Scarlett Stahl recently took a trip to the Bay Area to visit her friend Maggie Richardson, the niece of Mary Blair. As usual, Scarlett’s trip had a wonderful Disney flair. She visited an exhibit of “lowbrow” Disney artwork by Camille Rose Garcia at the Walt Disney Family Museum. As Scarlett explains, the term “lowbrow” is by no means derogatory. In fact, the genre is enjoying quite a lot of interest in the art world, as evidenced by this exhibit at the Museum. Scarlett and Maggie also visited Silverado Winery in the Napa Valley, where they were treated to an intimate tour of the facility by Diane Disney Miller. ~~Rick
THE WALT DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM
CAMILLE ROSE GARCIA: DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
Tuesday evening, May 9, 2013, was the pre opening reception of the new art exhibit, Camille Rose Garcia’s Down the Rabbit Hole at the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presideo of San Francisco, Ca. The exhibit will run through November 3, 2013. My friend, Maggie Richardson, the niece of Mary Blair, had invited me to come from Los Angeles to San Francisco for a visit and to attend the Art Premiere with her, which I was delighted to do. There we met her sister, Jeanne Chamberlain and Kevin Allinson, Jeanne’s son.
For the opening, invited guests mingled on the main level of the museum near the gift shop, while enjoying both alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages along with the Wolfgang Puck’s hors d’oeuvres. There they waited their turn to meet the artist of the exhibit, Camille Rose Garcia, who is a likeable and attractive woman, and who was dressed in the camp pop Gothic style of her art. Her Goth art blends the nostalgic pop culture of the 60’s, with a satirical slant on our world today. Walter E. D. Miller is a fan of all the LA low brow work that reinterprets pop culture and of Ms. Garcia’s art, which has led to her exhibit at the WDFM.
Walter’s quote below is reprinted from the WDFM member’s magazine:
I became aware of the artist Camille Rose Garcia serendipitously, out of a growing interest I had in rock posters. I had been collecting the posters for years, and many of the graphic designers who were creating them began designing urban vinyl toys. What on Earth was an urban vinyl toy? My curiosity about this medium (limited-edition, collectible designer toys) eventually led me to the magazine Juxtapoz, and from there I was introduced to the mind-blowing world of Garcia and the other artists of so-called “lowbrow art,” or “pop surrealism.
What was this lowbrow art? Besides the obvious cartoon influence and humor instilled in the art, I couldn’t help but notice the many references to pop culture as social commentary. The frequent use of iconic Disney images especially caught my eye. This led me to wonder if perhaps Walt Disney was a creative influence for Garcia and other lowbrow artists whose work I was becoming familiar with.
I conducted an Internet search for “lowbrow artists influenced by Walt Disney”, and sure enough, Camille Rose Garcia, Mark Ryden, Todd Schorr, and others appeared on my results page. I was intrigued to learn that Garcia grew up near Disneyland, and that visits to the park had helped inspire her creative vision.
We contacted Garcia and asked her to visit The Walt Disney Family Museum and join us for lunch. During lunch, she talked about how her art—and that of many other lowbrow artists—was originally dismissed by art professors, galleries, and the art world in general for having too much humor and a cartoon-like quality. I couldn’t help but think of the similarities to my grandfather’s story and how he pursued his vision despite the resistance and challenges he faced.
Walt’s imagination and creative vision positively influenced many of these artists, such as Garcia, while the corporate commercial success of Walt’s work influenced others creatively in less than positive ways. But in the end many were influenced and inspired, one way or another by Walt’s legacy, urban living and pop culture, which contributed something to the Low Brow Art movement.
–Walter E.D. Miller, grandson of Walt Disney
I just saw the Camille Rose Exhibit and was surprised at how much I LOVED IT!
Joanna Miller, granddaughter of Walt Disney
I thought the color of the purple paint on the walls was electric. At first I thought “What!” and then I said “oh yeah I get it”, as it was an almost perfect compliment to the Garcia Art…. And the Green on the opposing two walls at the theater entrance, with Mary Blair’s contrasting yet complimentary and beautiful Alice was perfect. I could not have been more… I need to use the word “Happy”. This I would say right now is a “happy place” for me and I really don’t find myself using that word lightly. The art is very entertaining, even with the downward glance of Garcia’s Alice with her long dangerous, evocative eyelashes and contemplative, perhaps concerned or serious glance? Or is it a dismiss glance… very very provocative.
There were a couple of pieces that I really, really loved and would love in my home…the one with the birds, including a wonderful swan, and Alice’s back facing towards us. I wish I had been able to hear her talk about her art. Hopefully she will be back to do more programs.”
Ms. Garcia’s work has been displayed internationally and featured in numerous magazines including Juxtapoz, Rolling Stone, and Modern Painters. It is included in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum as well as the San Jose Museum of Art.
Downstairs at the WDFM are the contrasting versions of Alice by Camille Rose Garcia and Disney Legend Mary Blair, shown side by side. There are 40 works by Ms. Garcia, while there are 10 concept paintings by Ms. Blair, who is said to have been Walt Disney’s favorite artist by Disney Legend Marc Davis. Ms. Blair’s art was far ahead of its time and is a uniquely lovely form of modern art with her imaginative brilliant gouache and watercolor art. It appears that Ms. Garcia used the same color palette as Ms. Blair but instead of the happy innocence of Ms. Blair’s beautiful childlike Alice, we see a very different version done by Ms. Garcia. There are elements of John Tenniel’s dark and sinister illustrations for the original Lewis Carroll Alice books that have been reinterpreted by Ms Garcia in her own style.
There are different strokes for different folks. I would love to own the great piece of art, the Mona Lisa, as I would sell it and use the money to buy Impressionist paintings and Animation Art, which is considered to be the American art form. Sacrilege, some might say!!! But I have to be true to myself. I can recognize genius but not want to live with it. I love Van Gogh’s Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, as it is colorful and makes me feel happy. I do recognize his incredible talent in his other works but would not want to live with the paintings done in his depressed period. I personally covet paintings that make me smile and are beautiful, like the ones of Mary Blair and I am not saying this because of my friendship with Maggie Richardson, Mary Blair’s niece.
However Ms. Garcia’s work is powerful with its disturbing depiction of a beloved iconic figure like Alice portrayed as an emaciated figure with tears coming out of eyes shadowed by giant spidery eyelashes. And it has a power that would appeal to a younger generation today. I think that viewers need to decide for themselves by going to view her exhibit at the Walt Disney Family Museum.
More artwork from the exhibit catalog follows at the end of this article.
The Walt Disney Family Museum
104 Montgomery Street
The Presidio, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94129
Last ticket sale and entry is 4:45pm
Closed on every Tuesday, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
Located in the Presidio of San Francisco, The Walt Disney Family Museum is one of the Bay Area’s newest event and meeting venues, with the Golden Gate Bridge to the west, Crissy Field to the north, and the City to the east.
The day after the Camille Rose Garcia preview reception at the Walt Disney Family Museum, my friend, Maggie Richardson, whom I was visiting, took me to the Silverado Winery, which is owned by Ron Miller and Diane Disney Miller in Napa. High up on a hill is the winery, a beautiful structure, which looks like a restored original home, but was actually built fairly recently. After enjoying a delicious glass of wine on the terrace, the hostess pointed out the building below, which was almost hidden by trees, and announced that used to be the home of Lillian Disney. Of course, this was a photo op moment for a true Disney fan. Shortly thereafter the magic escalated with the appearance of Diane Disney Miller, Walt Disney’s daughter. As Maggie is a friend of Diane’s, Diane drove over from her home for a visit with her. And as I had never met her before, I admit that I took great pleasure in being introduced to her.
When Diane learned that we had attended the reception the evening before at the Walt Disney Family Museum and I was writing about it, she inquired how I liked the exhibit. She explained that she had been unable to attend as she had spent yesterday in Los Angeles arranging an event. When I hesitantly told her my opinion, which I have expressed earlier in this article, she told me to tell the truth from my point of view.
After a nice visit where I accepted a second glass of their unique wine, she asked if we would like a private tour, which was the icing on the cake for me. She showed us the different rooms upstairs with all the incredibly beautiful paintings, as in a museum. She explained that she had wanted one painting but didn’t know where to put it. When she realized that she could hang it over some doors, she bought it and brought it home with delight and of course I took a picture of it for this article.
When I requested a picture of the three of us together and asked where she would prefer it be taken, she immediately chose the terrace with the beautiful view. As our visit ended, we left with warm goodbyes and I could only marvel at how down to earth and gracious this charming lady was. And autograph hound that I am, I also couldn’t believe that I had forgotten to ask for an autograph!!!
Please note that Diane and Ron Miller bought their first vineyard in the 1970’s and sold their grapes to some of the best vintners in Napa, who won awards for their wines year after year. Eventually Diane and Ron began making their own wines from their own grapes and the rest is history. Their name of Silverado came from the abandoned mining town at the top of the Napa Valley. You can visit their winery and arrange for wine tasting yourself, which I recommend highly.
Silverado Vineyards, 6121 Silverado Trail, Napa, Ca. 94558
The beginning of vine planting is like the beginning of mining for precious metals: the winegrower also ‘prospects’.
- Robert Louis Stevenson