On Friday, April 28th, Mondo and Cyclops Print Works teamed up to present Never Grow Up: A Disney Art Show at the Mondo Gallery in Austin, TX. You may have read my preview which included a recap of the first Mondo/Disney art show, 2014’s Nothing’s Impossible. I’m happy to report that Never Grow Up lived up to the first show and would absolutely hold its own if the two were forced to battle to the death. Fortunately, there will be no fatal clashing; both shows were magnificent in their own right and will live on forever in the memories of collectors like myself. (Corny, but true.) Note to readers: this article is a bit more ‘bloggy’ or personal (poster nerd stuff) than my other articles.
It was a hot, sunny day in Austin. So sunny that my bald buddy was quickly transformed into a redhead. Folks were lined up around the building, ready for the Dalmation-covered doors to pop open and reveal the brightly-colored screen printed Disney posters designed by a stellar lineup of artists and curated by Mondo’s team of savvy art directors. It was another impressive display at the Mondo Gallery. I am not one to shovel undeserved praise and I can truly say that I had a magical time at Never Grow Up. Sometimes, for a collector, one print is all it takes. This show delivered that print and a whole lot more.
When Nothing’s Impossible was announced in 2014, poster collectors on the online forum Expresso Beans (EB), did as poster collectors do, and chatted/speculated about possible artist and movie pairings; ‘dream pairings’ so to speak. My favorite Disney movies growing up were Robin Hood and The Sword in the Stone. I liked lots of Disney flicks, but those two were tops, especially Robin Hood. When I thought of the perfect artist to cover the films, I didn’t land on Tyler Stout, Olly Moss, or even Aaron Horkey (screen printed movie poster titans), I wanted a Rich Kelly. I felt that his unique style, excellent use of color, and ability to nail the proper tone made him the best candidate for the property. Not one to be shy, I posted about my desire for a Rich Kelly Robin Hood poster (and The Sword in the Stone) more than a few times over the years. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one who thought they were a good match.
In 2014, Rich Kelly tackled The Sword in the Stone for Mondo/Disney’s Nothing’s Impossible event. It was undoubtedly my favorite piece in the show and a terrific pairing of artist and subject.
Last Friday, I did a happy dance in the parking lot of a bakery somewhere between Houston and Austin when I heard that there would be a Rich Kelly Robin Hood poster at the Never Give Up show. I was pumped! A local news channel had recorded a segment at the Mondo Gallery that aired that morning and revealed several pieces in the show. I saw a list of the artists and the movies they did, but opted not to check out the screen grabs of the posters.
I tried to imagine what Rich Kelly’s Robin Hood would look like. I imagined it being green. He did posters for Django Unchained and Beasts of the Southern Wild with beautiful green inks and that’s the color I associate with Robin Hood. I didn’t really have any expectations other than that.
When I entered the gallery, I was greeted by Mondo’s Managing Director, Justin Brookhart, and Creative Director, Eric Garza, two of the coolest, most genuine guys on the poster scene. I’ve enjoyed watching them rise through the ranks over the years, settling into integral positions within the company. Justin knew I’d be excited for the Kelly. Turns out Rich Kelly Robin Hood was a dream pairing for him as well. I was so excited I greeted Eric with a Little John-sized bear hug and he immediately asked if I wanted to see the print. You know I did!
Turns out, the poster’s not green. It has green in it, but it’s mostly blue and purple (my favorite color). The image is even better than I imagined; clever, fittingly dark, funny, and dramatic, all at once. It uses a vintage title treatment and it pairs well with The Sword in the Stone. Check ’em out:
Glorious, eh? Have a closer look:
Cheers to Rich Kelly for nailing a bullseye and to Mondo and Cyclops Print Works for making it happen. After years of posting about a Rich Kelly Robin Hood, it’s kinda surreal that one actually exists and it surpassed all expectations. Very cool!
Overall, it was a terrific show with some amazing pieces. There were over 40 posters on display, including variants, and a wide variety of properties were represented. People will probably gravitate towards their favorite Disney movies or the ones done by their favorite poster artists. That’s what I did. On a self-imposed budget after breaking the bank at Nothing’s Impossible, it was difficult to narrow down my selections, but after much deliberation I left with a handful of posters that I’m thrilled to add to the collection.
Martin Ansin 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
I’m a total sucker for anything 20,000 Leagues and the fact that Ken Taylor already released a perfect poster for the 1954 underwater Disney adventure didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the Ansin. The film, of course, is based on the classic Jules Verne novel, and it stars James Mason, a singing Kirk Douglas, Paul Lukas, and Peter Lorre. The underwater setting and imagery, such as the iconic Nautilus and the giant squid, lend themselves well to artistic interpretation. Ansin’s 12″ x 36″ design is a lot for the eyes to take in and it’s best appreciated in person. Captain Nemo looks supremely dapper in the confines of the Nautilus, while Ned Land stands on top of it, heroically fighting the beast. Gorgeous artwork, killer print job.
Tom Whalen Alice in Wonderland
Tom Whalen is the unofficial king of the scene when it comes to posters based on animated properties. His take on the tripped-out 1951 classic has all the bells and whistles. The poster is designed to look like a playing card and there was no skimping on the details. It’s rare to see a screen print with printing on the back of the print, or with rounded corners, but that’s what his vision called for and the result is unique. I heard more collectors and casual fans call this ‘best in show’ than any other print.
Matt Taylor The Lion King (variant edition)
I didn’t expect to pick up a poster for The Lion King, but Matt Taylor’s variant was too good to pass up. I’d call it the sleeper hit of the show, but it was one of the first things to sell out. What a crazy design! It’s such a joyous poster and the characters’ pitch perfect expressions really bring the print to life. The regular edition boasts Matt Taylor’s trademark brighter colors, but I prefer the more natural, organic look of the variant. This thing sings, ‘I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.’
Becky Cloonan Fantasia (variant edition)
Fantasia is another property that has a huge well of imagery for artists to draw from. Becky Cloonan’s take is downright sinister. It focuses on the Night on Bald Mountain segment which features a Leopold Stokowski arrangement of an 1867 orchestral tone poem by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky. The character depicted is Chernabog, the illest Disney villain of all, a large gargoyle like creature who summons other ghosts and demons. I opted for the darker colored variant over the bright blue regular edition because it looks a touch classier and a lot more evil (which in this case is fitting). As somebody said in line at the gallery, ‘I can’t believe this is an officially licensed Disney poster.’ Props to Becky and all the companies involved for embracing an alternative approach.
Tom Whalen Peter Pan (regular edition)
While his Alice in Wonderland poster is the one folks are talking about, Peter Pan might be my favorite Tom Whalen print from Never Grow Up. I love posters with purple ink and this one has several shades of it. Plus, the design is flawless and the details are impeccable. Just look at that pirate ship in front of the sunset, Tink with her dust, the flying kids, and the way the gator looks at Captain Hook. Whalen makes it look easy.
Mark Englert Up
My mom and I have always shared a love of Disney and Pixar movies. I sent her pics of many pieces in the show, and she opted for Up because she loves the movie and the print will pair well with her other 12″ x 36″ posters, including Dave Perillo’s ’25 Years of Pixar’ print. Best Englert I’ve seen.
. . . . . .
Here’s a few prints I admired that I might’ve purchased if I had more money or less self control:
Dave Perillo The Lady and the Tramp
Dave Perillo took his poster game to new heights with the most romantic print in the show. Lovely work. (If I hung this I would always want spaghetti and breadsticks.)
Laurent Durieux Bambi
When I initially saw Durieux’s Bambi print online, I thought that with no billing block there might be too much open space in the bottom third of the print. I was wrong. It looks fantastic in person.
Florian Bertmer Sleeping Beauty
Typically great line work from Florian mixed with an all-time Disney baddie, an iconic castle, yellow paper, and purple ink, equals a super fun print that I kind of regret not picking up.
Jonathan Burton 101 Dalmations (variant edition)
Both editions are impressive but the vibrant colors of the variant take the cake. Prettay prettay good.
. . . . . .
Sleepers. Cool prints that aren’t getting the attention they deserve.
Stan and Vince Tron
I love the cool retro vibe and colors of this one.
Josh Holtsclaw A Bug’s Life
Underrated movie, underrated print.
Randy Ortiz The Black Cauldron
Randy Ortiz is something else. I want to see this version of The Black Cauldron.
. . . . . .
That’s my take on show! The vibe was a bit more chill than Nothing’s Impossible, mostly due to the fact that that show took place during the craziness that is SXSW. I have to hand it to the Mondo staff for doing a great job of getting people’s posters bagged up and in hands in a timely fashion. With over 40 fragile items for sale, many being large 24″ x 36″ posters, that is no small feat. Bravo!
There are some nice pieces from Never Grow Up that I didn’t shine a light on in my recap. Check out Andrea’s article for her take and more pictures from the show.
Cheers to Oh My Disney, Mondo, Cyclops Print Works, and all the artists who helped make this event a memorable one. See you in a few years at Mondo x Disney Part 3: Insert Witty Name Here.
Never Grow Up: A Disney Art Show is on display at the Mondo Gallery (4115 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78751) through May 13th during normal hours (Tue – Sat 12pm – 6pm).
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