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"MILLENNIUM MICKEY" SOLD OUT
24 x 36
Giclee on Paper
Edition Size: 500
20 x 26
Giclee on Canvas
JOHN HENCH - John Hench, senior vice president at Walt Disney Imagineering, has been a member of the Disney creative team for over 60 years. Born on June 29, 1908, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and raised in Southern California, Hench holds the distinction of being the longest tenured employee at The Walt Disney Company.
As a young artist, Hench received scholarships to the Art Students' League in New York City and the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. He also attended the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco and Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. The Iestedfod Foundation awarded his initial public exhibitions. He continued his art training at UCLA, where he studied with Stanton McDonald Wright in the 1950s. He lectured at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia and is currently serving on the Alumni Association Board of Directors.
After completing his early art training, John Hench researched motion picture color processes at the Vitacolor Studios, set design for Republic Pictures and created seasonal themes for interior displays and news-media advertising for the Broadway department stores.
John Hench joined Disney as a sketch artist in the Story Department at the old Hyperion Avenue Studios in 1939. Subsequent responsibilities included story editing, layout, background, effects animation and special effects.
His skills were utilized in a wide range of Disney films including:
Background paintings: Fantasia and Dumbo
Layout paintings: Three Caballeros and Fun & Fancy Free
Art supervision: Make Mine Music
Cartoon art treatment: So Dear To My Heart
Color and styling: Ichabod & Mr. Toad, Cinderella, Peter Pan
Animation effects: The Living Desert
Special effects: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
John Hench received lead special effects title credits for 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, which won an Academy Award? in 1954 for best special effects. He also worked closely with famed surrealist artist Salvador Dali at the Disney Studios doing storyboard sketches for the proposed film Destino in the early 1940s.
In 1954 Hench left the studio and went to work at WED Enterprises (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering) as a project designer, working first on the creation of Tomorrowland at Disneyland. In the ensuing years he helped develop many additional attractions for the Park, along with the four highly-acclaimed Disney shows at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair including Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Carousel of Progress, it's a small world and Magic Skyway.
According to Hench, research was very important to Walt Disney. "Walt believed that any subject, no matter how boring or unfamiliar, could become interesting provided you had an open mind and showed some initiative for learning," Hench recalls. "We were encouraged to exchange ideas, to leave our offices and talk with others. This was a philosophy that I came to admire as I saw the benefits we derived personally, and the improvement in our work. Walt knew what he was doing."
Hench remembers, "He also wanted us to go to Disneyland often to talk to people and observe them because he felt that we had to have a sense of who we were trying to entertain. He wasn't interested in maintaining an ivory tower full of creative people who didn't know their audience."
He also played a major role on the team Walt Disney assembled to produce the pageantry, opening and closing ceremonies, daily presentations and "snow statues" for the VIII Winter Olympic Games at Squaw Valley in 1960. Both the hand-held and freestanding torches used in the games today are based on Disney designs.
Since the inception of Walt Disney World Resort in the mid-1960s, Hench has helped master plan its development through active involvement in show concepts, architectural, costume and graphic design. He has had the same involvement in Epcot, Tokyo Disneyland, the Disney-MGM Studios and Disneyland Paris, and is currently contributing to expansion projects at various Disney Theme Parks and resorts around the world.
On October 18, 1990, Hench was chosen as a recipient of the prestigious "Disney Legends Award," which is presented to individuals whose body of work has made a significant impact on the Disney entertainment legacy. Michael Eisner, Chief Executive Officer and President of The Walt Disney Company and Roy E. Disney, Vice Chairman of the Board of The Walt Disney Company presented the award. His fellow recipients included famed songwriters Richard and Robert Sherman and associate Imagineer Herbert Ryman.
In addition to his duties at Walt Disney Imagineering, John Hench is also the official portrait artist of Mickey Mouse, having painted Mickey's corporate portrait for his 25th (1953), 50th (1978) and 60th (1988) birthdays. To further the tradition, Hench was commissioned by Walt Disney Art Classics, the art and collectibles division of The Walt Disney Company, to render Mickey in an official portrait commemorating his 70th birthday. The portrait was published as a limited edition print in December of 1998 and was an instant sell-out. Following his creation of Mickey's 70th anniversary portrait Hench completed an all-new portrait of Mickey for Walt Disney Art Classics in commemoration of the Millennium.
In September 1998, the Themed Entertainment Association (THEA) saluted Hench with their lifetime achievement award. The award was given to Hench in recognition of his pioneering and outstanding contributions to the themed entertainment industry over his 60 years with Disney.
John Hench believes that the force of Walt Disney is still alive at The Walt Disney Company. "Walt usually started the direction, and the team followed. We were all, in a way, on leashes. Some leashes were long, and those people could wander off further; others were given the shorter rein. If the man holding the leashes (Walt) went north, we could wander to the east or the west, but we couldn't go south. Some of us thought we didn't have much freedom, but now when I look back, I realize that we all did. He created a momentum that we still follow."
John Hench has his own studio in Montecito, California, and in his spare time, enjoys painting, as well as restoring and enhancing antique photographs. He and his wife, Lowry, make their home in Toluca Lake.
Contact CHASEN GALLERIES for further information about the works of JOHN HENCH.
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