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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS : Children Color Their World With Hope : Young artists use a giant mural at the Universal CityWalk to fashion a vision of the future.

July 16, 1993|MICHAEL ARKUSH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

On the same lot dominated by multimillion-dollar images of the make-believe, a group of youngsters growing up in different worlds yet possessing similar dreams has added another creation.

It's a giant mural, mounted along the newly opened Universal CityWalk in Universal City, and there's nothing extraterrestrial about it. The kids, from 5 to 13 years old, simply drew portraits about a tomorrow that they want to see.

"It's one without violence and gangs and pollution," said Dawna Stromsoe, whose graphic design firm developed much of the look of Universal CityWalk. "I asked them to draw whatever they wanted, not what someone else told them to do."

Stromsoe came up with the idea of the group, called K.I.D. (Kids in Design) Development, after hearing her friends complain about the nation's worsening economy and escalating violence. She started to think about the next generation and how it might be interpreting today's events.

"I realized that these kids don't know when things are up or down," she said. "They only know what they see now, and think it's permanent. I wanted to give them a chance to hope."

Through word of mouth, she assembled a group of 20 youngsters, from different racial and economic backgrounds, and met monthly with them to show them the progress of CityWalk and gather their concepts for drawings.

In May, over a couple of weeks, the amateur artists began to display their hope for the future. The drawings contain the simple trappings of peaceful life--homes, back yards, leisurely family activities--and more ambitious structures. One picture features a helicopter house, drawn by a child whose parents divorced, forcing him to shuttle from one home to another. "He's tired of moving around," Stromsoe said.

All together, about 1,500 square feet of the mural, which stretches the length of a football field and reaches eight feet high, has been completed. The work on the additional 1,200 feet, which features ideas for humans living in space and underwater, and ideas for saving rain forests, was begun this week.

Stromsoe said she hopes to set up a rotating group of youngsters to find other locations that could be used as canvasses. The mural was funded by MCA Development Co., the real estate division of MCA Inc., which created Universal CityWalk.

ROCKY RAISES MONEY: In June, 1972, June Foray, the voice of Rocky the flying squirrel on the popular "Bullwinkle" cartoon series, held a fund-raiser in the back yard of her Woodland Hills home for the International Animated Film Society. Animation cels, donated by studios, were sold for between $25 and $40 at the event, which collected $5,000.

Two decades later, the fund-raiser remains an annual ritual--AniFest--that brings together cartoon voice artists, authors and merchants. Artwork, cartoon collectibles, toys and posters will be on sale. This year's daylong convention will be Saturday at the Beverly Garland Hotel in North Hollywood.

Pointing out the success in recent years of movies such as "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin," Foray said the animation community has come a long way since it lost credibility with the arrival of television in the 1950s.

"We have always been the stepchildren of the entertainment industry," Foray said. "But animation is not just for kids anymore. Everybody loves cartoons."

Currently, Foray is doing the voice of Mrs. Wilson in the new animated "Dennis the Menace" series.

AniFest runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Beverly Garland, 4222 Vineland Ave. Tickets are $5 general admission and $3 for children under 12 and society members. Call (818) 842-8330.

JAZZMAN ON A ROLL: In April, Doron Orenstein won a $5,000 scholarship by capturing first place in the jazz instrumental category of the Spotlight Awards sponsored by the Music Center at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. He used part of his winnings to buy a new tenor sax.

The investment has already paid off. Last month, Orenstein, 19, of Agoura Hills finished second in the Los Angeles Classic Jazz Festival competition, pocketing another $800. He played a piece of traditional jazz, which is not his specialty.

"I didn't live in those days, so I can only try to emulate it," Orenstein said. "I like the modern music more."

Third place went to Jeremy Wasser, 17, also of Agoura Hills, who won $600.

They were among 52 applicants from Southern California who did two pieces each in front of three judges. The contestants were recommended by music teachers.

Both will perform at the 10th annual Los Angeles Classic Jazz Festival on Labor Day weekend at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott and Airport Westin hotels.

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