Artwork of Former Walt Disney “Imagineer” at Reflection Gallery in October

October 5, 2011

HANCOCK, MI – The Finlandia University Reflection Gallery, Hancock, will host an exhibit of paintings and illustrations by Maggie Parr October 5 to October 30, 2011.

An opening reception will take place at the gallery Thursday, October 6, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public; refreshments will be served.

Parr will also give a public presentation Thursday, October 6, from 10:10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., in the Jutila Center community room. During the animated presentation, Parr will describe her journey as a Walt Disney designer and share additional images of her artwork.

A former Walt Disney “Imagineer,” Maggie Parr has created artwork and designs for themed environments around the world. Her work is featured in Disney Art Galleries at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, on Disney Cruise Lines ships, and included in the DreamWorks Fine Arts Animation online gallery. Some of her most famous “Imagineer” pieces are parodies of classical portraits.

Now a successful freelance artist, Parr designs themed environments and experiences, consumer products, and murals and portraits for Walt Disney Imagineering and other companies, including California Adventure, a Disneyland Resort, and Americana at Brand, an extensive outdoor shopping community in Glendale, California. Parr also illustrates book covers and is developing a series of graphic novels.

At the Reflection Gallery, Parr will showcase a selection of digital and mixed media collage prints and paintings, many of them with the theme, “Americana Distressed.”

“I like imagery of vintage America,” Parr says of this theme. “Either in advertising, packaging, or in scenes of leisure that are particular to a romantic notion of an American past.

“I also love carousels,” Parr adds. “The horses look like they’re forever frozen in the middle of a terrified movement, like they’re encased in ice, while their manes swirl around them.”

Much of Parr’s digital artwork is rendered or perfected in Adobe Photoshop. She explains that, “I ‘distress’ the images, erasing and texturizing, layering several together, until a new impression is created.”

Parr is inspired by many artists and illustrators, and constantly adding more. “I lean more towards classicists because I love the human figure, and I am always impressed by those who can render it well,” she says.

“Along with French genre painters, I love the figurative artists of the 1800s and early 1900s, especially Sargent, Jean-Leon Gerome, and Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,” she notes. “I like the Golden Age illustrators too – Pyle, Rockwell, Dean Cornwell.”

Then again, Parr loves expressionist and emotional painters like Frida Kahlo, Dali, and Ottavio Mazzonis. And lately she’s been obsessed with comic book artists, too many of them to mention each individually.

“It’s a very under-appreciated art form, and a great way to understand value and composition, Parr adds to explain her love of comic book illustrations.

At any given time, Parr is working on multiple client projects, most of them hourly-based contracts for jobs that last from a few weeks to six months or more. But she still manages to make time for her own projects.

“Except for a few weeks a year when I’m so swamped I have to work 12-hour days!” Parr exclaims.

The Reflection Gallery is located on the second level of Finlandia’s Jutila Center campus, Hancock. The Jutila Center community room is located on the ground level of the building.

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