I'm intentionally posting this because it hits so many hot buttons for people trying to figure out the relationship between art, visual culture, design and visual communication. Being a senior sculptor (dimensional designer) for Disney is quite an accomplishment. You have to be really good to get that job.
But for traditional art teachers, this poses so many problems. First of all - it's Disney. It is meant to appeal to children, to mass audiences, to popular tastes, to families from around the world. This is so much not the rare, unique, one-of-a-kind, hard to get, hand-made, personal self-expression that "Art" represents. It strikes artists as common, low-brow, lacking in creativity, commercial, profit-driven, lowest-common-denominator, and too popular.
What some people see as tremendously successful visual culture and design, others only see as failed art. While the rest of the world sees people like Walt Disney and Frank Frazetta as representatives of the top of their field, we often convey to students (overtly or covertly) that this is bad. We have to diversify our language to help people understand the place of visual culture in the world rather than avoid it and relegate something they love to something that in some way is "bad".
Silly Symphony Swings is a new attraction coming to Paradise Pier in Disney’s California Adventure park. The photo above (right) shows Walt Disney Imagineering Senior Dimensional Designer Steve Cotroneo sculpting a four-foot tall Mickey Mouse that you can now see at the very top of Silly Symphony Swings.
Silly Symphony Swings is a classic swing attraction, and it’s themed to Walt Disney’s animated short, “The Band Concert” (1935). In the musical cartoon, Mickey Mouse is trying to conduct a presentation of the “William Tell Overture” by Gioachino Rossini, but Donald Duck interrupts him and chaos follows. When Mickey finally regains control of his orchestra, they are all swept up in a passing tornado.
In the attraction, guests will see Mickey conducting the barnyard orchestra, and as a tornado passes through the Park, the central tower begins to rise and spin, and Mickey’s band concert really swings into high gear.
On the left is concept art of the Silly Symphony Swings showing the Orange Stinger ride reenvisioned with a Mickey Mouse theme based on the 1935 cartoon “The Band Concert.”
Click on the heading above to see a video of the installation of the completed Mickey sculpture at the Disney blog.