Locally-curated screening celebrates second anniversary with two days of animation

I'm trying to get Sarah Schmidt to tell me about the second anniversary of Malt Adult, the animation exhibition/mini-fest she curates every other month. But it's the day after “SpongeBob SquarePants” creator Stephen Hillenburg died, so she just wants to tell me about standing in line at her hometown supermarket when her phone started blowing up with the news and how she started to get emotional right there in the store and they had these little SpongeBob balloons at the checkout for $2.59 and it was a sign, which is why she's still carrying the balloon around the next day to the animation class she teaches at CCAD and then to an interview to talk about…

While holding high-profile artists such as Hillenburg in great esteem, Schmidt has, for the past two years, championed animators and the art form in general via the Malt Adult screenings. Emerging animators both local and from around the world have had their work screened at the gatherings, which Schmidt began as a way to build community around a form that's often consumed in isolation.

While she still thinks of the events as viewing parties for her friends, Schmidt modestly admitted that as Malt Adult has become known within the animation community, she spends much less time seeking out work and more time fielding requests to be shown.

“There's no shortage of work. There are people who've been featured before who've made new work, people I've meant to feature but haven't gotten around to, and new people who've entered the conversation,” Schmidt said.

In the two years since she launched Malt Adult, Schmidt has forged a partnership with CCAD, from where she graduated and where she now teaches an animation class. Each event screens at the art school, the institution lending the brand a level of legitimacy, and at Skylab Gallery, where the showings began and where they retain more than a bit of their early, “underground” appeal.

For the second anniversary, Schmidt has created a day of animation demonstrations, panel discussion and an extended screening, leading to scheduling the CCAD and Skylab events on two different days.

“I'll keep doing it because it helps the way people think about animation as art,” Schmidt said, “the way they think about any gallery show or curated show.”