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 Joshua Lawrence Meador  (1911 - 1965)

About: Joshua Lawrence Meador


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Lived/Active: California/Mississippi      Known for: landscape and seascape painting, animation

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BIOGRAPHY for Joshua Meador
1911 (Greenwood, Mississippi)
1965 (Casper, California)


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Often Known For
landscape and seascape painting, animation

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Greenwood, Mississippi, Joshua Meador became a painter and animator in California.  He graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago, and in 1935 moved to California where until the 1960s, he lived in La Crescenta, and then moved to Casper in Northern California.  He died there on August 24, 1964 from a massive heart attack caused by childhood congenital problems.

Although it has been rumored that Meador's paintings were purchased by Walt Disney and exhibited at Disneyland, this is untrue.  Disney had purchased the paintings only while the artist was living, and Disney's collection of Meador paintings consisted of about 50 paintings, which were and are displayed at the various homes of Disney's heirs.  Recently about 16 of these canvases were returned by the Disney family to the family of the artist and were paintings that had hung at Meador's Palm Springs home at the Smoke Tree Ranch. (Philip Meador)

During his career as a special effect director, Meador worked for Disney Productions. His credits include SNOW WHITE, BAMBI, FANTASIA and PINNOCHIO as well as FORBIDDEN PLANET, in which he animated the Creature from the Id and all of the electrical effects for this release from MGM Pictures.

In his spare time, he pursued his talent for fine-art painting, and in 1946, began exhibiting his landscapes, harbor scenes, seascapes and city views. For many of his paintings, he used a palette knife, and a popular subject for him was the Mendocino Coast in Northern California.

After Meador's death, there were a couple of memorial one-man shows including one at Barnsdale Park in Los Angeles and one at the Conacher Galleries in San Francisco.

Philip L. Meador, Son of Joshua L. Meador
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940

Biography from Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery:
Joshua Meador's life and animation art will be honored in October, 2009, by Columbus, Mississippi, where he and his wife Elizabeth (Libby) grew up.  The event will include ceremonies and additions of Meador's work to the city's Tennessee Williams Museum.

Josh and Libby Meador were high school sweethearts in Columbus.  He received a nomination to attend the Naval Academy at Annapolis, but turned it down because he wanted to follow his passion and paint.

After visiting New York and Pittsburg trying to find the right art school for him, he arrived at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1931, the same year he married Libby.  He studied illustration, painting, portraits, and etching.  After graduation in 1935, Josh and Libby came to California where Josh applied and went to work for Walt Disney. He became Disney's Director of Special Effects, and was part of the special effects team, which won an Oscar for Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Josh continued working for Disney until 1960, making an agreement with Walt Disney that Josh would return from his studio for special projects.

During his time away from the studio, Josh would pack up the family station wagon, and together with his wife Libby and son Philip, pulled a teardrop trailer throughout California, painting as they went.  Joshua's favorite painting tool was the palette knife.  His son Philip recalls his father kept some brushes around just to sign his work. Even when he was no longer continuously working at Disney Studios, he remained under contract with Disney while he maintained studios and galleries in Carmel Highlands and later in Caspar just north of Mendocino.

Later in Josh's career, he did some notable commission pieces, one for Walt Disney's Smoke Tree Ranch near Palm Springs, one for Vandenburg Air Force Base at the beginning of the space race, a painting for President Lyndon Johnson when he was in office, and just prior to his untimely death (heart attack), he was commissioned to go aboard an aircraft carrier and paint returning Apollo astronauts.

The paintings once owned by Walt Disney personally have "Retlaw, Inc." (Walter spelled backwards) inventory stickers and depict the Palm Springs area including the Disney compound.  When they are sold by Josh's heirs, a portion of the proceeds goes to art scholarships that Walt founded. (Josh died in 1965; Libby died in 2009.)

Josh Meador can be seen explaining his painting technique on film, featured in a short film created for Walt Disney's television show in 1958 entitled Four Artists Paint One Tree. Walt Disney introduces and narrates as the four artists, Eyvind Earle, Marc Davis, Walt Paragoy and Joshua Meador paint a California live oak tree using four different artistic styles.  This film is currently available on the second disc of the Platinum Edition of "Sleeping Beauty," and provides good instructional material.  Josh and the other artists are shown with the resulting paintings on page 292 of "Walt Disney's Nine Old Men & the Art of Animation" by John Canemaker, 2001 Disney Enterprises Inc.

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