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Leading Ladies And Femmes Fatales: The Art Of Marc Davis

Marc Davis and Walt Disney

As if their current Mary Blair retrospective wasn’t enough to get you to the Walt Disney Family Museum this year, the museum has just announced a second exhibition that will debut later this year. Leading Ladies And Femmes Fatales: The Art Of Marc Davis will go on display in the museum’s Theater Gallery from April 30 to November 3, 2014. It will feature around 70 pieces ranging from pencil animation drawings to Imagineering concept art, and is co-curated by Michael Labrie, the museum’s director of collections and exhibitions, and animation legend Andreas Deja.

If you’re a reader of this blog then Davis is probably a household name; his long and varied career spanned the fields of animation, Imagineering, and fine art. He was the lead animator for iconic characters such as Tinker Bell, Malificent, and Cruella de Vil, and his inspirational drawings and gags led to the creation of a slew of signature Disney attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, the Country Bear Jamboree, America Sings, and unbuilt masterpieces like Western River Expedition and the Enchanted Snow Palace. He was one of Walt’s Nine Old Men, and a true master among masters.

It’s a bit of a banner year for Davis; a glaring gap in Disney literature will be filled this fall when Disney Editions releases Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man.

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Scenes From Frozen… Balls Of Ice In The Solar System

I’ve been feeling a bit spacey lately…

Let me rephrase that.

Space has been on my mind lately. Not that it’s ever too far off, but it’s nice to have a weekly dose of spacey goodness due to the new series of Cosmos airing on Fox and National Geographic (it’s well worth your time, and past episodes can be found on Hulu).

It might be strange to realize today, but Disney (formerly Walt Disney Productions), used to be a major source of educational films and materials due to the long-running Walt Disney Educational Media Company. If you grew up like I did in the era of actual filmstrips, you probably saw a few during your school days. I stumbled across one of these films recently, which ties together nicely with my space-bound mood, and might serve as a nice appetizer for the next episode of Cosmos.

The film is Comets: Time Capsules of the Solar System, directed by the wonderfully-named Chuck Finance and released in 1981. It’s an interesting look at our conception of comets in the not-so-distant past; it’s remarkable what we’ve learned in the years since, as probes have actually examined, sent landers, and even returned samples from these mysterious objects. We’ve even discovered entirely new areas of the solar system which were unknown and unexplored in 1981.

While I can’t be sure that I ever saw this one “back in the day”, I’m pretty sure I did; for some reason I vividly remember the computer plotter printing out the orbits of the comets, and the great proto-CGI animating the orbits. It’s really wonderful to see what the technology was like back then – that plotter is really cool! It’s highly likely that I remember this from the Disney Channel because – believe it or not – they actually aired stuff like this way back when to fill the space between movies and programs. I believe the animations of the solar system forming were also used by Disney Channel as stock footage for some of their interstitials that needed a “sciency” feel.


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Inside Out! Episode 3

It’s been quite some time since we’ve tuned in for an episode of Walt Disney World Inside Out, so for some Friday night viewing let’s turn back the clock to 1994 for another round of awkward, awkward, awkwardness and 90s style.

Episode three, from August of 1994, brings us a vague sports theme meant to tie in to the debut of the All-Star Sports Resort. There are tennis gags and golf gags, which I assume can be attributed to last-minute rewrites by Card Walker. We get a look at a number of new attractions, including Muppet*Vision 3D (with an appearance by Kermit himself), Innoventions at “Epcot ’94″ (featuring the SEGA arcade!), and The Legend of the Lion King, which, weirdly, is referred to here as “The Lion King – Live on Stage”. There’s also a peek behind the scenes at the Fantasy in the Sky fireworks show, as well as a big dose of the aforementioned awkwardness.


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L’Omlette Superb!

Carousel of Progress Act IV, 1981

The other day on The Twitter™ I commented that Disney should have a special event featuring a three-course meal based on the food that Father is cooking in the three different finales the Carousel of Progress has presented since 1975. In Act IV of Walt Disney World’s original 1975 Carousel, he’s making chili. In the 1993 version he’s making turkey (the meal would also, of course, feature a side order of frozen pizza). And in the 1981 version he’s making his legendary L’Omelette Superb avec Jambon.

The omelette was such an odd flourish that it always stuck in my young mind and has always remained my signature memory of the 1981 version of the show (runner up would be watching New Year’s at Walt Disney World on the T.V., and the line “I’d like to see the New Year’s Eve celebrations in Europe and the East.”)

Well after an online discussion about L’Omelette Superb, along came Mr. How Bowers with an amazing fact – as Act IV progressed, the computer that Mother was using to control the tree and television actually updated its CRT to match the events of the show. And even more amazingly, it actually called up the recipe for L’Omelette Superb for all to see! At least, those with a telephoto lens and a keen eye. Read the recipe at his blog, and make it yourself! Mmm… tastes like 1981! And share pictures if you do…

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The Art & Flair Of Mary Blair

Mary Blair surveys the mural she created for Disneyland's 1967 Tomorrowland remodel

Mary Blair surveys the mural she created for Disneyland’s 1967 Tomorrowland remodel

Peruvial Girl by Mary BlairThe Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco has done it again, with a spectacular new exhibit showcasing the artwork of animation concept artist, illustrator, painter, and Imagineer Mary Blair (1911–1978). MAGIC, COLOR, FLAIR: the world of Mary Blair debuted on March 13th, and is scheduled to run until September 7th in the museum’s newly-dedicated Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall. Artwork on display traces Blair’s career from her formative experiences with Los Angeles’s legendary Chouinard Art Institute and the California Water-Color Society to her seminal 1941 South America trip, her storied Disney career, and beyond.

The exhibition is curated by animation historian extraordinaire John Canemaker. Canemaker also wrote the introduction to the exhibit’s stunning 172-page catalogue, and he has also updated his long out-of-print exploration of Blair’s artwork and life. Both books are superb and should be instant buys for any fan of Blair’s work.

Filling the entire two-story Exhibition Hall, the exhibit unwinds chronologically. An excellent personal audio tour is available, which walks you through the exhibit and features guest commentators such as Canemaker, historian Ted Thomas, and Blair contemporary and friend Alice Davis.

Continue reading The Art & Flair Of Mary Blair

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