Beyond the leather aviator helmet-sporting flying squirrel and his dim-witted moose sidekick, the Rocky & Bullwinkle program also featured such memorable characters as the scheming Russian spies, Boris and Natasha, who answered to a Nazi-inspired commander named Fearless Leader. Ward would often inject the program with such social and political commentary, reflecting real world issues like the cold war, which were impacting the world at the time, but the unique ways in which he approached the cartoon, also infused it with a timelessness. Lighthearted as it was, the show often took subversive knocks at everything from current events, pop culture, and Disney to the very station that they were broadcasting on. The self-referential meta-humor would often break the fourth wall, acknowledging itself as an animated program and even going so far as to bring the announcer himself, into the fold. And the announcer, along with the fact that episodes generally ended in cliffhangers, were aspects drawn from the radio serials of the past, while the show’s tone and approach demonstrated a clear forward-thinking progression into the future.
Jay Ward, and Rocky & Bullwinkle in particular, went on to influence people like Simpson‘s creator, Matt Groening. Accompanying segments of the program introduced characters like the bumbling Canadian mountie Dudley Do-Right and his villainous foil, Snidely Whiplash (the hero was later an inspiration for the less than memorable 1999 Brendan Frazier live action film), as well as the time traveling spectacled canine Mr Peabody and his (human) boy Sherman, who are set to star in a promising Dreamworks film being released next week. Additional segments from the show included Aesop and Son, and Fractured Fairy tales. In 1967, when Ward unleashed the Tarzan-esque George of the Jungle (another character that Brendan Frazier, unfortunately, transformed into an equally forgettable ’90s live action motion picture), the cartoon series included segments of it’s own, which introduced the muskateer-like Super Chicken and speedster, Tom Slick to the world. Aside from these more typical television programs, Jay Ward Productions was also the responsible party behind the mascots for Quaker cereals like Cap’n Crunch, Quisp, and King Vitamin, as well as early animated commercials for the products.
This Saturday, Van Eaton Galleries in
Mr. Peabody & Sherman Oaks, California will be paying tribute to the legacy of Jay Ward Productions with a group art exhibit that’s set to feature works from over 100 different contemporary artists of various disciplines. According to the press release, “the show includes animators from studios such as Walt Disney, DreamWorks, Warner Bros, Cartoon Network, Fox, Nickelodeon as well as drawings by Gerard Baldwin who worked for Jay Ward Productions in the 1950’s and 60’s” among the contributors. As for the type of art that will be on display, it runs the gamut, from acrylics, watercolors, ink, gouache, and polymer sculptures to paper works, chainsaw carving, fabric, mixed media, stained glass, and digital paintings. One particular contribution that I’m really excited about is from painter Dave MacDowell, who always seem to have a-million-and-six brilliant original ideas of his own on deck, but still opted to entertain one of my random suggestions (Eric Stoltz with craniodiaphyseal dysplasia) for his piece in this show. [You can check it in the preview below.] If you can make it out to the opening, we suggest it. The work always looks better in person, plus artists should be on hand.
A.R., Adam Dougherty, Aidan Casserly, Alan Bodner, Alex Conway, Allison Krumwiede, Art Fuentes, Ashley Long, Becca Balistreri, Ben Von Strawn, Bob Lizarraga, Bobby Rojas, Brandon Morino, Bridget McCarty, Britni Brault, Bruce Gossett, Candy, Carl Lozada, Carol Powell, Chad Frye, Chad Lenzi, Chad Scheres, Charlie Inkbomber, Craig Church, Dan Haskett, Dave Avanzino, Dave K., Dave Nimetz, David Bird, David Derks, David MacDowell, Dee Schiller, Dennis Salvatier, Drake Brodahl, Edwin Aguilar, Enrique Pita, Eric Kurland, Eric Pigors, G. Allen Black, Gary Clair, Gavin Freitas, Gerald Mendez, Gerard Baldwin, GP Watson, Grasiela Rodriguez, Gris Grimly, Harry Sabin, Jaime Fortunato Jimenez, James C Mulligan, Jason Chalker, Jason Peltz, Javier Soto, Jeff Johnson, Jeffrey Rebner, Jeremy Russnak, Johnny Daniels, Jojo Terzano, Juliana Martinez, Kali Fontecchio, Kaya Dzankich, Ken Morgan, Kevin Graham, Kirsten Sjursen-Lien, Lance Smith, Lee Petty, Lisa Penz, Lori Pie, Mark Bodnar, Mark Christiansen, Mark Hamer, Mark Hammermeister, Matthew Dutton, Michael Loya, Mike Amos, Mike Lemos, Mojo Foster, NESSHEAD, Nico Colaleo, Nicole Aguilar-Copp, Olga Stern, Patrick Owsley, Patrick Romandy-Simmons, Rask Opticon, Ray Cox, Rick Farmiloe, Rick Goldschmidt, Robert Iza, Ruben Hickman, Rubén Procopio, Rusty Watkins, Sandro Cleuzo, Shaunna Peterson, Shelli Weldon, Snow Mack, Spike Brandt, SQUINDO, Stephen Chiodo, Stephen Sandoval, Steve Casino, Thom Foolery, Tim Wollweber, Tony Craig and Vince Musacchia.
Noted animation director Darrell Van Citters will be present and signing his new book, The Art of Jay Ward Productions.
Jerry Beck will also be on hand to sign his new book, The Art of Dreamworks Mr. Peabody and Sherman.
The signings are 7-8pm and signed books can be preordered on VEGalleries.com
Check out preview images for the exhibit below the following event details…
Van Eaton Galleries Presents:
“Moosylviania“ – A Group Art Show Tribute to JAY WARD
curated by Phillip Graffham
Saturday, March 1st 2014
Darrell Van Citters and Jerry Beck
Van Eaton Galleries
13613 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks CA 91423
Opening is ALL AGES w/NO COVER
Exhibit will be on view until March 15th, 2014.
The gallery is open from Tuesday through Saturday 10am to 6pm
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/651731261552342/
[click select images to enlarge]
Acrylic on Canvas
20″ x 24″
“Small Cereal Set”
“Rocky Dennis and Bullwinkle”
Acrylic on Canvas
9″ x 12″
20″ x 16″
Digital Silk Matte Print
10″ x 8″
Peanut & Mixed Medium
Hand-Pulled Screen Print
11″ x 14″
“Rocky & Bullwinkle”
Chainsaw Carved Sugar Pine Wood Statue
Over 7 Feet Tall
“Steampunk Mr. Peabody & Sherman”
18 ” x 18″ x 2.5″ Framed
One of a Kind Polymer Clay Bust
10.5″ tall – 16″ tall with base