'Oregon Art Beat,' exhibit at Portland Art Museum explore Oregon animation work

COURTESY: LAIKA/FOCUS FEATURES - Travis Knight, president and CEO of Laika, has been a major player in the Portland area's animation world. He's the son of Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who owns Laika.It's been another good year for Laika, what with more Academy Awards nominations. Now people can learn more about the Hillsboro animation studio in an upcoming documentary and museum exhibit.

Oregon Public Broadcasting will showcase the subject of Oregon animation in a new "Oregon Art Beat" half-hour documentary, "Oregon's Animation Magic," profiling Laika, as well as Will Vinton and more. Oregon now is considered a mecca in animation creation, as OPB tells with its special.

There'll be a free screening of the TV premiere 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, at the Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 S.W. Park Ave. The event is free and some artists from the show will be in attendance.

It'll air at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 27, on OPB TV and online on the OPB/NW Film Center Facebook page.

In the show: Vinton talks about making "Closed Mondays," which won the Oscar in 1975 for Best Animated Short, and his empire Will Vinton Studios; longtime Portland animator Joan Gratz, who won a 1972 Oscar for her short "Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase," talks about animated clay painting; stop-motion animator Jerold Howard works in his home studio on a new film "Battlefield Portland"; Rose Bond, a pioneer in animation, is profiled with her students at Portland Northwest College of Art while they work on an installation project with the Oregon Symphony; and Travis Knight, Laika president and CEO and former Vinton animator, tells of creating 3D printed character heads and faces and scenes for "Kubo and the Two Strings," which earned an Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Film nomination.

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Meanwhile, rumors have swirled about Knight heading to Hollywood to direct his first big-budget studio production, tackling "Bumblebee," a spinoff of the blockbuster "Transformers" franchise. The film will be produced by Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg.

In October, the Portland Art Museum will exhibit "Animating Life: The Art, Science and Wonder of Laika," a behind-the-curtain view into the visionary artistry and technology of the renowned studio. There'll be photographs, video clips and physical art work from films, helping to explore production design, sets, props, puppets, costumes and world-building.

It'll show from Oct. 14 to May 20, 2018.

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