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Imagineering a Mary Blair Exhibit

 

This year’s Epcot International Festival of the Arts payed tribute to the fine arts in all of their forms: dance, music, visual, and culinary arts were all on display. The event was a massive success. The Festival included a small but impactful exhibit on “The Art of Mary Blair,” known to Disney fans as the artistic talent behind such films as Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, The Three Caballeros, and Peter Pan. She was the driving force behind the attraction design for “it’s a small world” and the impressive mural in the Grand Canyon Concourse in the center of Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Mary Blair Art Dream Exhibition WDW Radio Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons Grand Canyon

Blair was a visionary, combining her love of abstract art with vibrant color and shapes. Her graphic style and visual storytelling were a favorite of Walt Disney himself. He supported her in the studio’s earliest years and brought her with the animation team to South America as they embarked on their historic “Goodwill Tour.” Her 30-plus years with the Walt Disney Studios were a time of prolific growth for Blair. Her style was visually sophisticated, combining charming characters with bright colors and bold compositions.

Mary Blair Art Dream Exhibition WDW Radio Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons Mary Blair Art Dream Exhibition WDW Radio Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons

I could not get enough of her sketchbook works on display at the Festival of the Arts.

I asked myself: “Where is all of her work being stored?” and “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could see her artwork on display at Walt Disney World?”

I began to fantasize about a permanent showcase for her work, and a chance to interact with the work though art classes, (much in the style of the animation classes once held at Disney’s Hollywood Studios).

Blair was a prolific artist and was known to carry not only her sketchbook, but full sets of pastels and watercolors wherever she went. As a result, the body of work she created extends far beyond the work she did for park attractions and films.

I would love to see these pieces and peek into her creative process.

Here’s my dream Mary Blair exhibit:

Who: Mary Blair and the Artists of Walt Disney Animation Studios. (There are so many amazing artists at Walt Disney Animations Studios, and I would love to see both Blair’s work and that of past/present studio artists on display in round, walk-though galleries with plenty of bench seating for viewing, sketching, and resting.

Where: Epcot. I would love to see this exhibit and interactive experience located in Epcot, near or part of the Imagination Pavilion. This could bring that section of Future World to life!

What: A permanent AND rotating installation of art, mounted and displayed as if it were in a gallery. This could be a great place to go and enjoy her art, away from the crowds and seasonal heat. I would love to see Blair’s finished works, as well as pieces from her sketchbooks.

Mary Blair Art Dream Exhibition WDW Radio Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons Mary Blair Art Dream Exhibition WDW Radio Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons

I would also love if they would offer classes, much the same way they did at the Festival of the Arts. I would love both complementary and specially ticketed events. (We took an abstract painting class during the Festival we had a blast!) I would also love to see behind-the-scenes photos Blair and the Disney Imagineers.

Mary Blair Art Dream Exhibition WDW Radio Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons Mary Blair Art Dream Exhibition WDW Radio Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons

I have loved her work since I was a child, and I associate it with warm memories of Disney Parks.

Do you enjoy Blair’s work? How would you like to see it displayed? We would love to know!

 

(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)

 

To learn more about Kristin and read her recent posts for WDW Radio, visit her author page by clicking the link on her name at the top of the post.

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