Yet ANOTHER great thing to come from the Knott's Preserved event that I went to was that I got to see some of "my" celebrities -- Charles Phoenix, Kevin Kidney, Jody Daily, Chris Jepsen -- who were also in attendance of the event. It's sort of like those Intel commercials, where they remind you that their rockstars (inventor of the microprocessor,etc.) are not your rockstars. I totally get that. Everyone else goes nutso over Britney Spears being in the same restaurant. I go giddy-gaga over seeing Charles Phoenix in the Doo Dah Parade. My idols aren't on the cover of Us Weekly. They're inside the Disneyland Passholder newsletter.
While waiting for dinner at Knott's, I got a chance to chat a bit with Charles about some new stuff he's cooking up and his fantastic Up With Downey tour that I missed (I was out of town). Then I ran into Kevin who told me all about his new house, which isn't new at all, but is actually a historic home in Anaheim and has some fascinating history behind it, all of which is intregral to the history of Anaheim. He also told me a little bit about the new studio space that he and Jody share and how excited they are to have a studio that isn't the kitchen (amen, brother! Take a peek at my living room/dining room area - totally non-functional, because it's our studio space) and THEN he invited me to come see it! I was flabbergasted. He must be mistaken! Thinking I'm someone else! Someone important! Someone cool! Of course, I kept my mouth shut and readily agreed to come by. How could I not? Two of my favorite contemporary artists have just invited me to tour their studio space!
Kevin and Jody hosted a small group from the book release event, including the authors (one of whom, in an it's a small world kind of way, turned out to be someone I knew online but not in real life and so we had an "it's you!" "it's YOU!" kind of moment which was extra geeky and fun!) Chris Jepsen and his wife, and a few other friends - and then me and Ryan! We were trying to be on our best behavior, but we kept slipping up and gushing all over someone about ohmygoshIcan'tbelieveyoumadethisitissoawesomeIloveit and then immediately regretting it. I hope no one else minded! I know that I talked a lot. I blame the cocktails, but really it was just me. I'm chatty. I apologize.
Their historic home is fabulous in every aspect and it could not have gone to more worthy people! They didn't just want the house for what it is, but also for what it was. They have been incredibly careful to preserve the integrity without losing any of their personality in the house either. I am in awe. From the careful preservation of the corbels to the planned-for gardens that befit the legacy of the house, they are truly the right people to make this historical house a contemporary home. It even has a spectacular view of the Disneyland fireworks (and I'm told that if the clouds are low and the winds are blowing, even the music carries across town and they can listen to it as well). Jody even let me hover over his desk in the studio to watch them and ooh and aah. THAT is hospitality, folks!
Their studio is indescribably wonderful. It's everything that you'd ever hope for (or at least, it hit all the high points on my dream list!) -- including the display of their past works (which make my heart go all fluttery) and current works-in-progress. Ryan and I were stuck staring at the original works, like Kevin's paper works which are gorgeous in photos and indescribable in person. Ryan also got to geek out on Jody's painting techniques and ask questions to the master himself. Ryan nearly fell down when he found out how some of these masterpieces were made -- Ryan has built up a collection of paints that cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,000 (no, I'm not kidding) so when he found out that the gorgeous paintings were made with inexpensive acrylics, just using various techniques, he was immediately inspired to run home and start painting and trying out new things. I was inspired as well! My brain is bursting with ideas!
After the house and studio tour, we all gathered on the back porch (yes! a real, live back porch!!) to watch a movie that was projected onto the side of the studio building (!) that was a film of Disneyland in the early 60's (I think it was early 60's -- the historians there would know!) that was so neat to see and just plain funny! We sipped on signature Miehana Cocktails which made me a little tipsy so I was even giddier than usual and probably made more dumb jokes than I remember! After that, we went back inside where Chris Merritt set up a slide show of some of his works for Disneyland, including the restoration of the Sleeping Beauty castle walk-through. When you see the walk through you can appreciate the clever use of forced perspective and the fun colors and the gorgeous art designed by Eyvind Earle... but what you don't see is the careful detail that went into installing those things in the first place! One elaborate scene is actually built so that it breaks down and swings out and up -- like a Transformer! -- so that the set designers could stage it and have access in case it ever needs repairs or touch-ups. Which, for many reasons, isn't something I wouldn't have ever considered as an outside admirer. So the mechanics -- both simple and complex -- of the displays are even more astounding. So thank you, Chris, for giving us a behind-the-scenes peek! He also shared with us some pictures of the new Universal Studios in Singapore that he has been working on (look at that castle!) and some of the unique challenges there, like the heat! (I have never traveled to Asia and am ignorant to climate outside of my zipcode, so I had no idea that Singapore is hot and humid, nearly year-round) He showed us these special thin coverings that go across the sky to block some of the sun's heat and also protect the guests from the heavy rainfalls which swoop in suddenly (and disappear as quickly). It was all very interesting!
Which meant that we geeked out. And then geeked out some more. Next thing we all knew, it's after midnight and we're watching old videos of Mandy & Rube visiting Coney Island (1903) which are hilarious in their own right, and chock-full of fascinating history in the background. Check out those slides!
After realizing what time it was, Ryan and I had to make our departure. It was sad, to be certain, because who wanted the night to end? NOT US! But alas, we had an early work day the next day and didn't want to impose any further on our wonderful hosts who may have gotten more geekery than they'd bargained for in inviting us over!
So thank you to Kevin and Jody - and all of their guests - for making us feel so welcome! I feel like I won the golden ticket to walk the red carpet at the Oscars, only instead of movie stars that I don't care about, it's artists and all-around fun people that I adore! A Miehana Nirvana!