Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rolly Crump: Muse of the Weird and Wonderful

Sun illustration by Rolly Crump, 1966

Rolly Crump is one of my favorite artists in the whole world—not only for his groundbreaking Disney work—but for his quirky and beautiful independent art as well.   Actually, I'm inspired by everything I've ever seen him do.

Rolly with his Tower of the Four Winds model
for the 1964 New York World's Fair

In Disney circles he is known for his designs on the Enchanted Tiki Room, It's a Small World,  the Haunted Mansion, the Adventureland Bazaar, and to a lesser degree for his legendary unbuilt Museum of the Weird—macabre and witty concepts that were decades ahead of their time and Tim Burton.

Lighting Fixture for The Museum of the Weird, 1966

I love his drawing style of the 1960s: bold, ragged ink line, textured and angular, with colors kept to a minimum. Much of it borders on the psychedelic.  Even more, his art has a sly sense of humor that I'm simply crazy about.

Pride Creations "Push Down" Toys, 
concepted by Rolly, 1960s 
According to Rolly, even while at Disney he always had cool projects going on the side.
In 1960, a chance meeting with West Coast rock poster pioneer, Howard Morseburg, led to a new venture in printmaking. Rolly's satirical designs poked fun at Beatnik culture, the coffee houses and jazz clubs of Greenwich Village, Seattle, San Francisco, and the East Bay. 

Poster for Pete's Poop Deck Jazz Club
Seattle, Washington, 1960
His easy-to-read graphics satirized big issues of the era, from drug use to the human rights record of revolutionary Cuba and the Soviet Union.  Though they apparently weren't made in extremely large quantities, the hand-pulled prints were popular with artistic young musicians and hipsters, and were influential on poster design that later dominated the Sixties.

"Green Gasser Kauphy House" Poster 1960
In 1959 Rolly became a show designer at WED (now Walt Disney Imagineering) after Walt saw some of the propellers and mobiles he had created.  
Rolly's Rongo Tiki God concept, 1962

Jody and I first met Rolly when we were curating "Tiki: Native Drums in the Orange Grove" at the Anaheim Museum in 1996.  Rolly gave a 2-hour presentation describing the inspiration for his Tiki designs and his other work.  It was an unforgettable evening.

Jody Daily, Rolly Crump, & Kevin Kidney
Anaheim Museum Tiki Show, September 14, 1996

In our own projects for Disney, Jody and I have welcomed the opportunity to more fully geek out over Rolly's designs by translating several into merchandise, including his 1967 Tomorrowland Ticket Booth Small World Clock facade, and, of course, his Tiki characters.

New Disneyland Tiki Room Rongo Bowl
Rongo Tiki Drink Bowl at Disneyland, 2009

Thanks, Rolly, for sharing your creativity and utter coolness with us.

2 comments:

Skyline Music said...

Thanks so much for sharing your perspective and materials showing classic Rolly output. I realized as a kid I loved his art--I just had no idea it was him until much later. Even his Ernie Ball guitar string art has his stamp.

Mumford said...

What I take away from Rolly was his philosophy: We just made it up as we went along. There were no drawings just concepts.