Walt Disney is rightfully respected and beloved as an artistic figurehead and creative visionary for his contributions to modern popular culture and family entertainment.
But he also surrounded himself with the best talents of his time to help bring his fanciful visions to life.
It is no surprise, then, that these artists couldn’t turn off their creative impulses and natural talent when it came to their personal lives, and one facet of that one-of-a-kind output is on display at the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio.
“Disney Artists’ Holiday Wishes” is a small but heartfelt and illuminating exhibit featuring handcrafted holiday cards created by 18 Disney Studio employees from 1937-1970.
“We thought it would be perfect to put up the cards in November and December, celebrating the holidays and showcasing these individual people’s work,” says Disney Museum registrar and exhibit curator Anel Muller.
Cartoonist Al Taliaferro, who helped bring Donald Duck to prominence, kept many of the cards he received over the years, and his collection was eventually acquired by Walter E. Disney Miller, one of Walt Disney’s grandsons, who donated it to the Walt Disney Family Foundation.
“A lot of the art that they did that had nothing to do with the productions, and it’s some amazing stuff,” says Muller. “They were always artists, they never turned it off.”
Imagery on the cards ranges from cartoonish family scenes and goofy photographs to more serious themes, including a detailed recreation of an animation cel and film script — yet they all convey the same optimistic holiday messages.
Selections from Disney legends such as Clarence Nash (the original voice of Donald Duck), Hamilton Luske (animator), Charles Philippi (layout artist) and Mary Blair (concept artist) feature the same creativity and talent that they displayed when they worked on revered classics including “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Pinocchio,” “Cinderella” and “Peter Pan.”
IF YOU GO
Disney Artists’ Holiday Wishes
Presented by The Walt Disney Family Museum
Where: 104 Montgomery St., The Presidio, San Francisco
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays-Mondays, closes Dec. 31
Tickets: $12 to $20; children 5 and under free with adult admission
Contact: (415) 345-6800, www.waltdisney.org