Ever notice these beautiful (but Grotesque) bird sculptures at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel? They’re perched near the elevators on all 6 floors, and they’re gorgeous! Here, I will tell you ALL about them. (That’s Hugh, a California Quail, pictured at left).
What is a grotesque bird sculpture?
To “get” or understand these bird sculptures better, you probably should know what a grotesquerie is. Back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, an “ugly” sculpture or ugly work of art acted as a kind of safe for the home. It usually had a hollowed out cavity where the homeowner could stow away money, tobacco, alcohol, whatever. A burglar would pass it right by.
From 1873-1914, the Martin Brothers of London, England were master pottery makers and well known for their grotesqueries, especially exquisite bird sculptures and bowls, which are highly collectible today.
When Disney was building the Grand Californian Hotel, they asked artist, Susan Dannenfelser, to create artwork for some of the public areas.
Drawing inspiration from the Martin Brothers, she and her husband produced this gorgeous “California Natives” series of grotesque birds for the hotel and spa.
You’ll find two birds on each of the six floors of the hotel. And they’re positioned to reflect or mimic how high or low the birds actually fly in the wild. So on the ground level, we have a pelican and a puffin – two birds that love the water. The top floor (6th) is home to a high flying bald eagle and owl. However, there might be an exception or two. For example, Hugh, the California Quail is on 5, but I don’t think Hugh gets too far off the ground in the wild.
Grand Californian Hotel Grotesque Bird Sculptures
Ground or lobby level
Here are “Greg” the California Puffin and “Scuttle” the California White Pelican. (Disney cast members have *nicknamed* each of the birds).
Up one level, we find “Latruge” the Wood Duck and “Rand” the Great Blue Heron.
On 3 are “Elvis” a Steller’s Jay and “Angelique” the Crow.
Perched on the fourth floor are “Lady” the Mourning Dove and “Speedy” the Roadrunner.
The fifth floor brings us to “Sandy” the Sandpiper and “Hugh” the California Quail.
We’re at the top now, where we find “Sam” the Bald Eagle, and “Owl” the Great Horned Owl.
Who is your favorite? Let me know in the comments. Mine? I find Angelique the crow quite intriguing. Crows are thought to be quite intelligent, and Angelique just has that expression like she knows something – kind of like the cat that swallowed the canary. Your favorite?