Tue | Dec 1, 2020

‘Peanuts’ celebrates 70th years with art

Published:Sunday | October 4, 2020 | 12:13 AM
Jesse McCarty, 14, cleans his brush next to a diagram of a ‘Peanuts’ mural he is helping to paint that will be placed in the outpatient paediatric floor of One Brooklyn Health at Brookdale Hospital.
Jesse McCarty, 14, cleans his brush next to a diagram of a ‘Peanuts’ mural he is helping to paint that will be placed in the outpatient paediatric floor of One Brooklyn Health at Brookdale Hospital.

Kerrin McCarthy, 14 , paints a panel of a ‘Peanuts’ mural that will be placed in the outpatient pediatric floor of One Brooklyn Health at Brookdale Hospital.
Kerrin McCarthy, 14 , paints a panel of a ‘Peanuts’ mural that will be placed in the outpatient pediatric floor of One Brooklyn Health at Brookdale Hospital.

Kaley Williams, eight, paints a panel of a “Peanuts” mural that will be placed in the outpatient paediatric floor of One Brooklyn Health at Brookdale Hospital, Thursday, October 1, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
Kaley Williams, eight, paints a panel of a “Peanuts” mural that will be placed in the outpatient paediatric floor of One Brooklyn Health at Brookdale Hospital, Thursday, October 1, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
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NEW YORK (AP):

The virus pandemic won’t stop Charlie Brown, Snoopy, or the “Peanuts” gang from marking an important birthday, and they’re hoping to raise the spirits of sick kids while they celebrate.

The beloved comic celebrates its 70th anniversary this week with new lesson plans, the announcement of a new TV show, and a philanthropic push that includes donating “Peanuts” murals for kids to paint in 70 children’s hospitals around the globe, from Brooklyn to Brazil.

“When kids see the familiar face of Snoopy, they feel like they are at home watching the cartoon,” said Dr Kusum Viswanathan, who heads the paediatrics department at Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center in New York. “I think it’ll really help in positive coping and distraction. It makes the environment very comfortable as opposed to being very stiff and professional.”

The 4-foot-8-inch-wide by 4-foot-1-inch high murals have been sent to participating hospitals in six pieces, along with smocks, brushes, and paints in 13 colours. Children and hospital staffers are encouraged to paint the easy-to-follow templates, a diversion that gains even more importance during coronavirus restrictions.

The initiative is being welcomed at the CHOC Children’s Hospital in Orange, California, where the virus pandemic has shut down the playrooms and cut back on well-wishing visitors like baseball star Mike Trout.

“There’s really nothing to look forward to, so I thought even just painting something like this at bedside is going to really truly mean something, especially during this time,” said Amber Chavez, the special programmes coordinator.

The finished murals show an image of Snoopy and Woodstock sharing a laugh atop his red doghouse. It’s co-sponsored by Peanuts Worldwide and the Foundation for Hospital Art. They hope the custom murals bring a smile to worried families.

ART IS THERAPEUTIC

“Art is always very therapeutic,” Viswanathan said. “Any child who comes – even if a child comes for a regular check-up – it’s always a slightly scary event, and I think it helps patients feel a sense of normalcy.”

Jeannie Schulz, the widow of the comic strip’s creator, Charles Schulz, said the initiative hopes to lower the fear level in hospitals: “If you can have a little bit of levity – a little smile – we know that lowers your blood pressure. It’s almost as good as patting a dog.”

How each hospital deploys the murals has been left to the local administrators. Brookdale let lots of children paint them in its auditorium while the California hospital wants to give one panel each to four patients and two nurses. The hope is that the finished murals will offer children a chance to leave a permanent mark on the facility.

“They could come to the hospital for their next check-up and see their mural is out there and they provided the painting maybe for the head or the stomach or whatever part of Snoopy that they did,” Viswanathan said.

Scott Feight, the executive director of the Foundation for Hospital Art, said the murals represent a chance to “celebrate humanity and our ability to overcome and fight this virus”. The non-profit over the years has donated more than 49,000 paintings to 7,500 hospitals in 195 countries.

Other initiatives launching to celebrate the “Peanuts” anniversary include an animated video campaign on social media urging viewers to be kind to each other, Earth, and themselves. There’s also a new Apple TV+ animated show debuting in February called The Snoopy Show.

“Peanuts” made its debut on October 2, 1950. The travails of the “little round-headed kid” Charlie Brown and his pals eventually ran in more than 2,600 newspapers, reaching millions of readers in 75 countries.