SPRINGFIELD, MASS. – Some of America’s favorite cartoon characters are represented in the exhibition “From Mickey to the Grinch: Art of Animated Film,” on display from March 2 through June 2 at the Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum.
This overview of the art, history and process of American animation features animation cels, drawings and model sheets drawn from the collection of veteran animator George Nicholas (1910-1996), whose career spanned more than half a century. Nicholas first became a Disney animator in 1932 and worked with such major animation studios as Chuck Jones, Walter Lantz, MGM and Hanna-Barbera.
The artworks cover the period from the early days of classic full animation in the 1930s through the revival of the art in the 1970s. The exhibition features work from such films as Snow White, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, Fantasia, Bambi, Dumbo, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, and from animated television shows such as Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones and The Jetsons.
Among the more interesting aspects of the animation process are the model sheets, montages of drawings that serve as standards for how a character is drawn, how it moves and how it expresses emotions. Model sheets provide the animators with all the details that must be rendered consistently in order to create a recognizable character and to distinguish similar characters from one another.
Also highlighted in the exhibition is an extended series of 49 animation drawings that dramatically illustrate the incredible number of images required to produce two seconds of on-screen action.
“From Mickey to the Grinch” has been organized by the Erie (Penn.) Art Museum. The artwork was made available by Nicholas’s daughter, Donna Nicholas. Following its five-year tour, the artwork will be sold to establish a scholarship fund for animation students at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum is located at the Quadrangle at the corner of State and Chestnut Streets. Hours are Wednesday through Friday, noon to 5 pm ,and Saturday and Sunday, 11 am to 4 pm. The single admission fee provides entry to all four museums at the Quadrangle. For information, 413-263-6800 or visit www.quadrangle.org.