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Note Book

Winter 2007 • Volume 13, Issue 1

Studio dedication honors Disney legend

by Karen Crowley Metzinger MA ’97

Studio image

Lori Luthy ’95 MFA ’01 designed and
painted a detailed mural spanning seven walls leading to the John C. Hench Production Art Studio. It was dedicated on October 16, the 83rd anniversary of the establishment of The Walt Disney Company.

Lori Luthy ’95 MFA ’01 breathed new life onto seven sterile walls of the Caterpillar Global Communications Center this fall with her mural honoring the late John C. Hench, artist, animator, designer, and senior vice president of creative affairs at Walt Disney Imagineering. Trustees of the John C. Hench Foundation, Jose and Leonor Deetjen, and Hench’s personal assistant, Sandy Huskins, recently gave a $100,000 gift to the Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts, and were recognized at an October 16 dedication of the John C. Hench Production Art Studio.

“John Hench was big on designing with brilliant colors and for celebrating the child in all of us,” said Luthy, creative director of admissions at Bradley University. “So, on one wall I painted one of Hench’s designs from the Pirates of the Caribbean —a wishing well— around the water fountain. For fun, I painted a character coming out of the wishing well, spitting water at the same trajectory as the water coming from the water fountain. I’ve also hidden Mickey Mouse ears in the mural as John hid them in the attractions throughout Disney. I’ve always liked work that has a bit of humor in it.” Luthy completed the 42-by-9½-foot mural in less than three months.

Dr. Bob Jacobs, professor of communication and director of the John C. Hench Production Art Studio, worked with Hench for five years during the early days of Disneyland. For 10 years Jacobs took electronic media students to California where Hench provided access to Disney facilities. Luthy painted life-like portraits of Jacobs, Hench, and Huskins on one of the walls to depict their long-standing friendship.Hench died in 2004 at the age of 95.

Jacobs remembers Hench’s 65-year dedication to Disney. “John was the only artist to have painted all the official Mickey Mouse birthday portraits,” said Jacobs. “A signed copy of one of Mickey’s portraits is displayed in our studio.”

Visit and click on the Hench dedication video to view Jacobs’ personal tribute honoring Hench’s commitment to the University.