Friday, January 29, 2010

Disney Legend Walt Peregoy Exhibition Premiering February 1st at Encino, California

Disney and more Californian readers will be happy to learn that an exhibition of Walt Peregoy paintings will begin at The Chocolate Bar, 17312-A Ventura Blvd, Encino on February 1st and the artist's reception will be Saturday, February 6, in the evening. This exhibit will highlight Walt Peregoy’s more than 70 years of personal works and showcase his unique style and color technique. Walt Peregoy has been acclaimed for his avant-garde style. and in 2008 his dedication, creativity and outstanding contributions to animation for the Walt Disney Company earned him the honor of being named a Disney Legend!

Born in Los Angeles in 1925, Walt Peregoy spent his early childhood on a small island in San Francisco Bay. He was nine years old when he began his formal art training, attending Saturday classes at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Berkeley. When he was 12 years old, Peregoy's family returned to Los Angeles, where he enrolled in Chouinard Art Institute's life drawing classes. At age 17, he dropped out of high school and went to work for Disney as an in-betweener. I

n 1942, he joined the Coast Guard, and served for three years. After World War II, he continued his art education, studying at the University de Belles Artes, San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato, Mexico, and with Fernand Leger in Paris.

In 1951, with a young family in tow, Peregoy returned to the United States, and resumed his career with The Walt Disney Studios. Initially, he served as a designer and animator on Peter Pan (1952) and Lady and the Tramp (1955).

Above: Walt Peregoy at the Disney Studios in the 1950's.

Although skilled with these more conventional projects, Peregoy's personal style began to surface. "I always asked myself, how come their idea of realism is completely contradictory to a duck or a mouse or a baboon talking? That's not realism. It's freedom… so, why does a flower have to be put next to an airbrushed rock?"

Above: Walt Peregoy with other Disney Animators in the 1950's. Walt Peregoy is the second from the right, with the white shirt.

Peregoy's unique style meshed well with that of his contemporary, stylist Eyvind Earle, and their work on the Academy Award®-nominated short Paul Bunyan (1958) was a departure for Disney. "My style was unusual for Walt Disney, but he tolerated me," Peregoy says. Although, since he was "tolerated" for 14 years, the artist sheepishly admits, "I had to be doing something right."

Above: Walt Peregoy color keys for Disney's 101 Dalmatians.

Peregoy was lead background painter on Sleeping Beauty (1959) before embarking on his most ambitious, intelligent, and personal effort. "To this day, Walt Peregoy's color styling in 101 Dalmatians (1961) remains a fine example of how color can be used creatively in animation while serving more than a merely decorative function," says modern animation authority Amid Amidi.

Above: a rare picture shoot during the 101 Dalmatiand production. Walt Peregoy is second from the left.

Peregoy continued at Disney on the features The Sword in the Stone (1963), Mary Poppins (1964), and The Jungle Book (1967), after which he spent several years with Hanna-Barbera. He returned to Disney in 1977, contributing his unique view to the design of Epcot, where his work included architectural facades, sculptures, and murals for The Land and Journey Into Imagination pavilions.

Above: "Railroad Non-Objective", one of Walt Peregoy's paintings.

Today, Peregoy works mostly in oil pastels, and his work has been shown at the National Gallery, the Library of Congress, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The same muses that drove his innovative work at Disney are still speaking. "I listen for what should be there," Peregoy reflects. "If you really love to express yourself visually, it's a shame if you don't do it. If you keep ignoring the muse, it disappears."

Above: "A Car I Never Had", another one of Walt Peregoy's paintings that will be display at the exhibit.

The Walt Peregoy's exhibition at the Chocolate Bar in Encino will last until February 27 and it's a rare chance to see great personal work from a Disney Legend, so don't miss it!

Edited: The Walt Peregoy exhibit at the Chocolate Bar is now installed and opening officially tomorrow Feb 1st. Here is an exclusive picture of Walt shot yesterday!

Thanks to leave a comment or discuss this article on D&M english forum on Mice Chat

Pictures: copyright Disney and Walt Peregoy


Hani El-Masri said...

It's only in dark times that we come to appreciate the stars' guiding light, their reliable appearance in our sky despite all the mediocrity and pettiness of our time. We stand taller for standing on the shoulders of giants. Congratulations to Walt and all who helped with this exhibit.
Our shining Star twinkles again!

Mr. Angle said...

This is some fantastic work! I would not have known about it were it not for this website.

I'm going to have to make a trek out to the San Fernando Valley to see the show.

Laurie A. Stevens said...

I was but a scenic artist in the late 70-'s - early 80's, working on murals and backdrops for Epcot Center and the other Disney park projects. I spent a few years at WDI and got to know Walt a little. I remember painting at least a few murals from his designs. What a time. I was so priveleged to work in that place at that time with so many extremely talented artists and designers of all kinds. We are lucky enough to have a few Walt Peregoys in our personal collection. Good luck on your show Walt! Laurie Stevens-Gilleon

Dr Bitz said...

I met Walt more than 20 years ago and was blown away by his masterful sense of color and form. You knew right then that he was a unique talent and you could see that Disney must have seen it too and saw the value of his contribution as it was a bit abstract, but crucial to the direction they were headed. It's great talents like Peregoy that moved the "the Disney look" forward (by defining it!) and we're all richer for it.

Walt deserves a coffee table book for sure!

Eddie Sotto
ex Imagineer

Anonymous said...

Disney Legends Walt and Fred Joerger were great friends and grew up through the ranks of WED and WDI. My first exposure to Walt's "Masterful Abilities" were his complete room of drawings, tapestries and wooven rugs at Fred's always in progress home, which I helped him build on weekends. Cheers Walt! JP

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