This illustration of Gunther’s Ice Cream Shop at the corner of Franklin and 3rd Avenue in Sacramento, California, accompanied the article “Modern Classics” in the December-January 2018 issue of Sactown Magazine. Perched atop this iconic Mid-Century Modern gem dating to 1949, “Juggling’ Joe” lights up the night sky in neon and invites residents and visitors alike to satisfy their sweet tooth by the cup or the cone.
Inspired by retro vintage knee-hugger Christmas pixie elves made in Japan and glass indent ornaments from the 1950s and ’60s, this Christmas card illustration shows Santa’s helpers making the holidays sparkle.
Austin-based keyboardist Basil McJagger commissioned an original illustration for a CD cover for his musical act The Basil Trio, with him on the Hammond organ, a guitarist and a drummer. Like me, he appreciates Mid-Century Modern style, and he was looking for a retro-inspired image that would evoke the early 1960s and portray the groovy vibe and cool stylings of his music. I chose a harmonious color palette of verdigris and various sepia shades and subtly incorporated basil leaves in the admiring fan’s cocktail.
Also from my “Rock Art” series is a triptych entitled “Mid-Century Modern Entertainment” that visually brings to life three songs: Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” The Hollies’ “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress,” and Van Morrison’s “Moondance.”
Unwilling to bid adieu to the Mid-Century Modern visual aesthetic that I love so much, I was intrigued by the idea of extending those design motifs another decade to songs from the early 1970s. I also wanted to explore merging three individual songs into one scene, in this case of a nightclub.
Stairway to Heaven
Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress
This design of a super-cool hipster soybean cartoon character celebrates healthy virtues with a whimsical Spanglish play on words. “Soy” means “I am” in Spanish and the word “cool,” obviously, transcends language, as does the fun retro styling we love so much. What’s more fun than a versatile vegetable with a Vespa?
This week’s post features two more illustrations in my Mid-Century Modern Architecture series, which pays homage to landmark structures from the ’50s that continue to grace the Valley of the Sun:
This cool jewel of modern architecture in downtown Scottsdale — designed by architect Edward Varney — was built in 1956. Hollywood celebrities flocked to the hotel in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but it had lost a bit of its shine by the 1970s. Happily, Westroc Hospitality purchased the property and reopened the Hotel Valley Ho in 2005 after extensive restoration, and the building is now as Mid-Century marvelous as ever.
David Wright House
Frank Lloyd Wright designed this unusual spiraling home for his son David and daughter-in-law Gladys. Built in 1952 in a former citrus grove at the base of Phoenix’s Camelback Mountain, the house offers 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and Arcadia neighborhood. Thanks to historic preservation efforts, Wright’s final residential masterpiece now serves as an educational and event space.
I love Mid-Century Modern architecture and design, and I’m lucky to live in Phoenix, Arizona, where many fine examples of such buildings remain standing to serve as artistic inspiration. This series of original illustrations pays tribute to some of the landmark structures that continue to grace the Valley of the Sun. This week’s post features new illustrations for two iconic bank buildings:
Designed by Frank Henry of architectural firm Weaver & Drover, this 1968 former Valley National Bank building (now a JPMorgan Chase Bank branch) looks like something right out of the Stone Age. Sitting at the corner of 44th Street and Camelback Road, this beloved building’s “peanut brittle” stone work, curvilinear floor plan, and mushroom-like concrete shade parasols in the parking lot and adjacent green space wow architecture aficionados, bank customers and passersby alike.
From Greenbacks to Greens
W.A. Sarmiento’s building — a blend of Expressionist and popular roadside architecture —started life in 1975 as the Metrocenter Branch of the now-defunct Western Savings and Loan. Still standing but now housing greens instead of greenbacks, a Souper Salad restaurant currently occupies this iconic building. Its distinctive ribbed, conical, vase-like tower topping a round base encircled with arches can be seen and enjoyed by drivers on I-17 on Phoenix’s west side.