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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Creating a Classic Exhibit - Reception and Preview

I was lucky to attend Tuesday night’s opening reception and preview of the new Special Exhibition at the Walt Disney Family Museum, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic.  It might be better stated, Creation of ‘The’ Classic, for had Walt Disney not had the vision and determination, we wouldn’t be celebrating the 75th anniversary of Snow White or animation as a feature film storytelling medium.  One could claim that someone would have eventually thought of it, and that is probably true.  Up until the 1970’s Walt Disney Productions was just about the only studio in America producing feature length animated films.  To date, Disney has produced 52 animated features, with 19 being done under Walt Disney’s personal direction.  So, one could genuinely ask, “what classic and which anniversary would we be celebrating this night?” 

The evening started with our normal run up the peninsula from San Jose to San Francisco, only this time it was during the evening commute.  Luckily, I had my lovely wife with me, so through use of the commute lane, our journey was greatly expedited.  So, our arrival at the Museum was about 40 minutes earlier than I expected.  As we walked up to the Museum, people were already lining up at the front door.   I know that Disney fans tend to be early for events, given the day and time of the event, I was a bit surprised until I learned from one of my favorite volunteers (Trish) explained that the people in line now were other VIPs going in earlier than the others who had RSVP’d.  I was surprised because after providing my RSVP, there was no further communications regarding this event or its associated activities, even after being informed that such communications was forthcoming.  

One of my grievances, since the new CEO has taken charge, over the last few months has been a quantity and quality of member communications coming from the Museum.  Ms. Calicchio, this really needs to be address, as I am not the only one concerned about this issue.

The reception:  Shortly after the VIP’s were ushered into the event, Membership Coordinator – Pam Spedus (a woman of inestimable value to the Museum staff) came out to usher the half dozen or so Founding/Friends Member who had arrived early.

While I always look forward to seeing all the friends I have made through the Walt Disney Family Museum, there was one person, I knew she would be present, who I was anxious to see, as I had promised her a great big hug the next time I saw her.  So, while I may have appeared somewhat distant to many others, I walked through the crowd, scanning for Sheri.  You see, she is the person responsible for my recent visit to Club 33 (post for that coming soon), and I will never be able to thank her enough for her generosity.  After a few minutes of scanning the rooms, and a query of one of the volunteers, I spotted her, and that great big hug was delivered.  Note to self:  self don’t wait soon long to say thank you in the future.  My night could have been considered complete at this point, with the exception of visiting the Special Exhibition building and Snow White, but, it got even better.  While working the room (actually I wasn’t, but it probably looked that way to some) and visiting with other people I’ve met of the last few years, I came upon Disney Legend and recent Window on Main Street recipient, Alice Davis having a conversation with another person.  I’d seen her enter the building early, but did not get a chance to say Hi, and tell her what a fan I was of hers and Marc’s work.  I’ve been a big fan of Alice’s, and her husband, Disney Legend Marc Davis, for a number of years.  Her husband Marc brought my favorite crush to life – one Ms. Tinker Bell.  Alice created, with Mary Blair, the costumes for “It’s A Small World” and later “Pirates of the Caribbean.”  I’m not the type to interrupt someone while they are talking, so, I figured I hang in the group around her for a moment to see if I could get a chance to just say hello.  While I was standing there, I noticed a gentleman over my shoulder, who I’ve been trying to meet for three years, and one of the Co-founders of the Museum, Walt Elias Disney Miller – Walt Disney’s Grandson.  He too, was talking to someone else, so there I was waiting between two people I admire waiting to the chance to say hi to either, when from behind me Diane Disney Miller comes into view.  So, I said hi to her!  Just about then some nice gentleman behind me shepherded me before Alice, telling her that he thought I was waiting to speak with her.  Thank you kind stranger, whoever you were…  I not only got to say hi, but we talked for about 5 minutes.  As I was reaching to shake her hand before moving on she said, “Come here.  You need a hug.”  Then proceeded to give me one wonderful hug!  What a sweet woman!  Next, I was able to get a few minutes with Walter.  I also got to see Ron Miller and daughters, Tammy and Joanna again as well.  So, I haven’t even made to the Exhibit that this night was all about, and evening is a completely awesome day in my life.

It’s now time to head over to the Special Exhibition Building and the ”Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic” exhibit.  Low and behold, as we are walking down the sidewalk, who is coming up the sidewalk toward us?  None other than John Lasseter!  Wow… aren’t I clever, “Hey you’re John Lasseter!”  But, he stopped and shook my hand anyway.  On to the exhibit… If you get to do one thing in San Francisco between now and April 14th, this exhibit is it!  There are two floors of concept art, film cells, live action modeling, and other production documents, paintings and information related to the making of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, broken out into about 10 mini galleries.  This exhibition is a small but spectacular compilation of the effort, art, and talent that went into creating this animation classic. To add even more joy to this experience, I met and talked with animator, artist, and future Disney Legend Andreas Deja, a key contributor to the animated features of Disney’s second golden age of animation.   If you are even a passing Disney fan, you will enjoy this experience.  You may remember my recent piece about my experience at Disney’s Animation Research Library in Glendale, and my comment to one of the managers there, about my emotional response to my visit.  I was overcome with similar emotions during my tour of this exhibit.  Which should really be much of a surprise, as the ARL was a key partner with the Museum staff in bringing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic to life.

Because of my emotional reaction, any real descriptive attempt would pail in comparison.  But, since I have my own young artist in my house, I will be making other visits to this exhibit over the next few months.  So, I will attempt a more effusive piece in the near future.  But, for now, that was my Tuesday night, and a marvelous night it was…

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