‘Drawing on Imagination’: Demonstrations, costume parade to round out Bellefonte Art Museum’s cartoon collection

A cartoon art exhibit at the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County will feature animation cels and comic books.
A cartoon art exhibit at the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County will feature animation cels and comic books. Photo provided

The Bellefonte Art Museum will delve into the world of superheroes, cartoon characters and pop art with its latest exhibit, “Cartoon Art: Drawing on Imagination.”

“Part of our mission is to share with our visitors as many different genres and perspectives of art as possible,” said Patricia House, the museum’s executive director.

The exhibit represents the next step in that mission, with cartoon art being displayed for the first time in the museum.

Starting on April 5 and continuing on weekends throughout the month, museum guests will be able to browse a variety of pieces, including comic books and animation cels.

“We have some original cels from the early days of the Disney cartoons, which are paintings on clear plastic, before they were created using digital animation,” House said. “We also have some original drawings from noted cartoonists, classic posters from popular animated movies, historic newspaper strips and lots of other different things.”

The museum is offering more than just pieces to look at. On several Sundays during April, the museum will host artists who give live cartooning demonstrations.

“This exhibit is unique for us because it’s interactive,” House said. “We’ll have artists who will draw in front of an audience and also tell people what they’re doing and maybe help them draw their own cartoons.”

In addition to the weekly art demonstrations, there will be a few special events throughout the month, including a costume parade April 12, where anyone can dress up as their favorite hero or cartoon character. The museum also will bring in members of Jake’s Cards and Games, a local collectibles store, to give a gaming demonstration April 19.

Unlike some forms of art, cartooning has continued to evolve and expand into new styles and mediums, which will be readily apparent to anyone who visits the exhibit.

“It’s a real challenge to understand what a cartoon is. In our head, when you say ‘cartoon,’ we all get an image right away, which differs depending on how old you are,” House said. “But over time, the genre has just exploded with Japanese-style animation, graphic novels and so many other things.”

Because there are animated movies and comic books meant for children, adults and people of all ages, House hopes that cartoon art can get more people excited about art in general.

“There are so many people who still see art as frightening or foreign. Many people enjoy cartoons and comic strips and may not even realize it’s an art form, and it is. This is a great entry level to art.”