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Mel Birnkrant Presents:
All of the Art on this site is one of a kind, created by CHARLES PONSTINGL, for the sheer joy of it.
He intended it as loving homage to the Great Comic Artists of former days. 
The images are based upon the work of many, including some that were created by, and are
“Copyright The Walt Disney Company”. The writing and photography is “Copyright Mel Birnkrant”.

DEVINE INSANITY
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         I’m pausing midway through the delightful process of cleaning a miraculous pair of carvings to save a thought that keeps imposing itself on me, before it fades away.  The wealth of minute details and nuances that are hiding from detection in these carvings are convincing me that Charles must be either Crazy, or Inspired Divinely.  The words that come to mind to describe his condition are “Devine Insanity”! 

         
This perfectly matched pair of carvings that follow, embody the very essence of Charles at the pinnacle of his abilities.  Although, he will soar even higher, later, this perfect pair exemplifies him at his best.

         
Charles titled this delicious duo, “The Barn Dance”.  They were inspired by the fabulous endpapers of “The Adventures of Mickey Mouse”, the first Mickey book, the cover of which, above, he carved so beautifully the year before.  Charles knew just how to surprise and please me.  He really outdid himself this time.  As incredible as it may seem, this perfect pair of carvings were seperated by a year.  And when I first laid eyes on them, each one moved me to tears.   How did he unify the two so perfectly, when the first, which shows the animals leaving the party came to my house the year before? 
          There is a lot more going on in these than meets the casual eye.  It was Charles, who told me that Horace and Clarabelle are fully carved and painted inside their car, where they are permanently affixed and have not been seen, except by him.  And can never be seen again. 
          I love the tiny puffs of dust that all the vehicles are kicking up, the motor carved in every detail, and the two tiny vehicles on the distant hillside that, although, only seen in silhouette, are fully carved and painted black. 
          The second carving is every bit as fabulous as the first.  It represents the dance, itself.  Sixteen individual figures, all in motion, interlocking and interacting; this is a masterpiece of carving. 
          While Minnie rapturously plays the fiddle, Mickey bangs away at the piano.  Note how artfully he lifts his hand to turn the page of sheet music.  The fragile stem of Minnies flower and her tiny eyelashes too are carved of wood
          To fully appreciate the wonder of this feat of craftsmanship, one must be very perceptive.  Every minor detail represents a major effort.  The leather harness, hanging above Mickey, appears to be merely an incidental accessory, except it isn’t leather, and the straps were never separate pieces, nor were they ever flexible.  The entire object, in all its casualness, rings and chain attachments too, was carved out of a single piece of wood.
          Only today, did I discover that on the bottom of Horace’s dancing feet, a pair of horseshoes are fully formed.  One is permanently affixed to the floor of the barn, and the other can only be seen when the entire carving is turned upside down. 
         This feast of the barely detectible is a cornucopia of secret elements that only Charles has seen.   It makes something more elusive clearly visible: the fact that he LOVED what he was doing, and all these tiny touches were there for the pure JOY of it!
         The cover art on the first hardcover Mickey Mouse book, “The Adventures of Mickey Mouse”, is really very pleasant.  It pictures Mickey, serenading Minnie by the light of a full moon.  I can’t believe I never noticed that the art on the back cover was directly related to the front.  But Charles noticed it, and he opened the book out to reveal the entire scene, then transformed it into this most perfect carving.  To see this in person is a treat.  The characters are fantastically exaggerated.  Horace’s wooden arms are like long flowing lengths of rubber hose.  Clarabelle plays a highly detailed tambourine.  The pins and cymbals, and her arm and hand as well, are all carved in one piece.  Each figure is perfectly placed.   And thus, there is an interesting interplay of negative space, not always present in some of Charles' more crowded shadow boxes.  That duck in the corner, by the way, is referred in the book as “Donald”, three years before Donald Duck as we know him was officially created.
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