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CalArts celebrates Engel’s 100th April 18

Animation legend has drawn lasting legacy

Posted: April 6, 2009 9:04 p.m.
Updated: April 6, 2009 8:00 p.m.
On Saturday, April 18, California Institute of the Arts will commemorate Jules Engel's 100th birthday with a celebration of his life and work at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater) in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, 631 West 2nd St., Los Angeles 90012.

Round table discussion on the influence of Jules Engel on contemporary animation will begin at 5 p.m. Cocktail reception and art showing will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Tickets for the entire evening will cost $100 per person while tickets for just the cocktail reception and art showing are $50 each.

The celebration features a film screening and round table discussion with prominent animators who studied with Engel.

Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda), Jorge Gutierrez (El Tigre), Steve Hillenburg (SpongeBob SquarePants), Mark Kirkland (The Simpsons), Henry Selick (Coraline) and Joanna Priestley (Utopia Parkway), will address Engel's influence on contemporary animation with moderator Ramin Zahed, editor of Animation Magazine.

The discussion will be followed by a cocktail reception and sale of Engel's fine art. Proceeds from the tickets and sale will benefit the Jules Engel Endowed Scholarship Fund which Engel established to support the education of animators at CalArts.

Engel's illustrious career ranged from working on the Walt Disney classics "Fantasia" and "Bambi" to creating the characters Mr. Magoo and Gerald McBoing Boing; from his own internationally celebrated abstract animation to live-action work and fine art.

As a partner with Herb Klynn in their animation studio, Format Films, Engel received an Academy Award nomination for an animated film scripted by Ray Bradbury, "Icarus Montgolfier Wright" (1962).

Engel originated the Character and Experimental Animation Programs at CalArts and was the founding Director of the Experimental Animation program.

"No other school has had the dynamic impact on contemporary animation as CalArts and this is due, in significant measure, to Jules Engel's legacy," CalArts President Steven Lavine said.

"Jules was an artist to his core, and that's what he wanted for his students," he said. "He would send students away for the summer, with just the right book for inspiration, maybe Cezanne, maybe Matisse. And then he was so proud as they made their way into the world, becoming leaders in contemporary animation. He stands as the model of the artist-teacher which, at its best, is what CalArts is all about."

Director Mark Osborne commented, "Jules Engel was an amazing mentor to me and countless others. His enormous body of personal and professional work not only inspired us to be as prolific as he was, but inspired us to create with personal passion, no matter what the piece.

"He encouraged us to experiment, to follow our ideas wherever they would take us," Osborne said. "Jules set a wonderful example for us to take chances and find our own voices, which is the most valuable thing for a filmmaker to have."

In honor of Engel's centennial, Tobey C. Moss Gallery will hold a special showing of his fine art. His paintings, drawings and prints embody the gifts that also distinguished his work in animation: clever, lucid composition, inventive use of color, and his trademark elegant dynamism. His fine art is held in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as well as in many private collections.

The most generous of teachers, Engel cherished above all else the personal vision of each individual artist and took great pleasure in how each student developed and refined his or hers. So much so that he gave his parting gift to the next generation of animators -- by establishing The Jules Engel Endowed Scholarship Fund at CalArts.

The event is sponsored in part by Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Inc. and Animation Magazine.

California Institute of the Arts is recognized internationally as a leading laboratory for the visual, performing, media and literary arts. Housing six schools -- Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater -- CalArts educates professional artists in an intensive learning environment founded on artmaking excellence, creative experimentation, cross-pollination among diverse artistic disciplines, and a broad context of social and cultural understanding. CalArts also operates the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles.


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