the art show celebrating hayao miyazaki’s whimsical dreamworlds
San Francisco’s Spoke Art Gallery pays tribute to the iconic Studio Ghibli founder’s most enduring animated films with a massive group show uniting over 50 artists.
Even if you're not familiar with Spoke Art Gallery by name, you've definitely heard of, received a Facebook invitation to, or gawked at the block-spanning line for its annual Wes Anderson art show, Bad Dads. The exhibition collects work by artists across varying media, united in their appreciation for the cult director's idiosyncratic worlds of whimsy. Last year's iteration had textural oil paintings of Rushmore's precocious Latin saviour Max Fischer, as well as three-dimensional sculptures of Margot Tenenbaum chaining in her bathtub. Spoke's newest show features as diverse pieces, but their subject is the work of a different beloved director: Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki.
Spoke's Miyazaki Art Show, which opens in San Francisco on 4 February, features work by over 50 artists from around the world. Each takes inspiration from Miyazaki's classics and lesser-known projects; My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away are predictably popular references, but the show also includes nods to Miyazaki's most recent film, The Wind Rises, as well as his 2010 short film Mr. Dough and the Egg Princess. The artworks — watercolours, sculptures, illustrations, and prints — reflect some of Miyazaki's more enduring themes, like empowered female characters and respect for nature.
Interest in Miyazaki's iconic work has never exactly waned, but the past few months have seen some uptick in Ghibli-related headlines. Chiefly, the director revealed he plans to come out of retirement (which he announced in late 2013) to make one final film — Boro The Caterpillar. Reportedly, the hand animation pioneer will even employ some digital techniques in its creation. Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke recently returned to US theatres to celebrate their 15th and 20th anniversaries, respectively. And Ghibli's first television series, Ronja the Robber's Daughter (helmed by Miyazaki's son) makes its premiere via Amazon Studios today.
Spoke anticipates large crowds for the Miyazaki Art Show's opening party next Saturday, so the gallery is encouraging die-hards to dress up like their favourite Ghibli character to gain priority access to the show. If you need some help deciding, we recommend watching this touching Simpsons tribute to Miyazaki's creations as many times as your heart desires.
Miyazaki Art Show will be on view at Spoke Art Gallery in San Francisco from February 4-25. More information here.
Text Emily Manning