Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Architect of Delight

Illustration by Kevin & Jody for Los Angeles Magazine

Rolly Crump is one of our favorite designers in the whole wide world. Whether we're talking about his theme park contributions for Disney, or his satyrical counter-culture posters, Rolly rules.

So, when Los Angeles Magazine asked us to create an illustration to accompany a new interview with the legendary artist for this month's issue, we both shouted yes.

What else can we say here about Rolly, that isn't more eloquently said in the splendid article by Marcel Bonner and Steve Daly?  Probably nothing, so let's treat ourselves, instead, to some visual delights from Rolly's imagination.


In 1962, as the Tiki Room at Disneyland was coming together, Walt asked Rolly to design some pre-show tikis to be placed outside in the landscaping, to "set the mood" for waiting guests. While researching Pacific island culture and mythology, Rolly became enthralled with a little book by Katharine Luomala he discovered in the UCLA library called Voices on the Wind.

Rolly sculpted this small sun god in about 45 minutes. 1962

Luomala's retelling of the ancient Hawaiian legends of Hina, Rongo, and Pele inspired wildly imaginative interpretations in Rolly’s drawings. In island lore the god Maui, who had tethered the sun in the sky, thus regulating time and establishing the seasons, materialized as a water-powered clock, producing a rhythmic tick-tock with a length of bamboo. 

"Natives call me The Mighty One."  
Original sketch by Rolly Crump, 1962.

When WED sculptor Blaine Gibson explained he was too busy with other projects, Rolly sculpted most of the nine tikis himself, something he hadn't tried before!  "In those days, " Rolly explains, "we did whatever it took to do it."  

Rolly's first sculpture, "Maui", before the mold was made. 

The tikis were modeled in plasticene, a soft oil-based clay, over foam armatures, in the parking lot behind WED.  Outdoors in the warm California sunshine, the clay stayed soft and the work went fast.  

 Rolly inspects the newly installed Maui fountain at Disneyland, 
June, 1963.

Rolly's tiki creations are fantastical Disney characters in their own right, each one with a distinctive look and personality.  Today, over 47 years after it debuted, Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room is so familiar a concept, that it's difficult to measure the impact this little "musical luau" has really had...on art, technology and on popular culture. Something I am sure of, however, is that there's still nothing quite as much fun as having your imagination carried away by talented make-believers like Rolly Crump.

Rolly today. 
Photo by Gregg Segal for Los Angeles Magazine.
If you live in Southern California, the magazine is a cinch to find at any grocery store.  But if that doesn't work for you, order a copy online here!


Past post about Rolly:  Muse of the Weird and Wonderful

15 comments:

Matt said...

Man I love Rolly's stuff. Of course my favorite is the Tower from the NYWF, but his tiki stuff is pretty awesome. And he tells a good story, too!

Brad said...

wonderful post, and awesome job on that poster!

Kendra Melton said...

Wow, what an inspirational post. Such a great designer.
And your poster is just wonderful too.

Tom Slick said...

Hah, I read it and saved the article. To me, it is one of the best articles published in LA Mag in awhile. I have tremendous amount of respect for Rolly. If he reads this blog by chance, I say to him,
"Thank you for the wonderful memories, inspiration, and the legacy you've left within Disneyland. It is highly appreciated and respected, even by those who may know not your name, but rather by your works of ingenious art."

I have my favorite WED/Imagineers, and Rolly is among the top of the class. And I also thank Kevin and Jody for making alot of their art with reflection and homage, keeping the original masters in mind. Especially when it deals with the more obscure or forgotten thematics within the Park.

Chris Merritt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Merritt said...

Screwed up my italics before!

"I also thank Kevin and Jody for making alot of their art with reflection and homage, keeping the original masters in mind. Especially when it deals with the more obscure or forgotten thematics within the Park."

K & J have been masters at this - I don't know anyone who has created merchandise (and parades!) with such attention to detail honoring the past designs (and designers) that we all love. Awesome to see Rolly getting so much, well deserved attention of late.

Major Pepperidge said...

I am going to have to get a copy of this magazine, for sure!

Beautiful illustration, as always.

again design said...

LOVE IT! The tiki room is my favorite disneyland attraction. It's great to see the creativity that went into it.

Chris Jepsen said...

So, I'll ask the obvious question that nobody else has... Can a full sized poster be purchased for framing?

Bob said...

Rolly has a regular column on Disney Dispatch every Monday with lots of new stories and older ones retold:

http://www.disneydispatch.com/content/columns/the-truth-of-the-matter-is

Kevin Kidney said...

Everybody - Thank you very much!

Tom S. and Chris M. - Thank you, thank you very much!!

Chris J. - I'm sure that could be arranged.

Bob - Rolly has the best stories. Thank you for pointing out his column on Disney Dispatch. Wonderful!!

Critifur said...

I was certainly excited to go read the article. If only I was a subscriber... or wanted to buy the entire issue.

Grego said...

I first discovered your work in October when I went to Disneyland for the first time (at 36. Ha.) while in LA on business. I saw your giant paper cut-out of Disneyland symbols and it's been my desktop background ever since. So, you know, thanks for being awesome and everything!

Also...

"Today, over 47 years after it debuted, Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room is so familiar a concept, that it's difficult to measure the impact this little 'musical luau' has really had...on art, technology and on popular culture."

This kind of stuff facinates me: when I find out that some individual design or concept blew up into everything after. Like the discovery of Tut's Tomb having an immese effect so far down the line that small moving companies in Chicago were adorning their newly built offices with design motifs.

I'd like to see (and I know it exists) a timeline of sorts that shows specifically where the Enchanted Tiki Room falls in with, say, Trader Vic's, returning Pacific theater veterans, and the Kon-Tiki expedition.

/bsdb said...

K & J have been masters at this - I don't know anyone who has created merchandise (and parades!) with such attention to detail honoring the past designs (and designers) that we all love. Awesome to see Rolly getting so much, well deserved attention of late.

YES!! I'll wholeheartedly second this!

Which brings me to the latest tiki incarnation at the Disneyland Resort...

Kevin, please tell me that you and Jody are creating exclusive tiki mugs for the new Tangaroa Terrace restaurant & Trader Sam's bar at the DL Hotel.

Exclusive tiki mugs from K & J?

This is a merchandise no-brainer, TDA.

Who's with me?

Heather said...

Kevin, I just picked up the magazine and loved the illustration and article.

I'm curious, what is the name of the font used in the bottom of the magazine version of the illustration?