Tag Archives: cats

Cats That Have Known Chuck Jones, a Portfolio

The cat has been domesticated since ancient times.  Of the genus Felis, the common (and as we’ll discover, uncommon) house cat, Felix Sylvestri (wherever did those cat names come from?), has been the visual inspiration for untold centuries of artists, from the tombs of the Pharaohs to contemporary society.   For Chuck Jones it began with one cat called Johnson.   

Johnson entered the Jones household one foggy morning in 1918, carefully picking his way through the sand at Balboa, to stand looking up at their home requesting admission.  “He moved into our house that morning, bag and baggage.  The bag was that cat bag all cats live in, one of the few characteristics he shared with other cats.  He sat fat and walked thin like other cats, but the resemblance to other cats stopped there,” reminisces Chuck Jones in his autobiography, Chuck Amuck.  “His baggage was what appeared to be a very old, very used tongue depressor, fastened securely about his neck…bearing the crude inscription…Johnson.”

Chuck Jones recalls that morning because he realized that it marked a turning point in his perception of character and one of the most important lessons of animation: individuality.  Johnson demonstrated for Jones that it is the individual, the oddity and peculiarity of character that counts.  In response to the question, “Why do animated cartoonists use animals?” Jones has said that it is easier and more believable to humanize animals than to humanize humans. 

The Cat Portfolio is a limited edition collection of 9 cats drawn by Chuck Jones over a 50-year period.  The ten fine art reproductions on paper (one cat is seen in x-ray as well) that comprise the portfolio are led off by a drawing of Johnson, jauntily wearing three-quarters of a grapefruit rind on his head like a space helmet.  “On such occasions he seemed to enjoy this raffish adornment and would saunter out onto the sand, often with only one eye visible under the overhang, a curious sight to many people, a delight to our family, and a source of sheer terror to small dogs and old ladies,” Jones continues in his autobiography.  And if that weren’t enough, Johnson liked to swim in the ocean, too.   

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Image of the Day: Cats Bah

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"Darling! I have waited por vu."  Pepé le Pew makes his move in this original layout drawing by Chuck Jones for his 1954 short film, "Cats Bah."  In this film, the most Boyer-referential outing of the amorous skunk, Pepé is found reminiscing about his greatest love when he his smitten by the "belle Americaine touriste femme skunk."  The drawing is graphite on 12 field, two-hole punch animation paper and measures 10.5" x 12.5".  

Chuck Jones Gallery Goes to the Dogs!

(And cats, birds, and iguanas, and tetras…etc.)

Celebrating the Gaslamp Quarter's Pet Parade

San Diego, CA–The Chuck Jones Gallery, 232 Fifth Avenue–in the heart of San Diego's famed Gaslamp Quarter–will host an open house on Sunday, December 13, 2009 from 1 to 5 PM in honor of the Gaslamp Quarter's annual Pet Parade.  Join Simon, the house dog, as the gallery exhibits never-before-seen Chuck Jones drawings of dogs & cats that he had known throughout his life.

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This remarkable collection of drawings, in a variety of media (including graphite, pen & ink, charcoal,) will captivate and delight pets and their guardians.  A special selection of the works will be featured in an upcoming limited edition portfolio of dogs (a companion to the 2001 "Cat Portfolio" also on display.)  Most of the works shown will be from the archive of Chuck Jones Center for Creativity and this will be their first public exhibition.

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Jones, known for his legendary career in animation and as the father of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote plus a host of other Warner Bros. characters, was not only an avid lover of animals, but cared for and sheltered many dogs and cats throughout his 89 years, the most famous of which were Johnson the Cat and Teddy (a dog,) both of whom were immortalized in his autobiography Chuck Amuck and the sequel, Chuck Reducks.  He was also the creator of many of the most recognized cartoon dogs in animation history, including: Charlie Dog, K-9, Sam Sheepdog, Marc Anthony (all at Warner Bros.) and Max (How the Grinch Stole Christmas.)

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Along with refreshments for the humans, a special selection of treats will be available for the furred, feathered and scaled participants in the parade.  The Chuck Jones Gallery is the only gallery in San Diego devoted to the art of the animated film representing exceptional art not only from Warner Bros., but also from all major animation studios.  Included in the ongoing exhibitions are works by important international painters, sculptors and photographers.