Commentary 22 Oct 2011 06:55 am

Hal Silvermintz Remembered

- As I posted yesterday, Hal Silvermintz died this past week. I didn’t know him well, but I knew his work. Everyone in NY animation did back then. Conseqeuntly, I asked for some help in writing about him. Here’s a bio/obituary that was written and compiled by Mitchell Silvermintz, Vincent Cafarelli and Candy Kugel:

    Hal SIlvermintz was an artist. He was a serious painter. And had an original sense of graphic design.
    Hal was born October 4, 1930 and grew up in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

    He graduated from the High School of Art & Design in Manhattan and
    enlisted in the Army because he said army food was better than his mother’s cooking!
    He was stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. While there Hal painted the murals in the lunchroom and other places at Fort Bliss and painted signs

    He went to the Cooper U-nion School of Modern Design in 1955 and studied fine arts. He graduated June 8, 1960. He won the Cooper U-nion Painting Award while he was there.

    Hal was a member of the Brata Gallery, part of the movement that was known as the 10th Street Galleries. The 10th Street Galleries were an avant-garde alternative to the Madison Avenue and 57th Street galleries that were both conservative and highly selective.
    From the early 1950s through the mid 1960s many galleries began as an outgrowth of the artist community and many of the artists who showed in these galleries, referred to as the 10th Street Co-ops or the 10th Street Scene, have since become well known. The galleries on 10th Street played a significant part in the growth of American art and were a direct predecessor to the Soho gallery scene, and the more recent Chelsea galleries.

    In 1953 he married his wife, Sheila and had 3 children. He started working in television—first for DePicto Films and then for Wylde Films. There he met Vincent Cafarelli who brought him into the New York animation scene and to Stars and Stripes Productions Forever. Stars and Stripes was the psychedelic, most groovy, hip studio at the time! Headed by Len Glasser, he and Hal soon developed compatible styles and sensibilities. They worked on Rex Root Beer, Sparkletts, and other campaigns. They often used their own voices as sound tracks. He was there for a couple of years and met a young film editor, Buzz Potamkin and the two of them left and founded Perpetual Motion Pictures in 1968.

    Hal was the designer and director of animated TV commercials at Perpetual Motion Pictures. His innovative sense of style and reference to fine arts was evident in his work. Perpetual won numerous Clio awards for their campaigns for DuPont, 3M, Bell Telephone, Western Electric and the Wall Street Journal. He also directed spots for Aziza, Burger King, Soft ‘n Dri and Diaperene. Perpetual also produced 5 Berenstain Bears holiday specials and Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City. But Hal’s sensibility was most obvious in the “Mr. Hipp” series, featured on NBC’s “Weekend” show.

    Hal was a member of the Director’s Guild of America and the Screen Cartoonists’ Guild for many years. The business agent of the Screen Cartoonists’ Guild, with the blessing of the u-nion membership, sent Hal as a delegate to the ASIFA animation festival in Annecy, France in 1965.

    Hal was featured on the cover of Art Direction Magazine, where they wrote:
    “Cover artist Hal Silvermintz has been creating award-winning animation for two decades and, unlike many other designer/directors, he has not built his reputation on any single, specific style. Rather, Silvermintz has worked toward creating animation appropriate to its eventual function, which, of necessity requires many styles – some innovative, others tried and true. Of our cover, he said ‘I tried to get a feeling of motion or animation in the flat art… I took a whack at making the page move.’ And if he can do that on unmoving page, think of the magic he can create on film”

    In 1982 Hal and Buzz parted ways. Hal Silvermintz teamed up with Hal Hoffer to become Perpetual Animation, where he continued to work until he retired in 1986, first to Texas and then to Miami. He continued to paint and was represented by a gallery in South Beach. In 1991 Hal designed “Fast Food Matador,” for Buzzco Associates. It won numerous awards and was displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is part of MOMA’s film archive.

Fast Food matador

Hal Silvermintz with Candy Kugel

Vinnie Cafarelli and Hal Silvermintz

If you have any memories or thoughts about Hal, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the Comments section. Thanks, M.S.

Here are a couple of Mr. Hipp pieces that aired on NBC.

Many thanks to Candy Kugel for spearheading this piece.


6 Responses to “Hal Silvermintz Remembered”

  1. on 22 Oct 2011 at 9:52 am 1.Candy Kugel said …

    What I left out of the “official” biography is the effect Hal Silvermintz had on me. I was hired by Hal and Buzz the summer after my first year at RISD as an intern, before that term was coined to mean unpaid summer student labor. Actually, I was paid, $25 a week, for a promise to stay out of the way and remain all summer.

    Hal needed an assistant (not a U nion bargaining unit work category) to help prep his work for agency presentations and giving layouts to animators. I was put in a corner of his room, away from the production area of the studio. My first assignment was to place a magic marker shadow on the side of a glass beer stein on cel as a model for a beer commercial. Hal showed me the color marker and a can of Bestine to remove the marker, should I go over the line. He then left for the day. I did it, and redid it, and re-redid it, making mud. The next morning Hal asked me what happened. I blamed the marker, the bestine, the quest for “perfection” (the student thing….) and Hal said simply “An artist does not blame his tools. The results speak for themselves.” Invaluable!

    That summer I watched him draw (he had the most facile line of anyone I’d ever seen), approach design challenges, and followed up on his work– imitating his technique as best I could. I watched him talk with clients and go over jobs with animators. I learned color, technique, professionalism and integrity of design that summer, which informed the rest of my student life at RISD. Perpetual Motion kept rehiring me, every vacation time I was in New York, and even after I was initiated into the U.nion as an in-betweener and found a proper desk with the rest of the staff, Hal’s eye and input were always dead-on! And even after we no longer worked together, I was happy to call him my friend!

  2. on 22 Oct 2011 at 4:48 pm warburton said …

    I only had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Silvermintz a couple times, but his history is forever ingrained in my memory. how could it not be? my first job was at Buzzco Associates where his name came up almost as often as bottles of champagne were popped (how else to wind down from a long day of animation?). as you can see from the remembrance above, he really left an impression on candy and vinnie… and in turn, on me.
    rock on, mr. sivermintz!

    mr. warburton

  3. on 23 Oct 2011 at 9:00 am 3.Dave Levy said …

    Terrific post. Wonderful to learn about a key player of NY’s animation history. I love “Fast Food Matador.”

    I couldn’t help but think of my own dad in that, like Silvermintz, he’s also from Brownsville, born in the 1930s, went to The High School of Industrial Art and Cooper U-nion after that. Bakshi, a childhood friend of my dad, was another Brownsville kid. There’s something about these Brownsville guys of that era. Self-made men born of the Great Depression, growing up in a poor and rough neighborhood and building a better life through their art. So inspiring!

  4. on 23 Oct 2011 at 10:31 am 4.Russell Calabrese said …

    After my first job ever in animation polishing, then painting cels on “Raggedy Ann & Andy” I got hired by Hal & Buzz as a General Apprentice at Perpetual Motion Pictures in 1976. Armed with a ‘portfolio’ that consisted of a Samsonite briefcase containing a few loose drawings to flip some watercolors and other miscellany that I thought would highlight my meager talent, I opened up the briefcase upside down, everything fell out on the conference table and fluttered down to the floor. I scrambled to pick everything up, my face turning red, I then handed the pieces to Hal & Buzz to see my stuff. I blew this job op (so I thought). A few days later I get a call from Buzz to start work the next monday. I guess they liked my slapstick timing!

    Hal became quite a mentor to me giving me a variety of things to do so I would be well rounded in my animation career. It was great small place to work and everyone had a great time being extremely creative. Hal gave me a chance to animate on an NBC Weekend 1 minute short “The Big Program”. He helped me hone my talent and skills on all levels and we became pretty good friends.

    Hal was very interested in Japanese culture and one day took me out for lunch and introduced me to something I still have an addiction for… Sushi! After work we sometimes would go downtown to The Village Vanguard and see and hear some jazz greats like Illinois Jaquet and Slam Stewart. Another time we went to China Town to watch Chinese action movies with badly translated English subtitles. It was great to have a boss that really cared about the people who worked for him, nurtured their talents and enjoyed spending time after work with them.

    I worked with Hal again at Perpetual Animation where I got to really learn more and become a much better artist. Hal bought a computer early on and got me interested in how this ‘little box’ was going to change the industry in the future. Well, the future is here and he was right. He got me to love all that there was to do in animation and made me a versatile artist. We stayed in touch on and off over the years after he moved to Florida and I moved to Los Angeles. I will miss him very much.


  5. on 31 Jul 2012 at 4:06 pm 5.Danielle Charney said …

    I was so sorry to hear of Hal’s passing. A few years ago, an old friend and I tracked him down in Florida and at least we had a long talk. I have always adored Hal and remember Vinnie and Candy very well. Also Steve Weiss who was around in those early days of Star and then PMP- I was the girlfriend of Buzz in those days-pre-Rosie- I adored Hal- he also introduced me to the intensity and diversion of asian art than my Mom loved too – but Hal’s knowledge was more serious and interesting to me – more avant -garde. He also then turned me on to sushi- I’d eaten plenty of Japanese food but never sushi- I never had a bad time around Hal- he was always funny, gracious, intense and interesting. He opened my eyes to many things and I have never forgotten him or those days at Stars and then PMP- Buzz let me opaque for bucks when I was in between jobs- which was often. Hal also loved my Mom who was into the arts and asian art and loved all people creative and brimming with life- Hal was certainly that. I remember Vinnie too and Candy – I am sorry I lost touch and think back on those days and wish I’d stayed in animation – they were the happiest people I’ve ever known- loved their work- a lot of it was Hal and the atmosphere he created. Everyone loved him.
    My regards to Candy and his close friends. Sorry I lost touch but i moved to LA a few years later- but glad I got in touch and happy that I had a weird feeling and googled him the other night and found this so I can add my memories of someone I adored, respected and who had such a strong influence on my life
    do not RIP Hal- but rather RIP it up in the zone out there- paint it across the sky for us all – I will be looking up for you
    Danielle Charney

  6. on 21 Nov 2013 at 9:48 pm 6.Kathy Rubin said …

    Hal was a terrific artist, mentor and friend. Working for Hal and Hal at Perpetual wasn’t a job – it was a wonderful time in NYC.

Trackback This Post | Subscribe to the comments through RSS Feed

Leave a Reply

eXTReMe Tracker
click for free hit counter

hit counter