at all, although I was told the Alumni office was going to send out invites...so please pass this info along to anyone you think would like to attend.

(If you don't know who Bob Winquist was, please read my post of last September here.
Also, read the Los Angeles Times' obituary that was published a week after his death.)

ETA Thanks to Cartoon Brew for their post about this event-much appreciated

Jan 20, 2009

Mary Blair and Alice...by Kent Melton and Electric Tiki

From Electric Tiki. Kent Melton after Mary Blair

Here's something that's got to rate as one of the neatest collectibles ever--sculptures of Alice in Wonderland and the White Rabbit based on Mary Blair's artwork(and licensed by Disney, of course). When I first saw this I just about jumped out of my skin. Fantastic!

Alice stands about 5" tall and should retail somewhere in the $120 range. For two figures of this quality in a limited edition it'll be well worth it.

This was an idea hatched by the company that made them, Electric Tiki--to create figures that based on Mary Blair's visual development and try to capture her unique style in three dimensions--and I think it's a great one. I've seen Alice here from every angle and the detail and appeal is all there. Below is a detail of the artwork that the figures are based on. They were the only reference used by the sculptor--the fantastic Kent Melton.

I can't wait to get my hands on this set(it will be sold as a pair). The ETA is summer '09. Until then, enjoy the preview.

Donald Duck and Ginger Rogers

Ginger at work, winding Donald. Check out the version wearing what looks like a sombrero behind her.

Lovers of classic film often double as lovers of everyday items from the same era--clothes, magazines, housewares--or toys. Watch enough films of the 1930s and occasionally a famous face will spring out from the prop settings : Betty Boop, Snow White, Bugs Bunny, etc. It's always a treat to see something that would be a vauluable collectible now featured then as what it was meant to be in the first place--an inexpensive child's plaything. There are many examples. This might be the most extensive: in a really fine comedy from a great year for movies, Garson Kanin''s 1939 film "Bachelor Mother" has terrific performances from Ginger Rogers, David Niven, the incomparable Charles Coburn--and Donald Duck.

It's quite a display of product placement: Disney providing numerous sizes and permutations of Donald Duck toys for their distributor, RKO. And one particular windup waddling, quacking Donald has a crucial role throughout--right up to the denoument of the story. Curiously, although the Duck is in the film as part of a large department store's toy department stock, I've spotted no glimpses of Mickey or any other Disney characters on the set. It's all Donald--dozens and dozens of him.

Bachelor Mother is such a well-written and cleverly plotted comedy--one of the very funniest of its era. That it could be made at all well after the Production Code was in full effect is a testament to--well, I don't know what, but it has some really wild double entendres (and some flat out jaw-droppers), unsurprising as the story is one of an unwed mother--albeit a mistaken one. It just works, squeezing comedy out of every opportunity, as well as some charming if improbably screwball romance.

He even features in a brief, slightly hallucinogenic montage

The screen caps here (only a few of The Duck's scenes represented) are from a colorized version on YouTube; it was made in glorious black and white and should be seen that way. Look for it on Turner Classic Movies.
Your trivia for the week.

quacking away

Jan 17, 2009

Fred Moore Los Angeles Times Obit

I've just finished reading today's New York Times obituary on Andrew Wyeth and have turned to organizing the files on my laptop. In doing so I rediscovered this, from a friend at the Los Angeles Times who follows this blog. So, just for the record, from November 25, 1952:

Jan 16, 2009

The baby of the family: Andrew Wyeth 1917-2008

I really believed he'd live to be at least 100.

Andrew Wyeth, youngest of five children of N.C. and Carolyn Wyeth, died at home in Chadds Ford today. Not in the house he was born in, but much closer in distance and spirit than most of us probably will.

When I was little Wyeth's work was everywhere--it was ubiquitous. His "Christina's World" was featured in most books and magazines when "great American art" was covered. He was clearly famous, widely respected and hugely popular. And his work left me cold.

To me, it was too dry(as it happens, the arcane use of dry-brush tempera was his most favored medium). From the subject matter of barns and fields to the handling the rough, scraped, impassive feel of his art left me with a general feeling of dispepsia. Obviously the technique was incredible, but it came across as obsessively pinched and somehow sour to me.

Anyway, that was my superficial impression as a teenager. Later I came to look at his work very differently.

"Portrait of a Dog", a study of Andy Wyeth by his father N.C.. Age 15, he's here with his best friend, his dog, and engaged in his favorite occupation: drawing. It's a beautifully colored painting but unfortunately it's only been reproduced in black and white.
I got to know Andrew Wyeth anew in 1986, as a result of a marvelous documentary that appeared as part of the PBS series "Smithsonian World": "The Wyeths: A Father and his Family". If you can find a copy of this amazing documentary, get it and watch it. Every artist owes it to themselves to be immersed in it for an hour. It's spellbinding--and it made me reconsider the art of Andrew. I'd always loved N.C. Wyeth's work and I still do--in fact I appreciate it more as time goes on--but in the context of his amazing family and his incredible father, the approach that Andy Wyeth took to his own art became more understandable and multilayered to me. In addition, his watercolors were a whole other thing--the latter-day works, and most especially the vivid paintings he did at the very beginning of his career, barely out of his teens.

"The Road to Friendship" 1941, watercolor. Farnsworth Art Museum, © Andrew Wyeth
But again, it was the great influence that the Brandywine River valley had on the elder Wyeth that made me take that initial trip there, to return multiple times. The landscape had a spellbinding effect on the entire Wyeth family, and once you're actually there it's completely understandable. It's a haunting, lovely, mysterious area rich in history and inspiration. The Brandywine River Museum(a converted mill on the bank of the river) is devoted largely to once-local artists--most famous as illustrators: N.C., Howard Pyle, Dean Cornwell, Harvey Dunn and Jessie Wilcox Smith, among many others--almost all influenced either by Pyle or later by N.C. as students.
As a perfect compliment to the art, the house that N.C. built for his family and the adjacent studio where he painted most of his incredible works are open to the public most of the year--all except for those months when Andrew was using the property for his own daily work, as he was doing until very recently.

I wanted to mark the passing of Wyeth here because more than his own art, his life--the life his father made for him and the other children(Henriette, a painter; Nathaniel, an inventor and engineer; Carolyn, a painter, and Ann, a composer and musician)was full to bursting with an appreciation for the wondrous and inspiring in the everyday--the beauty. tragedy, and mystery of it. If you ever see the documentary or can read the very good biography of NC--or better yet, the collected letters of NC Wyeth that were published some 20 years ago--you'll be unable to get all of the Wyeths out of your mind. And the instruction and exhortations that NC pounded into his children are ones that I think all of us in our profession should take to heart. Andrew remembers his father telling him re: the world around him: "Andy, we [artists] must be like a sponge--sop it up! soak it up! But be sure-remember-to squeeze it out once in a while".

NC Wyeth in 1903

Jan 9, 2009

Devin Crane Paints Love And Tears

If it seems like I'm doing a lot of plugs lately it's simply that there's so much going on that's worth knowing about. Even if you're not local to Los Angeles(or California), there's always the the chance to go to a gallery's website and digitally browse an artist's show from anywhere on the globe.

In two weeks the very talented Devin Crane will have an opening of his show "Love and Tears" at the Helford Gallery in Culver City. Devin is a development artist at Dreamworks by day, and he's just as busy painting like a madman in his private time as well. He often focuses on the female form (though not exclusively) and many of his portraits are based on people he knows well.
He grew up in L.A.(as it seems so few people actually have), with a movie-loving kid's imagination, and all the odd contradictions that this strange place offers an artist. This show will feature some lovely, melancholic, textured imagery. Go see it.

It opens on Saturday, January 24 at 7pm.

Love and Tears
Paintings by Devin Crane
Corey Helford Gallery
8522 Washington BLVD
Culver city Ca, 90232

Jan 8, 2009

Under the heading of local madness: an art opening at the Little Bird Gallery

JJ Villard at work

In the book Scrambled Ink my penultimate story was slam-banged up next to the closer by JJ Villard. I'd had no clue about the order of our stories--that was up to our editor--but in the event, I couldn't have been happier than to be able to imagine my dad's face as he turned from my drawings of a sweet girl and her dog to JJ's "DIG! DIG! DIE! DIE!". Sublime.

JJ is a filmmaker of note, a former colleague from Dreamworks, and the only man I've met who can write an email that screams. With this gentleman anything can happen--and usually does.

He's also part of a three man show opening this Saturday at the Little Bird Gallery in Atwater, in the company of fellow artists (and animators) Morgan Kelly and Jeremy Bernstein, both talented fellows with similarly skewed views of Our Town. Will be well worth a visit.
There are images aplenty at the Little Bird Gallery website--embedded, so I couldn't swipe them for partial inclusion here. But go have a look. This should be a grand opening.

Y'AINT GONNA GET THERE FREE : Screams in Hollywoodland
Little Bird Gallery
3195 Glendale Blvd. LA, CA 90039
Opening reception Saturday, January 10 @7pm
Runs through January 31.
Phone 323-662-1092

Jan 7, 2009

Where's Walt? a Disney photographic mystery posed by Michael Barrier

Please click this photograph of Walt Disney somewhere in (I believe) Irish waters in 1946, and see if you can tell what shoreline that may be behind him. Is it England? Could it be America?

In the course of his years of research, author Michael Barrier (his latest, "The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney" is a must) has collected a lot of fascinating ephemera, including a couple of photos of Walt that even he can't be exactly sure of--though he gets pretty close. The above is one of two that show Walt on board ship in late 1946.
I borrow it here as I know that a 1) a lot of Irish and UK people read this blog and might be able to ID a black and white image from the late 40s, and 2) because it's not often enough that I point readers to the Barrier blog, which always has plenty of interest to enjoy.
Michael Barrier
photograph of Walt Disney from michaelbarrier.com