The Guest Curator page on the soon-to-be-brand-new-exciting-and-thrilling Chuck Jones Center for Creativity website will be devoted to commentary provided by a variety of experts and fans of the art and films of Chuck Jones. Throughout this series, we plan to bring you new insight and fresh perspectives on Jones's oeuvre. Stay tuned!
Animation expert, author, and historian, Jerry Beck, graciously agreed to inaugurate the Guest Curator page on the Center's website, but due to a delay in launching that brand-new-exciting-and-thrilling-website, we've decided to share his insights with you today here at Chuck Redux. Selecting three Chuck Jones cartoons to highlight proved a challenge, but one he met with his usual gusto, delight, and expertise. Read on!
ONE FROGGY EVENING – Chuck Jones probably never set out to create a classic when he began directing this one-shot cartoon (originally titled “It Hopped One Night”), but that’s exactly what he did. Michael Maltese’s premise, about a singing frog that performs only in view of its owner, must have appealed to Chuck for its witty use of popular tunes from an earlier generation, and a story told virtually through pantomime, poses and facial expressions.
But it turned out to be (in my humble opinion) his greatest piece of animation storytelling, where every subtle nuance conveys feelings we can all relate to, including happiness, greed, frustration and failure. One Froggy Evening plays upon our desire to achieve the American Dream of easy success, and finds humor in the realities of how that success may or may not be obtained. Jones’ animation unit at this time was at the height of its talents, producing cartoons as contemporary as the UPA shorts, as timeless as Disney, and utterly original on their own terms. A masterpiece!
Unfortunately, One Froggy Evening is only available by hyperlink, click on the title in this sentence to watch the cartoon.
OPERATION RABBIT – The best cartoon characters represent identifiable personalities that are either who we are – or who we want to be. Operation Rabbit presents the eternal battle between those two forces. Bugs Bunny has always been smarter than his various adversaries (think Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam and Taz), but here he encounters his brainest foe – a “genius” in fact – Wile E. Coyote.
Jones concocted the coyote as the personification of his own bewilderment with tools, machinery or simply building things. He knew how funny this sort of character could be up against the cool, calm and confident Bugs, just as he was in his debut film versus the Road Runner two years earlier.
Operation Rabbit is Wile E.’s second screen appearance and his first speaking role (not to mention the first time the character is named). I personally think its one of the best Bugs Bunny cartoons ever made and debatably the funniest. The scene of the coyote hanging on a rock ledge, having just been blown to bits by a train hitting his nitro glycerin shack, repeating his name “Wile E. Coyote, Super-Genius” – that never fails to make me laugh out loud. I know that guy. He’s me, he’s Chuck and he’s probably you.
Unlike the Coyote, Jones hit the Bullseye with this one!
SCAREDY CAT – Scaredy Cat is the first of several Porky Pig and Sylvester “Gothics”, three cartoons Jones made with a similarly eerie premise, and one of my all-time favorites. This one has the pair spending a hair raising night in an old dark house. The humor comes from Sylvester’s observations and actions to protect an oblivious Porky from a legion of killer mice.
Every director at Warners had their shot to work with Porky and Sylvester and each succeeded in creating an individual persona for the characters. Jones’ Porky is never more appealing than he is here – optimistic, self-assured and quite a strict pet owner. Sylvester is also tweaked in a Jonesian way: silent and scared, paranoid yet uncharacteristically brave. Oh, and I also believe this is the first cartoon where the cat (unnamed in previous screen appearances under Clampett, Davis and McKimson – and dubbed “Thomas” in Freleng’s Oscar winning “Tweetie Pie”) is given his proper name, Sylvester.
That sound like something Jones and Maltese would make up for this speech-impaired putty tat. “Sufferin’ Succotash!”
Okay, it doesn't have the same lilting cadence, but Chuck Redux is here in Las Vegas where the temperature is frosty (no snowmen that we could see, but brrrr!), and we're ready to tell you that the Chuck Jones Experience is one amazing attraction. Craig Kausen, Chuck's grandson, and I flew in yesterday to install the art exhibit at the Experience (more on that with photos tomorrow) and since this was the first time your author had seen it, I'm here to tell you that you won't believe how awesome it is. From the moment you walk in until the second you walk out — there is something fun to do, beautiful to see, and exciting to feel. Fans of Chuck Jones, actually I'm going to include everyone who is a fan of animation and great cartoons, is going to find this experience, the Chuck Jones Experience, thrilling and that is not just me being hyperbolic. Forthwith, some photos:
When you first enter, you encounter Tareco Drive, the street that Chuck lived on in the Hollywood Hills for many years. The name of the street was derived from Tarbell Realty Company (Ta-Re-Co) who had developed and sold much of the property.
Tareco Drive will take you past the Chuck Jones Theater, where you'll…
…stop to watch a cartoon and maybe a short film on the life of Chuck Jones or some other aspect of the world of animation, while you're there, you may even run into…
…the awesome designer of the Experience, John Ramirez, a creative genius who knew Chuck Jones and has created some of the world's great theme park attractions, floats and other spectacles that entertain and amuse. He's tops in our book!
Speaking of running into people (were we?)…while you're there, you never know who you might get to meet…
…there's always the chance that Chuck's grandson and chairman of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, Craig Kausen (seen standing left speaking with designer John Ramirez–seated–and Neil Cantor–whose committment to this project is without peer–and to the right, guests John and his son, Michael.)
When you exit the Chuck Jones Theater, you might want to look down…
…because you might just discover that you're standing on the manhole cover over the sewer where your 100,000 bad drawings drain away. You do know that story, don't you? About the 100,000 bad drawings? Chuck had an art teacher at Chouinard Art Institute in the 1920s who told his class, "You birds have 100,000 bad drawings in you, start getting rid of them now!"
You'll not be surprised to run into your friends, Daffy W. Griffith and his cameraman, Bugs Bunny as they film….but, i've gotta run and get to work putting the finishing touches on the art installationsin Chuck's office, the "Measure Up" room and the museum, plus much, much more!
This Sunday, December 4th, from 10 AM to 12 PM, let your child explore their inner creative genius with the staff of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity at the Center for Living Peace, 4139 Campus Drive, Irvine, CA. There'll be snowflake making and cartoon watching and plenty of time to draw their favorite cartoon characters or whatever they like! Go here to register. It's fun for the whole family!
Chuck Jones believed that each and everyone of us is creative, we just have to find our creative spirit and let it out! While your child(ren) are enjoying the wit and whimsy of Chuck Jones, the Center for Living Peace will also be conducting a Shambhala Meditation which you are invited to join. Call the Center for Living Peace for more details and to register: 949-854-5500 or click here for full details.
The works of Northwest legendary cartoon artist, and world-renowned anima-producer at Warner Bros., Chuck Jones, are now on display at Portland International Airport. Born in Spokane, Washington, Jones’ career spanned the history of animated films, beginning at Warner Bros. and continuing his work at MGM before establishing his own Chuck Jones Enterprises in 1963.
Photo courtesy Port of Portland
Jones' colorful and magical masterpieces of liveliness display his innate creative genius. His most poplular works include "The Dot and the Line", "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "The Phantom Tollbooth." He is perhaps best known for his timeless work at Warner Bros. such as "What's Opera, Doc?", "Duck Amuck" and "One Froggy Evening."
Greeting the traveler’s eye, Jones’ exhibit, located along Concourse A, brings to life his youthful spirit and sharp wit. Jones’ work speaks to the inner-child of many travelers, and highlights more than 60 years of cartoon and animation history. Jones was a prolific artist whose work has been exhibited at galleries and museums worldwide. He has directed more than 300 animated films, won three Oscars in his career, and received the Lifetime Achievement Oscar in 1996.
Photo courtesy Port of Portland
"Painting does what we cannot do—it brings a three-dimensional world into a two-dimensional plane,” said Jones, who expressed himself in many different ways through his work.
The work is part of the rotating art exhibits program at PDX and is on loan from the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity through March 2012. More information about Jones is available at www.ChuckJonesCenter.org.
The PDX art program is designed to showcase the dynamic cultural life in the Pacific Northwest and showcase Northwest expression through ongoing relationships with regional artists, arts organizations, museums and educational institutions.
More information about PDX is available at www.pdx.com.
The Chuck Jones Big Draw was completely and utterly amazing. If you were there you'll know what I mean, if you weren't, let me share this note, anonymously written on a carrot that I found last night as we were cleaning up after a full day of creativity workshops:
[It reads: "Dear Chuck~ Thank you for touching our lives with your creative genius. You have given us the ability to laugh at ourselves through the antics of your wonderful characters. You give us joy. Love from an admiring & grateful fan.!!"
You give us joy. There was enough joy yesterday at the Chuck Jones Big Draw to go around the world at least once, if not 100 times. When you're allowed to let your creativity shine through in a nurturing, non-judgemental environment, it is absolutely amazing what you will produce.
You give us joy. Artist Sunny Dolberg shares her reverse transference process with a budding Picasso. One of the most active of workshops, Sunny guided young and old alike in a process that creates a mono-print by painting your image on a clear acrylic sheet and pressing it (upside-down) onto a canvas or piece of paper. The results were outstanding!
You give us joy. Linda Jones Clough, equestrienne and daughter of Chuck Jones, led the session, "How to Draw a Horse" (shown here discussing the finer points of horse anatomy…would that be called "horse-sense"? IDK.) Below is the horse that Linda drew as she worked with her group.
You give us joy. Stephen Reis (gesturing), storyboard artist and director for the animated cartoon, "The Simpsons" shares with his group how he works as he develops the storyline and animation for the series. Participants then worked on their own storyboards. Cowabunga, dude!
You give us joy. This young lad is listening to the sage advice of artist and designer, John Ramirez, who is not only an award-winning designer and cartoonist, but is also the designer of the soon-to-open Chuck Jones Experience at Circus Circus in Las Vegas. John led his burgeoning John Lasseters in the creation of their very own thaumatrope (a circular disk with a drawn image on each side, attached to two pieces of string and spun to create a moving image.)
You give us joy. Muralist, actor, model, father, citizen of the world; those are just some of the words that describe the wonderfully talented James (Jimmy) C. Mulligan. All the while the Chuck Jones Big Draw was in session, he worked on this mural…started and completed in 6 hours (including a break for lunch). Such awesomeness!
You give us joy. Artist and surfer, Bob Elias, handed out advice on painting to our budding Frankenthalers, Kahlos and Rothkos.
Indeed, everyone gave us joy yesterday…here's a few more photos from the day:
You give us joy. Artist Mary Beth Volpini helped participants loosen up their creative muscles and switch their thinking from the left side of their brains to the right at the first station at the Chuck Jones Big Draw, "What Does Fun Look Like?" Here two of the many teen-agers who took advantage her guidance work diligently on their answers.
We're heading into the home stretch and prepping our event space for today's Chuck Jones Big Draw. Join us for this CREATIVITY extravaganza at South Coast Collection, 3309-E Hyland Avenue (next to the Paul Mitchell School), Costa Mesa, California today from 11AM to 5PM. Remember we're attempting to set a world-record for the largest art class held in one venue promptly at 2PM this afternoon; we need to beat 817…be there or be square!
Last night at "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" (created and conducted by the absolutely awesome George Daugherty, far right in the photo below) Chuck Jones's grandchildren, Craig, Todd and Valerie Kausen, presented the Pacific Symphony with "Bugs Conductor" in commemoration of this amazing symphonic experience. More photos and details to follow tomorrow–gotta run and get my creativity on! See ya!
On top of a mountain, a horned figure manipulates lightning in perfect accord with a thundering score of percussion and winds. As the lightning and music climax together, the figure raises his arms to the heavens before stopping outright so that the audience can hear the terrible truth that he must reveal.
He clears his throat before announcing in a flurry of w's; "Be vewwwwy qwiet, I'm hunting wabbits!"
"Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" will feature the Pacific Symphony performing the scores of Chuck Jones' iconic Warner Bros. cartoons, which will be shown on an overhead screen at Pacific Amphitheatre.
The animation of Chuck Jones is arguably among the greatest produced in the roughly hundred-year frame that animation has existed. Jones' tenure from 1935 to 1963 as an animator at Warner Brothers yielded some of the most iconic cartoon characters ever, including Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Michigan J. Frog, Wile E. Coyote, the Roadrunner, and Pépé Lepew. Of the four Looney Tunes shorts inducted into the National Film Registry, three were directed by Jones, the most animation works in the archive by a single director. Read the rest of the story, via www.ocregister.com
Last night at the SoCo Chuck Jones Film Festival, held at South Coast Collection in Costa Mesa, California, cartoon fans from near and far (from one end of Orange County to the other) turned out in full force with their lawn chairs, blankets, gourmet food truck munchies and were ready to sit back and laugh, laugh, laugh.
Craig Kausen (below), Chuck Jones's grandson and chairman of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, welcomed the assembled aficianados and quickly turned it over to the amazing audio visual wizards, who braved the frigid waters of the fountain to set up the projector. It was an awesome evening,filled with good cheer and much camaraderie and a lot of hardy, heartfelt laughter; a perfect way to end the week and begin this amazing weekend.
Tonight is "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" created and conducted by the incredibly talented and amazing human being, George Daugherty–we baby-sat his magnificent Willy last night–Willy is a golden retriever and loves everyone!–at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, gates open at 6PM. I know there are seats still available, do something spontaneous and come on down! Plus tomorrow is the Chuck Jones Big Draw from 11 AM to 5 PM at South Coast Collection, 3309-E Hyland Avenue (next to the Paul Mitchell school), Costa Mesa, California. Admittance is FREE between 1 and 2 PM as we prepare to set a world record for the largest art class held in one venue. Plan on it and unleash your creative genius! The world will be a better place for it.
Craig Kausen welcomes guests before the festival began last night at SoCo.
The intrepid AV technicians did an awesome job with the projection and sound–it was fantastic!
A good time was had by all–well, maybe the bull in Jones's "Bully for Bugs" a little less so than the rest of us, but still a fabulous night!
California artist and long-time Orange County resident, Bob Elias, will be a featured artist at the Chuck Jones Big Draw, Sunday, August 7th from 11 AM to 5 PM. Throughout the day Elias will be working on a new painting of two of Chuck Jones's iconic characters, but who they are will remain between Bob and I until Sunday. So, start excersizing your drawing arm and come down to SoCo, 3303 Hyland Avenue, Costa Mesa on Sunday, August 7th for the Chuck Jones Big Draw and see what this noted artist and surfer will be working on! Help us set a Guinness World Record for the largest art class held in one venue, register today!
Artist Bob Elias at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity with his most recent painting that pays homage to an American classic, the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons created and directed by Chuck Jones.
Bob Elias works on a painting inspired by Jones's "Duck, Rabbit, Duck" cartoon of 1953. He says he always loved cartoons (both Warner Bros. and Disney–he's also a noted painter for the theme parks) and that growing up in the artist community of Carmel-by-the-Sea in the 1950s gave him the inspiration to pursue his calling after a storied career in the hand-painted sign business. "Those rich, deeply pigmented paints that are used for sign painting inspire my use of color to this day," said Elias. "I had so much fun at the last Chuck Jones Big Draw talking with the children and adults about painting and my technique, that I can hardly wait for this one!" You can find Bob every so often off the shore at San O (San Onofre Beach just south of San Clemente, California) sitting on his board waiting for the perfect wave and a little bit of inspiration.