Memorable movies in trees
November 15 was not the Academy Awards, but it was a pretty creative, red carpet affair that drew about 200 visitors to the Kern County Museum to see a history of movies told in trees. That is right — trees. The event, an opening night reception for “Movie Magic,” featured holiday trees decorated by local artists to reflect famous motion pictures in history. It is the signature exhibit for the museum’s Clock Tower Holidays, which runs through Dec. 30 and will also include “Lamplight Tours” on Dec. 1 and “Cookies at the Clock Tower” on Dec. 16.
Opening night guests paid $25 each to get the first peak and tour of the exhibit, while savoring catered hors d’oeuvres and adult beverages. The displays were awe- inspiring. Designers have turned holiday trees into cinematic displays of such movies as Harry Potter, Phantom of the Opera, Pirates of the Caribbean, Babe, Toy Story, The Grinch That Stole Christmas, Star Trek and more. Keeping with the movie motif, wreaths were decorated to highlight such movies as Wizard of Oz, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, A Christmas Story, Star Wars and A Tribute to the Academy Awards.
And there were stories behind the stories being told in the trees. Suzanne Ford, a fifth-grade teacher at Castle School, who is not an artist or designer by trade, decided to test her creative talents. What resulted was an outstanding French period piece honoring the film “Marie Antoinette” — including a framed movie poster, 18th Century overstuffed chair, candelabras, antique tea cups and even a book containing Rousseau’s “The Social Contract,” which inspired the French Revolution.
“I had never designed anything before in my life,” Ford said. “It took about a month to develop the concept and the color palette I would use. Another eight hours was spent shopping. I found some really neat, inexpensive ornaments at The Dollar Store, which helped keep my costs down to about $300. What I didn’t buy, I borrowed from my own home collection. I really loved this movie because it presented history in a quirky, different way.”
At the other end of the Main Gallery from Ford is “The Grinch That Stole Christmas” display, designed by Kathline Stein, which includes a very tall Grinch. In fact, it features a whole tree full of Grinches. Unlike Ford, Stein’s theme was picked for her by the museum. This is her third year of designing trees for the event. Her previous years’ exhibits have included Oriental trees with parasol ornaments and characters from “Alice in Wonderland.”
“The museum had a sleigh, so that helped,” Stein said. “I found a manikin, Santa suit and Grinch mask to create my central character that I stood up in the sleigh to make look larger than life. The red in the Santa suit sets off the green of the Grinch and the tree. I could not find Grinch-face tree ornaments, but that wasn’t a problem since I am an artist at Michael’s. I painted ornaments Grinch-green and drew different facial expressions on each to reflect his changing moods.”
Visitors stopped to take long looks at all the displays, talking among themselves, gesturing at unique designs that grabbed their imagination and taking pictures of one-another in front of favorite trees.
“Seeing the reaction of the children was the best part,” said Museum Director Carola Enriquez. “Of course the real little ones wanted to see the ‘Toy Story’ tree first. I heard one say, ‘it’s like this was made for me.’ What really got them, as they walked around looking at the trees, is that the displays were not the regular holiday trees they were used to seeing. Many talked about how certain characters or scenes depicted on the trees reminded them of their favorite movies.”
You can see “Movie Magic” every day (except Dec. 24-25) through Dec. 30 — Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and 12-5 p.m. on Sundays. Check the museum Web site, http://www.kcmuseum.org or call the ticket office, (661) 852-5000 for more information.
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