Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Talking Marc Davis with WDFM Curator Michael Labrie

Maleficent concept by Marc Davis
If you were to create the ultimate exhibition on the art of Marc Davis, you'd need a pretty big room to represent his animation creations from Thumper and Br'er Rabbit to Tinker Bell, Maleficent and Cruella de Vil. Then, of course, you'd have to consider all the concept and story work he did on Disneyland attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion and it's a small world. It would be a daunting task to do justice to that rare artist--one of Walt's Nine Old Men--who made an incredibly successful and influential leap from animation to theme park design during his 43 years with Disney.

Because of sheer volume, the Walt Disney Family Museum will be starting small in their upcoming presentation of Davis's work. They're making it all about the ladies.

Leading Ladies and Femmes Fatales: The Art of Mark Davis opens at WDFM on April 30th in the Theater Gallery and will spotlight over 70 pieces of Davis's work, concentrating on the iconic female characters he brought to life during his legendary career. The exhibition will be a fitting counterpoint to Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair (currently in the Museum's Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall), as both Davis and Blair enjoyed a decades-long friendship and greatly admired each other's work.

I'm happy to welcome the co-curator (with animator Andreas Deja) of Leading Ladies and Femmes Fatales, Michael Labrie, to The Mouse Castle Lounge as we talk about Marc Davis's incredible body of work and what it was about him that made Walt Disney refer to Davis as his "Renaissance Man."

Don't make me go all fire-breathing dragon on you. Give a listen and enjoy!

Michael Labrie (l.) with artist Tyrus Wong


Related Story: Exploring the World of Mary Blair at the Walt Disney Family Museum

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Elle Fanning Visits Disneyland

Elle Fanning, who'll play Princess Aurora opposite Angelina Jolie in Maleficent next month, dropped by Disneyland over the weekend for a guest appearance at the Disney Social Media Moms Conference. She also took some time to pose in front of her character's namesake castle.

I do like the kick-ass horned mouse ears.

Maleficent opens in U.S. theaters on May 30th.

Related Story: New Trailer for 'Maleficent' Starring Angelina Jolie

Interview with Animation Historian and Author John Canemaker in 'The Mouse Castle Lounge'

John Canemaker
John Canemaker is a tall, soft-spoken gentleman with a passion for animation. His easy-going demeanor belies a rough, post-WWII childhood he spent in the shadow of an abusive father, a relationship John explored with great emotion and pathos in his 2005 Oscar-winning animated short The Moon and the Son: an Imagined Conversation. In the film, John tries to make peace with his late father, an angry and bitter man who ran with the Mob and served time in prison, but who also was a decorated war hero who helped his son acquire his first art supplies. Press John for details about his father now and he's more inclined to let the film speak for itself. For the most part, he said what he needed to say and has moved on.

He's much more comfortable talking about animation, a conversation he has kept going for most of his adult life. For over thirty years, John has taught animation at New York University, where he is a fully-tenured professor. All the while, he's continued to produce animated films and write books about animation history. He has researched all of the greats of the industry: Walt Disney and the Nine Old Men, Winsor McKay, Tex Avery, Mary Blair, Joe Grant and Joe Ranft, and many more. He has regularly appeared in the bonus features of Disney home video releases, offering his commentary and insight on such classics as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Dumbo and Peter Pan.

I spoke to John last month at the Walt Disney Family Museum, where he is curator of the current exhibition, Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair. Our time was limited then, so I asked John if he would like to revisit the Lounge to share his fascinating life and career with me in greater detail. He agreed. In our conversation today, John talks about his love of animation, the artists and animators who have inspired him, and yes, the relationship with his father that he says made him who he is today. It's a revealing look at a brilliant and dedicated artist and educator. Enjoy!

John Canemaker and producer Peggy Stern accept
the 2005 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film.

Related Story: Exploring the World of Mary Blair at the Walt Disney Family Museum

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