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Kim's Corner
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by Kim Petersen (archives)
October 15, 2002
Kim looks at the new exhibits and merchandise in The Disney Gallery.

Grim Grinning Ghosts…
Come Out to Socialize
& Sell Themed Merchandise

I really like the Disneyland Gallery - but I’m not particularly a fan of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas - I love Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion as well as it’s Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay - but I’m not a big shopper - but - I am a collector. So - I really like the gallery’s new show - Grim Grinning Ghosts, featuring Art from the Haunted Mansion and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. With such broad appeal to a wide-range of Disneyland collectors and stop-motion devotees it blends just the right amount of legitimate gallery exhibit and synergistic merchandising opportunity.

The exhibit is broken into three sections - The Haunted Mansion, Haunted Mansion Holiday and Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas - Oh yeah, and there is a room for the merchandise too - each taking a room in the newly renovated gallery - a new color scheme and carpeting add to the elegance of the show. The attention to detail is very nice to see as the rooms are not only theme specific - but - they have their own specific soundtracks as well adding to the ambiance. It’s also nice to see that the array of art on display was chosen for more than its retail value through the Print on Demand system.

The foundation concept sketches for the exhibits three sections are represented as historic documents and not as opportunities to buy. They have found the right mix of reverence and retail. Not that every image will appeal to everyone - but - I’m sure that there is a collector for every image. I’m impressed that the range of artists and their images crosses the “usual? into the obscure. Almost every Haunted Mansion fan will want a print of Marc Davis’ concepts for the stretching portraits - but there are those amongst us who will just as quickly find wall space for Claude Coates’ Omnimover Boarding Area. It takes all kinds to make a fanbase. I think that if anything truly impresses me about this show is that it isn’t built around profit - but art and history.

The exhibit also serves to pay a sort of homage to the creative process. You are able to follow the strange synchronicity of the evolution of the Haunted Mansion in looking at the work of Marc Davis, Claude Coates, X Atencio, Joyce Carlson and Jack Ferges in one room and then wandering into another to see the work of Tim Wollweber, Randy Ewing, Sheri Lee Lundberg and Vladimir Petrov - realizing that the work of one generation of Imagineers is truly built upon the work of their predecessors crafted more than 30 years before. There is a comforting continuity of creativity in that. Adding the relationship between the Disney Company and Tim Burton is brought to the fore as his sketch of Santa Claus was done while he was still at the Walt Disney Studios - synergy is more than a company catch -word.

As a Disneyland fan I really like that. I also like having the opportunity to see some of the relics of the company on display. Being able to get close to the Graveyard Caretaker AA figure and really study the detail that I miss going by in the dark - or to look at the maquettes sculpted in 1968 for the hitch-hiking ghosts and the opera singer - or get close enough to see the structure of one of the overlay’s bone reindeer or learn a little about model making and the stop-motion process makes this exhibit more about the subject and less about selling it. Although it sells itself pretty well.

Even if you don’t buy a thing - and I can’t imagine a fan of any of the three not finding something to print or wear or play with or read or watch or buy - it’s a great way to spend a few hours wandering and reading and admiring and learning about the creative forces that crafted and created the three subjects.

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Some of the NBC concept art in the new show. Both character and scene studies have been chosen for the exhibit.
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More NBC art.
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"Jack as Sandy Claws" - a great character concept study - pen and marker on paper.
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