Ron Campbell remembers being a kid, sitting transfixed in a darkened movie theater in Australia and watching cartoons.
“I was amazed, and even though there was this beam of light over my head, I couldn’t quite figure out where these creatures came from,” he says from his home in Phoenix. “I remember telling my grandmother, and she said, ‘Ronnie, they’re drawings.’”
It was his first epiphany, he says.
“You mean I can draw something, and it can come alive?” he says. “I started drawing, and I never stopped.”
Campbell became one of the world’s top animators, working in his native Australia and in the United States. He created and produced a generation of beloved cartoon characters, from the animated versions of John, Paul, George and Ringo in “Yellow Submarine” to the “Scooby Doo” gang.
Now 77 and retired, Campbell took a page out of legendary animator Chuck Jones’ playbook, who retired and then started doing paintings of his characters — Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the like. Campbell also picked up the brush and is currently on tour with his paintings of The Beatles, Scooby and other characters.
Campbell and his whimsical, colorful canvases are visiting Boise’s LaBry Fine Art Gallery in BoDo this weekend.
Switching mediums has been a great challenge, Campbell says.
“I had never picked up a paintbrush before,” he says. “It’s refreshing and different — this Act II of my life.”
He will be at the gallery to meet and greet people and to talk about his career — and to do some live drawing.
“The show is something people really connect with,” Campbell says. “These characters come with a very strong memory of the salad days, of being a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons.”
Ron Campbell: Noon to 8 p.m. Friday, March 24, to Sunday, March 26, 404 S. 8th St., Suite 166, Boise. 985-6337, LaBryFineArt.com.
‘The Mammal Problem’
People are complicated, says True Story Project founder and Boisean Eric Valentine.
“I mean, we’re just animals, man, but we have all this psychology and emotions that just makes things more difficult,” Valentine says.
That’s why he does what he does. Valentine puts his life on the page and on stage with rhythmically compelling accounts of his past — from the death of his wife when he was 25 to his own battles with mental health — set to music by singer and songwriter Laio Michels.
Michels writes music about her own struggles, and she and Valentine find emotional intersections and universal themes that overlap. They perform with a mix of classical and rock musicians.
Now they are deepening their collaborations with a new project that is a hybrid performance titled “The Mammal Problem.” A play in two acts, it combines storytelling, music, song and spoken word to tell the story of star-crossed lovers — one alive and one in the afterlife — who somehow remain connected.
The TSP duo became inspired after a trip to New York City where they hit the open mike circuit and received a huge response.
“It was so encouraging,” Valentine says. “People were so surprised we were from Idaho. They really connected and started following us from club to club. Now we want to go back with something bigger. And this is it.”
Valentine and Michels have deepened the collaboration aspect, working with theater artist Natalie MacLachlan, narrator Lish Carroll, artist Alex Vega, dancer Arianna Christiansen and a mix of classical, jazz and blues musicians for a one-night theatrical experience that is evolving.
“It’s interesting how many people want to get involved,” Michels says. “Everyone is doing their own thing, and it’s all coming together. The organicness of it is wonderful.”
Treefort Music Fest is rocking Downtown Boise this weekend with hundreds of activities, including several that dabble in the creative arts.
▪ Check out the Treefort Art Gallery inside The Owyhee, 1109 W. Main St. You’ll see work from several Boise-based artists, including Noble Hardesty, Tony Capria, Betsy Hinze and others. Gallery hours are 6-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 24-25, and 5-9 p.m. Sunday, March 26.
▪ Meet director Ribera d’Ebre and artist Juan Carlos Munoz Hernandez at a screening of “Dark Progressivism,” a documentary about the underground art and tattoo scene in Los Angeles, at 6 p.m. Friday, March 24, at The Owyhee with a Treefort or Filmfort pass.
▪ Boise dance company Project Flux will perform a collaboration with Los Angeles-based dance duo WhyteBerg (Gracie Whyte and Laura Berg) at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, March 26, at Woodland Empire Ale Craft, 1114 W. Front St., Boise. Free.
Find more Treefort art events at IdahoStatesman.com.