Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Alpine Gardens Artwork

Today, GDB friend Mike Cozart has graciously shared another rare piece of artwork from his impressive collection! This time it is an art guide for a sign for the Alpine Gardens - the Alpine Gardens was in the former location of the Monsanto House of the Future; that venerable house was demolished in December of 1967, but the ponds, waterfalls, and modest gardens were transformed into a peaceful place for guests to relax.

Here's the artwork (Mike says it is about 20 inches by 30 inches) which appears to have been painted in gouache or tempera. The style resembles medieval graphics from Switzerland - appropriate considering the Gardens' proximity to the Matterhorn. I like the grave but not-unfriendly face of the tomato-red sun, and the golden scrollwork 

There's a little shield with the familiar "Gandalf's hat" outline of the Matterhorn; it's very similar to the various patches and decals used for the Matterhorn Bobsleds' costumes and vehicles.

The other shield has the "argent" (blue) Disneyland "D" on a field of "or" (yellow/gold). Heraldry talk! Mike said that the reverse of the artwork is blank for some reason, no studio stamps, signatures, or handwritten notes; this is apparently unusual.

I just happened to have a photo from around 1973 (which I have zoomed in on) that shows the actual finished sign; from the sound of it, Mike's artwork appears to be the same size as the sign, and I detect no changes or alterations from concept to finished product. Pretty cool!

Thanks so much to Mike Cozart for sharing another gem from his personal collection!


Nanook said...

What a treat to see this original work of art. And then there's an image of it in its native setting.

Thanks, Mike, for sharing this little gem.

"Lou and Sue" said...

What a cool post, Mike and Major!

Mike, it really is amazing to see what you have in your collection! And the added photo from Major, with the sign (and monorail and Mickey shopping bag and Matterhorn waterfall) really tops off today’s post! Thank you!

TokyoMagic! said...

There was another identical "Alpine Gardens" sign, located on the other side of the gardens, near the Tomorrowland entrance. Unless it's the same sign and it was moved at some point. In the early eighties, my friend and I discovered that the sign was just hanging on two simple hooks, which were hidden up under that roof-like part of the sign. At one point, we had the thing lifted off of the hooks and were joking about walking off with it. Of course, we would have NEVER actually done it!

Thanks Mike, for sharing your original artwork with us!

Chuck said...

Interesting that the art guide shows the top of the sign in shadow. I guess I expected a flat image to show the entire sign, but then you would have no idea that that brown bar at the top was supposed to be a roof.

Neat to see the finished product in the wild. Only differences I note are that on the art guide the metal supports on either side and the filials on top are black whereas on the finished product they are brown, and that change may have been nothing more than a field mod after 1967 that made it easier to maintain.

Holy cow, TM! Trying to imagine how you'd explain that to the random security host walking by. "Um...we caught it trying to escape and were just returning it to captivity."

Cool stuff, Mike. Thanks for sharing!

K. Martinez said...

I remember this sign. I loved Alpine Gardens. It was a spot where one could breakaway from the crowds and decompress. It also wasn't Disney branded nor contained an attraction. Just a nice park setting to relax in. I miss places like that at Disneyland.

Thanks for sharing your artwork collection, Mike. I love this stuff!

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, we weren't seriously considering doing that! And we didn't actually take it down. We just barely lifted it up off the hooks to see if it was possible. We were surprised to see that it was only hanging on simple hooks, rather than something like an "eye hook." And the location of the sign I am talking about, was also much more accessible than the one in the Major's photo. Here is the location I remember. The wall in the background is the side of the CircleVision building:

Alpine Gardens Sign

DrGoat said...

Love original artwork. Thanks Mike. What's the nature of the paper it was printed on? Heavy art paper or something more substantial?
Pretty neat photo too, Major. At a glance, the lady's bag echos the sign.
Great story Tokyo. Realizing that that sign was in your hands and not attached to Disneyland for that brief moment. Cool. Moments to live for!
Chuck, trying to come imagine a conversation with a random security guard that would fly is a hard one. Dipping into the most Machiavellian part of my brain says, quickly go to shop and buy a big item with a large shopping bag similar to the one in the Major's photo. Ditch the item and stick the price tag on the sign and into the bag it goes. Underestimating Disney security ends you quick stepping down the tunnel and into the waiting arms of the law I would guess.
Thanks again Mike and Major.

Anonymous said...

@Mike, thank you for sharing this sign! I don't remember it at all, but that doesn't matter, Major has set the scene with a perfect vintage photo. Thank you Major!

Dr. Goat, seems like you had this one all thought out. I have heard that Disney imprisons malefactors in the Castle Dungeon, where they are enslaved into manufacturing churros.

Tokyo, you scamp. Just the sort of stunt I would have pulled.

Cheers all.


Melissa said...

Mmm, Alpo.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I really do particularly love that artwork! What a thing to own.

Lou and Sue, I was just lucky that I had that photo, all scanned and ready to go (and lucky that I remembered it)!

TokyoMagic!, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were two signs; while I am not prone to stealing, I have to admit that it sure would have been tempting to take that sign! They made it TOO EASY. Not sure how you would have gotten it out the front gates though. It’s amazing to look at eBay and see the tons of menus (DCA, Galaxy’s Edge) and other stuff that was just straight-up stolen, so that the thieves could immediately try to sell their ill-gained loot.

Chuck, yes, I noticed the things that are black in the artwork and are brown in the photo, and figured (like you) that it was possible that they made it all one color to make it easier to maintain. Although they must have had a bunch of cans of black enamel laying around. I think TM and his friends should have gone back and rented a stroller, and put the sign in it! Cover it up with some t-shirts and paper bags. Man, I am a good crook!

K. Martinez, I truly do wonder if we will EVER see anything unbranded and unrelated to a specific IP in the parks again. My guess is “NO”. Kind of sad, since some of the best stuff from the past was not necessarily tied to any movies or TV shows.

TokyoMagic!, I BELIEVE YOU! The one in my photos isn’t that inaccessible, since that little wrought iron fence is so low. Just wait until dark!

DrGoat, I think Mike said that the painting was on some sort of board - illustration board or something, I’d wager. While I have not been tempted by anything at Disneyland in the way that TokyoMagic was, I once went to a collectibles store that had tons of amazing stuff, and one of the glass cases was open. The place was so cluttered that if I’d been the dishonest type, I could have easily stuffed my pockets with all kinds of goodies and vanished. BUT… I would never do that. In fact I told the lady up front that one of the cases was open when I left.

JG, I wonder if that sign (or one like it) was there up until they finally changed the Alpine Gardens to Triton’s Garden in 1996? DrGoat is probably like me, he’d never take anything, but it’s kind of fun to figure out how you might do it! I’ve had things stolen from my when my mom let her friends stay in my old bedroom at her house, it’s incredible that they were there as her guests, and they just had to steal stuff. Some very old and rare books (that were hidden!) were taken, as well as some of the better coins from my small coin collection (which was in the closet in a hard-to-get-to spot). I’d say “unbelievable”, but sadly it’s very believable.

Melissa, Alpo? Is Lorne Green in the photo?

Anonymous said...

That's quite a collection you must have Mike. I wonder how many times I walked by that sign. KS

Nanook said...

Just what sort of "friends" is your mom palling-around with-??!! Sounds a bit sinister to me... What a discouraging moment that must have been when you first discovered your loss.

"Lou and Sue" said...

That sign would've been much easier to steal back in the uncrowded days, which were often. Large Disneyland shopping bag and no one around. Nowadays, everything has to be cemented down or bolted down, sadly.

No, I've never stolen, but things of mine have been stolen from me, over the years, unfortunately. Major, I can relate to that feeling of violation, to say the least.

Melissa said...

The sun kind of reminds me of the sun banner from The Wicker Man.

Anonymous said...

Major, I wouldn't be surprised if that sign lasted right up to Triton's Garden.

I have a funny picture of myself sitting in the meet-and-greet throne in Triton's Garden. The shell-shaped throne was mounted on the door of the entry to the backstage dressing room and turned on a pivot like a bookcase in a haunted house, for some reason, it was left with the seat on the outside. I think the door and seat were designed like that so Ariel didn't have to walk in her tailfins. She looks much better on the shell throne than I did.


"Lou and Sue" said...

JG, please send Major your photo to post!!

Major Pepperidge said...

KS, I am betting one million dollars that you walked past that sign SEVEN times.

Nanook, these were not close friends of hers, but friendly acquaintances that she was trying to help by offering a free place to stay while in SoCal. One of them stopped talking to her after he visited (and stole), not surprisingly.

Lou and Sue, yes, it probably would have been easier, but still… why take the risk! When I worked at Disney, I knew a guy who took an Aeron chair ($$$) that was missing one roller (figuring he would just buy a roller and have an otherwise free chair). As he was walking it out to his car, a security guard asked him what he was doing. He was “let go” that very day. Was it worth losing his job? I mean, yeesh!

Melissa, YES!!

JG, ha ha, I’m glad you took advantage of the opportunity to take a silly picture! What if the seat had turned and you wound up in a dressing room with a scantily clad mermaid?!?

Lou and Sue, JG might want to remain anonymous, though I could “pixel out” his face if that’s the case!

Dean Finder said...

Major, you're correct in your suspicion that there will never be another non-IP based attraction at a Disney park. The current management team has said that in no uncertain terms in recent shareholder meetings.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Dean: Ugh(!), that’s one of the reasons the current Parks have lost their appeal to a lot of adults (including me)...it’s all cartoon characters EVERYWHERE. I do love some of the characters, but not EVERYWHERE you look, the entire day (and night, if you stay in a Disney hotel). Too much of a good thing - is TOO MUCH. The Parks feel more and more like a kid’s fancy playground...not the Park Walt designed. I’m done with my ranting.

Major Pepperidge said...

Dean Finder, wow, I am somehow surprised that they were so blunt about it. And yet... not surprised at the same time? So strange that they will limit themselves in that way. Think of all the mileage they've gotten out of the Haunted Mansion over the past 50+ years; a bummer that we'll never get that experience again.

Lou and Sue, I agree with you. Poor management, or a lack of creativity and vision from the leadership (or both) will probably prevent all kinds of great ideas from reaching fruition. I believe that today's Imagineers probably have TONS of great ideas, but the executives can't take a risk the way that Walt did, or even that the company did when building EPCOT (very little or no IP in the early days). I guess that enough die-hard fans make lots of noise when they don't get Tigger of Elsa standing nearby. And while they should give the customers what they want up to a point, I also believe that customers sometimes don't even know what they want!

Nanook said...

"I also believe that customers sometimes don't even know what they want!" YOU THINK-??!! (And only sometimes-??) Most of us are merely sheep, and are clueless to that unfortunate factoid. But, that's the way things are, and always have been.


The ALPINE GARDENS sign(s) appears to have been gone by 1992. It is interesting that the concept elevation shows black support brackets and finals ..... that make the black lettering outline stand out . But changes like that are very common as the art director gets to make changes in the field or during fabrications. All Disneyland signs of this period would have had construction blueprints document control would have kept on file at WED and WDI and those drawings would have to note design changes and they have to be dated. As to when they were made. A concept rendering or layout doesn’t require these change notes.
The earliest image I have of the sign is from 1973 and it shows the brown support brackets and finials - so I suspect it was most
Lindt always like that. I have the sign on a slide from 1968 but don’t have that handy to view right now.

Chuck said...

While I don't disagree with any of the reasons put forth above, part of why I suspect that they focus on more recent IP acquisitions is a deep-seated fear that they could lose copyright protection for the "Fab Five" at any moment, and with that a significant chunk of merchandising and licensing cash flow. Newer stuff that they control has a greater potential for related sales, and though I think that many of those date quickly and lose their timeless appeal ("Johnny Depp was in a pirate movie?"), if they drive income, that's what management wants. I don't think that management "gets" fans like us, and honestly, we don't spend enough money on them for them to want to cater to us anyway.

My almost-18-year-old said something interesting the other day. We were talking about the Disney Parks and changes over the years, and he pointed out that those of us who remember what it used to be like are slowly dying off and becoming a less relevant demographic for Disney. It wasn't couched in a stereotypical, militant youth, "get out of our way, old people - we are the future" sort of way, but it did bring home a point.

And I think that's a large part of why I come here - to hang out with people who remember, who appreciate what Walt created, and don't foam at the mouth every time they see the "Fab Five." Besides - I tend to get hoarse yelling all day for those dad-burned kids to get off my lawn. This is a lot more fun.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Chuck, I echo your last paragraph!!

Anonymous said...

Bingo Chuck. Sort of sad to admit it. And another reason we alumni have created clubs and FB pages to continue to communicate with each other as well as me checking Major's blog almost every day...but later than most it seems based on the timing of my comments. KS

JG said...

Chuck, KS. Agree completely.

Major, the dressing room scenario sounds pretty unlikely. Besides, all those characters seem to wear head-to-toe body stockings.

Check your email.