Courtesy of the Ward-O-Matic -- your Fallout Shelter Handbook. Kind of puts our duct tape and plastic sheeting we have now-a-days to shame!
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Dahlia Woods Fine Arts is featuring the drawings of Peter Ligon, including these two jewels from Dallas' MCM past: the recently demolished Circle Inn at Spur 482 and Northwest Highway and the Sigels at Lemmon and Inwood. Awesome!
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Preservation Dallas released its list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places and there are several Mid-Century gems on the list, including:
I appreciate Preservation Dallas' efforts to raise these issues, but is anyone listening? How have Mid-Century gems from years past fared? The Wynnewood Shopping Village, one of the first great postwar malls, continues to be threatened. And the old Kip's at Northwest Highway and Hillcrest? See the picture below. Ugh.
Thanks to Robert at Unfair Park for the story tip.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
I began collecting Alex Steinweiss album covers before I even knew who he was. All I knew is I had these really cool old albums that made brilliant use of typography and color. Then I found For The Record: The Life and Work of Alex Steinweiss by Jennifer McKnight-Trontz, Alex Steinweiss and Steven Heller and I finally had a name to put with this brilliant work.
Working as an art director for Columbia Records in 1939, he invented a seemingly obvious idea -- the illustrated album cover. Although this form of product packaging seems obvious today, it was a great breakthrough back then. Sales of albums with Steinweiss covers sold much better than those without. One reissue of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony saw sales increase 847 percent in the six months after it was issued with a Steinweiss cover versus the six months before when it had a traditional "tombstone" cover. Later, with the advent of the 33 rpm record, he helped invent the cardboard album sleeve we know today.
Although he later left Columbia, he went on to design covers for the London, Decca and Everest labels. During his heydey from 1939 to the mid-1950s, he designed some of the most unique album covers ever using typography, color and illustrations.
This is a good example of one of his early album covers. Fletcher Henderson was only one of the jazz greats that Steinweiss designed covers for. Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman albums also received the Steinweiss treatment.
This Larry Adler album has a Russian constructivist feel. Notice how the type is arranged and how the hands are in white.
This Frankie Carle album is one of the best-known examples of his work. Because offset printing was still new (and very expensive), Columbia printed its covers by letterpress, which limited Steinweiss to three or four flat colors and two plates of halftone. Steinweiss made the most of these limitations.
This one is almost Abstract Expressionistic, with hints of Picasso and Pollock. Pink and gold and black? Very bold.
He wasn't just a master of typography. He was also a master illustrator.
One distinctive feature of a Steinweiss album cover was use of the handwriting font he developed: Steinweiss Scrawl. You can see it on the covers below. It's the curly cursive writing. This grew out of his need to meet tight deadlines by using handlettering.
Steinweiss Scrawl was used by other Columbia designers, too. This album may not be a Steinweiss, even though it uses the Scrawl font. Steinweiss didn't often use photographs, and the typography isn't as dynamic as his other covers. Still, it's a beautiful two-color cover.
Black, gray and pink. Very MCM.
Love the can-can girl.
Another nice two-color effort.
Alex Steinweiss is still alive and living in Florida.
Alex Steinweiss Resources
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
I don't get too hung up on highbrow or lowbrow -- I love it all equally. Well, maybe the sleaze does have a special place in my Mid-Century Modern heart. Anyway, you can't talk about MCM without at least a nod at kitsch. I found this great Flickr photo set of pulp fiction paperback book covers which are good for a laugh. WARNING: Most of these are not safe for work.
Monday, May 7, 2007
Friday, May 4, 2007
It’s Friday. You probably have plans for tonight. Perhaps a special lady friend is coming over for the evening. Start off with canapes and Martinis. A little Brubeck on the hi-fi. But before you sit down for your steak tartare, don’t forget the appropriate music. That’s where this little baby comes in. Put it on the turntable, and she will be putty in your hands by the cherries jubilee. You can thank me later.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
I have found a whole treasure trove of appliance porn: VintageStoves.com. The guy behind this site is Stevan Thomas and he's located in Hutchinson, Kansas. Their work isn't cheap -- this 1952 Magic Chef is $15,000. But the results are breathtaking. They take old stoves and completely re-do them. The chrome gleams, the lights light, the insides glistens. My personal favorite is this copper Chambers. Yum.
Pictured above is a 1952 O'Keefe & Merritt "Aristocrat" - Model 5850-R. I'd take that over a new Viking any day of the week.