Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Great Adventure Begins Part 2: Who is Mary Blair?

"Who Is Mary Blair?" I asked.  The name was not at all familiar to me but for my friend David, a huge Disney fan it was an important name and someone whose artwork he is quite fond of.  So as a continuation of  our days adventure  together,  we were in search of a mural by Mary Blair.  David had met with some Disney Art Directors at the Disney studios in Glendale the day prior.  He was told that a mural was given to the UCLA Jules Stein Institute  long ago by Walt Disney. This mural was designed by Mary Blair.

After some walking about on campus and many directions by random passerbys we found ourselves on Westwood Blvd. Plaza in front of the Jules Stein Eye Institute.  There was no telling if this mural was still around with the constant renovations and new wings of the medical center all around us. We continued our search and found ourselves at the information lobby where a somewhat disinterested staff person dismissed our very vague question "Do you know where a mural is by Mary Blair?"  David and I kind of looked at each other with a notion that this was the end of the line for our search.  Suddenly the staff person turned and said, "Do you mean the Disney mural?" In disbelief we said "YES!"  "Oh that's just around this corner,  first door on your left."   In one minute we were at the door of the Pediatric waiting room and there before us in this tiny area was Mary Blair's mural.  What a thrill to find it for David!  Elated we busied ourselves inspecting all the delightful images which have a definite feel and similarity to "It's a Small World" at Disneyland. Clearly recognizable to David as Mary Blair's work and also recognizable to me for all the times I have been to Disneyland and been on this ride.  Here is the Mary Blair ceramic mural which you can see too if you are ever on campus at the Jules Stein Eye Institute.

So happy that we were able to find this little obscure art gem on our days adventure together.  Here is David with his "Mary Blair" mural.

The following excerpts are taken from Wikipedia which will give you a better idea of this creative and most talented woman.
"Mary Blair (October 21, 1911 – July 26, 1978),  was an American artist who was prominent in producing art and animation for The Walt Disney Company, drawing concept art for such films as Alice in Wonderland,Peter PanSong of the South and Cinderella.  Blair also created character designs for enduring attractions such as Disneyland's It's a Small World.  Blair was honored as a Disney Legend in 1991.
...Mary Blair worked briefly on art for Dumbo, an early version of Lady and the Tramp, and a second version of Fantasiawhich was not released until the late 1990s.
...she worked on two partially animated features — Song of the South and So Dear to My Heart. The early 1950s were a busy time for the Disney studio, with an animated feature released nearly every year. Mary Blair was credited with color styling onCinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Peter Pan (1953), and the artistic influence of her concept art is strongly felt in those films.
...At the request of Walt Disney, who regarded highly her innate sense of color styling, Blair began work on Disney's new attraction, "It's a Small World". Originally a Pepsi-Cola-sponsored pavilion benefiting UNICEF at the 1964 New York World's Fair, the attraction moved to Disneyland after the Fair closed and was later replicated at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort as well as Tokyo DisneylandDisneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland." -Wikipedia

Works which are from the hand of Mary Blair which you may be familiar with:
Cinderella early illustrations

Thanks to David who introduced me to Mary Blair someone whose art has made so many of us happy for so many years.  

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