The Disney Diaries

it’s a small world

I’m back! Sorry for the long (but necessary) break. Over the course of two weeks, my entire family and I got sick and it was terrible. Worst of all, my grandmother got extremely sick and is still recovering. In honor of her, my next blog post will be about her favorite Disney attraction.

The Disney tradition you’ll either love or hate: it’s a small world. If you’re not a fan of the attraction because of the hundreds of animatronics dolls and the song that’s on loop and sung in like 50 languages, then I understand. It could be a lot at once; especially if you’re a first time rider. But if you’re a fan of the attraction, art and Disney history in general, then I suggest you keep reading.

The idea: of it’s a small world all started with the brilliant minds of Disney’s Imagineers at the 1964 New York World Fair. According to disneyworld.disney.go.com, it states, “it’s a small world was created for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. Personally overseen by Walt Disney in support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the attraction was a huge hit for 2 seasons at the fair and was eventually shipped back to Disneyland park, where it reopened on May 28, 1966. In 1971, it’s a small world was recreated to become one of the Opening Day attractions at Walt Disney World Resort. Due to its immense popularity, the attraction has been replicated in every Disney Resort around the world and is considered a Walt Disney classic…”

The song: Famous composer and songwriter Richard and Robert Sherman (brothers) were approached by Walt Disney himself to create a song that all children could sing and remember. Although they were working hard on the music and lyrics for Mary Poppins, the brothers created it’s a small world, which has become a classic that we all know and most of us love. The coolest part of the process would probably be having children all over the world record the song in their native language and incorporating that within the attraction. Not only does it create harmony, but symbolizes what we all hope for: togetherness and world peace (definitely a Miss Congeniality moment).

The art: Mary Blair and Alice Davis. If you don’t know who both of them are, I suggest you do some research on them. Those ladies were absolutely brilliant and talented and I want to be like them when I grow up.

Also on disneyworld.disney.go.com, it states, “With her distinctive use of color, geometric shapes and a simple, child-like art style, Mary Blair was known for her visual aesthetic—felt in every aspect, in every nation, of “it’s a small world.” As you glide through the many scenes, colored paper in bold hues vividly create collages of some of the world’s most beloved countries, giving you the impression of sailing through a classic children’s book…Under the direction of designer Alice Davis (and her husband Marc Davis), Disney seamstresses gathered and sewed every inch of clothing to create a faithful portrayal of each nation’s traditional attire. That’s over 300 outfits in all! Authentic materials were used for each region, from silks for the saris of India and fine wool for the Scottish bagpiper.”

So many elements and hard work went into the attraction and it continually shows. Regardless of how you might personally feel about it’s a small world, it’s a ride that shows culture and different perspectives. The first time I rode the ride, I was three years old. As a three-year old, I don’t remember much about my first Disney trip, but I do remember when I rode it the second time (when I was ten). Wall to wall colors and sparkle, props and scenery that represented various countries, and a boat ride that emerged me into a world of many different worlds. Looking back, it was my first experience with knowing about what made us culturally different and what made us the same. At the time, I’ve only known my own, which is Mexican-American.

I’m thankful it’s a small world continues to celebrate culture and differences. I truly believe it creates conversations and curiosity between children and for those who want to know/learn more about what’s out there in our world; like it did for me. The more we tell people and children about the joys and fascinations about other parts of the world, the more they will become accepting and understanding of traditions and rituals. It could definitely do us some good.

Disneyland, 13.jpg

 

 

 

 

Standard
The Disney Diaries

Snow White Grotto

Today, I’ll be posting a photograph of Snow White Grotto. While researching, I found this particular story of its development a fascinating one. Which for me, makes the grotto more significant.

It was the year of 1961 when Snow White Grotto was installed on the eastern side of Sleeping Beauty’s castle, near the wishing well. Before installment, there was an issue with the white, marble figurines themselves. It all started when these figurines were given anonymously to Walt Disney from Italy. Disney obviously loved it, but there was a problem with proportion: Snow White’s height was similar to the dwarfs. So, Disney gives John Hench (Disney’s Renaissance artist and a brilliant genius with many trades) the task of creating a solution while keeping their sizes in mind.

Due to Hench’s brilliance, he figured out a way to incorporate them into the park. In DisneyParks Blog, it states, “Then he found an ingenious and elegant solution. The major elements of the scene were scaled to create the illusion of distance and height and Snow White was placed at the top of the diorama, where she stands majestically above the scene. This created a forced perspective. Viewed from the adjacent footbridge, Snow White appears perfectly proportioned in relation to her friends. Hench did such a magical job creating the scene that two other Disney Parks have since incorporated the montage – disproportion and all – in their Castle forecourts (Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland).”

Additionally, the song “I’m Wishing” from the animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, plays from the grotto. Having a water fall flowing and the greenery that surrounds the place be the vignette to Snow White Grotto, makes the site serene and just as magical as Disneyland itself. Having seeing it personally, I must say it’s a great place to escape the crowds and enjoy the historic and artistic qualities in its entirety. With that said, if you’re planning on going to Disneyland soon, I highly suggest making a mini pit stop when you visit.

-Michelle

P.S.- For a little more information on the magnificent John Hench, please check out this link: https://d23.com/walt-disney-legend/john-hench/

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Disneyland, No.148, ca. 2017. Anaheim, California.

Standard
The Disney Diaries

The Plaza Inn

I’ve been a freelance photographer for about 6 years now, and I must say that my love for photography continues to grow. I take pictures of nature, architecture, and different places or things in Chicago. Oh, and kind of obsessed with black and white photography.

Last year, I went to Disneyland in Anaheim, California for the first time and I absolutely loved. As a Disney fan, it doesn’t take much for me to love anything Disney related. But I thought that I would have had some conflicts having been to Disney World in Orlando, Florida multiple times. Just being at Disneyland and experiencing the more traditional side of Disney culture was such a beautiful experience. Hopefully, I’ll return soon; preferably around a holiday. With that said, this week on The Michelle Chronicles, I’ll be sharing a photo each day from my trip and do what I usually do: find some cool history facts and share a personal experience and/or reflection. Here we go!

The first photo of the week is of The Plaza Inn (shown below). Initially known as the 1890’s themed restaurant, The Red Wagon Inn (1955-1965), was refurbished to The Plaza Inn; the restaurant for elegant and sophisticated dining (1965-today). Located in the beloved Main Street U.S.A (which I believe is the heart of Disneyland), it still remains one of the most popular places to eat. So when I went, I had to eat there!

The moment you walk inside, you are transported to the Victorian era. From disneyexaminer.com, I believed they summarized The Plaza Inn’s surroundings the best. It states, “The restaurant features a Victorian stained-glass ceiling which is known as “Tiffany-Style paint.” Its marble foyer and ornate gingerbread woodwork were salvaged from an old home in the St. James Park neighborhood. The restaurant’s soda machines appear to be made of bronze, but are really made out of wood. The cabinets in Plaza Inn originally had Lillian Disney’s personal belongings stored in them.”

You feel that sense of elegance and authenticity from the moment you walk in. The curtains, chandeliers, and marble floors are just some of the interior standouts. My favorite feature is the view from the windows. You’re able to see their tables, chairs, and the sea of pink umbrellas, along with the joyous guests that sit under them. On top of that, the beautiful sights of Main Street U.S.A.

The food was fantastic. My mom, sister, my cousin and I went there for their character dining for breakfast. It’s served buffet style, meaning once you are seated at your table, you’re able to get a plate, go to the different food stations of your choice, and indulge in delicious food . The Disney breakfast must have(s): french toast, bacon, and Mickey waffles. Overall, I loved The Plaza Inn and the history it continues to hold and share with guests who visit. I’m already looking forward to my next breakfast there.

-Michelle

Disneyland, 65.jpg

Disneyland, No.65, ca. 2017. Anaheim, California.

Standard
Art & Design

A Quiet Place in a City full of Noise

Fountain of the Great Lakes by Lorado Taft will be the last piece I’ll discuss from the Art Institute of Chicago (for now).  The statue was created in in 1913, relocated in 1963, and now resides in the South Garden.

The title of the structure is self explanatory. It’s a piece that represents the five great lakes: Michigan, Ontario, Huron, Erie, and Superior. The website publicartinchicago.com states, “…The five women are so arranged that the water flows through them in the same way water passes through the Great Lakes. ‘Superior’ is on the top and ‘Michigan’ on the side both empty into the basin of ‘Huron,’ who sends the stream to ‘Erie’ whereas ‘Ontario’ receives the water and gazes off as it flows into the ocean.”

On warm Chicago days, I would walk to get to the bus that would take me home. I would usually take two buses to get there, but Fountain of the Great Lakes would always be on my way. I always looked forward to those warm, windy days because that meant the gates were to be open at the South Garden; meaning the public was able to see the fountain up close and personal. The amount of times I’ve sat there and taken photos of that one piece alone, is a pretty substantial number.

I wonder if I’m the only one who thinks this, but I feel like whenever I visit, it’s extremely quiet. Usually when something or someplace is located downtown, quiet is not the word you would think of. With that said, visiting Fountain of the Great Lakes at the Art Institute of Chicago, there’s peace. Occasionally, I’ll take photos or bring my sketchbook, but my favorite thing to do while I’m there is sit on a bench and gaze at Taft’s masterpiece. It becomes a place where time gets lost and stress falls away. Additionally, it’s cute to see ducks visit from time to time.

My experiences at the Art Institute of Chicago has taught me to enjoy art in its entirety and its moments. There is nothing more beautiful than finding a place where you’re able to find a piece of yourself. For that, AIC will always have a place in my heart.

-Michelle

cisneros_8.jpg

Probably the 100th photo of Fountain of the Great Lakes and was taken by yours truly. 

Standard
Art & Design

Escape From Reality

Dear Readers,

I totally owe you two more blog post about art pieces that currently reside at The Art Institute of Chicago. My lack of writing is a mixture of me trying not to get sick, working, and being more busy than usual. BUT I promise to get back to writing because honestly, I miss it. With that’s said, let’s get to the masterpiece of the day!

I will be writing about the piece that people push and shove a bit to see its entirety. On occasion, even take a selfie with (barf). Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, ca. 1884/86 is about 7 by 10 feet of pure glory. This was Seurat’s largest and most popular painting that showcase people, in a suburban park, enjoying the modern life.  In my opinion, the painting technique (Pointillism/ Divisionism) and colors he used within the entire composition is what makes this piece like nothing else. It was because of A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Seurat was known for creating a new art genre called, “Neo-Impressionism” (a period that started in 1884 and ended in 1935).

From theartstory.org, it states, “Georges Seurat is chiefly remembered as the pioneer of the Neo-Impressionist technique commonly known as Divisionism, or Pointillism, an approach associated with a softly flickering surface of small dots or strokes of color. His innovations derived from new quasi-scientific theories about color and expression, yet the graceful beauty of his work is explained by the influence of very different sources. Initially, he believed that great modern art would show contemporary life in ways similar to classical art, except that it would use technologically informed techniques…his innovations would be highly influential, shaping the work of artists as diverse as Vincent Van Gogh and the Italian Futurists.”

The question: why is this particular painting extremely popular? I get that it’s a painting that creating its own artistic period and that it uses scientific, out of the box techniques. But why is it the piece that people crowd around?

Three words: escape from reality. It’s a painting where you stand in front of it, and automatically, being intrigued and in awe is an understatement. Seurat adds multiple levels of people, animals and nature, and creates a world we all want to be in. Gazing upon A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, I relate to the moments where I was somewhere, simply enjoying my surroundings. It’s a painting where you’re able to look at the details and wonder how so many colors can fuse into one composition. Seurat captured the joys of leisure and it transfers through. It’s the escape we look for once in a while when things get tough.

Just remember, it’s ok to escape once in a while. The moment when it happens too often, when your escapes become better than reality, take the time to reflect. I found myself years ago where there was nothing I wanted more than to start over. If there was a reset button I was able to press, I would’ve given anything in my possession to have done it. Through reflection, I cut a lot of people out of my life because I figured out that their problems/ habits were sticking to me. Additionally, it was a mixture of growing pains and not knowing how to kick-start my life.

I think it’s a period of life that we all go through at one point in our lives, and that’s ok. It takes a lot of work, hardships, tears, and courage to move forward from certain situations and to continue living the life that we were given. I believe that represents Seurat’s life as well. Although he only lived until he was 31 years old, he had to work extremely hard to find his artistic voice and have courage to stand by his work. His artistic differences made him great and influential, and I will continue to admire his work.

-Michelle

default-1

P.S.- There are 3 dogs, 8 boats, and 48 people painted in A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. Oh, and 1 monkey. Haha! 

 

Standard
Art & Design

When Your Unapologetic Glass Becomes Half Empty

The headline to this blog would’ve been the perfect title to Henri de Toulouse Lautrec’s autobiography if he had written one. His paintings were risqué and “in your face”, yet those were the paintings his sorrows hid behind. Lautrec is a perfect example of a complex person with a contrasted life, and I hope you enjoy reading the following post as much as I did writing it.

From the setting of the room to the colorful characters depicted, At the Moulin Rouge is a piece that is unlike any other.  The oil on canvas painting, created from 1892-1895, hangs at 4’ x 4’7”, and depicts nightlife in Paris (like most of Lautrec’s paintings).   

Not many people who view the painting know this detail, but At the Moulin Rouge is considered a self-portrait. Looking toward the back of the composition, Lautrec is standing next to a taller man with a top hat (his cousin, Gabriel Tapie de Celeyran). When I first looked at this painting, I thought he disproportionately painted himself in or was sitting at a table like the other people in the painting. As I continued to do more research, Lautrec was a shorter than the average man. His height ranged from 4 feet, 8 inches to 5 feet (according to different sources). Other than himself, Lautrec wanted to include the people he admired or had a friendship with. The list: La Goule, La Macarona, Jane Avril (speculated) and May Milton (woman with the blue/green colored face depicted in the foreground), Maurice Guibert (winemaker), Paul Sescau (photographer), and Edouard Dujardin (writer). Not only did Lautrec capture his friends and favorite entertainers in the portrait, but the particular piece captured the atmosphere of Parisian nightlife; showing us that the man behind the painting had more depth and meaning behind his works of art. 

Due to Lautrec’s height, he was ridiculed and wasn’t accepted into high society; which he was born into. He used art as an outlet to a lot of the suffering he had been through with his family and with his personal image. Although he found comfort and acceptance in Paris nightclubs, he suffered a great deal. According to Biography.com, it states, “Though presenting himself as a witty, fun man about town, Toulouse-Lautrec suffered greatly due to his physical ailments as well as past family trauma, with his father never accepting his son’s decision to become a professional artist. He had also contracted syphilis, which further impacted his health. As he had for much of his adult life, Toulouse-Lautrec turned to alcohol to deal with his pain and would ultimately drink himself into oblivion. He had a nervous breakdown in 1899 after his mother, whom he was close to, decided to leave Paris, and the artist was committed to a sanitarium for several months.” His paintings showed a perspective that was frowned upon in high society, but he ultimately found himself and genuine friendships at the Moulin Rogue. To Lautrec, being frowned upon from “his crowd” was worth it. 

The Post- Impressionist painter was rich enough to do what he wanted and hang out with whomever he pleased. So when he started to hang out at Parisian nightclubs, one of the owners of the Moulin Rouge made an agreement with Lautrec to paint pictures of the nightclub to capture the essence of the environment and entice more people to “join in on the fun.” Lautrec was pretty well off and could have easily rejected the offer, but because the Moulin Rouge became an escape from criticism and disapproval of his personal life, he happily agreed to the deal and hung out there all the time. From an economic circumstance, most of his work wasn’t done for money; it was done for the place he called a second home. Being that he was an artist for the Moulin Rouge.

I don’t think his decisions were based on his political, economic or social stances. Instead, based with what he wanted to do. One of the attributes I loved about Lautrec was that he didn’t care about what others thought about his artwork. He made pieces that made him and his friends happy. I wonder, if he carried that same outlook into his personal life, would he have had a longer, happier life? Then again, syphilis. 

Lautrec’s social circumstances led him to make the choices he made during his life as an artist. He did the things he did according to how he felt, not because it was right or wrong. Ultimately, he did what he wanted to do, hung out with performers, prostitutes, drunks, etc. and that’s how he loved to live his life. Additionally, that kind of attitude was reflected in his paintings, such as At the Moulin Rouge.

He never depicted his subjects as something they weren’t or in judgement due to his status. Lautrec candidly painted them for who they were.  I found that perspective extremely refreshing. Coming from a generation where being Photoshopped in a magazine is the norm or being manipulated into an image that is acceptable on social media, there is a lack of authenticity in today’s society. I think the goal is to boldly and unapologetically be yourself wherever you go. Lautrec did exactly that with his art! With that said, I truly believe the genuineness from his art left a huge impact in the creative world and paved the way for artists and designers who came after him. 

-Michelle

default

 

Standard
Art & Design

The Heartbreak Connection

Hello Readers! Today, I’ll be discussing a piece that is truly iconic: Roy Lichtenstein’s Ohhh…Alright… (found in the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago).

The 1964 painting is a piece shows a close up image of a woman on the phone as the foreground. It is 36 inches x 38 inches; viewers are larger than it, but it’s large enough to notice the details. Outlines of different figures are highlighted with thick, black lines to create contrast with the colors used. I feel like the black outlines were necessary because the entire piece is so bright and certain elements would have been lost without it.

The first thing I notice were the primary colors. Using bold colors such as red, yellow, blue and black is the equivalent of a having a flashing sign, with huge letters, doused in glitter, that says, “Look at me now!” Yet, it doesn’t feel like a desperate call for attention. I believe he was intentional with his color choices, and it really ties within the piece. Besides the colors, Lichtenstein used a technique called Benday Dot Technique, which is the skill of painting the majority of piece by only using dots. Additionally, it’s a type of technique that is used to create texture that is represented in comic books. Using magna paint, he would use a variety of stencils and use both types of paints to create the dots. For his lines, he used masking tape to create smooth, crisp lines that are definitely conveyed in almost all of his works. 

By doing a lot of research, I found out that Ohhh…Alright… was a part of a series. Lichtenstein created a series of paintings that had romance as the focal point and represented cultural dichotomy between male and female stereotypes that were strongly developed in the 1950s/60s. Although I won’t be analyzing the series, I can only image how much emotion would be evoked if I were to see the pieces collectively. When I first saw the painting at AIC, I automatically had sympathy for this woman I didn’t know. Without any context for the image itself, her emotion that Lichtenstein was able to convey into the painting really spoke to me. The way she held the telephone to the line on her forehead, those subtleties were additions to the feelings the woman in the painting had and would ultimately make viewers want to sympathize or empathize. 

In an essay that can be founded on Christie’s website, it provides the context behind Ohhh… Alright… which states, “Lichtenstein’s series of romance paintings drew on the slightly dated comic books published for the burgeoning Post-War teenage market. The plot line of these stories typically follows a young girl who falls in love with a young man; a serious problem arises to threaten the relationship, and the heroine is briefly devastated before an inevitable happy conclusion…”

Then a realization hit me like a ton of bricks: heartbreak is a feeling most individuals have gone through and it’s something that keeps us connected. It keeps us sympathetic, empathetic, frustrated, desolate, and miserable all at once. It’s a feeling that never really goes away, even if you’ve found your person, because of how much it hurt you back when it happened.  This is why I’ll always say that Lichtenstein was a complete genius for creating art, nonetheless a series, that expressed just that. Ohhh…Alright… continues to represent the “romance culture” of today, and will be stunned with its current relevancy to society. Well, with the exception of women being defined by men. Glad that’s over! *drops mic 

-Michelle

Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 8.19.17 PM

Standard