Monday, September 30, 2013

Silhouettes by Cindi

Silhouette artist, Cindi Harwood Rose, started cutting silhouettes at Disneyland in 1969 and eventually at Walt Disney World, breaking park records by doing over 600 people in one day at Disney World in 1971! She still does silhouettes today and thanks both Roy Disney and Jess Rubio for believing in her talents, even though she was only a teen at the time. She paid for her entire college degree by cutting silhouettes. Below you can see a silhouette done by Cindi of music legend, Liberace, from Disney World.

Her sister, Holly Harwood, also cut silhouettes at Disney World. Holly battled cancer and finally passed; in her memory, Cindi cuts silhouettes and donates proceeds to cancer survivors through The Holly Rose Ribbon Foundation. The money goes to children who lost a parent to cancer as a scholarship for college, for free reconstruction for breast patients, for children's activities in hospitals such as clowns, book-reading, art projects, and her silhouettes. She can be reached at or Many thanks to Cindi for sharing her amazing stories! Here they are in Cindi's own words:

I actually earned every penny of my college education cutting silhouettes for Jess Rubio in amusement parks (he owned the concessions at Astroworld in Houston), and each summer and December at Christmas, he would send me to Disneyland to relieve the other silhouette artists so they could get a vacation. I would stay in a "guest home" in Orange County, normally with an employee, and they were always shocked that the girl from Texas could out-produce the Disney artists in California. Call it Texas charm, or that I love silhouettes, or that I am the fastest silhouettest in the North, South, East, West, or plain Disney me, it is a "dream come true!"

I worked 14 hours a day, 5 days a week for Disney World, the fastest silhouette artist they ever had and the largest producer—600 people days! The most anyone else had done were 400 people days. I was the only silhouette artist when Disney World opened in 1971 and on my days off either Vincent (still at Disney World) or Rico (Prosperoso) would take to the stand. They never equaled my production—400-600 silhouettes each day! I think it is the energy of the love I have for the art, which is magic in itself. When I first worked, Roy Disney and Jess Rubio would check the trash at night to make sure my work was done in one cut! I was the only person allowed to have curly (frizzy) hair—no make-up which is fine, and I don't need—as that was natural for me, and Greta (in charge of grooming) approved my hair. It was not the Disney look, but working 12-14 hour days, I would leave for the park showered with wet hair, and by the time I arrived and went through wardrobe, it was dried in a natural blonde little curly bob.

Here is a cute story about Disneyland—I went to work my first day (during Christmas holidays to give the artist there in 1969 a two week vacation) and I was walking down the street to get to wardrobe. The guard stopped me and told me that I did not have a 25 year pin on, and was not allowed to walk on that side of the road! Then, when I got to work, someone joked that I was "A Texan" and was a "fast draw" with my scissors, comparing it to a gun. Roy Disney even greeted me with Jess Rubio (he could not walk well) and I was so excited. My first day there, I did more silhouettes than the other artists had done; they said it was because I would say, "Hi Ya'll" to everyone, and that even in California, Texas hospitality was appreciated! We were paid 25 percent of what we did, and the silhouettes were $1 for one and 50¢ for a duplicate copy. Thus, I was able to pay for my whole college education by cutting silhouettes at Disneyland and other parks owned by the Disney lessors. There was an art manager in the park, named John Raya, and he did silhouettes and caricatures as well at Disneyland. At the time, Disney instructed me, "If they have a double chin, leave it off; the guest is always right." These things I remember and always have my bright, shining Disney personality whenever I hand-cut silhouettes which is very often.

I still have my first manual from Disney World—what a treasure! I also remember Rico Prosperoso very well; he was from the Philippines; half Asian, half Hispanic. His beautiful works are published by Dover Books. His silhouettes had an Oriental style; they did not look like the people as they were very elongated, but his castles, butterflies, etc. are amazing! I remember they let him dress out of costume, unlike me, who had to wear "Main Street" which was not pretty, especially the flat shoes, that I found embarrassing! Rico would come in dressed like a Spanish matador, and he would cut out gorgeous fairy-tale silhouette scenes, then burst out laughing like a coyote—the loudest laugh you ever heard! And then, the whole shop would start laughing as well as all the "guests" around.

I always had a huge crowd around me, as I was taught how to display my work (by Jess Rubio): first show the people, then turn to your right and show the crowd, then sway the pasted silhouette to the left, then back to the people—showmanship! They did try to show me how to flip my scissors in the air as I cut silhouettes, but I did not master that, and I don't think any good silhouette profile artist could do that, but Rico could-- à la food chef style! Below are some of my elaborate scenes that are quite modern, and Rico's work done by my side at Disney World, that he published while I was there through Dover Books for everyone to use; they are not copyrighted. He would be honored to have something written about him, as Dover did not put anything about him in their books other than his name on the cover. He was like perfume; when he came by, there was happiness and laughter and magic! I stopped working for Disney in 1972, after 5-6 years for the Disney Theme Parks...pre-college, college, after-college.

Above are some modern silhouettes that I did and one below from a page of Rico's from Dover prints (you can find his work on-line):

...and the other from 1972, of Abraham Lincoln that I did as a sample at Disney World:

...and then one by my precious sister, Holly Harwood (later Skolkin):

I am not sure why, but in "those days" and I noticed recently still, at Downtown Disney, many "character" silhouettes are on display, such as fisherman, cowboys, army people, and they do not look like real people, which is a mistake of many silhouette artists. The real art was a "history" of the era, as it predates the camera. That is why my work is modern, and I stay up-to-date on fashion, or a person's style statement. My work is real, and the art is supposed to be "intuitive" where we capture more than features…we capture personality! I know that I do, as people from over 40 years ago have always told me that my work had an impact, and that they learned much about themselves from it. It is more than black and white, for me it is LIGHT and LOVE! Please view my video (you can use it) Rocking Paper Scissors, and you will know what the art means to me—the unity of man. Silhouettes know no prejudice or skin color, they see your positive light, not your shadow. They should never be done from a shadow; the real Disney silhouette artists do it from sight, and they do it right!

Many silhouette artists give everyone the same face. A great silhouette artist would not do that, neither would a great portrait or caricature artist; they would make you as you, your handprint profile!
Above is one of my sister Holly's silhouettes; she also worked at Disney World and Disneyland during college vacations—to give the California artists a break and to work at my side in Florida, doing silhouettes. She worked for Rubio Artists in his Houston location, Astroworld (no longer open, it closed in 2005), doing silhouettes. Holly died of breast cancer 2 years ago, and on-line there is a story about the two of us at Disney World doing silhouettes in our Main Street costumes in front of the Magic Castle!

Thank you Cindi for sharing your inspirational story!

See more vintage & current Disneyland Silhouette Shop on Main Street, U.S.A. photos on my Silhouette Shop web page.


K. Martinez said...

Wow!! What a nice article. Thanks for sharing your story, Cindi.

I remember my sisters all had their silhouettes done at Disneyland in the 1960s, but for some reason I didn't.

Thanks, Dave.

Major Pepperidge said...

Wow, very cool to hear Cindi's story (stories!) and to see the examples of her work. 14 hours a day, YEESH. I can't even imagine. And 600 silhouettes in a single day, she must be incredibly fast.

Anonymous said...

Stories like this are wonderful to hear. Thank you, Dave.


Anonymous said...

and Cindy, of course. Sorry.


Anonymous said...

It is so incredible that Dave takes the time to record keep about the unique journeys of Disneyland's unique silhouette artists. The silhouette artist Cindi Harwood of Liberace, is especially famous, as he visited Disneyland and Disneyworld. Thanks-- Dave for sharing the work of Disneyland artists Holly and Cindi Harwood, and Rico too.

Anonymous said...

Dave, this is so informative to learn about an artist, behind the scenes in Disneyland. It is heart warming to hear about the two sisters, Holly and Cindi both doing silhouette artwork for Walt Disney. I looked up the artist on Pinterest and saw that she mentioned your site, on some cool pop art silhouettes she did of Alice in Wonderland, I don't think they were from her silhouette days in California, I think they are for some new pop art show, but your blog, Dave was mentioned!

Art smart said...

Dave, this is incredible. I had silhouettes made by 7 other Disneyland and DisneyWorld artists including Cindy and they where no where as good. Some where even o.k. She had to be the most accurate ( and she was bubbly and made my child with Doen’s syndrome feel normal and great.

Art smart said...

Thanks Dave.