Sedelmaier Behind NY Animation Exhibit

J. J. Sedelmaier Prods. and the Westchester Arts Council, along with animation shop Blue Sky Studios, have teamed up to present ‘It All Started Here,’ a historical and creative retrospective of New York’s animation industry. Curated by J. J. Sedelmaier and animation historian, teacher and author Howard Beckerman, the program runs Jan. 20 through Feb. 28, with an opening night reception open to the public at the Westchester Arts Council on January 17.

Looking back at New York’s involvement in all facets of the animation industry for more than a century, the exhibit consists of artifacts, screenings, workshops and panel discussions. Sedelmaier, founder of White Plains-based toon shop J. J. Sedelmaier Prods., says the massive undertaking is the first to his knowledge that focuses solely on the heritage of New York animation.

‘This is where the animation industry was founded,’ says Sedelmaier. ‘Most people are under the impression it started in L.A., but New York is where animation came from’from the boroughs, from the city, even out in Westchester. This exhibit is going to encompass the history of animation, the context in which it evolved and flourished, and how it continues to exist to this day.’

Among the artifacts included in the show is an original workstation used by Oscar-winning director Chris Wedge on the 1982 Walt Disney feature Tron. The groundbreaking feature was the first to feature extensive use of computer animation, much of which was produced by MAGI/Synthavision, based in Elmsford, NY, in Westchester County. Wedge and other MAGI veterans later went on to open Blue Sky Studios, which animated the big-screen hits Ice Age, Ice Age: The Meltdown, Robots and Horton Hears a Who!

Animation from Blue Sky Studios and J. J. Sedelmaier Prods. will also be on exhibit, along with classics from the legendary Terrytoons studio (Mighty Mouse), Fleischer Studios (Popeye) and other influential companies. Sedelmaier’s studio produced the debut season of Beavis & Butt-head for MTV, and created cartoons for Saturday Night Live, Cartoon Network, The Colbert Report and countless TV commercials.

‘It All Started Here’ opens with a reception on Jan 17 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Westchester Arts Council in White Plains. For more information, go to www.westarts.com or call 914-428-4220.

There will also be screenings and a panel discussion on animation in advertising at The Picture House in Pelham, New York on Jan. 25, featuring Sedelmaier, Beckerman and Tim Speidel, a senior producer at Arnold Worldwide in New York, who has collaborated on several commercial projects with Sedelmaier and has an extensive background in animated advertising.

Events at the Jacob Burns Film Center include a series of animation screenings that will take place in January and February. These include a screening of early animation accompanied by live piano on Jan. 15, a screening of work from J. J. Sedelmaier Prods. on Jan 27, a program of animation for kids on Feb. 5, and a look of work from Blue Sky on Feb. 23. In addition, Sedelmaier and Beckerman will be giving a presentation on the history of New York animation at the New York Comic Con convention, taking place Feb. 6-8 at the Jacob Javits Center.