An “Animated” Park West Art Auction at Sea with Disney Artist, David Willardson

By Erin, Cruise Ship Art Auctioneer

© Collectors Editions. All Rights Reserved. © Disney.Considered one of the finest galleries afloat, the Celebrity Infinity always hosts an amazing art collection. Still what a surprise, when in anticipation of a visit from world renowned Disney artist, David Willardson, the gallery came alive as never before – one might say it was down-right animated.

After 17 years of drawing for Disney, Willardson is now affiliated with the world’s largest art dealer, Park West Gallery, and remains an aficionado in depicting classic characters: Mickey, Minnie…as well as feature friends: Bambi, Snow White, Lady, and of course, her Tramp alike.

While many Infinity cruisers are familiar with fun and fast paced Park West auctions, few could have imagined a more friendly surprise than what seemed like the whole of Disney setting out to greet them on the first night of their Alaska bound cruise. One even quipped in passing, “I did get on the Celebrity ship…right?”

Assuring onlookers that this was in fact, the happiest gallery on the high seas, David Willardson, accompanied by his Grammy-nominated girlfriend, Michelle Shocked, were among the first in an anticipated string of artist sailings, each of which ensured the cruise crowd an art experience to write home about, or even hang on the wall.

How did it all begin? Willardson left no rock unturned in his live and packed interview on the first sea day of the voyage. Recorded and widely broadcast aboard ship, the interview offered astonishing insight into the early beginnings, as well as the current buzz, of Willardson’s brilliant career.

Raiders of the Lost Ark Fresh out of art school, David Willardson manifested his own destiny in designing the first Indiana Jones Logo for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Further success followed with his design iconology for American Graffiti. One of the first artists actively airbrushing as a means to bring his talents to life, Williardson cast his careful eye over friends and role models he had met as a child, the Disney family.

Rendering characters in an entirely new way, David Willardson seems to have opened an adult channel leading back to our childhood wonders. The stiffest of guests couldn’t help but smile as they strolled past vibrant walls. International guests seemed enchanted as well – one man from Bombay stopped to admit, “I love the duck (referring to Donald)…and the bear (referring to Pooh).”

Even the Infinity’s esteemed captain took an interest in the visit, inviting Willardson to the bridge. In the midst of viewing Hubbard Glacier and after detailing a short list of other famous names his ship has ferried throughout a long career, he exclaimed “…And now I’ve met the man who draws Mickey Mouse!”

Obviously a crowd pleaser, this special cruise marked a double highlight for Willardson himself – celebrating his first Alaska venture and his 66th birthday. Though the birthday event wasn’t made common knowledge throughout the ship, the festivities took place in the art gallery and were open to the public. Passers-by found themselves invited to share in the swing-time exhibition of Willardson cutting a rug with his sweetheart, to rousing Route 66 and other birthday tunes provided by the onboard acapella singers. A birthday cake, compliments of the ship and complete with a strange but appreciated pink Donald Duck, also made the rounds of any and all interested parties.

© Collectors Editions. All Rights Reserved. © Disney.

Like the dizzying, but delightful effect of spinning teacups, the party continued for the duration of the cruise.

A front row guest at auctions, David Willardson took the stage whenever one of his artworks appeared for purchase to shed light on insider origins, meanings and techniques. In particular, families embraced this enriching array of paintings and original creations in serigraphy, lithography and other media. Upon purchase, the most common dedication request dictated that the new family heirloom be earmarked “For Posterity.”

An international art star, David Willardson’s patience never wavered. The artist even went so far as to pop works out of frames and add additional hand-painted embellishments to graphic works. He invited handshakes and long conversations. He offered advice to burgeoning artists and extended a drawing class to all the children aboard the ship.

Not to be outdone, heartfelt applause also surrounded the steps of Willardson’s right hand gal, musician Michelle Shocked. Together for 6 years and very obviously in love, David and Michelle are a tag team of art and entertainment. Shocked was awarded a Grammy for her amazing song, aptly named: Anchorage. Already impressed by their luck in sailing with the likes of Willardson, Infinity cruisers must have made good on the power of wishing stars, as Ms. Shocked graciously agreed to a double-feature, matinee performance – she would sing and he would paint. And it proved to be the concert event of all cruises anywhere.

Fabulous, fascinating, multifaceted, the Celebrity cruise hosting David Willardson provided a unique experience across the board. Brought together by a common love of art or animation or even just idle curiosity, guests found enrichment, entertainment and opportunity in abundance. Converted into a collector or not, those who ventured to the Willardson events appreciated their encounter. Willardson too, it seemed, enjoyed his stay.

A future cruise may be in the works, but more important, Park West shows no signs of flagging in this amazing purpose to clear the air of the art market, expose common stogy myths and in general demystify for the common man the joyful purpose of collecting fine art. In following this mantra for 40 years, it’s little wonder that the gallery stands today at the head table of this art world banquet, and how lucky for clients or cruising vacationers to reap the benefits of the resulting (cruise favorite) feast.

6 Responses to An “Animated” Park West Art Auction at Sea with Disney Artist, David Willardson

  1. […] The Official Blog of Park West Gallery put an intriguing blog post on @ParkWestGal Twitter FeedHere’s a quick excerptBy Erin, Cruise Ship Art Auctioneer © Collectors Editions. All Rights Reserved. © Disney.Considered one of the finest galleries afloat, the Celebrity Infinity always hosts an amazing art collection. Still what a surprise, in eagerness of a visit from world renowned Disney artist, David Willardson, the gallery came alive as never before – one might say it was down-right animated.After 17 years of drawing for Disney, Willardson is now affiliated with the world’s largest art dealer, Park West Galle […]

  2. […] interact with art, and have invited several of their more innovative artists, such as Simon Bull, David Willardson, and Fanch Ledan, to join us onboard select sailings and bring you inside their world. These […]

  3. […] and we are still waiting for the fireplace doors to come in, but I think you get the idea. I think Mr. Willardson would be pleased! We call it the Happy […]

  4. […] his debut, Mickey Mouse has inspired artists of all genres to capture his image in their artwork. “Pep Artist” David Willardson began studying Disney imagery at an early age and pop culture icons like Mickey have been his muses […]

  5. Perry Hanstad says:

    I purchased about 15 Willardson items in 2005 and they still look great on my walls. People never get tired of them

Leave a comment

Prove you\'re human. *

Latest News

  • Giants of the sea: How modern cruise ships compare to the Titanic

    Park West Gallery provides artwork from some of the giants of the art world, and does so on some of the largest cruise ships sailing the seas. Perhaps the most famous ...
    Read More
  • Park West Foundation goes global with HRH Prince Charles and the Prince’s Trust...

    Park West Gallery and its non-profit arm, the Park West Foundation, has received the royal treatment after committing resources to helping disadvantaged young adults around the world. The Park ...
    Read More
  • Historic Erte exhibition at the Hermitage

    The State Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia is remembering Erte with the first-ever solo exhibition held in the artist’s home country. Held June 21 to Sept. 19, “Erte: ...
    Read More
  • Park West Foundation celebrates its Class of 2016 graduates

    Ber-henda, founder of Power of Girlhood, proudly read a poem, “Star Child,” to the group of foster care youth sitting before her at Park West Gallery. “You couldn’t choose ...
    Read More
  • Park West Gallery’s FIU art donation

    Park West Gallery founder and CEO Albert Scaglione’s latest contribution to the mission of using arts to aid in the development of the youth comes in the form of a ...
    Read More
  • How technology is recreating Rembrandt art

    Although world-renowned artist Rembrandt van Rijn passed away almost 350 years ago, his art still lives on today. In fact, it’s still revered; artists today are using modern techniques and ...
    Read More
  • Park West Foundation celebrates young artists at the National Parent Teacher Association celebration

    The Park West Foundation sponsored and honored student artists for letting their imaginations fly. On Saturday, July 2, Foundation representatives attended the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA)’s Awards and ...
    Read More
  • 5 reasons to come to Detroit for art

    They call Detroit “The Paris of the Midwest” – a moniker not as well known as its others, but there’s a reason for the title. There is a ...
    Read More
  • Park West’s Summer Sale of 2016

    Take your collection to the next level with the Park West Gallery Summer Sale Collection, featuring 69 works of fine art and high-end jewelry. The artists available in this ...
    Read More
  • 6 Michael Cheval artworks explained by the artist

    The Absurdist art of Michael Cheval is thought-provoking and a joy to examine, but it can also leave viewers with more questions than answers, such as “what is ...
    Read More
  • The symbolism of Daniel Wall

    Daniel Wall creates vivid and inspiring works, but behind the colorful impasto are symbols representing Wall’s desire to bring love and happiness to the lives of others. The extraordinary ...
    Read More
  • Park West Gallery holds Art Collecting 101 seminars

    Want to learn the essentials of art collecting? Then join Park West Gallery this month for our Art Collecting 101 series. Held at 3 p.m. every Sunday in July at ...
    Read More