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Magic in Madison

Madison’s Kelsey uses
Lily grant creatively for hometown

Educator produced an art exhibit
on legendary Walt Disney

By Laura Hodges
Contributing Writer

(July 2011) – Aaron Kelsey is on a mission to capture some magic and bring it back to Madison, Ind.
Ever since he was a child, Kelsey has had a fascination with film legend Walt Disney. Why? Because when it comes to filmmaking, Disney did it all.
In his 65 years, he won 35 Academy Awards – more than anyone has ever received or ever hopes to achieve. He was not only an animator, but also a film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor and entrepreneur.
In creating Disneyland, he dabbled in urban planning. He was even inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame for his creation of the multiplane camera, which revolutionized the animation process.
“He was very interested in quality. I’m amazed at how much he accomplished. He did everything. Of all the Hollywood producers, he really had a hand in everything,” said Kelsey.

Aaron Kelsey

Photo provided

Lilly grant recipient Aaron Kelsey
is shown with his own painting of
Mary Poppins floating over
the rooftops of London.

No wonder Walt Disney is such an inspiration to the man who has taught art classes and coached drama at Madison Consolidated High School for nine years.
With the help of an $8,000 Lilly Endowment creative grant, Kelsey has an opportunity this summer to indulge his Disney-mania by traveling in the footsteps of the great man. The purpose of the grant is to reinvigorate Kelsey’s teaching career. Kelsey said this successful grant proposal was his third try to obtain a Lilly grant. He is one of 120 Indiana educators who received the grant this year.
Along with his 7-year-old son Jack, the teacher departed June 12 on a three-week trip that has taken him to Missouri, where Disney spent part of his youth and began his artistic career, then on to California, home of Walt Disney Studios. Aaron and Jack Kelsey traveled by train from Kansas City to Los Angeles, just as Disney did in the 1920s.
Kelsey’s grant proposal is to research Walt Disney’s life and to create an art exhibit called “Life Lessons from Walt Disney” for the Magic of Disney Weekend to be held Aug. 5-7 at Madison’s Ohio Theatre.
He plans to photograph Disney’s boyhood home, sights along the way to California, behind-the-scenes activity at Disney Studios and artifacts at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. Some of Kelsey’s Disney memorabilia will also become part of the display.
The seven life lessons Kelsey will illustrate are:
1. Keep things in perspective.
2. Competition is good.
3. Do what you love.
4. Do the impossible.
5. Action always trumps inaction.
6. It takes a village.
7. Get better daily.
The public will be welcomed at the “Life Lessons from Walt Disney” exhibit, which will be mounted in the lobby of the Ohio Theatre, 105 E. Main St. It will open at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, and continue throughout the weekend.
Two movies will be shown on Aug. 5. A two-hour documentary, “Walt Disney: man Behind the Myth,” will begin at 5 p.m., followed by “Mary Poppins” at 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Aug. 6, there will be a Storybook Adventure Party for children between 10 and 11:30 a.m. Children can take part in crafts and games, enjoy refreshments and talk with Disney characters. Tickets are $10. It is a fund-raiser for the MCHS Theatre Department.
At 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, the Little Grand Theatre Co. will give a live presentation of “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” Roles will be performed by student actors who have attended a summer workshop at the Ohio Theatre. Kelsey helped organize the summer theatre workshop, along with theatre co-owner Laura Ratcliff, Shonica Hartless and Tiffany Taylor.
“Mary Poppins” will be shown again at 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, and at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7.
Although Walt Disney Studios is best known for its animation, Disney himself didn’t animate after about 1925. “He became the idea guy. The storyteller. And a perfectionist,” said Kelsey.
Kelsey expects to return to Madison on July 3, brimming with ideas to share with the community and his Madison High School students.

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