Iconic animator’s paintings of colorful, beloved characters delight east Idaho fans
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IDAHO FALLS — Visitors entering the Willowtree Gallery Tuesday were greeted by a blast of vivid, psychedelic color and warm nostalgia.
The Willowtree is currently hosting Ron Campbell’s Beatles Cartoon Art Show. A legendary animator whose credits include many beloved cartoons several generations grew up with, Campbell is exhibiting and selling his art to the public. The show, which began Tuesday evening continues Wednesday afternoon from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“Enchanted,” said Lisa Schultz, the Willowtree’s owner, describing how visitors have reacted to Campbell’s paintings. “Everyone, their eyes get big. I think it’s all the color and movement in the art that really gets their attention.”
Not only are Campbell’s paintings colorful and vibrant, but they depict a who’s who of historically important animated characters. From The Beatles to The Jetsons to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Campbell paintings mesmerize the full spectrum of animation fans.
“I think his art just appeals to so many people,” Schultz said. “For younger people, there’s ‘Rugrats’ and ‘The Smurfs.’ People in my age range, we grew up on ‘The Jetsons,’ ‘Scooby-Doo’ and ‘The Flintstones.’ And, of course, everyone loves The Beatles.”
Campbell began painting after retiring from the animation business in 2008.
“I was facing retirement,” he said. “All my colleagues had died or retired. So I decided to retire and do paintings based on all the television shows I’d done. I was inspired by Chuck Jones, who had done the same a generation before me.”
Campbell found there was a market for his paintings, which led to his traveling exhibitions. Not only does his show get his art into the hand of those who want it, but it also gives Campbell a chance to interface with his fans.
Schultz said those fans who come to the show are sharing a first-time experience for the gallery.
“We’ve never done anything like this before,” she said. “They contacted the Idaho Falls Arts Council and the Arts Council referred them to me. It involved taking down an existing show for several days and we’ll have to put it back up when they leave, but my artists were cool with it.”
Animation fans and Beatles lovers have one more evening to check out Campbell’s paintings and meet the man himself. While those who buy paintings will receive a certificate of authenticity with a drawing the artist will do at the table while visiting with them, he says you don’t need to buy anything to enjoy the show.
“If you like animation and love The Beatles, come see the show,” he says. “There’s no obligation. It’s free to get in and come chew the rag with me.”
For more information on this event, visit the Willowtree Gallery’s Facebook page.