Robert Olszewski was born in 1945 in Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania. His natural interest in art developed early and was first demonstrated in painting and drawing. At age 16, he began winning awards for his work at local art shows, and was encouraged to pursue a career in art. Robert graduated in 1968 with a BS in Art Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, married and moved to Southern California in the same year to live near a major US art center and teach. While teaching he painted in the summers and at night. The security of teaching plus the free time, allowed him to experiment freely and develop his skills. He had his first one-man show at the Ryder Gallery on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles at age 27. At the same time he enjoyed his young family and made toys for his children to play with.
Along with the toys, he built a dollhouse for his daughter and this this was his first introduction to the world of miniatures. His interest in miniatures turned from playful to a serious exploration of miniature figurative works as a new medium of expression. After 11 years, Robert left teaching in 1978 and pursued miniature figurative work full-time. Within a year his work was receiving national attention. In 1979, at age 34, Robert was brought under exclusive contract with the major European porcelain company, Goebel, maker of the world famous M.I. Hummel figurines, and was co-founder of the Goebel Miniatures Studios. As a master artist from 1979 to 1994, Robert oversaw the development of the modeling and painting studios, and watched the company grow from a staff of four painters in 1979 to 65 painters in a studio number 95 personnel.
In 1993, a 30-year museum retrospective of his work was mounted at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, California, and in the same year Robert was named "International Collectible Artist of the Year." In 1994, Robert re-established privately owned Olszewski Studios and began exploring his art in a smaller studio to enable him to devote more time to his personal artistic growth. This new direction followed his personal artistic interests and reflected his love of exploring and combining new materials. In his early fifties, his move to an independent status left more time to pursue in depth his art and address those areas he had been waiting to explore. In 1995, Robert was commissioned by the Walt Disney Company to prototype miniatures for their Enchanted Places Program. In 1996, a second museum retrospective of his work was mounted at The Carole and Barry Kaye Museum of Miniatures in Los Angeles, California. In 1998, Robert received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a third retrospective of his artwork was mounted at the University Museum. In 1999, Robert was commissioned by Indiana University of Pennsylvania to create a commemorative gift for their 125th Anniversary.
Robert continued his close association with the Walt Disney Company as he was commissioned to design and create the commemorative gift to be associated with the opening of Disney/Pixar's A Bug's Life, in 1998. In 2000, Robert would introduce a new line of miniatures titled "Story-Time," which led to the invitation to create a special work for the 2001 Disneyana Convention. Steamboat Willie - Cast Members Premiere was successfully received and caught the eye of Disneyland's Product Development Merchandise Manager, Deanne Hill. Disneyland commissioned Robert and Olszewski Studios to design and create a scaled replica of Main Street, U.S.A.® "Sleeping Beauty Castle" was the first piece in the collection and was introduced in December of 2002. To the present, in September of 2007, a total of 35 buildings, attractions, vehicles and character packs have been released to the general marketplace. Robert and Olszewski Studios have since completed Cinderella Castle for the Magic Kingdom® in Orlando, Florida and have begun work on the Main Street, U.S.A.® for the Magic Kingdom® in Florida, as well. To date, (September 2007) that project includes 8 buildings, vehicles and character packs with plans to produce more.
Artist Viewpoint on the Disneyland Main Street, U.S.A.® Collection:
It has now been eight fun years, since I started the Disneyland concept. In my studio sits the most complete layout on the planet. This nearly completed unit is so magical that each night, just before I go to sleep, I step out to the studio to take one more look. It is turning out to be everything I had hoped it would be.
My goal from the start was to capture the feeling that I get when I visit the Disneyland day or night. We all know that feeling; it hits us at so many levels, and is generated by the details of shape, color, light, sound and movement.
To accomplish this each building, attraction and accessory is reproduced as accurately as possible; this not only includes colors and shapes, but lighting as well. Also, to make it easy for collectors, each building can be removed from its' base and can be jigsaw puzzled together into the larger platform base. The completed train scale includes the entry gates at the front and stretches to Sleeping Beauty Castle. The plans are very similar for the Walt Disney World Resort Collection.
From the start, all of the colors, shapes and lighting have been coordinated to come together for a much larger impact. At this point, I like the day version and night version equally. Here is a list of considerations that when blended together contribute to the magical effect.
- A base that is landscaped with low hedges, flower bed and grass, all coordinated to frame and enhance the Main Street, U.S.A.® buildings.
- Accessory trees that add height to the outer edges of the base that is designed to transition Main Street, U.S.A.® to the other lands.
Lighting Effects (Looking from above)
- Each Main Street, U.S.A building has a soft light that shines out from the windows and the tiny dot trim lights that frame the roof edges. When placed together Main Street, U.S.A.® is framed in a soft white yellow glow.
- Accent street lamps on each piece that when placed together, frame Main Street and provide lights for all street accessories.
Lighting Effect Accents
- These specific light effects add visual interest and become accents within the overall glow of Main Street, U.S.A.®.
- Yellow spot light effects are currently used on the Partner's Statue in Central Plaza, on the Astro Orbitor and on the Main Street, U.S.A.® Train platform.
- White spot light effects are currently used on the Floral Mickey, Carnation Cafe' and Refreshment Corner
- Color spot light effects are used on Sleeping Beauty Castle
Lighting Movement Effects
- Yellow white movement effects can be found on 216 twinkling firefly lights in the trees in Central Plaza.
- Color movement effects can be found on the Christmas tree accessory for Town Square
Open Hallway Yellow/White Glow
- Central hallway of Sleeping Beauty Castle
- Left and right underpass hallways of Main Street Railroad Station
Special Accent Lighting
- Light in Walt's Apartment
- Every color in the landscape base has been selected to accent the Main Street, U.S.A. building colors. This includes the selection of the colors of the road, grass, trees and roof tops. By holding back on these, the colors of the buildings look their best. Special intense color accents are added with the addition of accessories like the fire trucks, trolley, marching band, balloon seller and popcorn stands.
Differences between Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort Collections
- Town Square
For more information about the progress of the Disneyland Main Street, U.S.A.® Collection and Walt Disney World Main Street, U.S.A.®, please visit www.olszewskistudios.com.