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104-year old animator Tyrus Wong to headline Otis College annual kite festival

by Queena Kim and Charles Solomon with John Rabe | Off-Ramp

A painting by Tyrus Wong, who gave Bambi its look. Tyrus Wong

UPDATE: On Saturday, April 11, Otis College of Art and Design holds its 4th annual Otis Kite Festival on the beach adjacent the Santa Monica Pier. The event runs from 10am - 4pm and is free, and it includes an appearance by Otis alum Tyrus Wong, who designed the look of Disney's "Bambi" (see below), and in his later years has been designing, building, and flying kites.

"A special workshop for kids focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) will integrate California Common Core requirements in Science with instruction in Art and Design. Kids will learn about the physics of flight, climate and wind, sustainable materials, and color theory while designing and decorating their own unique kites." -- Otis College news release


The new Walt Disney Family Museum at the Presidio in San Francisco beat Los Angeles to the punch, and is staging a career retrospective for Tyrus Wong, the man who gave Disney's animated film "Bambi" its look.

As we told you in a 2007 Off-Ramp profile, produced by Queena Kim and featuring animation expert Charles Solomon, Wong, now 102 and still very active (somehow, he gets younger looking every year), took his cue for Bambi from the simplicity of Chinese painting.

(Wong painting at home in the 1950s. Courtesy Tyrus Wong)

Here's what the museum says about Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong, which is up until February 3, 2014:

Organized by Michael Labrie, the museum’s director of collections, the exhibition will focus on the life and work of Chinese-American artist Tyrus Wong—a celebrated painter, muralist, kite maker, lithographer, Hollywood sketch artist, calligrapher, ceramicist, and Disney Legend. At age 102, Wong is still a practicing artist today.

This retrospective features more than 150 works including paintings, sculptures, works on paper, painted scarves, kites, and more. Although he never met Walt Disney, it was the ethereal beauty of Wong’s Eastern influenced paintings that caught Walt’s eye and became the inspiration for the animated feature Bambi, which changed the way animation art was presented, and continues to be an inspiration to contemporary artists.

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