Welcome to Slumberland.

Posted on | Tuesday, July 31, 2012 | No Comments

illustration by Andrew Taylor
Welcome to Slumberland
Sept. 26, 1869 (approximately) - July 26, 1934
Who wouldn’t want to get lost in their own dreams? Tumbling and turning through your own slumbering mind and having adventures that you can only imagine. This is Slumberland and it’s creator would have an earth-shattering effect on comics with his style and use of artistic perspective.
That creator’s name was Winsor McCay.
McCay’s origin is quite odd.  His biographer claimed that he was born in 1861 in Canada, but McCay claimed that he was born in 1871 in Michigan. Although his origin was overcast with mystery, Zenas Winsor McKay grew up with loving parents who hoped for a long and prosperous future for their son. McCay’s father had high hopes for his son to be a man of business and Winsor McCay, who dropped “Zenas” and changed the family name to “McCay,” went on to attend Cleary Business College. Although it was a dream of his father’s, it definitely wasn’t a dream of McCay’s to attend Cleary. He skipped classes and spent his time drawing portraits and caricatures for his fellow students.  This helped with his practice of drawing before an audience.  While he never graduated from Cleary Business College, he did catch the eye of Michigan State Normal School Professor John Goodison who taught drawing. Goodison improved McCay’s style by teaching him perspective and geometry in drawing.  These were McCay’s first professional lessons.  Goodison then advised McCay to attend the Art Institute in Chicago.  McCay didn’t think it was for him and then decided to go into advertising.
 McCay created various advertisements for museums and other such places, but McCay’s style bloomed from the advertisements he created for local circuses that rolled into Cincinnati, Ohio.  Here McCay honed his quirky, whimsical, and wonderful style that led to what is widely considered to be his magnum opus--a comic strip entitled Little Nemo in Slumberland. When in October, 1905,  The Herald Sunday chronicled the dreams of a young boy named Nemo (who was modeled after McCay’s son), the public became enthralled with McCay’s wondrous visual tales that were riddled with overpowering amounts of detail that one person had difficulty catching the first time around.  That was my experience when I first looked at one of the Little Nemo strips. I remember looking through some old books one day and found this little comic of a young boy atop a walking bed that was striding over a magnificent cityscape. I was completely captivated from that first panel and have been a fan of Winsor McCay’s ever since. 
I was further amazed when McCay turned out to be the father of modern motion picture animation.
Back in the golden age of Vaudeville, McCay tested the feats of moving pictures by making some of his own. In these films McCay worked tirelessly to create over a thousand hand-drawn plates so that they would work like a giant flip book in order to make the pictures move. Some of McCay’s first animations featured his beloved Little Nemo and other characters from the comic, but there was one that I particularly like. In one of his motion pictures was an animation, and Vaudeville act, that he made called Gertie the Dinosaur. I remember watching it for the first time and laughing as McCay would command this animated dinosaur to do various tricks. If Gertie didn’t do the trick or was simply distracted, McCay would scold Gertie and she would cry. I can only imagine how revolutionary it was back when McCoy performed it before a crowd, presenting the magic of animation and planting the seed which would later be cultivated by animators like Ub Iwerks & creative minds like Walt Disney. McCay created great works of art through his use of detail and perspective that had never been seen in the realm of American comics.  He has been nothing but inspiring to artists who came after Winsor McCay, including this scribbler.

----illustration by Andrew Taylor of Andrew Taylor
Andy Taylor is a young, local artist - an inspiration! Please come back for more posts from Andy.

What's Happening at Athens Arts!

Posted on | Monday, July 16, 2012 | No Comments

• Beat the Heat Brown Bag Series!

Wednesdays at Noon - bring your lunch we will provide refreshments!

• July 11 - Jody Franklin Topic: Surrealism

• July 18 - Marianne Ballenger Topic: Lost Wax Casting
• July 25 - Judy Smith Topic: Everything You Wanted to Know About Abstract Art
• August 1 - Alice Harpel Topic: Outside the Paint Box; Using miscellaneous tools to create paintings
• August 8 - Bob Foote Topic: Woodturning Basics

• Poetry Reading - 
Saturday, August 11, 4:30 - 6:15pm

Gerburg Garmann along with colleagues and friends will recite poetry of their own creations - creating works of art with words. Also still on exhibit is Garmann's exhibit "Poetics of Imaging" feauturing her expressive paintings and audio tracks on cd, a truly multi-media experience. Please join us!