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Cartoonist who animated the Beatles and ‘Scooby Doo’ gets spotlight at Fort Hunt gallery

The eternal question “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?” has finally been answered. He’s in Fort Hunt, at least for the weekend.

Works from famed cartoon animator Ron Campbell will be on display and for sale starting tonight (Thursday) through Saturday at Nepenthe Gallery in Fort Hunt.

Campbell is known for his five-decade career animating some of the world’s most beloved cartoons, including Scooby-Doo, The Jetsons, The Flintstones, The Smurfs, Rugrats, and the 1968 Beatles’ movie “Yellow Submarine.”

“Abbey Road” by Ron Campbell (courtesy Scott Segelbaum)

After retiring, Campbell partnered with Scott Segelbaum to put on a traveling cartoon pop art show featuring works inspired by his 50 years animating beloved television shows.

When the artist died in early 2021, exactly two years ago this weekend, Segelbaum decided to continue the show as a way of keeping his friend’s memory and legacy alive and help others remember their happiest days watching cartoons.

Ron Campbell basically animated your childhood and your parents’ childhood — and their parents’ childhood,” Segelbaum told FFXnow.

Scooby-Doo by Ron Campbell (courtesy Scott Segelbaum)

When setting the show’s schedule for the year, Philadelphia native Segelbaum looked up art galleries in Alexandria after hearing great things about the local art scene. That’s how he found Nepenthe Gallery.

The relatively new art gallery located in the Hollin Hall shopping center on Fort Hunt Road was opened by the husband-and-wife team of Carrie and Jim Garland in March 2022.

They dreamed of owning a business together after their kids grew up, and an art gallery was a natural fit, considering their families’ long history of collecting art. So, the Garlands opened Nepenthe Gallery and a frame shop below the gallery, which is about a mile from their home in a space that used to be a Curves gym.

“We still get women who come in,” Carrie said. “I always tell them they are welcome to exercise here.”

The gallery’s location in Fort Hunt near the Hollin Hills historic district is in the middle of what Carrie calls an “art-centric corridor” between Old Town Alexandria and Mount Vernon.

Carrie and Jim both noted that their gallery is open to all sorts of styles of art. They never want to “pigeonhole” it, as Jim said.

So, when Segelbaum reached out about bringing his cartoon pop art show, the Garlands were happy to oblige.

“This is a great opportunity for the community and it’s going to bring traffic in the door,” Jim said. “And I’m a Beatles fan.”

“Childhood Memories” by Ron Campbell (courtesy Scott Segelbaum)

What Segelbaum enjoys most is seeing how Campbell’s work inspires emotions in many people.

“It’s about people coming out and reliving their childhood, seeing the things that really meant a lot to them,” he said.

Segelbaum has seen people cry while looking at Campbell’s art, flashing back to a happy memory they had as a kid.

“It’s really neat to see people who never before been to an art gallery coming out to see Scooby-Doo,” he said. “This brings in a whole new audience.”

Carrie and Jim similarly hope the exhibit will bring in some gallery first-timers, who they’re excited to introduce to the art, wine, and cheese events held every Thursday night. Next month, Nepenthe Gallery will partner with nearby Mount Vernon and Woodlawn Mansion for an exhibit in conjunction with the estate’s annual celebration of George Washington’s birthday.

Ron Campbell’s Cartoon Pop Art Show at Nepenthe Gallery (7918 Fort Hunt Road) opens Thursday, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. and runs through Saturday, Jan. 21.

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