Cathie Bleck on Disney's Legendary Artist Mary Blair

May 07, 2013

When researching Mary Blair for our May issue we immediately recognized a kindred spirit in Juxtapoz’s August 2012 feature painter Cathie Bleck who shares a magical realism with the natural world expressed in fluid lines. Cathie shares an early remembrance of the artist who will be featured at the Walt Disney Family Museum’s celebration of Camille Rose Garcia who also cites the influence of Mary Blair.

Cathie Bleck on Mary Blair:

"One of the most influential travels of my youth was a special trip with my eight siblings to Walt Disney world in Florida when I was 16. I was really into the pop 70's colors, exploring pattern and sinuous line work in silkscreens. Its a Small World After All was probably one of the most complex visual experiences I had ever had and traveling through this "other world" was an escape into another woman’s imaginative mind-that of Mary Blair. She must have been given tremendous freedom on that project, given its complexity. Freedom comes to most projects that are tight deadline and I know she did the original work for the World's Fair project in about 3 days. It is no doubt that she was a genius to be so prolific. Looking back on It's a Small World, and having more knowledge of what other artists were exploring at that time, it speaks to the Balinese flat puppetry with the layering of shadows, music, and movement. I've wondered about her contemporary influences at that time and Miguel Covarrubias comes to mind with his editorial imagery for magazines and his explorations of Balinese dancers.

 As a young artist it was one of the most fantastical imaginative experiences, impacting me on a deeper level with a better understanding on what role art can play for the greater good of mankind. Mary Blair’s work inspires hope, love, and an understanding that indeed it is possible that we can all get along in the world if we focus on the common threads we all share and this can result in peace!

 I remember going home and creating a major backdrop (at least 300" wide by 12 feet high) for one of my dance clubs performances (need to find that photo one day!) I wanted to emulate her color palette, movement of lines and create something of another world experience. (I think George Lucas probably has a similar experience in his youth but took it to a much higher level after seeing Lost Worlds - robotic dinosaur park.)" - Cathie Bleck