This week, the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco opens their new exhibition, “Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong.” The show is dedicated to the work of 102-year-old Chinese-American artist Tyrus Wong who had a brief but significant career in animation.

Organized by Michael Labrie, the museum’s director of collections, the retrospective features more than 150 works including paintings, sculptures, works on paper, greeting cards, painted scarves, and kites, which range in size from six inches to 100 feet. Wong’s major contribution to animation was designing the settings for Bambi (1942). Even though Wong worked at the Disney Studio for four years and played a key role in shaping the look of one his most well known films, he never met Walt Disney, according to the exhibition notes.

Wong would spent the better part of his film carer—26 years—working as a production illustrator and sketch artist at Warner Bros. where he contributed to live-action films such as Rebel Without A Cause, Calamity Jane, Harper, Sands of Iwo Jima, Auntie Mame, PT 109 and The Wild Bunch (pictured below). My understanding is that the show will be featuring this non-Disney artwork in addition to his Bambi work.

For further reading, see this San Francisco Chronicle article about Wong. The show will run through February 3, 2014 at the Walt Disney Family Museum which is located in San Francisco’s Presidio (104 Montgomery Street). The museum is open daily except Tuesdays. Even if you can’t make the show, I’d highly recommend visiting the museum, which is run by Walt Disney’s daughter Diane Disney Miller. Their permanent collection is excellent, both in content and presentation, and the museum does an excellent job of preserving Walt’s legacy and introducing him to new generations.

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