I can’t believe after more than 30 years selling Disney art, this is the first time the art Disney’s Haunted Mansion has become available. It inspired me to write about my favorite Disney attraction.
In the many times I’ve gone to Disney World and Disneyland for work or for fun, the Haunted Mansion has always been a highlight, and I’d even say one of the main reasons we’ve gone to the parks. There was one visit in which Disney Studios had closed the park for us to wander around unimpeded, and we went through the mansion repeatedly at near midnight with only friends surrounding us. Those experiences only enhanced what is a magical experience even after waiting hours to ride it, and I should know. I’ve done that, too. That made me curious. What was the process the famous artistic and engineering geniuses at Disney Imagineering that resulted in a ride that has withstood the test of over 50 years and multiple generations? What secrets does it hold?
The Haunted Mansions for both Disneyland and Disney World were built at the same time, in 1969. By then, they already knew they’d be opening Disney World, so they made two of every element of the attraction.
The idea for it came before Disneyland, way back when Walt was going to create his park across from Disney Studios. The first illustration that included some version of the attraction was drawn by Disney artist Harper Goff, then Disney assigned Imagineer, director, and animator extraordinaire Ken Anderson to create a story, which he did, based on a dilapidated antebellum manor styled after those in and around New Orleans, which he studied copiously in the process of his designs. His house had swarms of bats, boarded up doors and windows, overgrown with weeds. Walt rejected it, thinking a run-down house inside his park sent the wrong message. Instead, he suggested as inspiration the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, and Anderson took that and ran with it, writing stories about former residents turned evil ghosts. Two imagineers known as integral to the design and engineering of the attraction, Rolly Crump and Yale Gracey took his stories and brought them to life for the park. The Haunted Mansion was expected to open in 1963, and construction started in 1962, with the exterior finished by 1963.
It was largely inspired and modeled after a Victorian Era manor called the Shipley-Lydecker House in Baltimore Maryland.
Famed animator and background artist Marc Davis and Claude Coats partnered in the feel of the ride’s interior, with Coats contributing the scarier elements and Davis bringing a comedic and less spooky quality. Plans for an opening stalled first because of the New York World’s Fair, then because of Walt’s death in 1966. After Walt passed, there were a few major changes to the ride. They scrapped an idea for a “Museum of the Weird, which would include a restaurant like the Blue Bayou at the Pirates of the Caribbean. What was once going to be a walk-through attraction became one with what became the famous “Doom Buggies”.
The Haunted Mansion at finally Disneyland premiered opened with a press event at midnight on August 12th, with an opening for the public later that morning. It was an immediate success. Within a week of opening, Disneyland celebrated its highest single-day attendance.
One thing that makes the attraction special is the wonderful Ghost Host. Foolish mortals are welcomed to the mansion by a disembodied voice, originally supplied by one of the most famous voices in animation, Paul Frees. Even legendary voice artist Mel Blanc called Frees “The Man of a Thousand Voices”. Not only did Frees have a long and storied career with Disney, he also provided voices for Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Boris Badenov, was featured in nearly every Rankin Bass stop-motion cartoon, he was also the voice of Mr. Granite in The Flintstones, and played both John Lennon and George Harrison in a Beatles cartoon. The Ghost Host is also known as Master Grace, named in tribute to Yale Gracey.
Here is a vid with some early outtakes of his recordings as the Ghost Host:
As to the features of the attraction itself, there’s so much to love. A friend of mine bought the original stretching portraits from the Haunted Mansion a few years ago when Disney was foolish enough to get rid of them and that made me curious about their origin. There are four portraits, including a balding man, an old woman, a brown-haired man, and, my favorite, a tightrope walker. In an early script for the Haunted Mansion, the balding man was an ambassador named Alexander Nitrokoff. The old woman stretches to show her late husband’s bust. The brown-haired man is identified in the comics created in 2005, he and the two men sitting on each others’ shoulders are gamblers called Hobbs, Big Hobbs, and Skinny Hobbs. The tightrope walker has many alias, with Disney cast members calling her Lillian Gracey and the comics dubbing her Daisy de la Cruz. They say she’s a witch who turns men into crocodiles. I LIKE IT! Madame Leota might be the most popular character inside the mansion. She is a psychic medium originally voiced by Eleanor Audley, who voiced both Cinderella’s Lady Tremaine and Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. Her face is based on imagineer Leota Toombs.
Of course one of the best moments on the ride is the ballroom dancers, usually called the Waltzing Dead by fans. There are a total of 12 dancers, 6 women and 6 men, that dance as couples. In the Ghost Gallery, which is a notebook written by cast members at the Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion in which they created biographies for all the attractions’ characters, the ballroom dancers are meant to be souls of folks who attended a party at Gracey Manor, only to be cursed by Madame Leota for neglecting her.
Lastly and perhaps most memorable, the ride features the groundskeeper, his mangy pup, and the hitchhiking ghosts. The groundskeeper is sometimes referred to as The Caretaker, and there’s some question as to whether the shovel he holds is for his grounds work or for a second career grave robbing. In the comics, he is identified as Horace Fusslebottom.
The hitchhiking ghosts have become a thing of their own legend. They are referred to as Gus (The Prisoner), Ezra (The Skeleton) and Phineas (The Traveler), but those names are believed to have been invented by cast members and subsequently spread by visitors to the attraction. The Ghost Gallery imagines them as three cellmates at the Salem Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
It was a thrill when I was surprised a few days ago with what felt like, after so many years without any art, an avalanche of interpretive images of The Haunted Mansion was released by Disney Fine Art.
Click on any image above to find out more about the art, or you can see all the Haunted Mansion images by going to our Haunted Mansion art page HERE.
I’ll leave you with a wonderful clip from a 1970 Wonderful World of Disney episode in which Kurt Russell guides us through the Haunted Mansion at Disney:
Many of our great friends who also happen to be clients have been supporting ArtInsights gallery since last March when the Covid Pandemic effectively shut down the country (or it certainly should have..), and it’s not just heartwarming but an honor for that to be the case, but we’ve been asked many times by them, by folks online, and by friends how ArtInsights and how Michael and I are faring in what must be the worst time for small business since The Great Depression. That’s almost 100 years. Bummer for us to be part of this time in the economy, but since we’ve been in small business for over 30 years, we can’t be completely shocked. The short answer is that we’re hanging in there and doing ok up to this point, and that’s not a little because of our loyal clients, old and new. I thought I’d share our experience, and how we’ve found new clients at a time when so few are spending money at brick and mortar small businesses.
First, I’ll say something I’ve said many times to friends and clients. Very very few people get into owning and running an art gallery expecting to make a living at it. Even in the world of animation (and I’d say film art, but there are so few of us out there, there’s nothing to compare us to) nearly all the galleries are owned by people who don’t need to make money. Mostly it’s something people who don’t have to work and come from a trust fund or a family with money do because it seems like fun, or charming…or maybe a place to drink wine and chat? We are not those people. We can’t really afford to make many mistakes, at least not big ones. For example, the one time I misunderstood how advertising on YouTube worked and spent $800 in one week, I barely slept for days. (Lesson learned there!) Our time is our currency, and that’s what we spend instead of a big budget for advertising and marketing. We’ve had to learn how to do things ourselves. That includes what art we offer here in the gallery.
Our focus has been film art and animation for the 25+ years we’ve been in Reston Town Center. We have had to, during that time, shift and change with what we see in the marketplace. Here are a few examples:
We noticed about 20 years ago there was a lot of restored animation art showing up at auction, so we started trying to only represent production art that was in original condition.
When Disney kept switching the companies they had representing their art, stopped selling production art, and started only selling ‘Interpretive Disney Art’, we started focusing on the artists that actually worked for Disney, rather than those randomly chosen for their style. We have amplified Michelle St. Laurent (art directed for Disney production designer at the theme parks) , Tim Rogerson (graphic designer for the theme parks), Toby Bluth (art director for The Tigger Movie, etc), Lorelay Bove (visual development/concept artist at Pixar), Peter and Harrison Ellenshaw (Oscar winning matte background painter and special effects artists, respectively), James Coleman (background artist for many Disney films, including The Little Mermaid) Jim Salvati (concept artists for multiple studios), Bill Silvers (concept and background artist for multiple studios, worked on Lilo & Stitch & a bunch of other Disney movies) and John Alvin (movie poster artist who worked on over 250 posters, created Lion King, The Little Mermaid, & Aladdin posters for Disney).
When artists who had spent a large part of their careers at Hanna Barbera and Warner Brothers started selling their art, we started commissioning art from them, (other galleries followed suit, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and more commissions mean more money for these wonderful people!), so we have exclusive art by Bob Singer and Willie Ito.
When artists went out on their own or approached Disney directly to sell their art, we found ways to amplify and represent their work, leading to exclusive art from them, so we have art from Bill Silvers you can only get at ArtInsights.
When auctions started selling more and more animation art that had been restored, we carried less animation art, but focused on more exclusive, rarer images like key set-ups and concept art.
We saw that Warner Brothers, Disney, and Hanna Barbera limited editions were being overproduced, so we limited our inventory of them, guiding our clients to original art and only the most iconic limited editions, and only when the price was right.
We’ve had a good internet presence since the beginning of our business. Let me tell you, that’s been interesting. Anyone who had to have a good website that represents original art but couldn’t spend $10,000 on creating it had quite a time in the 1990s. What that meant was doing a lot of blogging and a lot of updating ourselves. We’ve also had about 10 completely new websites over the years. That got us used to adding inventory and writing about animation and film art. You know that website Marvel designed as a cool way to center the story in 1994? Our website looked almost exactly like that:
It’s the fact that we always focused as much on our website and selling online as we did in the brick and mortar store that has, in part, saved us during the pandemic. We literally see nearly no one that isn’t a longterm client or ours, or someone who has searched us out online right now in the gallery. (at the moment, I’m quite glad of that, because I don’t want some random, vaguely interested lookie-loo giving me and mine Covid)
We have had to use Facebook, twitter, and Instagram (free, not paid) to get our message out as well. That worked better before they made it impossible for anyone to see posts without paying for them. Occasionally we still make a sale through social media, but it’s not usually from someone just seeing a post. It’s mostly from being part of secret groups. Facebook and all the other social media sites should have offered free advertising and marketing to small businesses during the pandemic. They said they were going to, but I never saw any proof that it actually happened…this has been a problem for small businesses since 2016, when political pages and advertising took over Facebook et al.
So, how have we found ways to be ok through Covid in 2020? It really started with my ability to write (see my work on: TheCredits, and The Alliance of Women Film Journalists) and my concern for other folks who were FREAKING out about their loved ones or themselves dying of a horrible virus. Early in the pandemic, we shut the gallery to in-person visits. I tried to think what I could do to help people feel better, and how I could help artists and wholesale companies I wanted to support. Since I’ve been in the animation and film art business for longer than most folks, I figured I could write about what I knew, and I could interview artists and figures in animation that might distract and entertain. I talked to Bob Singer, (and got exclusive original Hanna Barbera art directly from him) Talked to Don Cameron about his work on Batman: The Animated Series
As to my dear friend John Alvin, I wrote about his work on Hook, in part because *MIRACLE of MIRACLES!* Andrea Alvin found 5 copies of a production used image from the film used for the opening sequence from the film. We sold them all as a result of the blog, but you can always check with me to see if she finds any others.
Andrea Alvin’s closets are like the door to Narnia. She keeps finding things and calling me with exciting news. I keep hoping she’ll discover more production art used for Blade Runner or some such, but that’s just a dream I have (that also includes electric sheep..).
I also wrote a blog about the art from Cats Don’t Dance, from which we found two original backgrounds. John Alvin did the movie poster for that movie. I had no idea there was such an obsessive fanbase for art and information from Cats Don’t Dance. I had never watched it, and once I did, I had a better idea why so many people love it, especially dancers.
I had a wonderful chat with Ruth Clampett, the daughter of Bob Clampett, about Bob’s tv show Beanie and Cecil, and got some exclusive art from the original cartoon. That blog was a big hit, and we sold most of the art we got from the Clampett estate because of it. I can tell you Beany & Cecil fans are the best! After all these years, they still just love those quirky characters!
Sopwith Productions, the company that sells all the art from the Bill Melendez Studios, is my absolute favorite wholesale company. They are always willing to connect me with animators and artists for interviews, and that makes me, and the Charlie Brown TV animated specials and Peanuts art collectors so happy!
It was through them that I got the art from the MetLife commercial featuring all the Peanuts characters together as an orchestra. They are some of the most beautiful cels I’ve ever seen, and since Snoopy is my favorite character and I grew up watching Charlie Brown cartoons, I loved learning about why these cels are so gorgeous. Bill Melendez got paid the same amount for a 15-30 second commercial as he did for making a 30 minute Peanuts cartoon special! I talk about this in my Beethoven’s 250th Birthday Peanuts animation blog.
Early on, I included something called the “COVID COMFORT CARTOON” or “COVID COMFORT CLIP” at the end of every blog, which was just a clip relating to a cartoon or film mentioned. It was fun finding something appropriate. I think my favorite was the one with the Hex Girls, a fictitious band first featured in Scooby Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost. In the late 90s when the band was introduced, it became a cult favorite for kids first exploring their sexuality, because there’s some androgyny and queerness afoot there, something you didn’t see in cartoons at the time.
I found that sometimes the links I added went bad, depending on who uploaded it in the first place, so I got choosier and more specific about what I included in the blogs. I have also always included some Covid Comfort in my newsletters, which started out weekly at the beginning of the pandemic, and have been shifted to bi-weekly (because the blogs take so much time to research and because I’m often adding a lot of art to the site before each newsletter…)
One of the other things ArtInsights has been doing through the Covid pandemic is incorporating charity connections in much of our sales. Early on, we gave 10% of all sales of anything hero-related to charities helping get PPE and safety support for frontline workers. We also started donating 10% of all sales of Harry Potter art to the National Center for Transgender Equality. That commitment will continue until we have sold all Harry Potter art currently in stock, and we won’t be ordering any more after we sell them through. We feel too strongly about supporting our trans brothers and sister to put any more money into JKR’s pockets, even as we still hold Harry Potter dear to our hearts and always will.
I’m sure you have seen our posts and promos about a partnership with our friend Julie, who makes masks over on Etsy at Joyful Creations by J. For folks who have been able to come by the gallery, you could and still can buy masks at the store, but all the money goes to Julie, who worked at a job that was too dangerous for her, being in a high-risk family, and now makes masks and creates clothing through her Etsy store. We started doing that in March, back when more folks were mask-adverse. (Gratefully most sane folks are wearing them now.)
All these blogs, COVID COMFORT CARTOONS, working with Julie, connecting with charity, having exclusive art you can only get through my gallery and posting about all of it on social media led way way more folks to find us online, which led to more clients and more sales.
Is it more work? Yes. It is way more work. Michael and I have never been afraid of work. If you’re someone who is in small business, especially with ArtInsights, an art gallery that has to make enough money to support a family, you can’t be afraid of hard work and long hours. But I also believe we have been succeeding because I started out the pandemic just wanting to soothe and comfort our friends and clients and anyone else who might find us. I also wanted the gallery’s success to extend to artists and companies we know and love. Never let anyone tell you that doing well and doing good can’t go hand in hand.
What do I think 2021 will bring to ArtInsights? I honestly have no idea. I hope I can find more interesting things to write about that relate to the art we sell and the artists we love and want to support. I know we’ll have a very low profile in terms of the physical gallery until the current virulent and terrifying wave of the virus is quelled. We’ll be focused online, where we can all gather and interact safely. Does it sting a little we are paying so much to be in a nice center when we aren’t many clients? Maybe a bit. But its also lovely that we are in an outside mall, where shoppers feel safer, and lovelier still that we can control our retail environment so that those who ARE high risk feel safe coming for a physical visit. We will be there, masked up, door open for ventilation, pens and door knobs wiped down, just like I’d want it in my favorite stores.
At ArtInsights, we feel incredibly grateful with all the small businesses closing down that we have, so far, found a way to survive. Hopefully our way will continue to keep us open, safe, and stable until we all see better days. With clients like you, we stand a very good chance.
What can you do to help? You can buy some art from our gallery! One of the ways we’ve stayed viable and on the radar of collectors is that we have so much art you can’t get anywhere else. From Bill Silvers artist proofs, to limited edition and original art by John Alvin, to exclusive collections of original art featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and friends, we have some special pieces that you won’t see anywhere else.
Please go through our website and find some treasures for you family and/or to liven up the living space you’ll be working in and experiencing for the near future. Click here to see our latest acquisitions.
Thanks to all of you, old clients, new clients, potential clients…you are why we are still here and why we will be here in the future. You are the only reason, really. THANKS.
In the tradition of 2020/2021, I’ll end this blog with Covid Comfort Clips: Seems like a great idea to show the trailers to 3 great animated features released this year, all of which deserve at the very least to be nominated for an Oscar:
Michael Barry is a master framer, and has been framing since 1979. Now it’s very clear we do custom framing, because says it on our new sign! Until recently lots of people new to the gallery didn’t realize we do framing. We get it. Our vintage Disney art, Star Wars art, Marvel and DC art, Harry Potter… It’s magically distracting! Now we’ve got a new sign, and more new frames, and moved them so it’s clearer to folks walking by…
You may not know this, but Reston Town Center had been built with the pavilion taking the place of a spot in which, in the 70s, hippies, it is said, had bonfires. There was always great energy here. So we moved into a spot in the lobby of Two Fountain Square, where before us there was only a dirt floor.
It all started about 26 years ago, back when Mobil owned Reston Town Center. They had concerts and lots of other free events. Mobil, it seemed, had money to burn. They promoted all the stores here. There was a marketing budget, and they loved talking about the small businesses here.
The sign for our gallery was approved, after much ado, by both the folks at Mobil, and the Reston Architectural Review Board. But small and succinct, it just said, “ArtInsights”. We put a real hard wood floor in (that was four floors ago..), and got to work selling animation art, which at the time was only just becoming popular as a collectible. There are only a few galleries that specialized in it. But we ALWAYS did framing, and..in point of fact, for no more and often far less than Michael’s down the street from us…Michael had been framing since the 70s, and people followed him from Alexandria, driving from there, DC, Arlington, and parts of Maryland to avail themselves of his talent. Anyone who has framed art knows how important framing can be to interior design.
Over the years, we’ve had renovations, new floors, new walls, and the like, but every time we tried to get a larger, more interesting sign, we came up against whoever owned the center. We never even GOT to the architectural review board. We could just never get anything approved.
This year, to our great pleasure, Boston Properties gave us approval to put a far more interesting, more dramatic sign in front of our gallery! (and it says ART AND FRAMING!)
We also finally got a front door, which is something we’ve wanted a long time. Fresh air is important!
We also got new windows into the lobby, which gives us lots more light and a better view for people walking by.
Everyone who comes in thinks we made the gallery bigger, but it’s just little things like our moving the frames to the front and getting much bigger windows that have made the store feel bigger!
We added a bunch of new frames, and we’re pretty excited about them! Do you have some treasure, or funky thing, or a piece of art you’ve had sitting around that should be on your wall? Now’s a great time to come by and let us partner on some custom framing to beautify it for your home!
We have been grateful that all the major studios and many of our collector friends have given us rare art, special exclusives, and new releases to present in our new space to our clients.
Curious about some of the cool images (Batman, the Avengers, Star Wars, the Beatles, vintage Disney art from Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians, Lady and the Tramp, Fantasia, and Mary Poppins, just to name a few..) stop by soon!
In the near future, we’ll be adding some music and special events to our roster, so check back often to see what’s new.
Lesson? There’s always something that renews enthusiasm in small business, no matter what the retail environment. My advice to other small businesses who have been around a long time is find something that will bring both you and your clients joy.
When Mindy Johnson started out writing her book Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation, her plan was to make a compact little tome that celebrated what many thought must have been a very small percentage of those in the Disney’s workforce responsible for the experimentation and advancements for which the animation studio is known. After, as Alice might do, “going down the rabbit hole” of research and discovery, Johnson wound up writing a book with quite a bit of heft, at 384 pages and sized at 10 x 2 x 13 inches.
We were curious, since Mindy is coming for a lecture and book signing, to get a few thoughts from her on what she discovered early in the course of her research. Of course she’ll be talking about it all in greater length when she’s here in the gallery, but we figured our friends all across the globe might enjoy knowing what got her so curious about the subject.
5 THINGS THAT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU ABOUT THE HISTORY OF DISNEY ANIMATION:
1. SO MANY WOMEN!
“Most books out there would lead you to think there were only a handful of women animators or artists who contributed to Disney’s animation, but it turns out there were thousands of women whose remarkable artistry inspired, defined and contributed to Disney’s classic animated titles.”
2. MEN INKED! MEN PAINTED!
“We’ve been lead to believe that it was only women who did the inking & painting on these films, but men were involved at various points throughout the history of Disney Animation.”
3. SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST LINES
“People thought Inkers were simply tracing the pencil drawings of the animators, but truthfully, Inkers are translating the line with tapered starts & stops, and specifically defined line widths for each character and scene — very calligraphic!”
4. THEN, NOW AND FOREVER
“Women were at the forefront of the various technologies that advanced animation – xerography and Digital technology.”
5. IMAGINE THOSE PICTURES OF ROSE FROM TITANIC, ONLY IN ANIMATION…
“Many remarkable women worked within Disney Animation whose accomplishments went far beyond animation – including several record-breaking pilots and ‘firsts’ within aviation, a world renowned opera star, and the founder of an international club for tall people!”
ArtInsights is celebrating Women’s History Month with a signing of the book Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney Animation and a lecture from the author, leading historian on women in animation and film, Mindy Johnson. Accompanying the event, which is from 2 to 5pm, will be the premiere of a collection of vintage animation, as well as illustration art by famed Disney concept artist Lorelay Bove, who has contributed images for Johnson’s upcoming release Pencils, Pens, & Brushes: A Great Girls’ Guide to Disney Animation. Scrawl Books (our indie bookstore neighbor in Reston Town Center) will be partnering with ArtInsights for book sales, and refreshments will be served. Entrance is free, but RSVPs have first priority. Email us at email@example.com or call ArtInsights at 703-478-0778 to secure your spot!
About Ink & Paint:
From the earliest origins of animated imagery, the colorful link between paper and screen was created by legions of female artists working on the slick surface of celluloid sheets. With calligraphic precision and Rembrandt-esque mastery, these women painstakingly brought pencil drawings to vibrant, dimensional life. Yet perhaps as a reflection of the transparent canvas they created on, the contributions and history of these animation artists have remained virtually invisible and largely undocumented, until now.
Walt Disney’s pioneering efforts in animation transformed novelty cartoons into visual masterpieces, establishing many “firsts” for women within the entertainment industry along the way. Focusing on talent, Disney sought female story specialists and concept artists to expand the scope and sensibility of his storytelling. Upon establishing the first animation-training program for women, ink pens were traded for pencils as ladies made their way into the male-laden halls of animation. World War II further opened roles traditionally held by men, and women quickly progressed into virtually every discipline within animation production. Disney’s later development of the Xerox process and eventual digital evolution once again placed women at the forefront of technological advancements applied to animated storytelling.
About Pencils, Pens, & Brushes:
Based on Mindy’s critically acclaimed Disney Editions title, Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation, this nonfiction picture book is a fun and inspiring look at many of the amazing women who have worked at Disney Animation over the years—from Story Artists, to Animators to Inkers and Painters, all with unique personalities and accomplishments, such as becoming a record-holding pilot, or designing Hollywood Monsters, or creating an international club for tall people!
This timeless treasure features the whimsical and inspiring illustrations of noted Disney artist Lorelay Bové, whose visual development and design artistry defined such animated classics as The Princess and the Frog, Prep & Landing, Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6 and Zootopia.
About Mindy Johnson:
In her latest landmark book, Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation, author Mindy Johnson pulls back the celluloid curtain on the nearly vanished world of ink pens, paintbrushes, pigments, and tea. From the earliest black-and-white Alice Comedies to the advent of CAPS and digital animation, meet the pioneering women who brought hand-rendered animated stories to vibrant, multicolored life at Walt Disney Studios and beyond. Extensively researched with the full support of the entire Walt Disney Studios archival resources, plus a multitude of private collections, firsthand accounts, newly discovered materials, and production documentation, as well as never-before-seen photography and artwork, this essential volume redefines the collective history of animation.
Award-winning author, historian, filmmaker, educator, musician and more, Mindy Johnson’s creative accomplishments reflect the diversity of her talents and experience.
A leading expert on women’s roles in animation and film history, Mindy frequently writes and speaks on early cinema, animation, women’s history, and creativity. Her ongoing research and groundbreaking discoveries continue to cast light on the invisible narrative of women’s presence within the first century of the motion picture industry.
Mindy has produced record-breaking global campaigns, creative content, exhibitions and events for a growing list of clients including: The Walt Disney Company, AMPAS/Oscars.org, WNET/American Masters, The Walt Disney Family Museum, Bing Crosby Enterprises, SiriusXM Radio and Horipro Entertainment.
In addition to her film expertise, literary efforts and consulting, Mindy is also an award-winning playwright, songwriter, composer, and contributing artist on several internationally acclaimed recordings and published compositions. Mindy teaches cinema history, aesthetics and intercultural film within the Los Angeles area, including a first-of-its-kind course on the history of women in animation, based on her ground-breaking book, at CalArts – California Institute of the Arts. See more about her on her website by clicking here.
About Lorelay Bove:
Born in Barcelona, Spain, raised in the principality of Andorra and part of a family full of gifted artists (her father is renowned painter Quim Bove) art has always been a way of life for Lorelay. Educated at the prestigious California Institute for the Arts, a school founded by Walt Disney to foster young creative talent, this exciting young artist has made an impact on the art and animation world almost immediately upon her arrival.
After making her entry into the business as an art intern at Pixar Animation Studios, she quickly transitioned into her current role as a Visual Development Artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
As a visual development artist for Disney, her conceptual artwork has been extremely influential in the visual direction of films such as ThePrincess and the Frog, Tangled, Winnie the Pooh, and Wreck-it Ralph. Lorelay is also known for providing the illustrations for the Little Golden Book The Princess and the Frog title, as well as Toy Story:Ride ’em Cowboy! Her work is also featured on the cover of The Art of Wreck-it Ralph.
Her work is often compared to the work of Disney Legend Mary Blair, although Lorelay confesses that she did not become aware of Ms. Blair’s work until her college years. Her own visual signature and style had already been well established for many years at that point, however, she finds the comparison flattering. “It’s quite a compliment!” she says.
So many changes in Reston Town Center, and this time they are for the better! For one thing, we are excited to hear the award-winning restaurant chain True Food is coming to the center, as is Peet’s Coffee! It will be a while, but we’re excited there’s new blood coming, and it’s fresh, hot, and trendy.
The lobby of our building is getting a complete makeover, and it will be all done at the beginning of April. Of course, our gallery is going to be in a bit of upheaval until then, but ultimately it will be so good! We are looking forward to having much larger, cleaner, more modern windows facing the lobby. You can see the new look below:
While they are doing the work, we’ll be starting to make changes inside and outside the gallery, some of which we’ll want to be a surprise for our clients, but one thing we want to let everyone know is we’ll have lots of new frames- (Come see them! They are SUPER DUPER COOL, and in all styles and sizes!)
They’ll now be across from the new door out to the street, with the table and samples more easily seen from the outside storefront. Our new door out to the street will be the new way into the gallery, but we’ll also have the lobby entrance back at the end of the renovation. Lots of pretty changes will also be happening, but you’ll see them as they develop. Bear with us, stop by and see them in progress, and come celebrate with us when they are all done!
We’ll be having some events in the meantime, and we have a few special collections we’re looking forward to announcing soon.
Some of the exciting announcements for new stores and restaurants in Reston Town Center include:
Famed Drag & Contemporary Artist TENNESSEE LOVELESS Releases First Images of His New Project “THE ART OUTSIDERS” at ArtInsights Gallery. Meet ‘10SC’ on May 21 & 22 from 2 – 4 pm
Reston, VA – In conjunction with the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival on May 21 and 22 at Reston Town Center, ArtInsights has the worldwide exclusive premiere of images from The Art Outsiders by Tennessee Loveless. The Art Outsiders is a portrait collection of important and influential creators who, through their struggle and determination have changed the world with their unique genius. The Chicago-based, internationally known artist will be making a personal appearance, 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22 at ArtInsights Gallery, 11921 Freedom Drive, Reston, VA. The display of his original and limited edition art will continue as the collection expands, and as sales allow. As always, gallery admission is free. For more information, contact ArtInsights at 703-478-0778 and visit HYPERLINK “http://www.artoutsiders.net” www.artoutsiders.net.
The first seven images of the series, which are part of a growing list of over 40 names, include Divine, Van Gogh, Coco Chanel, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, David Bowie, and Judy Garland. The Art Outsiders Project is a collection of portraits of people who were outsiders of their own field of work. From science, music, art, writing, fashion, and beyond, Loveless is writing the stories of each outsider’s life, and imbedding it into the structure of their portrait. The pieces act dually as portraits and stories, and all of them combined will talk about persevering through the darkest times to create a different kind of beauty that changed and continues changing the world.
Although he only began working on the project in November, the originals have been commissioned so quickly he already has a backlog from longtime collectors who had pre-announcement access to the list. Art collectors interested in the project can go to the Web page of all current Art Outsiders available for purchase, or can nominate someone not currently on the list for consideration, as names are being added all the time. Loveless decides, from his own perspective, if they fit with his vision of the project. Says Loveless, “I know what it’s like being an outsider. Creating these images, being inside these creators’ lives as I paint them, moves me far beyond what I was expecting. Seeing the collectors connecting so viscerally, being moved too, is the most rewarding experience of my career.”
His fine art representative and partner in The Art Outsiders project is ArtInsights owner Leslie Combemale. From her perspective, the fact that Loveless is colorblind and limited in his ability to see color, is a fascinating after-thought in considering Loveless’ unique talent and artistic voice. “Tennessee’s art comes from his entire being, and his life experience. It’s true he has had to choose colors based on psychology rather than a personal visual understanding, but that is only one aspect creating the unique depth of his images. For The Art Outsiders project, for example, he is entirely immersing himself in the lives of the artists he is painting. He is speaking to their struggle, importance, and relevance. I’m thrilled it’s being so well received. People either love or hate his art, and I think that’s a great sign! It’s true for all iconoclastic contemporary artists”.
ABOUT TENNESSEE LOVELESS
Tennessee is inspired by his fascination with pop art, flamboyant fashion and film icons, and the underground drag culture. Although he attended the Savannah College of Art and Design, he began his career in earnest by painting drag queens in San Francisco. Simultaneously, while gaining recognition for that work, he became an product developer and artist at Disney, where he ultimately came to prominence with the 10x10x10 series, one hundred iconic silhouettes of Mickey Mouse’s face expressing a pop journey, exploring the history of the icon, while bringing global, societal, and personal context to the imagery. He has created art for an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, was honored with a Smithsonian Artist Residency Fellowship, has been the featured artist in Anthology Magazine, and made one of the “People of the Year” in Instinct Magazine. The darling of contemporary art collectors around the world, he has been an artist in residence in Berlin, Paris, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Chicago. He’s the 2016 official Summer Olympics artist with designs created for Speedo representing Brazil and USA. More information is available at HYPERLINK “http://tennesseeloveless.com/” www.tennesseeloveless.com
Loveless comes by his love of drag through his own experience as an accomplished drag performer both in San Francisco and Seattle with Trannyshack, the drag performance group founded by Hecklina at the Stud bar in San Francisco in 1996. He is also the founder and programmer of the Internet music show Beautiful Noise Broadcast, which has since morphed into Gorgeous Sound Underground.
ABOUT ARTINSIGHTS GALLERY
ArtInsights is a privately owned gallery located just outside Washington DC at 11921 Freedom Drive, Reston, Virginia, in Reston Town Center. In addition to their focus on the art of film, the gallery is displaying the work of The Art Outsiders project, which is a partnership between Tennessee Loveless and Leslie Combemale. Open since 1994, and co-owned by Combemale, ArtInsights is expanding to allow the display of the contemporary work of artists and art projects represented by Combemale Creative, her company for international art consulting and artistic representation. The gallery has Loveless’ Art Outsiders art as well as representative art from his entire career, including drag queens and 10x10x10. Visit ArtInsights at HYPERLINK “https://www.artinsights.com/” www.artinsights.com. For more information about The Art Outsiders project and Tennessee Loveless, visit HYPERLINK “http://artoutsiders.net/” artoutsiders.net.
“IN CELEBRATION–it’s a NEVER BEFORE AND NEVER AGAIN kind of announcement!”
We are letting our “Business Besties” who read our blog, are fans of us, and keep up with our “goings on” know that we are doing something very special, something we’ve NEVER done before, (and won’t do again!), for the 25th anniversary of Reston Town Center and in conjunction with the day of celebration happening in the center on Sunday, October 18th, from 12:00 to 4:00 pm…but you’ll have to come in and see what it is…
This shopping center was part of the first planned community of its kind in the country, and was all the brainchild of Robert E. Simon.Bob recently passed away with his usual grace and lots of admirers, at the age of 101, on September 21st. Any of you who knew him know he will be missed!
ArtInsights has been here since the beginning. Before our lovely wood floor was installed in 11921 Freedom Drive, there was dirt. DIRT! We saw ten different stores and businesses open and close across the hall in that time, only to finally see them put the management office in the space…as if we needed a reminder that retail isn’t for the faint of heart!!
We are so grateful to the many loyal and supportive clients and friends we’ve had all this time, and we are so proud to say Bob Simon was one of those clients, and a good friend to the store.Only a few weeks before he passed, I saw him doing his usual walk around the center and said Hi.He invited me to walk with him and asked me how the store was doing.(I thought i’d have to remind him who we were.Instead he brought up the last framing job Michael did for him.)
so…HAPPY 25th ANNIVERSARY, RESTON TOWN CENTER!! and thank you all for your support!
A few days ago, John Alvin was inducted into The Hall of Fame at his high school, Pacific Grove High School.His sister Suzanne Alvin was there to accept the honor and talk a bit about John Alvin and his career.She spoke to the kids, thinking about what John would have said, and what advice he’d give to aspiring artists.
We at John Alvin Art and ArtInsights asked her to tell us a little about it.Here’s what she said:
“I only had a few minutes, and had to keep it really short. I told them what I though he might tell them: to not compare themselves to others; to exercise their own creative spirit, find their unique voice.
I finished with something he once told me: One time I was anxious about a situation that was not going well. He said:
“Just be yourself. After all, who else are you going to be?”
He would have loved the whole thing; he would have charmed them, of course, and made them laugh.”
It wasn’t a big deal, but we who knew John’s respect for not only his own art, but for others who struggle to create, as well as his mix of humility and desire to be appreciated, know this little gift would have meant the world to him.It means, as he was a mentor and inspiration to many artists while he was here, he will continue to be an inspiration in a very real way, to kids who feel the artist inside themselves and need to know, with talent and drive, it IS possible to be successful in whatever kind of art they choose!
Please join me in congratulating his wife Andrea Alvin, his sister Suzanne Alvin, and his daughter Farah Alvin! More schools should have artists in their Hall of Fame!
To see some art we at ArtInsights have of John Alvin original and limited edition art his estate, CLICK HERE.
Happy Birthday! The Mickey Mouse Club turns 60! The series began on October 3rd, 1955!
My own personal experience with the Mickey Mouse Club is with the cels from this series.
As someone who has sold cels from The Mickey Mouse Club since 1988, I’ve had to learn over time about the animated cartoons, characters, and costumes used on the show. Production cels from The Mickey Mouse Club have their own unusual look to them. The thick ink lines make cels from the show pretty easy to recognize: (click on the image if you’re interested in buying the art!)
Also, most of the cels were sold originally through the Art Corner, a store in Disneyland where they sold original Disney art from 1955 to 1966. This means the cels were cut down to a smaller size, matted, and came with a seal on the back. A very recognizable seal!
Many of the cels from The Mickey Mouse Club and indeed most that were sold through the Art Corner are stuck to their backgrounds. It’s inherent to the era. If you find a cel that isn’t, it’s probably been completely repainted.
One of my favorite stories from my long history selling animation art is that a friend of mine who is a chemist and also a collector discovered a way to remove the cels from their backgrounds without ripping all the paint off the back. When he told me he’d actually done it, I felt like he’d made a major discovery. That’s how Disney geeky I am! So now when we have cels from that time period lots of them are NOT stuck to the backgrounds because we get them all from this one awesome guy.
My personal history with The Mickey Mouse Club is probably in some ways similar to many, at least those from other parts of the world. I saw it was coming on (in reruns, of course) in Paris on TV and I begged my parents to let me watch it.
They warned me “It isn’t what you think .. It isn’t mostly cartoons..”
I didn’t care. And actually there were plenty of animated moments, certainly enough for an 8 year old. What I didn’t know, because they didn’t play them that way, was that each day of the week was specific to a particular subject. I learned that later, as an animation gallery owner!
I love, though, that collectors who remember or have a love for The Mickey Mouse Club can get cels of Jiminy Cricket (that also have a thick ink line) and a bunch of other beloved Disney characters for much less than if they had bought them from the original features from which they originate.
Mickey Mouse production cels, original and limited edition art are going to have a resurgence, and soon. Why? There’s a new Mickey Mouse show, which began in 2013, and to date it’s seen in 160 countries, translated into 34 languages. The show is making Mickey cool again. Still, purists will always look back to the early cartoons of the late 1920s, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and The Mickey Mouse Club.
Here’s a popular Mickey Mouse Club limited edition by Tim Rogerson (which you can click on if interested in buying!):
On this 60th anniversary of their premiere, we owe thanks to a show that made Mickey Mouse himself, his pals, and the live action kids so relatable to children all over the world.
For all the Mickey Mouse art ArtInsights has available, go HERE, and of course for commissions or requests for particular images, contact the gallery!
In the course of my career selling animation art and advocating for the value of animation art as a legitimate art form, i’ve discovered collectors of original production art, and even Disney interpretive art, tend to gravitate to movies that are either firsts or lasts. Sometimes they are aware of the history, and sometimes they are responding to something they feel or see, not knowing the technical or historical reasons.
For example, there are lots of Snow White lovers, not only because it is the first full length feature for Walt Disney Studios in 1937. Few dispute that it is a masterpiece of invention based on a great old story, that is very important to the history of film.
The fact that it is the first for Disney feature animation, though, means at the time there was a huge amount of experimentation and innovation. Character design made leaps forward, so that meant the villain, the Queen and her disguise, the witch, the dwarfs, the animals, and Snow White herself were full of little design elements that made the cels used to animate them fun to look at. The way the outlines of the characters on the cels were hand-inked, and the airbrush used to enhance the look of movement or “alive quality”, inadvertently made the production cels beautiful pieces of art. Of course Walt figured that out and sold them as art at the movie’s premiere.
Although not the masterpiece Snow White is as a film, 1959’s Sleeping Beauty also has a slew of collectors and fans, and deservedly so. It is the last hand-inked feature film in Disney’s history. For that reason, the studio both went all out in their use of ink colors and enhancements, and experimented with the new technique of xerography they hoped to use in their next feature, 101 Dalmatians being released in 1960. For those of you who don’t know, xerography copies the original drawing onto the cel with a machine, making hand-inking the outline of the characters unnecessary. This took far less time, but also, they argued at the time, assured the integrity of the artists’ finished drawings, because they would be transferred exactly as they were drawn, onto the cel.
Here’s the thing: Hand-inking, on animation cels, is just lovely. What I tell people who are wondering through ArtInsights for the first time curious to learn a little about production art, if you stand back and look at two cels, one with hand-inking, and the other with xerographic line, the hand-inked cel pops right off the wall. You can see the character so much better! The character’s outline being so clearly defined, and often in a variety of colors, adds dimension to the character itself. The problem of course, is that if you love 101 Dalmatians, you have to embrace the first that was using xerography to outline all the characters in the movie. To be fair, it has its own retro charm. However, one of the reasons collectors of Sleeping Beauty are so committed to that film is because the hand-inking points to the end of an era, and as such goes out in a blaze of glory, and the cels are flamboyantly hand-inked to the point of artistry. I think the character designers and inker painters knew it would be the last time they would make such a strong mark on an animated feature, and they just put all their heart and soul into the art.
Sleeping Beauty fans love the film for lots of reasons. The voice talent is extraordinary. Mary Costa as Princess Aurora was wonderful casting, because she could bring her background as an opera star to the experience. Vera Felton, at this point a Disney veteran, having been tapped for the fairy godmother in Cinderella and the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, among others, voiced Flora. Radio voice star Eleanor Audley had voiced Lady Tremaine in Cinderella, and absolutely rocked it as Maleficent. That character is beloved not just for her design, but certainly for the way she was voiced!
The animation artists involved in Sleeping Beauty point to a particularly fruitful time at the studio. The character animation is some of the best in Disney history. Marc Davis animated both Princess Aurora and Maleficent, Milt Kahl worked on Prince Philip, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston handed Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, and Wolfgang Reitherman worked on the dragon. For those of you who know these names, that’s a lot of Disney genius in one place. Eyvind Earle, Sleeping Beauty’s art director, was known as a masterful background stylist, and invented much of the look of the movie’s backgrounds, especially the ubiquitous mid-century modern trees, modeled after those that surrounded him living in California.
Though Sleeping Beauty didn’t succeed at first at the box office, it has since gone on to be seen as one of Disney’s best. Not that animation collectors who search avidly for good production cels from the film care about such things…they can’t be convinced by nay-sayers because the cels themselves are just so gorgeous.
That brings us to a cel I just got in ArtInsights (you can click on the top pic to go to the page in the gallery site) One of the scenes collectors look for as part of their Sleeping Beauty animation art collection is a great cel of Briar Rose in the forest. Obviously collectors look for essential moments that represent the key scenes moving the story forward, and Briar Rose wandering through the landscape, singing to her mock prince, and meeting Prince Philip, definitely qualifies! I see lots of Briar Rose cels. There is a crazy variance in price, according to little things and big things like
Are her eyes open? Does she have her basket? Can you see the curls in her hair? (hand-inking at its best!!) Is she full figure but you can see her face well and she has a good expression? Are there animals present? Is she dancing? Is she dancing with the prince? (unlike the end of the movie, that would be comprised of, in this scene, two cels, not one with both of them on it like the ‘dance among the clouds’) has the art been restored? (I try not to sell restored art) is it in a hand prepared background? Is it a full cel or is it an art corner piece?
The Sleeping Beauty production cel we have right now has a hand-prepared background on it. Created by an artist who has worked at Disney, this artist captured the essence of Eyvind Earle’s style. So much so, that i’ve been afraid about making sure the provenance stays intact and should the art ever leave the hands of whoever I sell it to, it is clearly indicated that this is NOT from 1959. It helps that this artist created the background on archival mat board and it has a repeated stamp all over the back CRESCENT, CRESCENT, CRESCENT! (the company that makes those mats) The cel is unrestored, and yes, you can see her hair. For my part, Briar Rose cels are some of my favorite production cels because of her hair. Realize, now, that her hand-inked hair is done 24 cels per second through the entire movie. THAT’S CRAZY! No wonder they switched to xerography!
One of my favorite parts of my job being a gallery owner is finding original cels that truly capture the spirit of a character. Knowing that production cels were photographed and used the create the film, a film that has been seen by many millions of people, just brings me such joy. It’s like animation history, and indeed art history, in your hands, or on your walls. It also brings me joy knowing there are like-minded people out there who also love animation art. Being in the industry since 1988, I saw a time when few knew what the heck it even was! I still have people who come in and think it’s all kid stuff, but I hope with blogs like these I can change a few minds, or reaffirm the love of cartoons and animation art in a few collectors, and even more Disney lovers!
For ArtInsights, i’m Leslie Combemale.
These are just thoughts and musings of a gallery owner and lover or art and animation. There are lots of books that will go far more in-depth about the history of animation and Disney. Please feel free to ask questions below or email the gallery if you are looking for Sleeping Beauty art or animation film art of any kind!
Further reading on Sleeping Beauty production cels, Sleeping Beauty the feature film, and the history of Disney animation:
Sleeping Beauty Platinum dvd (commentary and extra info)
I don’t so much hate saying “I told you so”, as quietly revel in the thought of saying it, especially when it comes to the value and popularity of film and animation art.
Remember I was there when no one knew what a cel was, some 30 years ago.I worked in one of the first five galleries in the world specializing in animation art.Back then we would routinely hear from casual shoppers, “do you have any real art?” or “is there a fine art gallery in the center?”, and I still field those questions from time to time today.Of course I feel vindicated that animation art, Disney interpretive art, and film art has become a huge collectible with which most people are familiar.
But the times when I have targeted a particular scene, movie, or character, knowing it would at some point become prohibitively expensive…the times i’ve come perilously close to “hard sell”, because some of my loyal collectors would not be able to afford whatever it was in a few years, when i’m right about THOSE times, that’s when I really think I might be pretty valuable to collectors in those fields.
It isn’t as easy as it sounds.You’d think with every release of a live action version of a Disney film, the production cels from the original would explode in price, but that isn’t often the case. You’d also think an artist dying would have immediate impact on value, but that is also only sometimes true.Often it takes a few years for the art to raise consistently in price.
There have been a few “wins” I can point to, in terms of prognosticating.
For example, when heavyweight Snow White collector Steve Ison sold back a huge percentage of his art to Disney right around the same time they had a show of Snow White and vintage Disney art in Paris and Montreal in which they showed the connection between animation art and fine art, I knew Snow White would become highly collectible in France and the US. He was also someone who tried to focus on collecting only unrestored art, and i’ve contended that will become a major concern for discerning collectors when in search of vintage art.
A TEENY portion of Steve Ison’s collection:
I also knew about how popular interpretive art by Disney art director Toby Bluth was going to be to production art collectors, and sure enough, he was the one interpretive artist they all collected.Sadly he’s since passed away, and i’m so glad I pushed a lot of my clients to buy his work.None of them ever want to sell it back and his are often the favorite pieces in their collections.
But the most recent moment that puffed me up like the animation and film art equivalent of a parading peacock is the insane rise in value of cels from The Little Mermaid.A few years ago when Disney was hurting for quarterly numbers, and they were looking for cash from any corner, they allowed the release of original production cels from The Little Mermaid to the public through galleries.They were selling them for a fraction of what they had been.I literally bought 90% of what they were offering.They even had a few of Ariel on the rock.
…NO I DON’T HAVE ANY MORE! 😉
Since then, the frenzy for cels of Ariel has continued unabated.Those who had been expecting to get art from the film for $800 to $2000 often declined purchases, and now, boy are they sorry.Good cels with official seals from the film are now going for between $3500 and $8000, if they even go on the market.
Cut to Heritage Auctions, and a piece of art from the scene I remember telling ALL my clients they absolutely had to get cels from if they were building a collection representing the whole movie.Namely, “Naked Ariel”.I speak of this:
This is the scene when Ariel has just become a human, and has gotten legs.It isn’t about the fact that she is supposedly around 16 years old.There are certainly creepy collectors who are into that, but mine aren’t like that.It’s about the fact that you just don’t see naked animated characters in Disney*.
*The only other naked Disney character is the Harpie from Fantasia, as far as I know:
(you can look them up, but this is a close up of her face)
She isn’t supposed to be in the altogether.She is under the water, which is not shown in the film.She has registration marks for where the camera frames her.However, the original drawings of Ariel show her entire body.
The first time I saw a cel like that in 1990, I knew they’d be in high demand, but last month a piece like that went for around $17,000 in the aforementioned auction.I am pretty sure I sold that piece originally, and for $2500.I’m not saying that’s the norm, or it wasn’t someone digging in, determined to wind up with the piece regardless of its cost, but that “figure” means at least two collectors were willing to duke it out all the way up to a 15k hammer price.
Auctions these days, when it comes to animation, make me completely crazy.Backgrounds they say are from the film that aren’t, cels they say aren’t restored, or completely repainted, that are, and a host of other confusingly misrepresented or mis-labeled art makes auctions a strictly “buyer beware” kind of affair.A lot of long time collectors are well aware of that.
I have a feeling that is why when a cel from The Little Mermaid with a seal shows up, essentially verifying its authenticity and provenance, collectors come from all over the place to try to make it theirs.
When will the escalating prices settle down? It’s very hard to tell.Anyway, generally these days I save my prognosticating for frequent clients, so that I can level the playing field I share with all these auction houses.
Something has to give a gal the edge.Being right only helps so much when you’ve already sold all you had.
At least I know about 15 people with what I call “Skinny-dipping Ariel”, and that’s most of the ones out there.
Glad I talked them all into it.Not that they’ll sell them, but knowing they do makes my big green feathers just a little fluffier.
We hope your holidays were wonderful and that you are on your way to big things in 2015! We at ArtInsights certainly are..
This last year has seen some great art and great film releases, and some awesome directions for our favorite artists.
Of course the first artist I’d mention is John Alvin, although of course since he passed away in 2008 it isn’t coming from John himself. But 2014 saw the release by Andrea Alvin, his partner and wife, of the book The Art of John Alvin, which got universally great reviews and made a fair number of best art books of 2014 lists. We loved seeing it at the top of Amazon UK, and all the press not only the book got, but John’s art as well. It seemed like every image he ever did for Jurassic Park crossed the internet!
Andrea Alvin also started breaking out on her own accord as an artist. She had been working with John all these ye
ars, and was an integral part to the creation of many well known posters of the 1980s and 90s, including the Batman advance and the Cape Fear posters. Most recently, however, she has been working with Disney and Warner Brothers creating official art for The Wizard of Oz anniversary and Looney Tunes, as well as images for Pixar and classic Disney characters.
We love our collaboration with Tennessee Loveless, who is nearly done with his Ten x Ten x Ten series, which is getting more and more interesting while it maintains his edgy, of-the-moment pop aesthetic. You can see many explanations of the creations in the series HERE. Look for some new exciting work we’ll be doing with him in 2015! There is no question his star continues to be on the rise, and there’s no telling just how far high he’ll go. If you like his work, now is the time to get connected to his fascinating world—one we love being a part of and believe you would too!
Having Michelle St. Laurent was an absolute pleasure at the gallery this December. We still have several of her originals and they never cease to impress. So many layers, and so much integration of pop and traditional watercolor styles with illustration and animation—Toby Bluth would have loved it! We learned Michelle was at the beginning of vinyl-mation, pin-trading, and ‘make your own ear hat” at Disney, and was behind a host of amazing environments at the parks. How wonderful to see a woman rise so high as an official artist in the studio!
We haven’t had a chance to work with him yet, but very excited about the production designer from Disney’s Frozen, David Womersley, has become an official interpretive Disney fine artist! This is very cool for those who love collecting artists working inside the studios actually shaping their favorite movies…and it’s a BIG deal! I can’t wait to find people who will want to do a commission with him! His first limited edition is based on two concept pieces he created to show the grandeur of the Norwegian landscape, and those pieces were instrumental in the finished design for the film.
We look forward to interviewing him to let fans and collectors get to know him better!
The best news for fans of Disney art with a limited budget is the new collection called “Treasures on Canvas”. It offers a variety of images that are also available in smaller editions that are hand embellished, in a larger edition size of 1500, gallery wrapped, and with a certificate of authenticity, all for only $125 each. What makes this so wonderful is when we first started representing animation art some 30 years ago, everyone could afford it. This collection makes it so again. We have actually sold several to young kids who bring us money every week, and it means they can collect their first piece of art. What a joy that has been! It is also true that the artists in the collection getting a wider audience, and as many of them are close friends I love, this too makes me happy!
As to 2015, we look forward to some great changes and new offerings, which we can’t wait to announce. We have some new artists we know are set to skyrocket into the limelight, as well as properties we know our collectors are wanting to be released officially we are championing on their behalf. And in reference to that, if you are interested in a film having official art released, let us know and we’ll see what we can do!
Trust us, we have your interests, and the success of film artists who should have greater notoriety for their work, in mind. Traditional illustration and concept work deserves recognition, and we as a gallery advocate as much as possible.
Here’s to 2015 expanding awareness of film art to the fine art collectors of the world, expanding acceptance of concept artists little known outside the studios, and expanding our collector base by our work in education and celebration of the art!
As some of you who follow The Art of John Alvin, not the book, but the actual art, which is represented by ArtInsights Animation and Film Art Gallery, know quite well, Andrea Alvin has been working for several years writing, compiling, and getting permissions for a (hopefully first) book on John Alvin’s career and art. It is being released by Titan Books. We have been thrilled to see not only the attention that Titan has given it in terms of promotion, but also the interest, well deserved, by the press worldwide.
We are told this is only the first round, and more articles will appear as the actual release date happens, but we are going to keep a list of all the articles and reviews, good or (goddess forbid!) bad, right here. We hope this will not only allow for long overdue recognition of John as one of the foremost artists who ever worked in the film industry, but also wider acceptance of traditional illustration not only as important in film history, but also as a viable option today to promote and brand new movies in an artistic and creative way. There is and was only one man who painted like John Alvin. He was able to do that thing everyone at Disney called Alvin-izing.
Reston, Va – ArtInsights Animation and Film Art Gallery is teaming up with Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia for an exhibit and sale of official The Wizard of Oz art, showing interpretive artwork from the classic movie by carefully selected film artists chosen to represent a wide diversity of imagery and artistic styles. In honor of the Hollywood premiere of The Wizard of Oz on August 15, 1939, all are invited to an open house from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Friday, August 15, as well as to an event featuring official Warner Bros. artist Andrea Alvin on Sunday, August 17, from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at ArtInsights, located in the Reston Town Center in Reston, VA. Ten percent of profits from sales of The Wizard of Oz art sold during the exhibit will be donated to Habitat for Humanity, as well as all money raised from the raffle and silent auction during its opening weekend. The exhibit, entitled “There’s No Place Like Home,” will be on display through September 15. For more information, please contact ArtInsights at 703-478-0778 or visit www.ArtInsights.com.
Through Warner Bros., a collection of highly regarded artists have been commissioned to create images inspired by the film for art collectors and film fans. John Alvin, cinema artist responsible for the movie posters for E.T., Blade Runner, and The Lion King, created images prior to his death in 2008, and they will now be seen in public for the first time at this special exhibit at ArtInsights. His wife and partner at Alvin & Associates, Andrea Alvin, has also created art and will make a special guest appearance during the opening weekend of the exhibit and sale. She has hand-embellished two of her The Wizard of Oz limited edition art pieces, making them unique and highly collectible. One of the art pieces, “Startling Stories: Wicked Witch,” will be part of the raffle and the other, “Startling Stories: Tin Man,” will be available through the silent auction. Other artists on exhibit include Steve Chorney, the poster artist for the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? one-sheet, and Dan Killen, concept artist on Space Jam and The Iron Giant.
“We are proud and excited to be the gallery celebrating the actual anniversary of such a classic film,” says ArtInsights owner Leslie Combemale. “The quote, ‘There’s no place like home,’ has so much resonance when thinking of affordable housing. We always love involving charity in our exhibits, now collectors can enjoy inspiring images from one of their favorite films and do good at the same time.” ArtInsights adds the official art of The Wizard of Oz to a collection of film art, all created by licensed and most distinguished artists working in the film industry today.
For more information about the gallery exhibit and opening benefitting Habitat for Humanity, go to artinsights.com. Find out more about the “There’s No Place Like Home” campaign at http://thewizardofoz.com/Habitat . To buy raffle tickets or find out more about Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia, go to http://habitatnova.org/.
ABOUT HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA
Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia’s unique model of affordable housing is focused on home ownership. Habitat homeowners secure a no-interest mortgage, while the non-profit secures corporate sponsorship, in-kind donations, and volunteer labor to make the home affordable. Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia (Habitat NOVA) was founded in 1990, and to date has built 80 homes, rehabilitated 4 homes and repaired 20 homes, benefiting more than 400 people. As a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, Habitat NOVA serves the counties of Fairfax and Arlington and the Cities of Falls Church, Fairfax, and Alexandria. More information is available at www.habitatnova.org.
ABOUT ARTINSIGHTS ANIMATION AND FILM ART GALLERY
ArtInsights, established in 1994, is a privately owned gallery located just outside of Washington, DC at Reston Town Center, in Virginia. The gallery presents important images from the 20th and 21st century film art genre, including original art from the masters of film and moving entertainment. From film campaign artists to concept and layout artists to animators, ArtInsights represents a wide collection from the giants and up and comers of film art. With over 30 years experience, the owners work with their worldwide collector base to build and insure the integrity of their collections. They sell rare images used in production as well as original commissions which are often used to create official limited editions. ArtInsights exclusively represents the original art of John Alvin, Casey Robin, and Ben Curtis Jones, and also exhibits Tim Rogerson, Jim Salvati, Mike Kungl, Chuck Jones, Christian Waggoner, Steve Chorney, Mary Grandpre and and many other artists made famous by their work for the major Hollywood studios. Featured studios include Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, and 20th Century Fox, in a display of images from the best classic movies and animated features of the last 100 years as well as newer classics like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Star Trek. You can see more on their website, and learn more on their web magazine, as well as hear movie reviews by owner Leslie Combemale’s alter ego, Cinema Siren, on over 600 Patch sites nationwide or through artinsightsmagazine.com. ArtInsights Animation and Film Art Gallery is located at 11921 Freedom Drive, Reston, VA 20190. For more information, call 703-478-0778 and visit https://www.artinsights.com/production/wizard-of-oz-1939/ for images from Wizard of Oz.
ABOUT WARNER BROS. CONSUMER PRODUCTS
Warner Bros. Consumer Products, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, is one of the leading licensing and retail merchandising organizations in the world.
There’s a Con-toddler in our midst. It’s the nearly brand spanking new convention in DC for enthusiasts of comics, movies, cartoons, and all things geeky. Not a moment too soon, I say… Last year we were at another convention the same weekend so we couldn’t take part. This year, however, with the shiny folk running the show, we are having our first con panel of the year, with guest Andrea Alvin of Alvin & Associates, John Alvin’s wife and artistic partner in ” The Art of John Alvin”.
We are bringing some really rare original paintings created by John during his career, and it will be the first time we discuss the new book release, written by Andrea, about John and his amazing life as a film artist. The book, which is being published through Titan Books, will have a preview release at San Diego Comic Con. It will be a wonderful presentation, not least to hear some of the great stories of how these posters came about, and get a better understanding of the immense contribution he made to the history of film.
many of you who know me (Leslie) know of my love of interviewing people…not the 5 minute, “tell me what the studio told you to tell me” variety of interview, but the one that goes deeper. Well, this weekend, I get to do spotlight panels and moderate the subsequent Q&As for:
RON GLASS Saturday 10:30-11:30 (room 209C) Ron has had an amazing career in film and theater and it shows no sign of slowing down. I’m excited to talk to him about his life as an actor.
JEWEL STAITE Saturday 12:00-1:00 (Room 202) Jewel is best known as Kaylee in Firefly, and Dr Jennifer Keller, but most recently was featured in The Killing. She’s a great guest and full of stories.
EASTER SUNDAY! who needs the Easter Bunny, when you can satisfy your sweet tooth by sinking your teeth into the stories behind the careers of these tasty actors:
NICHOLAS BRENDON Sunday 11:45-12:45 (room 207A) Nicholas played a great character as Xander in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and as Kevin Lynch actually made a wonderful match to Garcia in Criminal Minds.
CARY ELWES Sunday 1:00-2:00 (room 202) Inconceivable? Nope. I’ll be asking the star about The Princess Bride, Robin Hood Men In Tights, The X-Files, Psych, and lots more. …like The Crush. Well, we’ll talk about whatever he wants.
I hope you’ll come check out and support this new convention, even though it IS on Easter weekend–because it’s going to be a blast! I’ll report back about the Alvin panel, how I did in the Q&A’s, and the best tidbit I got out of each actor!
Yup, I officially have the best job in the world–I can’t wait!
John Alvin Originals CAN BE FOUND AT THEIR OFFICIAL GALLERY HOME!
ArtInsights Animation and Film Art Gallery has exclusive rights to selling all official original art from the estate of John Alvin. If looking for available art through official channels directly from his estate,
We at ArtInsights have been proud to be have known John Alvin and are honored to be connected as the official conduit from artist, through his family, to collector. There is a special interaction inherent to the experience of collecting original art, and we believe when movie lovers can enjoy a piece of art by such a renown artist such as John Alvin from any movie on which he created images, they become part of celebrating the important aspect of film history that campaign art represents. Collecting posters is a wonderful thing, but having a piece of art used in the making of the poster is something those who have begun a collection of such can tell you is a truly joyful experience. John Alvin was a lovely man, humble, warm, and kind, who always had time for his fans and blossoming artists. We miss him and are thrilled The Art of John Alvin will create new fans and increase awareness about him throughout the world.
We hope if you are in the Washington DC area or would like to see a collection of original art by John Alvin you’ll come to our gallery where you can see them in person. Thanks for your interest!
ArtInsights Animation and Film Art Gallery