Entertainment Mid-century Style I

Entertainment Mid-century l
In the Spotlight

Because we we seem to be living in an era of pessimism and anxiety about the future, I consider it highly relevant to confront our current state of mind by contrasting it with that which existed in the middle of the 20th century — a time of optimism and exuberance. By reflecting on an era when the future held great promise, and when growing prosperity and technology gave people greater means to enjoy leisure time, we see a society emerging from its bleak wartime existence to celebrate life with new vibrancy, color, and sounds.

I spent some time last fall exploring Mid-century Modern society via a series of illustrations focused specifically on the vibrancy and exuberance of live entertainment — music, dance, and lounge diversions.

My intention was to produce the pieces in this series using silk screen printing because it reflects the Mid-century spirit in a way that no other medium does. By the 1950s, silkscreening had become so widespread for industrial and publicity purposes that it was firmly entrenched in the popular consumer aesthetic.

Music, dance, and the lounge lifestyle had also become part of popular consumer culture. Representing these scenes with stylized illustrations further evokes the industrial and promotional look embodied in much of the era’s silkscreen printing.

My overarching theme with this series is that by looking to the past, we may be able to view the future more optimistically.

I’ll post more of my illustrations from this series in the coming weeks.

Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass The Lonely Bull

More fantastic footage from the 1960s:  the über-cool Herb Alpert plays his first big hit, “The Lonely Bull,” in a Tijuana bullring. The story goes that he was inspired by a mariachi band revving up the crowd at a bullfight in Tijuana and adapted his trumpet playing to a tune written by collaborator Sol Lake. He called the song “The Lonely Bull” and the single became a Top Ten hit in 1962. Shortly afterwards “The Lonely Bull” became the first album ever released on A&M Records (the label he co-founded). Mix mandolin, trumpet, maracas and a surf beat, and you get pure magic!

By the way, the song has been covered many times in the last 50 years. I think one of the best covers is by the ska group The Untouchables. Listen to it here: