Last night, the art of Mary Blair, along with the artist herself, was feted at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills by a panel of animators, each talented in their own right. The panel included Pete Docter and Daisuke ‘Dice’ Tsutsumi from Disney/Pixar and Disney animators Mike Giaimo, Eric Goldberg and Susan Goldberg. The attending audience was also filled with notables such as composers Richard Sherman and Michael Giacchino.
We are fortunate to have some photos from the event courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which we present to you below. Click on any of the thumbnails to see larger versions of the photos.
Known widely for her designs and inspiration for the “it’s a small world” attraction, created for the 1964-65 Worlds Fair in New York City, Blair joined the Walt Disney Company in 1940 in the animation department, working on a few film projects such as Dumbo and a follow-up to Fantasia. In 1941, Blair and her husband, along with Walt and Lillian Disney and several other artists went to South America on a three month goodwill tour as documented in the film Walt & El Grupo and produced classics such as Saludos Amigos and Three Caballeros as a result. She would then go on to work on several more Disney films before leaving the company, only to return a decade or so later to work on “it’s a small world” and several other projects for both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts.
Blair passed away in 1978, at the age of 66. She was named a Disney Legend in 1991. Her work has continued to inspire millions and her influence can still be seen today in new art created for The Walt Disney Company.
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The lasting influence of Disney artist Mary Blair will be celebrated through an examination of her concept artwork for Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan in the 1950s during “Mary Blair’s World of Color: A Centennial Tribute,” the latest installment of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Marc Davis Celebration of Animation, on Thursday, October 20, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Several of today’s top animation talents will discuss Blair’s work as an artist and stylist and will also demonstrate how her work has influenced their own. The panel will be moderated by animation critic and film historian Charles Solomon.
Blair’s unmistakably bold and colorful designs continue to inspire artists in all areas of animation today. Her unique and lasting impact on animation continues to this day, though Blair is best known for her design of Disneyland’s “it’s a small world” attraction, which she worked on with legendary animator Marc Davis, for whom the lecture series is named, and his wife Disney Imagineer Alice Davis.
Panelists for the evening include:
- Pete Docter, whose Oscar nominations include Original Screenplay for Toy Story, WALL-E and Up, Animated Feature film for Monsters, Inc. and Animated Short Film for Mike’s New Car, received the 2009 Oscar for Animated Feature Film for Up.
- Mike Giaimo, who served as a character designer on The Brave Little Toaster and FernGully: The Last Rainforest, was the art director on Pocahontas and a visual development artist on Home on the Range.
- Eric Goldberg, who served as the supervising animator for the Genie in Aladdin, Phil in Hercules and Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh, was the co-director of Pocahontas as well as the director of the ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and ‘Carnival of the Animals’ segments of Fantasia 2000.
- Susan Goldberg, who served as an assistant animator on Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hercules, was the art director on the ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and ‘Carnival of the Animals’ sequences in Fantasia 2000.
- Daisuke ‘Dice’ Tsutsumi, the lead color key artist on Robots and the lead color designer on Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! was the art director on Toy Story 3.
Following the program, attendees will be able to view a selection of original works by Blair.
The Marc Davis Lecture on Animation was established in 1994 to provide a forum for established film animators and other experts in the craft to share their experiences as well as explore with their colleagues the challenges of creating animation for the screen. The lecture is named in honor of the man who gave life to characters as diverse as Brer Rabbit, the beautiful Cinderella, Alice (of Wonderland fame), Tinkerbell, and the delightfully wicked Maleficent and Cruella De Vil.
Tickets for “Mary Blair’s World of Color: A Centennial Tribute” will go on sale Monday, October 3. Tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. They may be purchased online at www.oscars.org, by mail, in person at the Academy during regular business hours or, depending on availability, on the night of the program when the doors open at 6:30 p.m. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600 or visit www.oscars.org.
Disney Gallery to Feature Art of Mary Blair as Part of ‘Small World’ Celebration; Exhibit Opens May 13
The Disney Gallery, located at the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California, has announced that beginning May 13, it will the art of famed Walt Disney Imagineer, Mary Blair. Blair is best known for her designs that inspired the ‘it’s a small world’ attraction which is celebrating its 45th year inside the Disneyland park in 2011.
The art represents a collection that has been never before been displayed in public, instead remaining inside the Walt Disney Studios Archive, until now. In addition to the art that inspired the globally loved attraction, the exhibit will feature Blair’s work on Disney animated films such as Cinderella, Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland as well as Disney Parks contributions such as the tile murals for Tomorrowland, ‘ Adventure Through Innerspace,’ Disney’s Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World Resort and the never-realized Western River Ride.
We first mentioned the celebration which is uniting all facets of the Walt Disney Company back in January. In addition to the new exhibit, Disney Living and Nordstrom have debuted a line of infant clothing inspired by never-before-seen art by Blair. Disney Publishing Worldwide will also be releasing a series of childrens’ books inspired by the attraction and Blair’s art, beginning this summer and offering additional titles during the Holiday period.
Walt Disney Family Museum Featuring ‘Peter Pan’ Exhibition Through June; Kathryn Beaumont to Appear May 22
Peter Pan, a story which captivated the imagination of Walt Disney as early as 1935, will be showcased in a special exhibition at The Walt Disney Family Museum now through June 27, 2010. The feature-length animated film, released in 1953, will also be celebrated as the Museum’s film of the month in May.
Highlights of the exhibition include 16 original concept drawings by renowned Disney artist Mary Blair, which were loaned to the Museum by the Walt Disney Animation Studios Research Library. Also on display are 1930s character sketches, storyboard outlines, original concept art, model sheets, and vintage posters from the collection of the Walt Disney Family Foundation. This stunning collection of works, combined with special artifacts and Mary Blair’s concept art, reveals the evolution and results of the 1953 film. This project was also the last in which all members of Disney’s illustrious ‘Nine Old Men’ worked together as directing animators.
A first edition copy of the play by J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, is displayed alongside a “final treatment” of the Disney film dated from March 1946, and they are opened to the same moment in the story, when Wendy learns that Peter can fly.
Also participating in the Museum’s salute to Peter Pan will be actress Kathryn Beaumont, who voiced the role of Wendy, eldest of the Darling children. She’ll appear at The Walt Disney Family Museum to share her memories as a voice-over artist on Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm. Tickets are available online at www.waltdisney.org.
Continuing our series into the galleries at the new Walt Disney Family Museum, we are pleased to present to you some of the artifacts that can be found in Gallery 6: TheLate ’30s – ’40s
This difficult period in Walt’s life included the deaths of his parents, a studio strike that threatened the company’s viability, and a period when the U.S. military used part of the studio as a base. The company released Dumbo and produced training films for the military, public service shorts, and morale- boosting films, and Walt embarked on a goodwill tour of South America to strengthen ties between the U.S. and Latin American countries. He later produced two Latin American-themed animated movies based on the trip.
Photos and union flyers from the 1941 Disney animators’ strike as well as samples of Disney films in support of the war effort will be among the gallery highlights. Also on view will be original art from Dumbo and insignias that the Studios created for numerous regiments and squadrons.
All images © Disney Enterprises, courtesy of the Walt Disney Family Museum