Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tyrus Wong at Disney Family Museum

I am so glad I got over to the Presidio see Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: the Art of Tyrus Wong at the Disney Family Museum before it closed.

Wong had a fascinating career. Well, still has, actually. He's 103 and still actively creating beautiful work.  This wide ranging exhibit was one of the best I've seen at the Disney, showing over 150 works by Wong.

Promotional Art from Disney Family Museum.

The exhibit begins with the story of his immigration from China through Angel Island as a child, and what a trial it was, and establishes how he found a balance between Chinese ideas of form and perspective and Western methods of portraying a scene. These ideas are evident in his best known work, the concept art for Disney's 1940's masterpiece Bambi. In a video, Wong talks about the contrast between the mists and the need for distance in Chinese painting, where Western painting tends to feature the main subject front and center. His atmospheric paintings really set the tone for Bambi, and made it the work of art it is.

Gallery View looking down from 2nd floor (from Wong's FB page)
Wong was laid off at Disney following an acrimonious labor dispute and strike, eventually working again as a storyboard artist for Warner Brothers TV. He also designed scarves, dishware, greeting cards, and ceramic tiles. His post-retirement watercolors are lovely and moody, showing his isolation as he dealt with that transition in his life.  Then he discovered kite making, which he does in a very precise, traditional manner. He is still making kites and participating in kite events, particularly at Venice Beach in Southern California.  Wong's kites were well displayed hanging from the beams of the open ceiling of the gallery, and the second floor was ringed with photos of the kites in the air, and with photos and celebratory quotes from other animators that have found inspiration in Wong's work.

There's a documentary film in the making; Tyrus Wong: Brushstrokes in Hollywood (FB page). Here's a Cartoon Brew review by Amid Amidi with lots of images.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Tate Video: Margaret Harrison

Interview with Margaret Harrison about her infamous Motifs Editions gallery show in 1971, and her installations "Women and Work" and "Homeworkers," which are currently on view at the Tate Britain. This part of her career will be discussed in depth in the biographical book we are collaborating on.